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Rajasthan

Asaram Bapu convicted in minor rape case

Five years after charges of rape were levelled against Asaram Bapu, the Jodhpur Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Court on Wednesday convicted the self-styled godman and four others in a 2013 rape case.
File photo of Asaram Bapu. (Photo: IANS)
File photo of Asaram Bapu. (Photo: IANS)
Five years after charges of rape were levelled against Asaram Bapu, the Jodhpur Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Court on Wednesday convicted the self-styled godman and four others in a 2013 rape case.
 
Asaram was convicted under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) act and Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act.
 
The judgement was pronounced by Judge Madhusudan inside the Jodhpur Central Jail, where Asaram is lodged.
 
Asaram Bapu was arrested in 2013 on the complaint filed by a teenage girl from Uttar Pradesh's Shahajahanpur. She had accused him of raping her at his Jodhpur ashram in August. The victim was a Class 12 student at his Chhindwara Ashram in Madhya Pradesh.
 
The 77-year-old godman is facing trial in two other sexual assault cases: one in Rajasthan here and the other in Gujarat. 
 
He was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013. He has been in judicial custody since September 2, 2013. 
 
He also faces multiple charges, including wrongful confinement, criminal intimidation, criminal conspiracy and sexual harassment.
 
The chargesheet named Asaram and four others -- Sanchita alias Shilpi, Sharad Chandra alias Sharat Chandra, Prakash and Shiva alias Sava Ram Hethvadiya.
 
The quantum of punishment will be announced later.
 
IANS
 
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Salman gets bail against personal bond of Rs 50,000

After spending two nights in a Jodhpur jail, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was granted bail on Saturday in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 by District and Sessions Court Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi.
 
Salman Khan convicted in black buck poaching case
 
 
After spending two nights in a local jail, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was granted bail on Saturday in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 by District and Sessions Court Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi.
 
Arguments on the actor's bail application, which had been taken up yesterday, continued this morning before the judge reserved his order for the post-lunch session.
 
While granting him bail, the judge asked Salman, 52, to furnish a personal bond of Rs. 50,000 and two sureties of Rs. 25,000 each with guarantees that he will adhere to all the bail conditions.
 
The court said Salman would have to secure special permission from it to travel abroad.
 
He is expected to be released by this evening after completion of various legal procedures, sources said.
 
Salman had spent a second night in the Central Jail here last night because the arguments on his bail plea could not be completed yesterday.
 
The superstar was convicted by a local court on Thursday and was sentenced to five years imprisonment in the two-decade-old case.
 
Salman and other Bollywood stars Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam allegedly went hunting on October 1-2 in 1998 outside a forest reserve near Kankani village in Jodhpur while shooting for "Hum Saath Saath Hain" in 1998. 
 
While Salman was found guilty, the four co-stars and a local, Dushyant Singh, were acquitted.
 
Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri convicted Salman under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife Protection Act.
 
(With  inputs from IANS)
 
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15 dead, 31 injured as high-tension wire falls on bus in Rajasthan

At least 15 people were electrocuted and 31 others suffered injuries when the bus they were travelling in came in contact with a high-tension electricity wire in the Tonk district of Rajasthan on Friday afternoon, official sources said.
 
At least 15 dead as high-tension wire falls on bus in Rajasthan
At least 15 people were electrocuted and 31 others suffered injuries when the bus they were travelling in came in contact with a high-tension electricity wire in the Tonk district of Rajasthan this afternoon, official sources said.
 
Police officials in Tonk told NetIndian over the telephone that the injured were initially taken to nearby hospitals from where they were referred to a hospital in Jaipur.
 
All the victims were men and were going to attend a marriage when the mishap occurred in the Malpura area of the district around 3 pm.
 
Senior district admininstration and police officials rushed to the spot to oversee the rescue and relief efforts, the sources said.
 
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje condoled the loss of lives in the incident and announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh each to the next-of-kin of those killed.
 
She also asked State Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria and other senior ministers and officials to rush to the spot and ensure the best possible medical care for the injured.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives in the incident. 
 
"The bus incident at Tonk, Rajasthan is very heart-rending. My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
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Denied LS ticket by BJP, Jaswant Singh says will file nomination on Monday

Senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh, who is upset at being denied a ticket by the party to contest the coming Lok Sabha elections from his home town of Barmer, confirmed on Sunday that he would file his nomination from there on Monday, presumably as an independent candidate.
Not furniture that BJP can adjust me: Jaswant
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jaswant Singh, who is upset at being denied a party ticket to contest the coming Lok Sabha elections from his home town of Barmer in Rajasthan, today confirmed that he would file his nomination from there tomorrow, presumably as an independent candidate.
 
At the same time, he ruled out joining the Congress or any other party, saying it was insulting to him for any party to even think on such lines.
 
Reacting to media reports that the Congress might try and rope him in, Mr Singh, 76, told newspersons in his village that he had spent his entire political life in the BJP and had never thought of joining any other party.
 
"If the Congress is thinking along those lines, it is a waste of their time," he said.
 
But, despite repeated queries, he refused to confirm or deny whether the Congress had, in fact, made any overtures to him or not.
 
To another question, Mr Singh said he would go to Barmer tomorrow and file his nominations. "I will go to Barmer, will discuss the issue with others and act accordingly," he said.
 
Asked if he would resign from the party before filing his nomination, he said these things would be known tomorrow.
 
Mr Singh was particularly unhappy with senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley's statement that the party could not "adjust" Mr Singh in its list of candidates and that it would find other ways of using his abilities.
 
