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Punjab

Congress wrests Gurdaspur in Punjab from BJP, its ally IUML retains Vengara in Kerala

In a morale booster for the party ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has wrested the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat from the BJP by a huge margin and its ally, the IUML, retained the Vengara Assembly seat in Kerala in bye-elections held on October 11.

 
Congress' Sunil Jakhar wins Gurdaspur LS bye-election
In a morale booster ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has wrested the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha  seat from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by a huge margin and its ally, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), retained the Vengara Assembly seat in Kerala in bye-elections held on October 11.
 
Congress candidate Sunil Jakhar drubbed Mr. Swaran Singh Salaria of the BJP by a record margin of 1,93,219 votes in Gurdaspur.
 
In Vengara, Mr. K. N. A. Khader, the candidate of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), who is a member of the IUML, won from Vengara, defeating his nearest rival, P. P. Basheer of the Left Democratic Front (LDF), by a margin of 23,310 votes in the October 11 bye-election.
 
Counting of votes was taken up in both constituencies this morning, and the results were out by noon.
 
Gurdaspur had fallen vacant following the death on April 27 of well-known Hindi film actor Vinod Khanna, who represented the constituency in the Lok Sabha as a candidate of the ruling BJP.
 
Mr. Jakhar polled 4,99,752 votes against the 3,06,553 votes secured by Mr. Salaria. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Suresh Khajuria got just 23,579 votes.
 
Considering the fact that Mr. Khanna had won the seat by an impressive margin of 1.35 lakh votes in 2014, the bye-election ended up being a cakewalk for Mr. Jakhar, 63, the Congress Punjab unit chief and son of late Lok Sabha Speaker Balram Jakhar.
 
In between, in March this year, the Congress won a resounding victory in the elections to the Punjab Legislative Assembly and its leader Amarinder Singh returned as Chief Minister of the state. The bye-election had turned into a battle of prestige for both sides.
 
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress had ended up on the losing side in all the nine Assembly segments in Gurdaspur. Mr. Jakhar has managed to turn this around, winning from all the nine segments this time.
 
Gurdaspur was considered a Congress stronghold for long years, with its candidate Sukhbuns Kaur Bhinder winning the seat five times in a row from 1980 to 1996 before the BJP brought in Khanna, a top Bollywood actor, as its candidate in 1998. The actor-turned politician was re-elected from the seat in 1999, 2004 and then in 2014. In 2009, former Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa by a thin margin of 8,359 votes.
 
Mr. Jakhar described the bye-election result as a "referendum" on the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance's government at the Centre and said the people of the constituency had sent a "strong message of resentment" over its policies.
 
"Congratulations to @sunilkjakhar ji for his impressive win in #Gurdaspur bypoll, it's a victory for @INCPunjab policies & development agenda," Mr. Amarinder Singh on microblogging site Twitter.
 
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"Assure people of #Gurdaspur that every single promise made by @sunilkjakhar will be fulfilled and all development works will be fast-tracked," he added.
 
Congress leader and Punjab minister Navjot Sidhu said, "This is a beautiful Diwali gift, packed with a red ribbon, for our would-be party president Rahul Gandhi."
 
In Vengara, Mr. Khader polled 65,227 votes against 41,917 secured by Mr. Basheer, a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the main constituent of the ruling LDF in the state.
 
Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) candidadte K. C. Naseer ended up third with 8,648 votes while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee K. Janachandran  Master, finished fourth with 5,728 votes in the results announced today.
 
The bye-election in Vengara was necessitated by the resignation of IUML leader P. K. Kunhalikutty, who was elected to the Lok Sabha on April 12 from the Malappuram seat that fell vacant following the death of former Union Minister E. Ahamed.
 
While the UDF celebrated the victory, the LDF drew satisfaction from the fact that they had reduced the IUML candidate's victory margin from 38,057 votes in the 2016 Assembly elections, when Mr. Kunhalikutty had won, to 23,310 votes in this bye-election.
 
Today's results have come just three days after the Congress swept the municipal elections in Nanded-Waghala in Maharashtra, considered a stronghold of the party. The party won 67 of the 81 seats, while the BJP won four and its ally Shiv Sena got just one.
 
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29 killed, 250 injured in violence after Panchkula court convicts Dera Sacha Sauda chief in rape case

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

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

Counting of votes will begin on Saturday morning in the crucial elections to the State Legislative Assemblies of five States -- Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa -- and most of the results are expected to be out within a few hours after that.

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Counting of votes will begin tomorrow morning in the crucial elections to the State Legislative Assemblies of five States -- Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa -- and the keenly-awaited results are expected to have far-reaching implications for national politics.
 
The elections in five States have taken place mid-way through the five-year term of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and just weeks after the sudden decision of the government on November 8 to demonetise Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 banknotes.
 
Polling in Uttar Pradesh -- India's most populous state -- was held in seven phases between February 11 and March 8, while Manipur had polling in two phases on March 4 and 8. Punjab and Goa had single-phase polling on February 4 and Uttarakhand had single-phase voting on February 15.
 
The terms of the Goa, Manipur and Punjab assemblies are due to normally expire on March 18, Uttarakhand on March 26 and Uttar Pradesh on May 27.
 
The Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly has 403 seats, including 84 reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) and two for Scheduled Tribes. Punjab Assembly has 117 seats (34 SC), Goa 40 (1 SC), Uttarakhand 70 (13 SC, 2 ST) and Manipur 60 (1 SC, 19 ST).
 
The Election Commission will give out counting trends and results of the elections through its website from 8 am tomorrow.
 
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Among other things, the website will give details such as the number of votes secured by the candidates round-wise and constituency-wise and political party-wise and candidate-wise trends.
 
The website can also be accessed through the main website of the Election Commission of India.
 
For the first time, the Commission will also provide analytics through interactive dashboard in the form of clickable infographics. Users can download data, crosstab, PDF and images for analysing the elections further at their end. It will include comparative analytics between 2012 and 2017. 
 
An official press release said users will get constituency analysis with respect to participation of electors (constituencies with more female electors, constituencies by slabs of voter turnout, turnout by poll days) and candidates (gender wise participants, winners and major competitors). To assess performance of political parties, analysis on seats won by them, the percentage vote-share in the State and the profile (age and social category)of candidates fielded by them have been included. Candidates have been mapped to their constituencies and the votes polled in their favour, it said.
 
