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Two dead, six injured as Tatanagar-Jammu Tawi Muri Express derails in UP

At least two passengers died and five others suffered injuries when nine coaches of the 18101 Tatanagar-Jammu Tawi Muri Express derailed on Monday afternoon near Sirathu, about 70 km from Allahabad, in Uttar Pradesh, official sources said.
 
2 dead, 5 injured as Tatanagar-Jammu Tawi Muri Express derails near Allahabad
 
 
At least two passengers died and six others suffered injuries when nine coaches of the 18101 Tatanagar-Jammu Tawi Muri Express derailed this afternoon near Sirathu, about 60 km from Allahabad, in Uttar Pradesh, official sources said.
 
Those killed in the mishap included a man, Govind Kumar (30), and a woman, Mohini Shetty, North-Central Railway (NCR) officials said.
 
One of the injured had suffered grievous injuries, while the other five received minor injuries, the sources said.
 
The accident occurred between Sirathu and Athsarai stations in Kaushambi district on the Allahabad-Kanpur section of North-Cental Railways (NCR)
 
Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 2 lakh for the next-of-kin of those killed in the accident, Rs 50,000 for each of the grievously injured and Rs 20,000 for those with minor injuries.
 
Senior railway officials, including the General Manager of NCR and the Divisional Railway Manager of Allahabad division had left for the scene of the mishap, which occurred around 2 pm.
 
Locally available officials of the railways, police and district administration had launched rescue and relief efforts as soon as news of the mishap was received.
 
The affected coaches included one general coach, four second class sleeper coaches (S3-6), a pantry car, two 3AC coaches and one 2AC coach, they said. One of the coaches is reported to have overturned in the impact of the crash.
 
Medical and accident relief trains had been despatched to the spot from Allahabad.
 
The derailment had disrupted traffic on the main Howrah-Delhi route and efforts were on to restore the affected line at the earliest, the sources added.
 
Mr Prabhu directed Railway Board Chairman A K Mittal and Member Engineering V K Gupta to leave for the site immediately. He also directed the railway administration to effectively undertake rescue and relief operations and provide best medical care and all assistance to the injured. 
 
The Railways have set up the following helpline numbers for information and assistance: Allahabad -0532-1072, 035-23662/23763, Kanpur – 0512-2322015, Jammu -01912480116, Tata Nagar- 0657-2290324, 2290382, New Delhi – 011-23962389, 23342954, 23341074, 1072, Delhi Main -011-23962389.
 
Stranded passengers of the affected trains are being cleared through special train and by deploying buses. They were also provided with drinking water and snacks. 
 
An inquiry will be by Commissioner Railway Safety, to ascertain the cause of the accident, an official press release added.
 
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Magistrate transferred for making cop undress in UP court

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The Registrar General of the Allahabad High Court has transferred Santosh Kumar Yadav, an Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM), for stripping a driver constable in the courtroom just because he failed to give pass to his car while he was on the way to the court. The ACJM has been sent to Mahoba district.
 
The 58-year-old constable driver of Agra Police, Ghure Lal, who had served in the force for 38 years, was allegedly forced by the ACJM to take off his khaki uniform and stand in the courtroom for over half an hour.
 
After the incident, Constable Ghure Lal met Senior Superintendent of Police, Agra and gave his letter for voluntarily retirement citing trauma due to humiliation in court by the sitting judge on Friday morning.
 
Taking cognisance of the incident on Saturday, Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police, Om Prakash Singh on the UP Police Twitter handle stated: "We have taken the issue of ordering a Constable in uniform to disrobe in a court very seriously and taken it up at the appropriate level. We stand by the dignity of each and every police personnel and appeal to all the sections of society to respect the honour of uniformed forces."
 
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Agra, Babloo Kumar said: "Constable driver Ghure Lal had alleged, that he was humiliated in court by a sitting judge who forced him to take off the uniform including beret, belt and khaki shirt, as punishment for not giving pass to the ACJM's car. He was made to stand for half an hour in the court."
 
According to police, Constable Ghure Lal was ferrying two undertrials along with three cops (Constables Alok Bharti, Manish Kumar and Rajesh Kumar) to court in a police van when the incident took place.
 
"Just 100 meter before the court, a car with the Magistrate blew horn and siren to the police van driven by Ghure Lal to give pass. Since the road towards the court is single lane, Ghure Lal failed to provide pass. After reaching the court, the enraged ACJM asked Ghure Lal to appear in his courtroom, where he was reprimanded and ordered to take off the uniform," said a police officer.
 
A complaint in this regard was sent to the District Judge of Agra Ajay Kumar Srivastava, Registrar General of the Allahabad High Court Mayank Kumar Jain, and High Court Judge who holds administrative judge chairship, Munishwar Nath Bhandari.
 
IANS
 

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Couple kidnapped from outside Allahabad HC

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A young couple who had come to the Allahabad High Court to seek protection after marriage, was kidnapped at gunpoint by armed men from outside the court on Monday, police said.
 