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"I saw on television a party leader saying that the could not 'adjust' me. The choice of words shows their way of thinking and their arrogant nature. It is insulting to me. I am not a piece of furniture, a chair or a table, which can be moved to some other part of the room if it does not fit in one place.
 
"I don't want to be 'adjusted'," he said. "All my life, I have worked for the party, in its best interests, to the best of my ability," he said.
 
About Barmer, he said it was the place where he was born and where he had grown. "All that I know today, I learnt from here," he said.
 
Asked about the caste equations in the area, Mr Singh regretted that the social fabric of the region was being torn by such considerations. He said he had never practised such politics. "You cannot divide society and people in this manner. If we persist in doing so, the state will end up as a second-rate UP, a third-rate Bihar," he said.
 
The BJP had, on Friday, announced that its candidate from Barmer would be Col Sonaram Chaudhary, a former MLA, who had recently joined it after resigning from the Congress, ignoring Mr Singh's claims and his wish that he be allowed to contest what could possibly be his last election from his home turf.
 
Reacting to the move, Mr Singh had hit out at the party yesterday, saying that it had been encroached upon by "outsiders", an obvious reference to the fact that it had given tickets to several people who had joined it in recent weeks, ignoring the claims of party loyalists.
 
He also made it clear to journalists at Jodhpur on his way to barmer that he would not indulge in any kid of bargaining with the party for post-election positions or any other officers from it.
 
"My sense of honour is not subject to trading," he said, even as Mr Jaitley and BJP President Rajnath Singh said that the party would utilise Mr Singh's abilities in some other way.
 
Mr Rajnath Singh said the importance that the BJP acccorded to Mr Singh could not be judged on the basis of an election ticket alone. "He is far above that," he said.
 
"The challenge today is between the real BJP and the fake BJP," Mr Singh said. "Only the people can decide on the difference between the two," he said.
 
He said he had lived and struggled all these years to uphold the principles on which the BJP was founded and it was important that he continued to do so.
 
He said it was for the BJP to realise what would add value to the party, to India and to the people of India.
 
The BJP's decision to deny the ticket to Mr Singh is being seen as yet another indication that the old order in the party is being forced to yield place to the new.
 
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According to media reports, Mr Singh had conveyed to the BJP leadership that he would contest the election from Barmer as an independent candidate if the party decided against nominating him.
 
He has never contested from Barmer, having been elected to the Lok Sabha from Chittorgarh in Rajasthan in 1991 and 1996, and from Darjeeling in West Bengal in the last general elections in 2009.
 
According to sources, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had pushed for a ticket for Col Choudhary, a Jat leader, after he joined the BJP some time ago.
 
Col Choudhary had lost the 2004 Lok Sabha elections from Barmer to Mr Jaswant Singh's son Manvendra Singh, who now represents Sheo - a part of the Barmer Parliamentary constituency - in the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly.
 
The move to deny Mr Singh a ticket has also upset a section of BJP workers in Barmer, who staged protests and tore party posters to express their anger.
 
The denial of the party nomination to Mr Singh came just a day after the BJP had, on Thursday, managed to mollify its veteran leader Lal Krishna Advani into accepting the party's decision to field him from Gandhinagar in Gujarat, though he had expressed his wish to shift to Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.
 
Earlier, another party veteran, Murli Manohar Joshi, was reportedly upset after he had to make way for BJP Prime Ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who wanted to contest the Lok Sabha elections from his constituency of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. He was persuaded finally to move to Kanpur.
 
Another senior leader, Lalji Tandon, had to give up his claim over Lucknow, the seat held by him, to accommodate Mr Rajnath Singh, who decided against contesting from Ghaziabad, the seat he had won the last time.
 
In Punjab, three-time MP and former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu had to make way in Amritsar for senior leader Arun Jaitley.
 
Yesterday, the BJP denied renomination to seven-time MP Harin Pathak from Ahmedabad East and fielded well-known actor Paresh Rawal as its candidate from the constituency. Mr Pathak is known to be close to Mr Advani and was reportedly not on very good terms with Mr Modi.
 
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6 morning walkers crushed by speeding vehicle in Rajasthan

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Six elderly men who went for their morning walk were crushed to death by a speeding vehicle in Kumher city in Bharatpur district on Thursday, the police said.
 
"Six people, all of them aged between 60 and 65, were sitting on the roadside to relax after their morning walk when a vehicle mowed them down at around 5 a.m.," Ram Roop Meena, Station House Officer (SHO) at Kumher police station told IANS.
 
All the victims received head injuries. They were rushed to a hospital where they succumbed to their injuries, Meena added.
 
The victims have been identified as Raghudayal Baghel, Prem Singh Baghel, Niroti Saini, Makhan Nagar, Hari and Rameshwar, the SHO said. 
 
The driver fled the spot along with the vehicle, which the locals identified as a pick-up. 
 
IANS
 

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ED attaches assets worth Rs. 4.75 crore in a corruption case

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The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) said on Monday that it had, under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA),   provisionally attached immovable assets worth Rs. 4.75 crore of Mahesh Chand Sharma and his family members and relatives in a corruption case. 
 
The attached properties include agricultural land worth Rs. 1.69 crore at Sanganer and Dudu Tehsil of Jaipur and ten plots and flats at various locations in Jaipur, a press release from ED said.
 
According to the release, the ED had initiated investigation on the basis of FIR and charge-sheet filed by Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Jaipur against Mahesh Chand Sharma and others.
 
Sharma had worked in the Health and Medical Department of Rajasthan Government as Nursing Tutor (Nursing Grade- 2), College of Nursing, SMS Medical College and also as Member, Indian Nursing Council (INC), New Delhi. He, along with his associate, was trapped by ACB for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs. 5 lakh from a nursing institute for adding the name of the institute on the website of INC (which was deleted earlier).
 