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Punjab, Goa go to the polls to elect new legislative assemblies

Punjab and Goa went to the polls on Saturday to elect new state legislative assemblies -- the first two of five states holding crucial elections midway through the five-year term of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and two months after the November 8 demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 bank notes.

 
Voters queue to cast their votes amidst tight security
Punjab and Goa went to the polls today to elect new state legislative assemblies -- the first two of five states holding crucial elections midway through the five-year term of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and two months after the November 8 demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 bank notes.
 
Voters began queueing outside polling stations in both states from early morning and their numbers were steadily increasing as the day progressed. 
 
Voting, which began at 7 am in Goa and at 8 am in Punjab, will end at 5 pm in both states.
 
Polling also took place today for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, which fell vacant after the resignation of Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh.
 
The Punjab Assembly has 117 seats and the Goa Assembly 40 seats and both states have single-phase polling today.
 
Uttarakhand will have single-phase polling on February 15, Manipur will have polling in two phases on March 4 and 8 and Uttar Pradesh, the country's most populous state, will have polling in seven phases between February 11 and March 8.
 
Counting of votes in all the five states will be taken up on March 11 and all the results are expected by late evening that day.
 
The terms of the Goa and Punjab assemblies are due to expire on March 18.
 
The Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements for smooth, free and fair elections in both the states.
 
Punjab has a total of 19879069 voters, including 10503108 males and  9375546 females. There are 1145 candidates in the fray, including 81 women and one of the third gender. The Election Commission has set up 22,615 polling stations across the state.
 
In Goa, there are a total of  1110884 electors, including 546742 men and 564142 women. A total of 251 candidates, including 19 women, are in the fray.  The Commission has set up 1642 polling stations across the state.
 
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making a determined effort for another term in office in Goa, while the Congress is hoping to come back to power in Goa. The three-party alliance forged by Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, Goa Suraksha Manch and Shiv Sena is the other major player in the state.
 
Similarly in Punjab, the Congress is trying to wrest power back from the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP combine, which has been in office for a decade.
 
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The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the ruling party in the National Capital Territory of Delhi, has gone all out to emerge as the alternative to the established players in both the states.
 
In Punjab, SAD leader and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, 89, is seeking re-election for the sixth time. He will face Capt. Amarinder Singh, the chief ministerial candidate of the Congress, in the Lambi constituency. The Congress leader is also contesting the elections from his traditional seat of Patiala, where his opponent is former Army chief Gen J J Singh, a candidate of the SAD.
 
The Chief Minister's son Sukhbir Singh will face AAP's Bhagwant Mann, MP, who is his party's likely chief ministerial candidate, in Jalalabad.
 
Former Indian Test cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu, who joined the Congress weeks ahead of the polls, is contesting from Amritsar East, a part of the Amrtisar Lok Sabha constituency that he represented in Parliament as a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for two terms.
 
Prominent candidates in Goa include Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar (BJP) and five former Chief Ministers -- Ravi Naik, Digambar Kamat, Pratapsinh Rane and Luizinho Faleiro (Congress) and Churchill Alemao (NCP). There have been indications that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar might return to Goa as Chief Minister if the BJP retains power.
 
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Punjab ride Gayle-Rahul show to beat KKR and top IPL table

 
Kings XI Punjab openers Chris Gayle and KL Rahul made short work of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) as they won by nine wickets via the Duckworth Lewis (D/L) method in a rain-truncated Indian Premier League (IPL) game at the Eden Gardens here on Saturday.
 
Chasing 192 for victory, Gayle (49, 27b not out) and Rahul (46 off 23 not out) were going all guns blazing when rain, accompanied by thunderstorms. hit Eden. Play was stopped for 95 minutes after which Punjab were given a revised target of 125 in 13 overs.
 
Gayle remained unbeaten on 62 off 38 balls (5x4, 6x6), hitting the winning runs by smoking Tom Curran for a six as Punjab, 126/1, eased to victory with 11 balls to spare. 
 
Rahul (60; 27b 9x4 2x6) got out to Sunil Narine by top-edging a pull to Tom Curran at deep midwicket.
 
With just 29 needed off 28 balls after the break, Gayle resumed from where he had left off, tonking Piyush Chawla for a six to bring up his fifty in 28 balls.
 
Rahul notched up his half century too at the other end, smashing Sunil Narine for a six over deep midwicket to follow it up with two fours off the West Indian, who then removed him.
 
The opening wicket stand was for 116 runs off 58 balls. This was the transformed Punjab's third win in a row, and first at Eden since as they jumped to the top of the table with eight points.
 
Fresh from his whirlwind century against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Gayle looked in his devastating best and alongwith Rahul started off dealing in boundaries against the KKR pace attack of Shivam Mavi and Andre Russell. 
 
The pair raced to 73 for no loss in Powerplay, and from there on toyed with the home team bowlers. 
 
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To make matters worse for KKR, Andre Russell aggravated his hamstring during bowling and had to leave the field.
 
Earlier, Chris Lynn (74) took time to settle down against the spinners and plundered the quicks, smashing six fours and four sixes in his first half-century of IPL-11.
 
Lynn got a reprieve in the 13th over when when he was on 62, Barinder Sran (2/50) dropping a catch at deep extra cover off Andrew Tye (2/30) but the damage was already done.
 
Skipper Dinesh Karthik (43; 28b 6x4) gave him good company with a composed knock. The pair stitched together a 62-run partnership off 34 balls for the fourth wicket.
 
Lynn also combined with Robin Uthappa (34; 23b 5x4 1x6) for a 72-run second wicket stand.
 
Brief scores: Kings XI Punjab 126/1 in 11.1 overs (Chris Gayle 62 not out, KL Rahul 60) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 191/7 (Chris Lynn 74, Dinesh Karthik 43; Andrew Tye 2/30, Barinder Sran 2/50) by 9 wickets via Duckworth-Lewis method. 
 
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9 new ministers inducted into Amarinder government; other hopefuls sulk

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Nine new cabinet ministers were inducted into the Amarinder Singh government in Punjab on Saturday, while two women ministers were elevated to cabinet rank.
 