The incident took place at 8.30.am, hours before the case of Bareilly's Sakshi Misra and Ajitesh Kumar was to be taken up by the same court.
 
According to eye-witnesses, the young couple was seen waiting outside the court since early morning when a black SUV came and pulled in the couple at gunpoint. The SUV bore the registration number UP80 which belongs to Agra district. Sources said that "Chairman" was written on the rear of the vehicle. 
 
Police officials said that the CCTV footage was being scanned and checking of vehicles had begun.
 
IANS

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35 cows found dead in Prayagraj cow shelter

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Thirty-five cows were found dead at a temporary shelter in Kandi village in Bahadurpur in Prayagraj district on Friday, sending shock waves in the area.
 
Continuous rains and lightning are said to be the main cause behind the deaths.
 
"We believe that the cattle died due to lightning. This seems to be the reason prima facie," District Magistrate Bhanu Chandra Goswami told reporters.
 
The incident has come to light just days after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed officials to ensure that the cow sheds are self-reliant and all facilities are provided to the animals in order to protect them.
 
Last week, more than a dozen cows died due to hunger at a cow shelter in Kannauj. The deaths triggered protests by locals outside the cow shelter. According to the locals, at least 15 cows have died or went missing while the shelter workers took half a dozen cows away on loaders.
 
IANS
 

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Two children killed in explosion in UP toilet

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Two children were killed and one seriously injured in an explosion in a toilet here on Tuesday, police said.
 
The incident was reported from Dubaval village in the district.
 
According to reports, the children were playing near the toilet, constructed under the government scheme by Shivpujan Bind but being used as a store room, when a loud explosion was heard and the children flung away.
 
Local people claim that a bomb had been put there and the children were playing with it when it exploded.
 
The deceased include Shivpujan Bind's four-year-old son Vijay Shankar and six-year-old girl Sonam.
 
The injured child has been admitted to the Swarup Rani Nehru hospital where his condition is said to be critical.
 
Police officials said that the matter was being investigated.
 
IANS
 

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Priyanka helps child with tumor in Allahabad

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Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi has extended a helping hand for a minor girl suffering from tumor here in Uttar Pradesh.
 
The girl's parents on Friday contacted Gandhi and expressed their inability to bear the cost of their daughter's treatment.
 
Gandhi immediately contacted senior party leaders Rajiv Shukla, Hardik Patel and Mohd Azharuddin and directed them to arrange for the child to be taken to AIIMS, Delhi.
 
Shukla sent the child, her parents, Azharuddin and Patel to Delhi in a six-seater chartered plane while he later left for Delhi by train.
 
Congress leader Jitendra Tiwari said that Gandhi has said that she will personally take care of the child's treatment in All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi.
 
IANS
 

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Who let Nirav Modi escape, Priyanka asks BJP

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (FIle photo: IANS)
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (FIle photo: IANS)
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP for describing the arrest of absconding PNB loan fraud case accused Nirav Modi in London as an achievement, asking who let him flee.
 
"Is it an achievement? Who let them escape from the country?" she said.
 
Speaking to reporters in Chandauli after visiting the family of Awadhesh Yadav, who was among the 40 CRPF troopers killed in February 14 suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama, she said that her visit was not political.
 
"...I had spoken to the father of the trooper some days after the attack. He had said to me that 'you people come as we want to meet you'. Thus I had come. My visit to his house is not connected to politics," she said.
 
Asked about her three-day river ride campaign in eastern Uttar Pradesh, of which region she is the in-charge for her party, Vadra said, "It felt nice. And I feel that the organisation will be strengthened here and people will come to know that we believe in strong and new kind of politics."
 
Vadra's journey, which began in Prayagraj on Monday, ended in Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Modi, on Wednesday. 
 
Asked when she is planning to kick off the second part of her Lok Sabha campaign, she said it will be "soon after Holi".
 
Before going to Chandauli, Vadra offered prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi for over half an hour.
 
It was her fourth temple visit since March 18, when she kicked off her river ride from Prayagraj.
 
On Monday, she visited the famous Hanuman Mandir in Prayagraj, followed by trips to the Sita Samahit Sthal temple in Bhadohi's Sitamarhi and the Vindhyavashini temple in Vindhyachal on the second day of her campaign. She also offered a 'chadar' at Kantit Sharif dargah on Tuesday.
 
She had arrived at the Vishwanath temple after deboarding from the motorboat at Dashavamedh ghat in Varanasi.
 
Reaching Ramnagar village, the ancestral village of late Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, in Varanasi by road from Chunar in Mirzapur, where she had made a night halt on Tuesday, Vadra then went by boat to Assi ghat where she held discussions with the fishermen community.
 
She also paid floral tributes to the former Prime Minister at Shastri Chowk and visited his residence. 
 
A minor scuffle broke out between Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party workers after the latter raised pro-Modi slogans.
 