The release said that, later on, ACB investigations established that the accused had amassed illicit earning amounting to Rs. 10.6 crore, which is 372% more than his known and legal source of income. 
 
"Investigation under PMLA revealed that Mahesh Chand Sharma has used the proceeds of crime for purchase of agricultural land, residential flats and plots in the names of his wife, son and family members. This was done to layer, place and integrate the illicit money in the formal financial system in order to project it as untainted.
 
"Accordingly these immovable properties worth Rs. 4.75 crore have been attached. Further investigations to identify the remaining proceeds of crime are underway," the release added.
 
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Pink City of Jaipur becomes India’s 38th UNESCO World Heritage site

India’s nomination of Jaipur City got inscribed today on the World Heritage List of UNESCO during the 43rd Session of the World Heritage Committee held at Baku, Azerbaijan. 
 
The nomination of Jaipur City has successfully been done by complying with the various UNESCO guidelines of 2017. With the successful inscription of Jaipur City, India has 38 world heritage sites that include 30 Cultural properties, seven Natural properties and one mixed site.
 
India's nomination was initially recommended by the ICOMOS (advisory body of World Heritage (WH) Centre for Cultural Sites) as Deferral, but the 21 nation World Heritage Committee debated it and after discussion decided to inscribe it on the World Heritage list.
 
Union Minister for Culture Prahlad Singh Patel expressed his happiness on the inclusion of the Pink City Jaipur in World Heritage List and congratulated people of the city for this prestigious tag.
 
The excerpts of the proposed statement of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) before the World Heritage Committee was presented by India as follows:
 
The City of Jaipur is an exceptional urban example in indigenous city planning and construction in South Asia. Unlike other medieval cities of the region, Jaipur was deliberately planned as a new city on the plains open for trade as opposed to hilly terrain and military cities of past, though its planning still ensured a response to the surrounding hilltops in all directions.
 
The site selected within the valley that lay to the south of Amber hills was comparatively flat and unmarred by any previous construction.  Besides an exemplary planning, its iconic monuments such as the Govind Dev temple, City Palace, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal excel in artistic and architectural the craftsmanship of the period.
 
Jaipur is an expression of the astronomical skills, living traditions, unique urban form and exemplary foresighted city planning of an 18th-century city from India. Jaipur is an exemplary development in town planning and architecture that demonstrates amalgamation and important interchange of several ideas over the late medieval period.
 
The countries that supported India's nomination was Brazil, Bahrain, Cuba, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, China, Guatemala, Uganda, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Angola, St. Kitts and Nevis. Australia and Norway initially proposed referral but after the debate, they agreed for Inscription of Jaipur city.
 
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Tension in Jaipur after rape of minor girl

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Tension prevailed here after a group of people surrounded a police station and vandalized several cars to protest the rape of a seven-year-old girl, officials said on Tuesday.
 
Police said the girl was taken to an isolated place on Monday by a man who identified himself as her father's friend. After raping her, he left the profusely bleeding girl on the road.
 
Later on Monday night, her family members took her to Kanwatiya Hospital from where she was referred to JK Lon Hospital.
 
The girl was admitted in the surgical ICU. The medical report stated that she has abrasions on her chest and injuries on the forehead.
 
It added that she was, however, stable with minor abrasions on her private parts.
 
Following the incident, tension gripped the Shastri Nagar area of Jaipur on Tuesday morning as protesters surrounded the local police station after smashing the panes of several cars on Monday night.
 
Divisional Commissioner K. C. Verma has suspended Internet services in 13 areas of the city from July 2 till July 3, 10 a.m. 
 
A case has been registered under the POCSO Act and the police are looking for the accused.
 
A huge crowd had gathered near the Kanwatiya Hospital, demanding the immediate arrest of the accused.
 
Police Commissioner Anand Shrivastava said: "The girl is out of danger. Senior doctors are treating her. We shall try for the harshest punishment for the accused once he is arrested," he said, urging the people not to believe rumours.
 
Transport Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas reached the hospital to meet the girl on Tuesday. 
 
"We all are trying to arrest the accused soon. There is just no space for people committing such crimes in our society," he said. He also requested the people not to play politics on this issue.
 
Health Minister Raghu Sharma has ordered free treatment of the girl.
 
IANS
 

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Rajasthan Assembly gives live coverage on YouTube as media boycott proceedings

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As the media continued to boycott the Rajasthan Assembly proceedings for the second day on Friday in the wake of several restrictions imposed on them, officials broadcast the proceedings live on YouTube, making it first such live telecast on the Internet.
 
Playing down the media boycott, Speaker C. P. Joshi said, "If journalists come, they are welcome. If they do not come, then also they are welcome. The 'boycott' just doesn't matter as we are live on YouTube." 
 
The Assembly session started on Thursday. However, media personnel who had already been issued passes, were surprised to see that the authorities had specifically restricted their visits to the offices of the Speaker, ministers and other MLAs.
 
Eventually the media personnel refused to go to the press gallery on the second day too and relied on YouTube to report the proceedings.
 
The issue of media boycott was raised by BJP MLA Madanlal Dilawar during zero hour. However, the Speaker said that they need not worry as people can watch the proceedings on YouTube.
 
Later while speaking to the media, he said, "I have taken this decision to maintain discipline in the Assembly. If a journalist wants to talk to any minister or MLA, s/he can give a request slip to the PRO. If a journalist wants to meet a minister, s/he would have to wait for the minister's consent. I can't allow blanket coverage of the Assembly for everyone".
 