Governor V.P. Singh Badnore administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers - all first-timers - at the Raj Bhawan here on Saturday evening.
 
Two women ministers, Aruna Chaudhary and Razia Sultana, who were in the rank of ministers of state, were also promoted as cabinet ministers on Saturday. They were administered oath as cabinet ministers by the Governor.
 
The new ministers are O.P. Soni, Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Gurpreet Kangar, Balbir Singh Sidhu, Vijay Inder Singla, Bharat Bhushan Ashu and Sunder Sham Arora. 
 
With the cabinet berths being full now, a number of hopeful leaders in the ruling party are sulking. Some of them have offered to resign from Congress party posts to show their resentment.
 
Strong contenders who got left out included Indian Youth Congress president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Kuljit Singh Nagra, former Olympian Pargat Singh and Dalit leader Raj Kumar Verka.
 
Congress legislators Sangat Singh Gilzian, Surjit Dhiman and Nathu Ram resigned from party posts after the list of new ministers was announced.
 
It is learnt that senior Congress leaders, including Congress party in-charge for Punjab Asha Kumari, spoke to some of the disgruntled legislators to pacify them.
 
Decks were cleared on Friday by the Congress high command for the induction of nine new ministers.
 
Their names were approved in New Delhi on Friday following two days of meetings between Amarinder Singh and Congress President Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders.
 
The Congress won the Assembly elections by a thumping majority in March last year, getting 77 legislators in the 117-member Assembly. The state cabinet can have a maximum strength of 18 ministers, including the Chief Minister, under the law.
 
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IPL: Rain stops play between KKR, Kings XI Punjab

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Kings XI Punjab looked on course to gun down 192 set by Kolkata Knight Riders when rain interrupted play in an Indian Premier League (IPL) game here at the Eden Gardens on Saturday.
 
Openers Chris Gayle (49 off 27 not out) and KL Rahul (46 off 23 not out) were at the crease with Punjab cruising on 96/0 in 8.2 overs, ahead by 31 runs in Duckworth-Lewis method, even as rain accompanied by thunderstorms hit the Eden.
 
Earlier, KKR rode Chris Lynn's 41-ball 74 to post 191/7 in 20 overs.
 
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IPL-2018: KKR, Punjab look to continue winning streak

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Table-toppers Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will both be high on confidence after registering morale-boosting victories in their respective previous games, when they clash in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Eden Gardens here on Saturday.
 
While KKR got the better of Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets in Jaipur, Punjab rode Chris Gayle's blazing hundred to stymie Sunrisers Hyderabad's three-game unbeaten streak and coast to a 15-run victory at home.
 
KKR had Nitish Rana -- who fired with bat and ball once again -- and their wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla to thank for the second triumph in a row.
 
Rana took two crucial wickets of Ajinkya Rahane and D'Arcy Short when both were looking good for a big score. With the bat, KKR's most consistent player so far remained unbeaten on 35 to see them cross the line with ease.
 
Needless to say, Rana's form augurs well for Dinesh Karthik's men who also have Robin Uthappa among runs along with the captain himself.
 
Rana, who bagged the Man-of-the-Match award for the second game in a row, now has 162 runs in five matches at 40.50, and four wickets.
 
Backing up their batsmen, Kuldeep and Piyush kept it really tight the other day after they were handed the new ball. The pair returned combined figures of 2/41 in eight overs which is excellent in T20 cricket.
 
KKR's worry would be the form of dashing Australian opener Chris Lynn who lasted just two balls against Rajasthan and departed cheaply without troubling the scorers.
 
Lynn has struggled against spin and was seen playing with a horizontal bat in only the second ball of his innings to K. Gowtham who castled him.
 
The likes of Punjab captain R. Ashwin and 17-year old Afghanistan offie Mujeeb Ur Rahman would be licking their lips when they bowl to him and it remains to be see how the Queenslander tackles them.
 
The other opener, Sunil Narine, has come good with his brisk cameos, but has shown susceptibility to shot-pitched deliveries, something Punjab would be aware of.
 
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Coming to Gayle, the burly West Indian smoked 11 sixes en route his unbeaten 63-ball 104 to help his side post a challenging 193/3.
 
Hyderabad were never in the chase and lost comprehensively in the end. This was Gayle's second consecutive match-winning innings after his 33-ball 63 against Chennai Super Kings.
 
Gayle's innings was typical of him but in the manner in which he saw off Bhuvneshwar Kumar's first spell and later unleashed a brutal assault on Rashid Khan's legspin, underlined the reservoir of experience that came into play during the knock.
 
Besides Gayle, Punjab bat deep with the likes of big-hitting Aaron Finch, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and ageing Yuvraj Singh in their ranks. Their bowling lacks experience, especially in the pace department. Mohit Sharma went for a lot of runs against Hyderabad and will have to get his act together against KKR.
 
Having played one match less than KKR, Punjab have so far just lost once in four outings and are placed third. The two teams have met 21 times before and KKR have a superior 14-7 head to head record.
 
Teams (from)
 
KKR: Dinesh Karthik (c and WK), Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi, Mitchell Johnson, Shubman Gill, R Vinay Kumar, Rinku Singh, Cameron Delport, Javon Searless, Apoorv Wankhade, Ishank Jaggi and Tom Curran.
 
KXIP: R Ashwin (Captain), Axar Patel, Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, Lokesh Rahul (WK), Chris Gayle, David Miller, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Rajpoot, Manoj Tiwary, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb Zadran, Barinder Sran, Andrew Tye, Akshdeep Nath, Ben Dwarshuis, Pardeep Sahu, Mayank Dagar, Manzoor Dar.
 
 
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IPL: Kings XI Punjab beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by 15 runs

 
A brilliant all-round effort helped Kings XI Punjab beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by 15 runs in an Indian Premier League match here on Thursday.
 
First, Chris Gayle's unbeaten 104-run knock helped Punjab post a mammoth 193/3 and then its bowlers managed to restrict the visitors to 178/4 in their allotted 20 overs.
 
Chasing a massive target, Hyderabad never looked in contention as the visitors lost wickets at regular intervals. Hyderabad's in-form opener Shikhar Dhawan got injured on his first ball and from then, the required rate kept on increasing and none of the batsmen scored freely.
 