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Vadra later condemned the violence.
 
"When I was coming to Varanasi, few people raised slogans for the BJP... then people slapped them. We don't believe in such kind of politics. The Congress workers had been beaten by the Britishers. We took all the pain and didn't raise our hand (in return) but only tried to bring the truth," she said.
 
She also accused Modi of not fulfilling any of the eight promises made to the people of the city, citing the BJP's manifesto for Varanasi in 2014.
 
"This politics of advertisements is easy and it can be done by anyone," she said.
 
Vadra, before leaving Chunar in the morning, had also accused the BJP of systematically attacking every democratic institution in the country and advised the Prime Minister to "stop thinking that people are fools and understand that they see through all his antics".
 
She also said that she was not afraid.
 
"Even if anything is done, and we are harassed, we will not feel afraid. We will continue our fight against them. The more we are harassed, the stronger will be our fight," she said.
 
Vadra, who was followed by Congress workers raising slogans like "Gali gali me shor hai, chowkidar chor hai" and "Dahan karne Modi ki Lanka, aa gai behen Priyanka", also seemed to have struck a chord with locals, many of whom pointed out her resemblance to her grandmother, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
 
Sanjay Kumar said, "Her arrival augurs a change. People are looking for a new ideology. Now people want to get away from the politics of temple and mosque."
 
"We have felt helpless in the last five years, we feel cheated by the government," he added.
 
Shahnawaz told IANS, "The BJP has not lived up to our expectations. We see a hope in Priyanka Gandhi and the Congress."
 
IANS
 

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Priyanka to reach Varanasi on third day of river ride

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (FIle photo: IANS)
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (FIle photo: IANS)
On the third-day of her campaign along the river Ganga on Wednesday, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi will visit former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri's memorial in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency, Varanasi.
 
Speaking to reporters before beginning her day, she said, "BJP has systematically attacked every institution in the country in the last five years. You all know it better than I do. So I think the Prime Minister should stop thinking that people are fools and understand that they see through all his antics."
 
According to party workers, Priyanka, who is also Congress in-charge of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, will interact with her party workers at a guest house in Chunar before leaving for Shastri Memorial by road in Ramnagar.
 
She will then arrive at Ramnagar ghat to take the boat ride to Assi Ghat, where she will interact with the fishermen, the Jain community as well as women.
 
The Congress leader will then reach Dashashwamedh Ghat by motor boat and go to the Vishwanath Temple to offer her prayers.
 
This will be Priyanka's fourth temple visit since March 18, when she kicked off her river ride from Prayagraj on Monday.
 
On Monday, she visited the famous Hanuman Mandir in Prayagraj, followed by trips to the Sita Samahit Sthal temple in Bhadohi's Sitamarhi on day two of her campaign and the Vindhyavashini temple in Vindhyachal thereafter. She also offered a chadar at Kantit Sharif dargah on Tuesday.
 
The Congress leader will then meet her party workers in Varanasi and leave to visit the homes of three Central Reserve Force Police (CRPF) troopers, who died on February 14 attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama.
 
She will meet the family members of Avadhesh Yadav in Chandauli district.
 
On her way back to Varanasi, she will meet the families of Vishal Pandey and Ramesh Yadav.
 
The Congress leader will then return to the Varanasi airport to leave for Delhi.
 
IANS
 

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Likened to Indira as people still love her: Priyanka

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (FIle photo: IANS)
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (FIle photo: IANS)
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi on Tuesday said that people compared her looks with her grandmother Indira Gandhi as they still remember the late Prime Minister with respect for the work she had done for them.
 
She also countered the Bharatiya Janata Party's allegations about elections as a picnic for the Gandhi family, saying that she has not been to Italy in last three to four years. 
 
Reaching the Chunar ghat in the evening, she paid tribute to Nishad community leader Raj Nishad at the river bank.
 
Also holding a small road show for the party's Mirzapur candidate Lalitesh Pati Tripathi, the great-grandson of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Union Minister Kamalapati Tripathi, Gandhi hugged and interacted with several women party workers at the Chunar ghat before ending her second day's programme.
 
Earlier in the day, addressing a large gathering waiting for her since afternoon at the Sindaura ghat, she said, "Many people say that I look like my grandmother. You compare us because you have a lot of love and respect for her because she had done a lot of work for you all."
 
She also hit out at the Narendra Modi government for not fulfilling the promises it made to the people.
 
During her river journey from Bhatoli ghat to Sindaura, Gandhi even switched to a smaller boat so that she could interact with the people residing near the Ganga's banks.
 
As the sun was setting, the people switched on the flashlight of their mobile phones and she went to meet them by taking her motorboat near the banks.
 
The Congress leader, who also visited the Vindhyavasini Devi Temple, eight kilometres from here, earlier faced pro-Modi slogans from BJP supporters gathered outside as she reached there.
 