Surprisingly, certain sections of Assembly proceedings which are expunged will also be made available to the people. 
 
Assembly secretary Pramil Kumar Mathur said: "This initiative will help in bringing about transparency in government work. The common man can now listen to the people's representatives and see if they raise relevant issues".
 
A Twitter handle has also been created to update information on Assembly proceedings, he said.
 
IANS
 

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World Bank to provide $ 250 million loan for Rajasthan State Highways Development Programme

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The Union Government, the State Government and the World Bank today signed a $ 250 million loan agreement for the Rajasthan State Highways Development Program II Project to build the state's capacity to better manage its highways and improve traffic flows on selected highways.
 
The World Bank-supported project will support the construction, upgrading, improvement and maintenance of 766 km of state highways and major district roads. It will also help build an online project management system and a smartphone application to handle contract management, data reporting, quality control, and so on, an official press release said.
 
Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs said the development of state highways in Rajasthan was crucial to the success of the National-Level Connectivity Programs.
 
The World Bank Project will not only help the state expand its road network but also have a lasting impact on the design and implementation of statewide transport capital investments.
 
The loan agreement was signed by Khare on behalf of the Union Government and Shanker Lal, Acting Country Director (India) on behalf of the World Bank. The project agreement was signed by M L Verma, Chief Engineer & Additional Secretary, Public Works Department on behalf of  Rajasthan and Shanker Lal.
 
According to the release, the project will help build the capacity of the Public Works Department (PWD), which is responsible for about 70% of the state’s road network, as well as of the Rajasthan State Highways Authority.
 
The State Government had launched the Rajasthan State Highways Development Program in the financial year 2014-15 as a flagship program under its vision of a Resurgent Rajasthan. This ambitious plan aims to develop 20,000 km of State Highways and major District roads through public-private partnerships.
 
The World Bank-supported project will help the state improve its competitiveness by increasing access to basic services for the population at large, especially those living in rural areas and smaller centres along the corridors, the release said.
 
Road safety is a major component of the project, with more than 10,000 road traffic-related deaths reported in the state in 2017. A global information system-based database will enable recording and reporting of road accidents as well as the storage, analysis and dissemination of this information. Citizens will be empowered to report road accidents in rural areas through a simple-to-use smartphone application.
 
Kamal Ahmad said that the project has a significant focus on road safety - from helping build the state’s capacity for road safety management by using proactive and preventive methods, to using innovative tools to capture accident data, including from rural areas. 
 
Another important component includes gender audits for road designs and security enhancements for women and girls at bus stops, etc. The project will also help incorporate road designs to support the differently abled.
 
Additional focus will be on making the roads resilient to climate change, particularly high temperatures and flooding, and also to develop institutional capacity for climate risk management. The project will support resource efficient growth through the use of greener materials. 
 
Mesfin Wodajo Jijo and Reenu Aneja, World Bank Task Team Leaders for the project said a crucial aspect of the project is that it will support the operationalization of the Rajasthan State Highways Authority. The goal is to transform the management of the strategic road network through a State Highways Agency that will be accountable to the public for the services it delivers. 
 
The $ 250 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a 25-year maturity including a 5-year grace period.
 
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Rajasthan BJP chief Madan Lal Saini passes away at AIIMS in Delhi

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Rajasthan BJP chief Madan Lal Saini, who was admitted at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences here last week, died on Monday, a hospital official said. He was 75.
 
"Saini was admitted in the hospital on June 22. He passed away today (Monday) evening around 7 p.m," an AIIMS official told IANS, adding that the BJP leader was "having some blood-related issues". 
 
Saini was appointed as the party's Rajasthan chief last year, months before the state went to assembly polls.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister and BJP chief Amit Shah and Rajasthan Chief Ashok Gehlot condoled the death of Saini.
 
"The passing away of Shri Madanlal Saini Ji is a major loss for the BJP family. He contributed to strengthening the party in Rajasthan. He was widely respected for his congenial nature and community service efforts. My thoughts are with his family and supporters. Om Shanti," the Prime Minister tweeted.
 
"Just received the saddening news of Madan Lal Saini's death. Saini, who held several posts in the party was a true public servant whose whole life was devoted to the party and society. He was instrumental in strengthening the BJP in Rajasthan.
 
"The demise of Madan Lal Saini is an irreparable loss to the BJP family. I express my condolences to the bereaved family in this hour of grief and pray to the Lord for the peace of the departed soul," Amit Shah said in a series of tweets.
 
"Shocked and saddened to hear about the passing away of Madan Lal Sainiji, President of BJP Rajasthan. My thoughts and prayers are with his family members. May God give them strength to bear this loss. May his soul rest in peace," Gehlot tweeted.
 
IANS
 

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14 dead, 26 injured as tent collapses during rain in Rajasthan

At least 14 people were killed and 26 injured when a massive tent erected for people attending a religious gathering collapsed during rain in Rajasthan's Barmer on Sunday, police said.
People gathered at the site where a massive tent erected for people attending a religious gathering collapsed during a dust storm in Rajasthan's Barmer, on June 23, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
People gathered at the site where a massive tent erected for people attending a religious gathering collapsed during a dust storm in Rajasthan's Barmer, on June 23, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
At least 14 people were killed and 26 injured when a massive tent erected for people attending a religious gathering collapsed during rain in Rajasthan's Barmer on Sunday, police said.
 
"Around 1,000 people had gathered under a tent to listen to Ram Katha in Jasol village of Balotra area, when a storm played havoc around 3.30 p.m. Most participants were senior citizens," said District Collector Himanshu Gupta.
 