Skipper Kane Williamson (54) and middle-order batsman Manish Pandey (57 not out), however tried to narrow the gap between the runs but lack of support from other batters proved to be hugely costly.
 
Yusuf Pathan (19) and Shakib Al Hasan (24 not out) also displayed the signs of coming back to form but could not contribute handsomely.
 
For Punjab, Mohit Sharma and Andrew Tye took two wickets each.
 
Earlier, Gayle struck a 63-ball 104, laced with 11 sixes and a boundary to set the jam-packed stadium on fire.
 
Opting to bat, Punjab started on a cautious note as openers Lokesh Rahul (18) and Gayle stitched a 53-run partnership for the opening wicket.
 
Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan drew first blood for Hyderabad, dismissing Rahul in the eighth over.
 
Medium pacer Siddarth Kaul provided another jolt to the hosts, packing back incoming batsman Mayank Agarwal (18) in the 11th over.
 
Gayle was then joined by Karun Nair (31 off 21 balls; 4x3, 6x1) and the duo shared a 85-run partnership for the third wicket, taking Punjab past the 150 run mark.
 
By then, Gayle had brought up his sixth IPL ton in just 58 deliveries, with a squeezy drive to point off Kaul and thereafter unleashing his trademark 'Baby in the arms' celebration.
 
Pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar got rid-off Nair in the 18th over but Gayle continued to hammer every Hyderabad bowler.
 
Australian Aaron Finch's 14 not out off 6 balls in the final moments propelled Punjab to a massive total even as Gayle remained a spectator at the other end.
 
For Hyderabad, Bhuvneshwar, Rashid and Kaul bagged one wicket apiece.
 
Brief Scores: Kings XI Punjab 193/3 (Chris Gayle 104 not out, Karun Nair 31; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 1/25) vs Sunrisers Hyderabad 178/4 (Manish Pandey 57 not out; Andrew Tye 2/23) .
 
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IPL: Gayle ton powers Punjab to 193/3 vs Hyderabad

 
Riding on opener Chris Gayle's unbeaten 104-run knock, Kings XI Punjab posted a mammoth 193/3 against Sunrisers Hyderabad in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Punjab Cricket Association I.S. Bindra Stadium here on Thursday.
 
Gayle struck a 63-ball 104, laced with 11 sixes and a boundary to set the jam-packed stadium on fire.
 
Opting to bat first, Punjab started on a cautious note as openers Lokesh Rahul (18) and Gayle stitched a 53-run partnership for the opening wicket.
 
Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan drew first blood for Hyderabad, dismissing Rahul in the eighth over. 
 
Medium pacer Siddarth Kaul provided another jolt to the hosts, packing back incoming batsman Mayank Agarwal (18) in the 11th over.
 
Gayle was then joined by Karun Nair (31 off 21 balls; 4x3, 6x1) and the duo shared an 85-run partnership for the third wicket, taking Punjab past the 150-run mark.
 
By then, Gayle had brought up his sixth IPL ton in just 58 deliveries, with a squeezy drive to point off Kaul and thereafter unleashing his trademark 'Baby in the arms' celebration.
 
Pacer Bhuvaneshwar Kumar got rid of Nair in the 18th over but Gayle continued to hamnmer every Hyderabad bowler.
 
Australian Aaron Finch's 14 not out off 6 balls in the final moments propelled Punjab to a massive total even as Gayle remained a spectator at the other end.
 
For Hyderabad, Bhuvneshwar, Rashid and Kaul bagged one wicket apiece.
 
Brief scores: Kings XI Punjab 193/3 (Chris Gayle 104 not out, Karun Nair 31; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 1/25) vs Sunrisers Hyderabad.
 
IANS
 
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IPL: Punjab opt to bat against Hyderabad

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Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) skipper Ravichandran Ashwin won the toss and opted to bat first against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the 16th match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Punjab Cricket Association I.S. Bindra Stadium, here on Thursday.
 
While Kings XI Punjab remained unchanged, Sunrisers have included medium pacer Chris Jordan for Billy Stanlake. 
 
Teams:
 
KXIP-Lokesh Rahul (wicketkeeper), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Yuvraj Singh, Aaron Finch, Karun Nair, Ravichandran Ashwin (captain), Andrew Tye, Barinder Sran, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb Ur Rahman 
 
SRH- Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Shikhar Dhawan, Kane Williamson (captain), Manish Pandey, Shakib Al Hasan, Deepak Hooda, Yusuf Pathan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan, Siddarth Kaul, Chris Jordan
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
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IPL: A battle between KXIP batting and SRH bowling on Thursday

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Kings XI Punjab's batting will be up against the effective bowling of Sunrisers Hyderabad in an Indian Premier League (IPL) game between two in-form teams here on Thursday.
 
While Punjab have registered two wins in three matches so far, Hyderabad have won three games in a row, as both the teams registered crucial wins at the beginning of the tournament.
 
The match at the Punjab Cricket Stadium pits a home side that has a lot of batting firepower against a Hyderabad side that is very balanced and their bowling line-up one of the best in the tournament.
 
Punjab's top-order batsmen Lokesh Rahul, Karun Nair -- both from Karnataka -- have delivered in the first three matches. 
 
One thing that will please the northern outfit is the return to form of West Indian marauder Chris Gayle, who blasted 63 off 33 deliveries during their four-run win over Chennai Super Kings in their last match. 
 
However, Punjab will want another veteran, Yuvraj Singh, and Mayank Aggarwal to also be among the runs as the home batsmen will require to be on top of their game against the Hyderabad bowlers.
 
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SRH's strength lies in their bowling which has a lot of variety. They have restricted their opponents in three matches within the 150-run mark.
 
Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, who bowled 18 dot balls against Mumbai Indians, is a prime example. Besides Rashid, the likes of Billy Stanlake, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shakib Al Hasan, Sandeep Sharma and Siddharth Kaul provide a lot of options. 
 
Bhuvneshwar did not play against MI due to back pain but came back strongly to pick up three wickets for 26 runs against KKR, which must have relieved the Kane Williamson-led side.
 
Also, one cannot underestimate SRH's batting might. Hyderabad's all three wins have come while chasing.
 
Shikhar Dhawan, with 130 runs so far, has continued his superb form in the limited-overs cricket. 
 