As Gandhi, who was clad in a red sari, got out of her car, hundreds of BJP workers started shouting the slogans and continued even as she entered the temple. Most of the people in the crowd were regular worshippers, who were stopped from entering the temple due to her visit.
 
Even shops and other establishments near the temple had to down their shutters.
 
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Gandhi, who spent some 20 minutes praying at the temple, however, remained unperturbed.
 
As the sloganeering continued, she drove off to offer a chadar at the Kantit Sharief dargah nearby where there was a huge crowd outside waiting to meet her. Most had arrived at 7 a.m., they claimed.
 
Meeting media in Bhadohi, Gandhi asked what the Modi government had done in the last five years.
 
"Be it farmers, youth or anybody, no one is satisfied with the government. Together they will change the government this year," she said.
 
Asked to comment on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's claim that since the Congress was to blame for the state's backwardness since it had ruled the state the most after Independence, she hit back, saying "this 'what they did in last 70 years' has an expiry date."
 
"Now the BJP should tell the people what it did in the last five years. Shiksha mitras and Anganwadi workers did not get anything. The BJP had announced Rs 17,000 per month for them.
 
"It is good to produce report cards but what has actually happened? There is nothing on the ground. I am meeting people daily, they are distressed," Gandhi said.
 
The younger sibling of party chief Rahul Gandhi is on a three-day boat ride on the Ganga as part of the Lok Sabha election campaign that will end on Wednesday in Varanasi, Modi's parliamentary constituency.
 
Having set out from Prayagraj on Monday in a specially-built vessel with supporters, Priyanka Gandhi, who is the party's in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, began the day after offering prayers at the Sita Samahit Sthal temple in Sitamarhi.
 
She also held a meeting with party workers and leaders at the Sitamarhi guest house, where she had halted for the night on Monday. She also met several other delegations including that of the weaver community, Shiksha Mitra, and Anganwadi workers in the area.
 
Shivam Dubey, a party leader who attended the meeting, told IANS: "We will work hard to ensure that the Congress is strengthened and wins with a huge majority."
 
She will again commence her river ride on Wednesday from Chunar ghat and arrive in Modi's parliamentary constituency Varanasi.
 
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Priyanka Vadra kicks off 2019 LS campaign from Prayagraj

Congress General Secretary and eastern Uttar Pradesh in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra embarking on a boat ride from  Manaiya ghat in Kachnar tehsil of Prayagraj to Varanasi, on March 18, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Congress General Secretary and eastern Uttar Pradesh in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra embarking on a boat ride from Manaiya ghat in Kachnar tehsil of Prayagraj to Varanasi, on March 18, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
With less than a month to go for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Congress General Secretary and eastern Uttar Pradesh in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra kicked off her political campaign from here on Monday.
 
Vadra left Swaraj Bhawan, her ancestral home, and arrived at the Bade Hanuman Mandir, popular as 'Lete huye Hanuman Mandir' near Prayagraj Sangam.
 
She offered prayers at the temple, as well as to the river Ganga.
 
She then embarked on her much anticipated boat ride from the Manaiya Ghat in Kachnar tehsil of Prayagraj district, according to party leaders.
 
On the first day of her three-day river ride from Prayagraj to Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she will cover the distance up to Sitamarhi ghat in Bhadohi district.
 
On her way from Manaiya to Sitamarhi, she will make her first pit stop at Dumduma ghat and interact with the villagers.
 
The 47-year-old younger sibling of Congress President Rahul Gandhi will also hold discussions with students onboard the boat that are being called "Sanchi baat". 
 
Priyanka Gandhi is also supposed to meet the family members of a slain Central Reserve Police Force trooper, who died in the February 14 Pulwama terror attack.
 
After leaving Dumduma ghat, the Congress leader will reach Sirsa ghat and then also visit the Lakshagrih ghat.
 
She is expected to reach Sitamarhi ghat in the evening.
 
On Sunday, she held marathon meetings with party workers at the Nehru Bhawan, the party's state headquarters in Lucknow. 
 
Congress had won only two seats from the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
 
IANS
 

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Priyanka to kick off steamer poll campaign on Monday

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With less than a month to go for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Congress General Secretary and eastern Uttar Pradesh in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will kick off a three-day poll campaign from her great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru's birthplace Prayagraj to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's parliamentary constituency Varanasi by a steamer on March 18.
 
According to Congress leaders, during her three-day programme, she will cover a distance of over 140 km through four districts of the state -- Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad), Bhadohi, Mirzapur and Varanasi -- by steamer as well as car.
 
Priyanka's journey will commence from Prayagraj on Monday and conclude at Varanasi's Assi Ghat and Dashashwamedh ghat on Wednesday evening.
 
She will take the steamer ride from Chhatnag in Prayagraj on March 18 and en route meet elderly citizens of Dumduma in Prayagraj and the family members of Mahesh Raj Yadav, who was killed in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama on February 14 in a suicide bombing.
 