Balotra Sub-Inspector Khetaram Parmar told IANS: "Some 14 people have lost their lives, while 26 injured have been admitted to the district hospital."
 
There are reports of many people getting electrocuted after an electric wire fell to the ground. According to an eyewitness: "The breaking of the wire in the rain led to a stampede in which many people were electrocuted."
 
Meanwhile, a video has also gone viral since the evening, in which Murlidhar, the man delivering the discourse, is seen asking people to evacuate the tent even as the structure crashes.
 
Parmar added that the number of injured was much higher as many people had been shifted to private hospitals by their families. However, their exact number was yet to be confirmed.
 
Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Kailash Chaudhary cancelled his Ranchi tour and left for Barmer to monitor the situation.
 
The state government has formed a five-member team, comprising senior officials, to look into the relief work. A compensation of Rs 5 lakh has also been announced for the families of each of the deceased, while every injured will get Rs 2 lakh.
 
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has directed Jodhpur Divisional Commissioner B. L. Kothari to investigate the tragedy.
 
Expressing anguish over the tragedy, Gehlot wrote on Twitter: "The loss of lives of so many people during Ram Katha in Jasol, Barmer is unfortunate and sad. I pray to God to bestow peace on the departed souls and strength to the bereaved families. I also wish quick recovery to the injured."
 
"The local administration is engaged in rescue and relief work. The officials concerned have been asked to investigate the incident. They have also been asked to provide quick medical treatment to the injured and all help to the families of those affected," he tweeted.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also extended his condolences. "Collapse of a pandal in Rajasthan's Barmer is unfortunate. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and I wish the injured a quick recovery," he tweeted.
 
Former chief minister Vasundhara Raje tweeted: "Extremely sad to hear about the death of over dozen people in Jasol in Barmer who were listening to Ram Katha. I pray to God for the departed soul and to give patience to the grief-stricken families."
 
IANS
 

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11 dead, many injured as tent collapses during religious gathering in Rajasthan

Around 11 people died and many were injured when a massive tent erected for people attending a religious gathering collapsed during a dust storm in Rajasthan's Barmer on Sunday, police said.
People gathered at the site where a massive tent erected for people attending a religious gathering collapsed during a dust storm in Rajasthan's Barmer, on June 23, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
People gathered at the site where a massive tent erected for people attending a religious gathering collapsed during a dust storm in Rajasthan's Barmer, on June 23, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Around 11 people died and many were injured when a massive tent erected for people attending a religious gathering collapsed during a dust storm in Rajasthan's Barmer on Sunday, police said.
 
Police said the death toll could go up as a huge crowd had gathered to listen to a Ramkatha discourse in Jasol village in Balotra area of Barmer. The injured were rushed to the nearby hospital.
 
Speaking to IANS, Balotra Sub-Inspector Khetaram said: "The exact number of the dead will be given after some time. Right now, the entire police machinery is busy providing medical aid to the injured and helping control the crowd."
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 

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BJP's Om Birla elected unopposed as Speaker of 17th Lok Sabha

BJP MP from Rajasthan Om Birla was on Wednesday unanimously elected the Speaker of the 17th Lok Sabha.
Om Birla
Om Birla
BJP MP from Rajasthan Om Birla was on Wednesday unanimously elected the Speaker of the 17th Lok Sabha.
 
Birla, 56, was elected after Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed his name on Day 3 of the Budget session.
 
All members of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as well the Congress and the Trinamool Congress supported the proposal to pick Birla as the Speaker.
 
Birla, a two-time MP from Kota and a three-time MLA, was personally escorted to the Speaker's chair by the Prime Minister after the formalities were over.
 
"It is a matter of pride that Om Birla has been elected the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. Public service has been the focal point of the politics of Om Birla. He is a compassionate leader who will preside over the House," Modi said.
 
Modi told Parliament that Birla's "unanimous" election was a "matter of great pride".
 
"I personally remember working with Birlaji for a long time. He represents Kota, a place that is a mini India, a land associated with education and learning. He has been in public life for many years. He began as a student leader and has been serving the society since then without a break."
 
A total of 13 motions were moved in support of Birla.
 
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, named the Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, urged Birla that the House should abide by democratic practices.
 
"We believe in discussion, dissent and decision. And we expect our right to be respected. In parliamentary discussions, we must avoid the ordinance route because it is against democratic norms," the Congress leader said.
 
IANS
 

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BJP's Om Birla elected Lok Sabha Speaker unopposed

Om Birla
Om Birla
BJP MP from Rajasthan Om Birla was elected unopposed as the Speaker of the 17th Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi moved the motion in support of Birla, 56, and it was passed unopposed in the House by voice vote.
 
Birla was the surprise pick of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the coveted post.
 
Speaking in Parliament, the Prime Minister termed Birla's "unanimous" election as a "matter of great pride".
 
"It is a matter of great pride for the House. We all congratulate Om Birlaji on being unanimously elected the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. Many MPs know Birlaji well. He has served in Rajasthan as well," Modi said.
 
"I personally remember working with Birlaji for a long time. He represents Kota, a place that is a mini-India, a land associated with education and learning. He has been in public life for many years. He began as a student leader and has been serving the society since then without a break."
 
A three-time MLA, Birla, who describes himself as an agriculturalist and a social worker, was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kota in Rajasthan. This was his second victory in Lok Sabha elections after 2014.
 
Birla, who has a Master's degree in Commerce, has been active in politics since his student days. He was first elected to the Rajasthan Assembly in 2003 and twice more before he was catapulted to the Lok Sabha.
 
IANS
 

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Rajasthani folk dancer 'Queen Harish' killed in road accident

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Rajasthan's renowned folk dancer Harish Kumar aka "Queen Harish", famous for performing dressed up as a woman, died in a road accident in the state's Jodhpur district early on Sunday, police said.
 