With two crucial knocks of 50 and 36, Williamson has sent a message that the pressure of captaincy even in T20 cricket doesn't overpower him. Williamson has been a class act for New Zealand and continues to be so here, ensuring that the side doesn't miss the leadership shown by former captain David Warner.
 
Hyderabad may continue to use wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha as a top-order batsman even if he has not cashed in on the opportunities so far. 
 
Apart from him, the likes of Shakib, Manish Pandey are proven performers and will look to showcase their talent again, especially against Punjab bowlers who have proved to be expensive, barring young Afghan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
 
Captain Ravichandran Ashwin will hope fellow bowlers like Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma and Barinder Sran restrict the Hyderabad line-up.
 
The squads:
 
SRH: Kane Williamson (Captain), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Manish Pandey, Rashid Khan Arman, Shikhar Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Sandeep Sharma, Shakib Al Hasan, Carlos Brathwaite, Yusuf Pathan, Mohammad Nabi Eisakhil, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Billy Stanlake, Siddharth Kaul, Deepak Hooda, Syed Khaleel Ahmed, Shreevats Goswami, Basil Thampi, T. Natarajan, Bipul Sharma, Mehdi Hasan, Ricky Bhui, Sachin Baby, Tanmay Agarwal.
 
KXIP: Ravichandran Ashwin (Captain), Axar Patel, Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, Lokesh Rahul, Chris Gayle, David Miller, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Rajpoot, Manoj Tiwary, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb Zadran, Barinder Sran, Andrew Tye, Akshdeep Nath, Ben Dwarshuis, Pardeep Sahu, Mayank Dagar, Manzoor Dar.
 
IANS
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SC reserves verdict on Sidhu's conviction in road rage case

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its judgment on a plea filed by Punjab Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu against a three-year jail term awarded to him in a 30-year-old road rage case.
 
A bench of Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul reserved the judgment after hearing arguments from counsels of the Punjab government and Sidhu and his cousin.
 
The incident dates to December 27, 1988, when Sidhu and his cousin had beaten up Gurnam Singh and two other in what was described as a road rage case. Singh later died.
 
On April 12, the state government supported the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court convicting the minister. It told the apex court that 65-year-old victim had died after a fist blow from the cricketer-turned-politician.
 
The state said there was no evidence at all to suggest that Singh died of a cardiac arrest and not a brain haemorrhage. In 1999, the trial court in Patiala had acquitted Sidhu and his cousin saying the medical report stated the death was due to a heart attack.
 
The High Court in December 2006 had overturned the lower court's decision.
 
It said Singh did not die of cardiac arrest but due to the injury on his temporal lobe. Sidhu was awarded three years in jail for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
 
The apex court in 2007 had stayed the conviction after counsel appearing for Sidhu had contended that the findings of the High Court were based on opinion and not on medical evidence.
 
Sidhu's lawyer argued that there were deficiencies in the medical evidence and the prosecution witnesses had given different statements on oath before the trial court.
 
IANS
 
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IPL: Kings XI Punjab end Chennai Super Kings' winning run

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Kings XI Punjab defeated Chennai Super Kings by four runs here on Sunday to end the southern outfit's winning run in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
 
Put in to bat first, Punjab wasted their solid start but managed to post a challenging total of 197/7. In reply, Chennai batters failed. 
 
Apart from Ambati Rayudu (49) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (79 not out), no other batsmen seemed comfortable in front of Punjab's bowlers and went cheaply to lose the game.
 
Big names like Shane Watson (11), Murali Vijay (12), Sam Billings (9) and Ravindra Jadeja (19) failed to score handsomely in a big run chase. Towards the end, Dhoni tried to pull off the things single-handedly but failed and his 44-ball unbeaten innings went in vain.
 
For Punjab, Andrew Tye scalped two wickets.
 
Earlier, Kings XI Punjab failed to make the most of the flying start given by openers Chris Gayle and Lokesh Rahul and settled for 197/7.
 
Rahul (37 runs in 22 balls) and Gayle (63 runs in 33 balls) gave the hosts a rousing start, slamming 96 runs in eight overs. But after their wickets, no other batsman took advantage of it and failed to score runs, thanks to the Chennai bowlers' disciplined bowling.
 
Rahul fell in the eighth over when the scoreboard was reading 96. After adding a few more runs, Gayle also departed, courtesy pacer Shane Watson, in the 12th over. The West Indian batsman slammed seven boundaries and four sixes.
 
Mayank Agarwal (30) and Yuvraj Singh (20), then tried to maintain the pace set by the openers but in the process both departed after a good start. Aaron Finch was out on a golden duck.
 
Karun Nair (29) and skipper Ravichandran Ashwin (14) tried to stretch their team's total to the 200-run mark but failed and departed one after the other.
 
For Chennai, Shardul Thakur and Imran Tahir scalped two wickets each.
 
Brief scores:
Kings XI Punjab 197/7 (Chris Gayle 63; Imran Tahir 2/34) against Chennai Super Kings: 193/5 (Mahendra Singh Dhoni 79; Andrew Tye 2/47)
 
IANS
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IPL: Kings XI Punjab post 197/7 against Chennai Super Kings

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Kings XI Punjab failed to make the most of the flying start given by openers Chris Gayle and Lokesh Rahul and settled for 197/7 against Chennai Super Kings in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match here on Sunday.
 
Rahul (37 runs in 22 balls) and Gayle (63 runs in 33 balls) gave the hosts a rousing start, slamming 96 runs in eight overs. But after their wickets, no other batsman took advantage of it and failed to score runs, thanks to the Chennai bowlers' disciplined bowling.
 
Rahul fell in the eighth over when the scoreboard was reading 96. After adding a few more runs, Gayle also departed. Pacer Shane Watson took Gayle's wicket in the 12th over. The West Indian batsman slammed seven boundaries and four sixes.
 
Mayank Agarwal (30) and Yuvraj Singh (20), then tried to maintain the pace set by the openers but in the process both departed after a good start. Aaron Finch was out on a golden duck.
 
Karun Nair (29) and skipper Ravichandran Ashwin (14) tried to stretch their team's total to the 200-run mark but failed and departed one after the other. 
 
For Chennai, Shardul Thakur and Imran Tahir scalped two wicket each.
 