Priyanka Gandhi will be back on her steamer ride from Rampur ghat in Bhadohi. From there, she will also visit Vindhyachal temple in Mirzapur and meet the carpet weavers before a night halt there.
 
She will commence her journey on Tuesday from Vindhyachal and visit the Dargah of Maulana Ismail Chisti in Bhadohi's Kantit area and interact with people there.
 
The Congress leader will then again be back on the steamer ride from Mirzapur. She will interact with advocates at Kachahri Ghat in the district and then visit Bhatauli village and meet people there.
 
Thereafter, the newly-appointed General Secretary will reach Chandrika Devi temple and interact with people after offering her prayers there.
 
After leaving Chandrika Devi temple, Priyanka will reach Devri in Mirzapur and interact with local villagers there before arriving at Chunar for the night halt.
 
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In the last leg of her three-day journey on Wednesday, she will visit road Varanasi's Sheetla Mandir by  road and meet women groups there.
 
From Sheetla temple, Priyanka will again take the steamer ride till Ramnagar and interact with the fishermen community there.
 
She will also visit the house of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri in Varanasi's Ramnagar before arriving at Assi Ghat by the steamer. There she will interact with the local people, people from Jain communities and offer prayers at Vishwanath temple.
 
After performing rituals at the Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, she will again take the steamer ride to Dashashwamedh ghat.
 
After that, she will leave for the Congress office in Varanasi and interact with party workers during a Holi Milan programme.
 
She will then leave for Delhi on Wednesday evening from Varanasi airport.
 
The Congress is contesting the Lok Sabha polls alone in Uttar Pradesh which sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha. The Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal are contesting in alliance.
 
In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ally Apna Dal had won 73 seats while the Congress had managed to win only two. The Samajwadi Party had won five seats and the BSP had drawn a blank in the state.
 
The Congress has to date announced 26 candidates for Uttar Pradesh. Her brother Rahul Gandhi is contesting from Amethi, while her mother Sonia Gandhi will contest from Rae Bareli seat.
 
Polling in the Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases between April 11 and May 19. Counting of votes will take place on May 23.
 
IANS
 

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Prayagraj Kumbh concludes with bathing festival of Maha Shivratri

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The nearly two-month-long Prayagraj Kumbh has concluded with its sixth bathing festival on Maha Shivratri on Monday.
 
The Prayagraj Kumbh attracted more than 24 crore bathers on different bathing festivals including Makar Sankranti, Paush Purnima, Mauni Amavasya, Vasant Panchami, Maghi Purnima and Maha Shivratri. 
 
For the first time in the history of Prayagraj Kumbh, an unprecedented rush of devotees was witnessed throughout the Mela period. 
 
Maha Shivratri, the sixth and the last bathing festival of Prayagraj Kumbh, was celebrated yesterday with religious fervour and enthusiasm. A large number of devotees thronged the Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, braving the chill and rain from midnight. 
 
Prayagraj Mela Authority has said that above 1.10 crore devotees took the holy dip on the occasion. The Mela administration had developed eight ghats spread over eight km at Sangam and other areas of the Mela for the pilgrims. 
 
As many as 27 special trains and thousands of buses were put into service to ferry the devotees. Elaborate security arrangements were in place in and around the Mela area. Several dignitaries including Union and State Ministers took the holy dip on the occasion. 
 
The Mela was spread over 3200 hectares divided into 20 sectors. As many as 20 pontoon bridges were erected on the river Ganga to connect the different sectors. For the first time, Prayagraj Kumbh successfully put its name in Guinness Book of World Records in three fields including sanitation and cleaning, traffic plan and mob management and “paint your city”. 
 
Representatives of the World Record Book visited the Mela and observed the proceedings for three days. They have handed over three certificates to the Mela Authority in this regard. 
 
For the first time, the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, Union Ministers, Governors and Chief Ministers and State Ministers not only visited the Kumbh but also took the holy dip at Sangam. 
 
Similarly, representatives of 72 countries put up their national flags at Kumbh and more than 3500 representatives from different countries visited the Mela. Thousands of non-resident Indians (NRIs) also visited the Kumbh and took a holy dip. The Prime Minister of Mauritius with his wife visited the Kumbh and took a holy dip and met the saints.
 
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Modi honours sanitation workers, addresses Swachh Kumbh, Swachh Aabhaar programme

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a dip in the waters of the Sangam and conducted “Charan Vandana” by washing the feet of sanitation workers, as a mark of respect to their efforts in ensuring a clean Kumbh here today.
 
Speaking at the “Swachh Kumbh, Swachh Aabhaar” event later, Modi described all those who have been involved in ensuring the best of arrangements for the devotees gathering at Prayagraj for the Kumbh as “Karma Yogis.” 
 
In this context, he mentioned the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), the boatmen, the local population and the sanitation workers.
 
Noting that more than 21 crore people have visited the Kumbh over the last few weeks, he said the sanitation workers have shown that nothing is impossible. 
 