Three others were also killed in the accident around 5.30 a.m. when their SUV slammed into a parked coal-laden truck in Bilada area as they were on their way to Jaipur from Jaisalmer, local station house officer (SHO) Sitaram said.
 
The other deceased were identified as Lateefa, Ravinder alias Banti and B. K. Khan. Six others were injured in the accident and were taken to MDM Hospital, said police officials.
 
A case has been registered against the truck driver for parking the truck on the road and he will be arrested soon, Sitaram said.
 
Famous among tourists for his rendition of Rajasthani folk dances including Chakari, Bhavai, Taraju, Terah Tali, Ghoomar Kalbeliya and others in Jaisalmer, Harish Kumar had also performed in 60 nations around the world and received several international awards.
 
Also known as a choreographer, he had been seen in Bollywood film "Jai Gangajal" and had also performed at Isha Ambani's wedding in Jodhpur. Even Aishwarya Rai was mesmerised with his unique ability to match steps on high beats.
 
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot condoled his death, terming it a "big loss to the artistic world". "He brought a distinguished identity to Jaisalmer with his different dancing style which was dedicated to folk art of the state. His death is a big loss to the artistic world," he said in a tweet. 
 
IANS
 

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Rajasthan CM rejects resignation of Minister Kataria

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Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday rejected the resignation of state Minister Lal Chand Kataria who had resigned a few days back taking moral responsibility for the Congress party's defeat in the Lok Sabha elections in his constituency by over one lakh votes.
 
Rejecting his resignation, Gehlot said that at the time when the election results have not been in favour of the Congress, the moral responsibility of party members increases to unitedly face the challenges ahead and contribute in providing good governance in Rajasthan.
 
"In the past, you have rendered your duty as a Union Minister, also you have been MLA many times and hence your experience shall benefit the state," he said.
 
Kataria had reportedly resigned as state Agriculture Minister, citing the rout of the party in the Lok Sabha elections.
 
In a press release, Kataria said he had sent his resignation to the Governor through Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who has come under attack from Congress President Rahul Gandhi after the Congress failed to win even a single seat in Rajasthan.
 
However, the offices of neither the Chief Minister nor the Governor could confirm that Kataria had quit.
 
Kataria himself could not be reached on telephone to confirm if he had resigned.
 
However, on Friday, Kataria confirmed that he had gone to Uttarakhand after submitting his resignation.
 
His press release, which had gone viral on social media, said he considered it morally inappropriate to continue as minister after the party's defeat. 
 
"This resignation should not be connected to any other factor," he said, adding he would remain a member of the Assembly and continue to articulate people's grievances. 
 
IANS
 

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Cancer-patient moves SC for last wish to 'die in mother's lap'

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A cancer patient lodged in a Rajasthan jail moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday seeking bail to fulfil his last wish of wanting to "die in the lap of his mother."
 
Aasu Jaif was arrested in a counterfeit currency case in 2018. In the bail plea, Aasu said he was diagnosed with cancer after the arrest and during the period of incarceration, the oral cancer had consumed his entire body.
 
He has third stage oral cancer and identifies his mother as a pillar of emotional support. The court has sought a response from the Rajasthan government by next week.
 
"For the past four months, he could not consume food, lost his hair and teeth completely, and his body has deteriorated. He wants to be with his mother and family in the last phase of his life," V. Elanchezhiyan, counsel for Aasu, contended before the court.
 
A vacation bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Aniruddha Bose, issuing notice to the state, said: "Report of the present medical condition of the petitioner be obtained from the Birla Cancer Centre/Department, Sawai Man Singh Hospital, Jaipur".
 
The petitioner said he needs the emotional support of the family as he is undergoing psychological trauma and stress, and as a consequence his mental health is at risk. The counsel also placed on record a report from the premier cancer hospital which diagnosed cancer.
 
"The family plays an important role when the patient is found not curable...support from the family plays a significant role. Bail is the rule and jail is an exception. Aasu is getting daily radiotherapy at a hospital in Jaipur."
 
Aasu moved the apex court challenging the April 24 Rajasthan High Court order, which declined any relief on his plea seeking interim bail in the case.
 
"The judge of the high court did not understand the effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment and their repercussions on the whole body...the cancer patient loses hope like the petitioner who has lost hope of living," said the petition.
 
The petitioner, who is facing trial and is yet to be convicted, claimed he has been denied the corrective treatment for the disease, and he has been undergoing radiotherapy on a daily basis for the last eight months.
 
His counsel contended before the court that he may eventually lose his mental balance to comprehend the proceedings in the trial and sought immediate attention from the court on the matter.
 

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Gehlot meets Rahul Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, returns to Jaipur

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Hours after meeting Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot met senior party leader Ahmed Patel at the party office here on Tuesday.
 
Gehlot arrived at the Congress headquarters at 5.15 p.m. and directly went into Patel's chamber.
 
After the meeting, the Rajasthan Chief Minister left for Jaipur.
 
Earlier in the day, Gehlot had met Gandhi at his residence. On Monday, Gandhi had declined to meet Gehlot after giving him an appointment.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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Rahul meets Alwar gangrape victim, assures justice

Congress President Rahul Gandhi addressing a press conference  after meeting the Alwar gang-rape victim, in Jaipur on May 16, 2019. Also seen are Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot. (Photo: IANS)
Congress President Rahul Gandhi addressing a press conference after meeting the Alwar gang-rape victim, in Jaipur on May 16, 2019. Also seen are Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot. (Photo: IANS)
Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday met the Alwar gang-rape victim, and assured her and the family of justice.
 