Brief scores: Kings XI Punjab 197/7 (Chris Gayle 63; Imran Tahir 2/34) against Chennai Super Kings)
 
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SpiceJet adds Adampur as its 6th destination under Regional Connectivity Scheme

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Low-cost carrier SpiceJet has announced the addition of Adampur in Punjab as its sixth destination  under UDAN, the Government's Regional Connectivity Scheme, from May 1.
 
Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Vijay Sampla made the first online booking for the Adampur-Delhi sector at an event organised in Jalandhar yesterday.
 
A press release from SpiceJet said it was the first and only airline to connect Delhi with Adampur with direct flights.
 
With the addition of Adampur-Delhi UDAN route, SpiceJet will operate seven daily UDAN flights. The airline had launched services on the Mumbai-Porbandar, Mumbai-Kandla, Jaipur-Jaisalmer and Hyderabad-Puducherry routes under the UDAN scheme last year. SpiceJet also recently announced the Hubli-Chennai and Hubli-Hyderabad UDAN routes which will be in operation from May 14.
 
“SpiceJet has been among the pace-setters for UDAN which we believe has the potential to democratize and broaden air connectivity to the last mile in a country where flying is still beyond the reach of most. We are proud to add Adampur on to our pan-India network. We expect businesses and industrial trading to receive an immediate boost from the direct connectivity while promoting medical tourism and strengthening the economy of the city. Our flight will also offer immense flexibility and convenience to frequent NRI travellers residing in this region," Ms. Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Sales and Revenue officer, SpiceJet said.
 
The second largest military airbase of India, Adampur houses a large number of non-residential Indians from Doaba, the NRI belt of Punjab. 
 
With no direct air connectivity, a typical traveller has to travel to Delhi via an Amritsar flight.
 
Deploying its Bombardier Q400 aircraft on the route, SG 8731 will take off from Delhi at 3.30 pm and reach Adampur at 4.45 pm. The return flight, SG 8732, will take off at 5.05 pm and reach Delhi at 6.15 pm.
 
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Phagwara clash: Internet services suspended in four Punjab districts

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Internet services were suspended in four districts of Punjab on Saturday after tension gripped the industrial town of Phagwara following clashes between Hindu and Dalit groups over a poster of Babasaheb B.R. Ambedkar.
 
The Punjab Police on Saturday remained on high alert in Phagwara town following the clash. Tension prevailed in the industrial town, around 130 km from here, on Saturday following the clash that started late on Friday over the putting up of the Ambedkar's poster at the Goal Chowk.
 
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered suspension of mobile Internet services in Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Shaheed Bhagat Singh (SBS) Nagar (Nawanshahr) districts as a precautionary measure, to check rumour mongering on social media.
 
Informed sources in the police said that shots were allegedly fired during the clash, which also witnessed some stone pelting. Taking serious note of the clash between the Dalits and "upper caste men", Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said: "Would not spare the culprits. 
 
"Will not allow Punjab's peace to be destroyed at any cost. My government will bear all expenses for treatment of all those injured in the incident."
 
The Chief Minister directed the Ludhiana district administration to ensure the best treatment for Yashwant Kumar Bobby, reported to be seriously injured in the clash and undergoing treatment at DMC Hospital in Ludhiana. 
 
Trouble arose on the eve of Ambedkar Jayanti when one group tried to put up the poster at the crossing which was opposed by the other.
 
Shiv Sena leader Rajesh Palta was beaten up allegedly by the Dalits during the clash. Senior police personnel along with additional forces have been deployed in the town following the clash. 
 
Amarinder appealed to the people to maintain peace and harmony and warned of "stringent action against anyone found disturbing the law and order in the state".
 
IANS
 
 
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IPL: de Villiers stars as Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Kings XI Punjab

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AB de Villiers' (57) brilliant knock helped Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Kings XI Punjab by four wickets in the Indian Premier League (IPL) match here on Friday.
 
Chasing 156, opener Brendon McCullum (0) departed in the first over and skipper Virat Kohli (21) also wasted the start and went back in the fifth over.
 
De Villiers and opener Quinton de Kock (45) then forged a crucial 54-run partnership for the third wicket before in-form de Kock was sent packing by Ravichandran Ashwin in the 12th over.
 
Mandeep Singh (22) then came in the middle and supported de Villiers by playing some beautifully crafted shots around the ground.
 
But just when the Bangalore side was at the brink of the win, the South African player was dismissed by Andrew Tye in the 19th over. His 40-ball innings was laced with two boundaries and four sixes. Just after that, Mandeep also got run out in the same over.
 
But at that time, it was just a formality and lower-order batsmen Chris Woakes (1 not out) and Washington Sunder (9 not out) completed it with ease.
 
Earlier, Kings XI Punjab were bowled out for 155. Lokesh Rahul (47) and Ashwin (33) were the top scorers for Punjab.
 
For Bangalore, pacer Umesh Yadav scalped three wickets while Chris Woakes, Kulwant Khejroliya and Sundar took two wickets each.
 
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Put in to bat, Punjab started off on a poor note, losing opener Mayank Agarwal (15), new batsmen Aaron Finch (0) and Yuvraj Singh (4) in the fourth over. With the scoreboard reading 32, Mayank and Finch were dismissed off consecutive balls, while Yuvraj was bowled on the last ball by Yadav.
 
Unperturbed by the sudden fall of wickets, opener Rahul (47) played sensibly and also hammered the bowlers all around the park before getting out in the 12th over to spinner Sundar. In his 30-ball knock, he slammed two boundaries and four sixes.
 
Middle-order batsmen Karun Nair (29) and Marcus Stoinis (11) also failed to utilise their starts and got dismissed in back-to-back overs to make the scoreboard read 102/5.
 
With their top-five players sitting in the dugout, Punjab's lower-order got exposed early. Ashwin (33), however, tried to pace up the innings but in the process the off-spinner also got out in the penultimate over.
 
Tye (7) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (0) got out cheaply and Punjab only managed 155 runs in 19.2 overs.
 
Brief scores:
Kings XI Punjab: 155/10 (Lokesh Rahul 47; Umesh Yadav 3/23) against Royal Challengers Bangalore: 159/6 (AB de Villiers 57; Ravichandra Ashwin 2/ 30)
 
IANS
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IPL: Kings XI Punjab post 155 against Royal Challengers Bangalore

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Kings XI Punjab were bowled out for 155 against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the Indian Premier League match at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Friday.
 