He said they are the most deserving, for all the appreciation that the Kumbh got this year. He said the moments when he offered Charan Vandana to some sanitation workers would always remain etched in his memory.
 
On the occasion, he also announced a Swachh Seva Samman Kosh, to help the sanitation workers and their families in times of need.
 
Referring to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, he noted that the scheme for a clean India was making rapid progress. The country was moving towards becoming Open Defecation Free (ODF) before the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, on October 2 this year.
 
Cleanliness of the River Ganga has also been the subject of much discussion this year and he said he had witnessed it at first-hand today. This was a result of the efforts of Namaami Gange programme and the Union Government, he said.
 
Drains discharging waste into the river were being blocked and sewage treatment plants were being built. He said that a few days ago, he received the Seoul Peace Prize, which included an amount of about Rs 1.30 crore. He has donated that amount towards the Namaami Gange Mission. 
 
The gifts and mementoes he has received as Prime Minister have also been auctioned and their proceeds have also gone towards this programme, he added.
 
The Prime Minister had a special word of appreciation for the boatmen (Naviks) involved in Kumbh as well. He also noted that for the first time since independence, pilgrims arriving for Kumbh had a chance to visit the Akshay Vat, connected with the legend of Markandeya Rishi.
 
He thanked everyone present in the gathering for fulfilling his vision of a Kumbh that was a blend of spirituality, faith and modernity. He also appreciated the role being played by the Uttar Pradesh Police in this regard.
 
The Prime Minister said the arrangements made for Kumbh this year included the development of vital infrastructure, which will continue to serve the city, even after the Kumbh Mela is over.
 
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UP Cabinet meets at Kumbh for first time, decides on 600 km Ganga Expressway

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For the first time ever, the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet held a meeting at Prayagraj Kumbh today and decided, among other things, to construct a 600 km-long Ganga Expressway from Meerut to Prayagraj at a cost of Rs. 36,000 crore.
 
The project is expected to provide better connectivity from the Western UP districts to Prayagraj, a press release said.
 
Before chairing the meeting, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath offered worship at the Hanuman Temple at Sangam and visited Akshaya Vat. 
 
Most of the Cabinet Ministers, including Deputy Chief Ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, attended the meeting.
 
After the meeting, the Chief Minister took a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati,  along with his cabinet colleagues and visited his Nath sect to meet saints and seers. 
 
Talking to media persons, Adityanath extended his government's gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Government for extending great cooperation in organising Divya and Bhavya Kumbh at Prayagraj. 
 
The undisrupted flow of clean water in river Ganga was the result of the attempt made by the Prime Minister, he said. In 2013, then Mauritius Prime Minister had visited the Prayagraj Kumbh but he did not take a holy dip due to pollution in the river. 
 
This year, not only did the Mauritius Prime Minister take a holy dip, but more than 3000 Pravasi Bharatitas also took the dip. It has happened only due to the cleaning of the river Ganga, he said.
 
He said the Cabinet also approved a proposal for the Gorakhpur link road project connecting Azamgarh and Ambedkarnagar with Purvanchal Expressway. An amount of Rs 5,555 crore will be spent on this project. 
 
The Cabinet also decided to exempt the film Uri from State GST as it promoted patriotism by highlighting the sacrifice of soldiers.
 
The Cabinet also decided to set up a statue of Nishadraj at Sringverpur at Prayagraj and develop the Ashram of Maharshi Valmiki at Chitrakoot, the release added.
 
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Kovind to visit Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj on Thursday, inaugurate Gandhian Insurgence Summit

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President Ram Nath Kovind will visit Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh tomorrow and also inaugurate a two-day Gandhian Resurgence Summit at the camp of Parmarth Niketan Ashram at Arail side of the Mela.  
 
Before addressing the summit, Mr. Kovind will perform Puja at Sangam and meet the saints and seers camping in the Mela, an official press release said. He will also unveil the statue of Maharshi Bharadwaj. 
 
Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will be amongst those present on the occasion.
 
The release said the Kumbh Mela is not only witnessing religious and spiritual activities but also generating awareness on cleanliness.
 
The Swachh Bharat Mission (Rural) has set up a high tech exhibition in Sector 6 of the Mela at Prayagraj. It contains digital platforms on themes of  Mahatma Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and  Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. It also has success stories on cleanliness. 
 
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Government launches special weather services for Kumbh Mela

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Union Minister of Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan has launched special weather services for the benefit of people visiting Prayagraj during Kumbh Mela. 
 
Speaking at the launch here yesterday, the Minister stated that to provide information of the prevailing weather and forecasts for the next three days, four Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) have been installed at four different locations at Prayagraj and made operational. 
 
A mobile van (AWS) has also been made operational. “The real-time location-specific weather information will not only be very helpful for the local and state authorities in the efficient management of the entire event but also benefit the pilgrims by keeping them abreast of the latest weather information,” he said.
 