Speaking to the media after the meeting in Thanagaazi, Gandhi said that this was an emotional issue for him and not a political one.
 
"The victim will definitely get justice. Strict action will be taken against the accused. I have come here to meet the family and not to play any kind of politics. I will take action on whatever I have said here," he said.
 
"We can't tolerate such things. As soon as I heard about the case, I called (Chief Minister Ashok) Gehlot. We want to give a strong message not only to the people of Rajasthan but to the entire nation so that such heinous incidents are not repeated anywhere."
 
Gandhi was accompanied by Gehlot, Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, party state in-charge Avinash Pandey and Alwar Congress candidate, Jitendra Bhanwar Singh.
 
Gandhi was slated to visit Alwar on Wednesday but the trip was cancelled due to bad weather.
 
Before Gandhi's visit, the family said that they would raise a demand for a job for the couple so that the victim and her husband can be sent to a place where no one identifies them.
 
IANS
 

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Aabhishek extends his lease over Desert Storm title, Adrian wins Moto title

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Dominating each leg of the grueling Desert Storm, defending champion Aabhishek Mishra extended his lease over the  title for the fourth year in a row in Jaisalmer on Saturday.
 
In the process, the 30-year-old from Jaipur became only the third driver to defend the Storm, an FMSCI-approved event, (besides six-time winner Sunny Sidhu and Suresh Rana). With co-driver Srikanth Gowda by his side, he conquered the heat, the desert and one of the strongest fields ever in 9 hours 21 minutes and 45 seconds for a commendable victory.
 
In the Moto Category, Adrian Metge of Team TVS Racing was equally commanding, winning the country’s longest motorbike rally with a cumulative time of 6 hours 13 minutes and 25 seconds. Ankur Chauhan (and co-driver Prakash M) was the other big winner, taking the Endure Category.
 
C S Santosh breathed fire down Adrian Metge’s neck in each of the stages, surpassing him a few times too, to finish second in the Moto Category. 
 
The Hero Motorsports front man will rue the second day which handed Metge a huge lead and proved to be impossible to bridge in the final analysis. TVS Racing’s Abdul Wahid Tanveer, who clocked a cumulative timing of 06:35:28, took the other place on the podium.  
 
“This is an incredibly special win for us,” Aabhishek Mishra, who drove  his Maruti Vitara smartly, said, after his victory. “I have won the title in the four-wheel category four times and once in the motorbike category. But this year was the toughest due to the conditions as also because of the competition, which attracted all the top drivers, teams and manufacturers in the country,” he added.
 
Driving a Toyota Fortuner for the first time in a rally, Chandigarh’s Samrat Yadav (and co-driver Kunal Kashyap) grabbed the second position in 09:41:34 by showing remarkable poise and consistency over the scorching four days. Arunachal Pradesh’s Lakhpa Tsering (co-driver V Venu Rameshkumar) overcame a slow start to corner the third position in his Polaris RZR 1000.
 
The Army Team, returning to competitive rally after a long hiatus, will be proud of their show in the Thar Desert. Capt AVS Gill (co-driver Diwakar Kalia) claimed the fourth place in the Extreme Category while Aman Katoch (Siddhartha Nandal), Parth Bharadwaj (Mohit Bisht) and Sanjay Jadon (Sahil Dua) took the third, fourth and fifth places in the Endure Category.
 
Aabhishek Mishra and co-driver Srikanth Gowda from Team Sparky’s Garage have emerged as the ultimate champions of Xtreme Category (cross country rally for cars) at Rally Desert Storm 2019 with cumulative time of 9 hours 21 minutes 45 seconds. 
 
The three champions -- Mishra, Metge and Chauhan – and other podium finishers, category winners and special award winners, were felicitated at a glittering prize distribution ceremony at the Jaisalmer Marriott Resorts & Spa late in the evening.
 
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Velocity post 121/6 against Supernovas in T20

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Some disciplined bowling by Supernovas restricted Velocity to 121/6 in the final of the Womens T20 Challenge 2019 even as Sushma Verma (40 unbeaten) and Amelia Kerr (36 off 38) chipped in with valuable contributions.
 
Lea Tahuhu picked two wickets for Supernovas, conceding 21 runs from her four overs, while Anuja Patil, Sophie Devine, Natalie Sciver and Poonam Yadav bagged one wicket each.
 
Asked to bat first, Velocity were off to a poor start as Tahuhu struck in the very second delivery of the match to dismiss opener Hayley Matthews, who failed to open her account.
 
Anuja then jolted Velocity as she packed back incoming batswoman Danielle Wyatt (0) in the next over. Things worsened for Velocity as Tahuhu struck again to send back opener Shafali Verma (11), leaving the side reeling at 14/3.
 
Mithali Raj (12) and Veda Krishnamurthy (8) then tried to stabilise the ship, adding 23 runs for the fourth wicket before Devine also joined the Supernovas party by claiming the wicket of Krishnamurthy. Sciver then claimed the wicket of Mithali, putting Velocity in deep trouble as the scorecard read 37/5 in 7.3 overs.
 
Sushma and Amelia then anchored the Velocity innings and added 71 runs in the next 10.5 overs to take their side past the three-digit mark in 17 overs. Amelia became a victim of Poonam in the 18th over and Sushma then added 13 runs in the remaining deliveries to help Velocity reach a fighting total.
 
Brief scores: Velocity 121/6 in 20 overs (Sushma Verma 40 not out, Amelia Kerr 36; Lea Tahuhu 2/21) vs Supernovas.
 