Lokesh Rahul (47) and skipper Ravichandra Ashwin (33) were the top scorers for Punjab.
 
For Bangalore, pacer Umesh Yadav scalped three wickets while Chris Woakes, Kulwant Khejroliya and Washington Sundar took two wickets each.
 
Put in to bat, Punjab started off on a poor note, losing opener Mayank Agarwal (15), new batsmen Aaron Finch (0) and Yuvraj Singh (4) in the fourth over. With the scoreboard reading 32, Mayank and Finch were dismissed off consecutive balls, while Yuvraj was bowled on the last ball by Yadav.
 
Unperturbed by the sudden fall of wickets, opener Rahul (47) played sensibly and also hammered the bowlers all around the park before getting out in the 12th over to spinner Washington Sundar. In his 30-ball knock, Rahul slammed two boundaries and four sixes.
 
Middle-order batsmen Karun Nair (29) and Marcus Stoinis (11) also failed to utilise their starts and got dismissed in back to back overs to make scorebaord read 102/5.
 
With their top five players sitting in dugout, Punjab's lower-order got exposed early. Ashwin (33), however, tried to pace up the innings but in the process the off-spinner also got out in the penultimate over.
 
Andrew Tye (7) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (0) got out cheaply and Punjab only managed 155 runs in 19.2 overs.
 
Brief scores: 
Kings XI Punjab: 155/10 (Lokesh Rahul 47; Umesh Yadav 3/23) against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
 
IANS
 
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CBSE to conduct postponed Class X, XII exams of April 2 on April 27

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The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) today said its Class X and XII examinations scheduled for April 2 which were postponed in Punjab due to a call for a "Bharat Bandh" given by some organisations, would now be held on April 27 in that state.
 
The examination will be held from 10.30 am to 1.30 on Friday, April 27 in the subjects of French (subject code 018), Sanskrit (122) and Urdu Course-B (303) for Class X and Hindi Elective (002), Gujarati (110), Nepali (124), Kashmiri (197) and Hindi Core (302) for Class XII.
 
Roll numbers and examination centres already allotted to the students would remain the same, a CBSE press release said.
 
The CBSE had postponed the April 2 examinations in Punjab at the request of the State Government, which had decided to keep all schools closed on that day due to apprehension of law and order problems and other disturbances during the "bandh" (general strike) and to prevent any untoward incident involving schoolchildren.
 
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Mortal remains of Iraq victims arrive in Amritsar

 
Mortal remains of 38 Indians killed in Iraq brought to Amritsar
The mortal remains of 38 Indian men killed by the Islamic State terror group in Mosul, Iraq, in 2014 arrived here on Monday afternoon on a special IAF aircraft.
 
Union Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh accompanied the mortal remains.
 
"We are thankful to the authorities in Iraq for the help (they rendered) to locate the victims and exhume the mortal remains. The government of India did its best to know about the missing Indians," Singh told the media.
 
Although 39 Indians were killed as the Islamic State took over Mosul in June 2014, the mortal remains of 38 were brought back as the identification of one body is still pending.
 
While the coffins of 31 victims -- 27 from Punjab and four from Himachal Pradesh -- were handed over to the respective authorities at the Amritsar airport here, seven coffins were shifted to another aircraft to be flown to West Bengal (3) and Bihar (4).
 
Punjab's Cultural Affairs Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was present at the airport to receive the coffins, along with officials of the other states to which the victims belonged.
 
The victims' families were told by officials not to open the coffins since the mortal remains had been exhumed from graves and could emit toxic gases. 
 
However, most have refused the direction and said that they would opt for a traditional cremation.
 
In the wake of the nationwide protests against the dilution of the SC and ST Prevention of Atrocities Act on Monday, the Punjab government had appealed to the demonstrators to allow the mortal remains to pass without hindrance.
 
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had informed Parliament on March 20 that all 39 Indian construction workers kidnapped in 2014 from Mosul have been killed.
 
The Minister had earlier said that she will not consider them dead unless there was proof in this regard, rejecting lone survivor Harjit Masih's claim that the captives were shot dead.
 
Masih had escaped from the clutches of the terror group in June 2014.
 
After Mosul was freed from the clutches of the Islamic State in July 2017, there was hope that the missing Indians would be found. 
 
However, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, during his India visit in July, said he was not sure if the men were alive or not.
 
IANS
 
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Two killed as violence grips India amid Dalit protests

Two persons were killed and many injured as violence gripped parts of India on Monday as Dalit groups enforced a day-long country-wide shutdown against a Supreme Court order they say dilutes a law to prevent atrocities against the marginalized Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).

 
Bharat Bandh over "dilution" of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act
Two persons were killed and many injured as violence gripped parts of India on Monday as Dalit groups enforced a day-long country-wide shutdown against a Supreme Court order they say dilutes a law to prevent atrocities against the marginalized Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
 
The government, in a bid to pacify the agitated Dalit activists, said it had filed a petition in the apex court seeking a review of its March 20 order that bars automatic arrest and registration of cases for alleged harassment of Dalits and others.
 
Protesters clashed with police in Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Odisha -- states where normal life was paralyzed in varying degrees amid incidences of violence and arson.
 
Clashes turned deadly in Madhya Pradesh where two persons were killed and dozens injured, forcing authorities to impose curfew at many places. Police said one person was killed in Bhind and the other in Morena.
 
Gwalior District Magistrate Rahul Jain told IANS that at least 22 persons were injured, some critically, in clashes in his district, where prohibitory orders banning large gatherings were also imposed. 
 
Protesters blocked rail tracks and set fire to vehicles, with plumes of fire and smoke seen on near barren roads.
 
The Madhya Pradesh government called the Army to control the situation in Bhind, Morena and Gwalior.
 
Punjab and Haryana also saw widespread protests.
 
Shops, educational institutions and other establishments remained closed and Class 10 and 12 examinations were deferred in Punjab, which has the highest concentration of Scheduled Castes, constituting nearly 32 per cent its 2.8 crore population.
 
Hundreds of protesters carrying swords, sticks, baseball bats and flags forced shopkeepers and other establishments in Jalandhar, Amritsar and Bathinda to shut down.
 