He also launched a mobile application named "Kumbh Mela Weather Service" developed to disseminate the live weather information (temperature, humidity, rainfall and winds) as observed in all four sites. 
 
In addition, the mobile app will also provide weather forecast and warnings if any for Prayagraj for the next three days. The Mobile App will be available for downloading from Google Store.
 
The observational sites are distributed in all four directions within 5-10 km radius and are located at: Allahabad University, Delhi Public School, G. B. Pant Institute of Social Science and Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture, Technology and Sciences (SHUATS).
 
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Special arrangements for “Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas” delegates at Kumbh Mela

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Special arrangements have been made for delegates attending the “Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas”-- the high-profile convention of non-resident Indians (NRIs) and persons of Indian origin (PIOs) -- at the Kumbh Mela here.
 
The 15th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas is scheduled to commence in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh on January 21. Around 10,000 participants are expected to attend the convention. 
 
The delegates will arrive in Prayagraj on January 24 to be the part of ongoing largest spiritual gathering on earth, the Kumbh, where arrangements are in place for holy bathing at Sangam. 
 
From there the delegates will travel to Delhi to witness the 70th Republic Day event.
 
Ganga Mahotsav, an annual cultural event showcasing culture and heritage, is being also organised during January 21 to 23 at Ganga Ghats by the Uttar Pradesh government. 
 
Ganga Arti at Ghat of Kashi is well known among tourists. A special area has been reserved for PBD guests to enable them to witness and enjoy various events at the venues.
 
Varanasi has geared up to welcome delegates from all over the world who will participate in “Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas”.
 
"This vibrant and colourful convention is meant to strengthen the engagement of the overseas Indian community with the Union Government and reconnect them with their roots," an official press release said.
 
This will be the 15th edition of the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas (PBD) organized at an interval of two years now, though it was originally an annual event.
 
During the Convention, selected overseas Indians are also honoured with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award to recognize their contributions to various fields both in India and abroad.
 
The theme of PBD Convention 2019 is "Role of Indian Diaspora in building New India". The venue will be the Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC) and Craft Museum at Bada Lalpur in Varanasi. 
 
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SpiceJet introduces new flight connecting Delhi to Prayagraj

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Low-cost carrier SpiceJet has announced special daily flights to be operated during the Maha Kumbh Mela between Prayagraj (Allahabad) in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
 
The airline has also announced a host of other new non-stop flights and frequencies connecting Hyderabad to Ahmedabad, Bagdogra and Goa. 
 
The flights on the Delhi-Prayagraj (Allahabad) sector are scheduled to operate from January 6, 2019 to March 30, 2019 while the other flights will start from January 10, 2019.
 
Of the eight new direct flights, the ones between Delhi and Prayagraj and Hyderabad and Goa will operate on all day, while they will be operational on all days of the week except Sundays on other routes.
 
The airline will deploy its Boeing 737 – 700 aircraft on the Delhi- Prayagraj-Delhi route while all the other sectors will be served by Boeing 737 – 800 aircraft, a press release from the airline said.
 
Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Sales & Revenue Officer - SpiceJet, said, “We are delighted to introduce a new flight on the Delhi-Prayagraj route. The city stands testimonial to India’s glorious history and rich cultural heritage besides being a key pilgrim destination. And we are sure that this flight and the other flights introduced from Hyderabad and Ahmedabad will offer added options and convenience to our customers.”
 
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IndiGo starts operations on Allahabad-Bengaluru route

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Low-cost carrier IndiGo today introduced non-stop flights between Allahabad and Bengaluru, making the sector the sixth Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) route and the 60th destination on the airline's network.
 
IndiGo’s other RCS routes are Hubli- Ahmedabad; Hubli-Chennai; Hubli-Goa; Hubli-Kochi; and Kolkata- Jorhat.
 
The inaugural flight on the new route was operated from Bengaluru to Allahabad.
 
William Boulter, Chief Commercial Officer, IndiGo said, “We are pleased to announce Allahabad as our 60th destination effective this November 2018. Allahabad is a key market for us and the fourth strategic launch in Uttar Pradesh after Lucknow, Varanasi and Gorakhpur on IndiGo’s network. We are strengthening our network from the state and hope to create more affordable, point-to-point connectivity for our passengers."
 
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Allahabad now officially renamed Prayagraj

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Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh will now on be officially known as Prayagraj.
 
A decision to this effect was ratified by the Uttar Pradesh cabinet at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday.
 
Briefing the media, government spokesman and Health Minister Siddhartha Nath Singh said the decision was taken keeping in mind the rich cultural, historic and religious heritage of the city.
 
He added that the name Prayagraj was found mentioned in ancient Hindu scriptures.
 
Adityanath had made the announcement in Allahabad on Saturday. Allahabad will host 'Ardh Kumbh' in January. 
 
The cabinet also took 12 major decisions including allocation of funds for seven medical colleges in the state and assimilation of 23 villages under the 'sadar' tehsil in Lalitpur district.
 