IANS
 

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Aabhishek, Adrian consolidate their lead, Gill down to eighth place

Braving extreme hot conditions, Team Sparky Garage’s Aabhishek Mishra (Maruti Suzuki Vitara) kept his cool and the lead after SS6 of the Desert Storm even as Samrat Yadav (Toyota Fortuner) and Lhapka Tsering (Polaris ATV) moved up the leaderboard to the second and fourth positions in Jaisalmer on Friday.
 
In the Moto category, TVS Racing’s Adrian Metge and Honda Motorsports’ C S Santosh continued to battle for supremacy, with the former maintaining his lead and the latter improving his time to narrow the gap.
 
With temperatures flying past 50 degrees, eight more bikers and four drivers in Extreme category fell by the wayside, exactly doubling the tally after two and a half days of acute racing.
 
Defending champion Mishra continued to show his class, taking the least time (02:49:49) to conquer the stage and stay ahead of the field. His Sparky teammate Capt A V S Gill,  too, was in top form, moving up one place to be in the third position.
 
Samrat (with co-driver Kunal Kashyap; 03:00:44) and Tsering (co-driver Venu Rameshkumar; 02:53:46) recorded some of the best timings of the morning in the Extreme Category to be snapping on Mishra’s heels. 
 
They left APRC champion and strong contender Gaurav Gill of Team Mahindra in the shade, who slipped from his overnight second position to languish in the eighth position. Gaurav had a rough day, taking as much as 04:09:26 to complete the morning stage.
 
France’s Metge was not at his fastest, needing 02:46:40 to complete SS6 on his bike, but it was good enough to keep him ahead of the pack. Santosh recorded the morning’s fastest time (02:44:30) while another TVS stalwart Abdul Wahid Tanvir ran the stage in 02:45:56 to be in the third position.
 
“This is my first race after the Dakar so I was a bit rusty on the first day. I’ve finally started to enjoy being back and racing here in Rajasthan. Today was a better day for me; I rode really well,” Santosh said.
 
“Medge is an incredible rider. But I’m trying my best and I feel I’m pretty much there. I’ve lost the Desert Storm in the last three years while being on the top of the table. So, I know anything can happen here. Tomorrow is a long day because it starts with a 190 km stage; I’m looking forward to perform my best in that stage,” he said.
 
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'Suspicious' Georgian aircraft forced by IAF to land in Jaipur

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A Georgian An-12 cargo aircraft was forced by Indian Air Force (IAF) jets to land at Jaipur airport on Friday after it created alarm by entering Indian air space from an unscheduled point in north Gujarat, official sources said.
 
The aircraft, belonging to Ukrainian company MotorSich, was heading for Delhi from Karachi when it deviated from its scheduled flight path and did not respond to radio from Indian controllers and security agencies.
 
Since air routes in the area were closed due to the geopolitical situation between India and Pakistan, the aircraft's entry from an unscheduled point led to the IAF scrambling its air defence interceptors and they approached towards the unknown aircraft for investigation.
 
On visual contact, the aircraft was identified as Georgian An-12 flying at 27,000 feet, but it neither responded on the international distress frequency nor to visual signals. However, when challenged, the aircraft responded and informed that it was a non-scheduled flight that left Tbilisi (Georgia) for Delhi via Karachi.
 
However, it was escorted to Jaipur by the Indian Air Force and after it landed, its two pilots were being questioned by security agencies. 
 
IANS
 

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Alwar gang-rape: All 6 accused arrested, BJP holds protests

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The prime accused in the Alwar gangrape case was picked up from Uttar Pradesh's Mathura on Thursday and one more accused later in the day even as BJP held protests accusing the government of "deliberately suppressing" the case in view of the Lok Sabha elections.
 
Hours after fourth accused Mahesh was arrested from Shahpura late on Wednesday, the prime accused Hansraj was arrested from Mathura on Thursday morning, police said. The remaining accused Chhotelal was apprehended later in the day. 
 
Ashok Gujjar, Inderaj Gujjar and Mukesh were arrested earlier.
 
According to the FIR filed by the victim, the incident took place on April 26 when the five accused allegedly waylaid her and her husband, took them to an isolated place and gang-raped her in front of her husband. The accused also recorded the crime and uploaded the video on social media, which went viral.
 
Director General of Police Kapil Garg said that the charge sheet will be presented in the court at the earliest and all efforts made for the most harsh punishment to the criminals. Five of the six were held for the crime while the sixth has been arrested for making the video viral, he added.
 
"This was a heinous crime which is unacceptable in society. I had no pressure in this case but was stressed that such a crime has been reported here," he said.
 
The crime sparked off controversy after the victim's husband on Wednesday accused police of delaying action, allegedly in the wake of the second round of Lok Sabha elections in the state on May 6.
 
Soon after his allegations came out, there were protests with people from all sections demanding justice for the couple and accusing the state government of intentionally delaying action in the case for political gain.
 
The Bharatiya Janata Party had staged a march to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's residence on Wednesday but were stopped on the way by police. 
 
On Thursday, the BJP held a protest at the collectorate with Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, and BJP state President Madan Lal Saini also present. 
 
Rathore demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into police "inaction" in the case, while Saini said that BJP had held similar protests all across the state.
 
BJP's Rajya Sabha member Kirorilal Meena, who reached Alwar on Thursday, appealed to the authorities to take strict action against Superintendent of Police Rajeev Pachar and SHO Sardar Singh under The SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, for intentionally keeping the case on hold and depriving the Dalit victim and her husband of justice. 
 
He said suspending the inspector, disciplinary action against other personnel of the Thanagaazi police station and departmental action against the SP was not enough and they should be sent behind bars.
 
IANS
 

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