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Protests also took place in Rohtak and other towns of neighbouring Haryana.
 
In Bihar, activists disrupted rail and road traffic. Mobs shut down markets and shops as well as educational institutions, police said.
 
Supporters of the Bhim Army and other Dalit outfits halted over three dozen long-distance and local trains, stranding thousands of passengers.
 
"Train services have been badly disrupted due to the protest," an East Central Railway official told IANS.
 
Violence was reported from Vaishali, Muzaffarpur, Nawada, Patna and Bhagalpur when protestors clashed with police.
 
Violence also erupted in parts of Uttar Pradesh as protesters attacked shops, looted some and pelted stones at police in Hapur, Agra, Meerut and Saharanpur.
 
Many cars were targeted and their window panes smashed. At some places, government property was targeted. 
 
Some people reportedly fired at a police team in Meerut while a passenger bus was set on fire. Pro-reservation groups indulged in vandalism at the Muzaffarnagar railway station, stoning the Kocchi Express.
 
Also in Meerut, over 500 Dalit youths targeted the media and broke their cameras as they were trying to photograph the protests. 
 
Amid widespread anger and violence, the government filed a review petition in the Supreme Court to seek recall of its judgment that ruled that there would be no automatic arrest of an accused following a complaint moved under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
 
The Supreme Court had held on March 20 that police will hold an inquiry to ascertain the veracity of the complaint filed under the act before acting on it. 
 
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government "with due respect, does not agree with the reasoning given by the apex court".
 
He said senior government lawyers "will argue this matter with all their legal preparations and authority that this judgment needs to be reconsidered". 
 
IANS
 
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Protests against dilution of SC/ST Act hit Punjab, Haryana

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Activists from various Scheduled Castes (SC) organisations held protests in Punjab and Haryana against the dilution of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act following a Supreme Court order.
 
Hundreds of protesters carrying swords, sticks, baseball bats and flags forced shopkeepers and other establishments in Jalandhar, Amritsar and Bathinda to shut down.
 
According to reports, some protesters tried to stop a train in Amritsar district earlier on Monday morning but relented following talks with railway officials. 
 
Demonstrators also entered the Jalandhar Cantt railway station, shouting slogans and burnt effigies on the tracks. 
 
Some highways and roads were also blocked. Traffic in and around Chandigarh was severely affected.
 
Protests were also reported from Rohtak and other towns in neighbouring Haryana.
 
Shops, educational institutions and other establishments remained closed in Punjab. The final practical examinations of Class 10 and 12 of Punjab School Education Board, which were scheduled to be held on Monday, will now be held on April 11.
 
Various SC organisations will submit memorandums to district officers against the dilution of the Act.
 
The Punjab government on Sunday ordered a security clampdown across the state as a precautionary measure in view of Monday's protest.
 
The state has the highest concentration of scheduled castes among states. They constitute nearly 32 per cent of the state's 2.8 crore population.
 
Mobile internet services have been suspended from 5 p.m. on Sunday till Monday evening.
 
Noting that the Central government had already announced its decision to file a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh appealed to the SC/ST community to defer its protest till the final decision on the petition comes.
 
IANS
 
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Punjab orders clampdown ahead of SC protest on Monday

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The Punjab government on Sunday ordered a security clampdown across the state as a precautionary measure in view of Monday's protest by some organizations of the Scheduled Castes, objecting to the dilution of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.
 
While ordering closure of all educational institutions and suspension of state-owned road transport services, the Punjab government has asked the Army and para-military forces to be on alert.
 
Mobile internet services in the state were suspended from 5 p.m. on Sunday till Monday evening in a bid to check rumour mongering on social media, while all public and private transport will remain suspended during the bandh to prevent any untoward incident, an official spokesperson said here.
 
The orders were issued after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh reviewed the security arrangements with top police and administrative officials here on Sunday evening. The review was followed by a video conference by the Chief Secretary with the Deputy Commissioners and other senior officials of all the districts.
 
Punjab has the highest concentration of scheduled castes among states. They constitute nearly 32 percent of the state's 2.8 crore population.
 
Giving details of the precautionary measures taken by the government, the spokesperson said four battalions of the Rapid Action Force, four of Border Security Force, along with 12,000 additional police personnel will remain on duty Monday to maintain law and order.
 
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"PRTC, Punjab Roadways and PunBus, as well as buses run by private operators, would not ply on the roads through the bandh duration," the spokesperson added.
 
All the educational institutions, government or private, will remain closed on April 2 as a precautionary measure, the spokesperson said.
 
The final practical examinations of Class 10 and 12 of Punjab School Education Board, which were scheduled to be held on Monday, will now be held on April 11.
 
While issuing strict orders to police and security forces to deal with any attempt to disturb the peace and harmony in the state with an iron hand, the Chief Minister reiterated his appeal to the organisations, that have called the bandh not to take the law in their own hands and, in particular, not to impede transport movement in any way or harass commuters.
 
With Punjab a key route for transportation of essential provisions to the armed forces at the borders, any disruption on the highways could seriously hamper the supply of the necessary supplies, he said.
 
Amarinder Singh also appealed to the protestors to ensure that the mortal remains of the Iraq victims, that are expected to arrive in Amritsar on Monday, are allowed to be transported to their native villages without any impediment.
 
He also directed the Punjab Police to provide strict security for the same along the routes, from the airport to the respective native villages of the victims. 
 
Noting that the Central government had already announced its decision to file a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict, he appealed to the SC/ST community should defer its protest till the final decision on the petition comes.
 
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CBSE Class XII, X exams scheduled for April 2 postponed in Punjab due to 'bandh' call

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The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) today said the Class XII and Class X examinations scheduled for April 2 in Punjab had been postponed due to a call for a "Bharat Bandh" given by some organisations.
 
A press release from the Board said it had received a letter of request today from the Director General, School Education of Punjab stating that the state government had decided to keep all schools closed tomorrow due to apprehension of law and order problems and other disturbances during the "bandh" (general strike) and to prevent any untoward incident involving schoolchildren.
 
The state government had, in the letter, requested CBSE to postpone all its examinations scheduled for April 2.
 
The release said examinations would be held as per schedule in the Union Territory of Chandigarh and the rest of the country.
 
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