To encourage milk production, the cabinet approved a proposal for granting 'Nand Baba Award' to farmers who excel in milk production. 
 
IANS
 

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2019 Indian diaspora conclave to be bigger affair

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The 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the External Affairs Ministry-organised conclave of Indian diaspora, to be held in Varanasi from January 21 to 23, 2019, will be a bigger affair than all the past editions with a couple of more programmes being added, it was announced on Saturday.
 
Speaking at the launch of the official website for the event here, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that in addition to attending the three-day PBD in Varanasi, the participants will also be taken to Allahabad where the Kumbh Mela will be going on then and then brought to New Delhi for the Republic Day celebrations.
 
Giving details of the programme, Sushma Swaraj said that on January 21, a Youth PBD will be held where Himanshu Gulati, an Indian-origin member of parliament of Norway will be the chief guest and Kanwaleet Singh Bakshi, also an Indian-origin member of parliament of New Zealand will be the guest of honour.
 
On January 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the main event with Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth, who is also of Indian-origin, attending as the chief guest.
 
The event will conclude on January 23 with a valedictory session that will be addressed by President Ram Nath Kovind.
 
During the session, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman will be conferred on 30 Indian-origin individuals for their exceptional and meritorious contributions in their chosen fields or professions. 
 
"On January 24, we will take the participants to Prayagraj (as Allahabad is also known) for the Kumbh Mela, which has been inscribed on the Unesco's Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity," Sushma Swaraj said.
 
Following this, the participants will be brought to New Delhi by special trains to take part in the Republic Day celebrations on January 26.
 
After being an annual event for 13 consecutive years starting in 2003 at the initiative of then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, PBD was turned into a biannual affair after the 2015 edition in Gandhinagar.
 
After the 2017 edition held in Bengaluru, the External Affairs Ministry has now roped in Uttar Pradesh as the partner state with Varanasi as the host city.
 
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Giving the rationale behind turning PBD into a biannual affair, Sushma Swaraj said that after the 2015 edition, she realised that PBD was not yielding much in terms of results as an annual affair.
 
"So, I suggested to the Prime Minister that it should be held every two years with the intervening year being used to hold meetings with groups of diaspora members on various issues and he agreed," she said.
 
Though the earlier editions were three-day affairs ending on January 9, the day Mahatma Gandhi returned from South Africa, on January 9, 2019, PBD will be observed in Indian missions across the world.
 
With the launch of the website, registration for PBD 2019 has started effective from September 15 and will continue till November 15 when the process will close.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh said that more participation is expected in the Varanasi event than the last one in Bengaluru.
 
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who was also present, recalled his participation in the mini PBD held in Mauritius in 2012 and said that with the 2019 PBD being held in Varanasi, many participants will be able to trace their roots back in India.
 
Many of the people of Indian origin in Mauritius are descendants of people taken from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar during the time of the British Raj to work as indentured labour on the sugarcane plantations on the Indian Ocean island nation.
 
IANS
 

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Jet Airways links Allahabad with Lucknow, Patna with Udan flights

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Full-service carrier Jet Airways has commenced services under UDAN, the Government's Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), by linking Allahabad with Lucknow and Patna.
 
Of the seven sectors that Jet Airways has been awarded in the second round of bidding under the UDAN scheme, the airline is launching five this week, including Lucknow-Allahabad-Lucknow, Patna-Allahabad-Patna, Nagpur-Allahabad-Nagpur, Indore-Allahabad-Indore, and Delhi–Nashik-Delhi.
 
A press release from the airline said services on the remaining two routes -- Lucknow–Bareilly–Lucknow and Delhi-Bareilly-Delhi -- are expected to be launched in the coming days, once necessary clearances and approvals have been received for the Bareilly airport.
 
Jet Airways will deploy its 72-seater ATR aircraft on the RCS routes that connect Allahabad with various other destinations in its network. Operating thrice a week, the new routes will offer Allahabad a 6 day/ week connectivity, complementing the existing connectivity to/from the city.
 
The new flights will offer two-way connections to Mumbai from Allahabad via Nagpur/Indore/Lucknow. Similarly, the flights offer two-way connections to Bengaluru from Allahabad via Indore/Patna. Guests also have the choice to connect to Pune and Ahmedabad from Allahabad, via Indore. Likewise, the flight will also connect to Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Jaipur and Abu Dhabi from Allahabad via Lucknow, allowing guests to connect through Abu Dhabi over Lucknow to multiple international destinations in Europe, North America, Africa, Middle East and the Gulf, enhancing the global connectivity from India’s emerging metros, the release said.
 
Aside from Abu Dhabi – Jet Airways’ gateway in the Gulf and home of its strategic partner Etihad Airways, guests traveling to Europe and North America can also take advantage of the airline’s excellent connectivity to over 100 destinations in Europe and over 200 in North America, made available via its codeshare partnerships with leading airlines including Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic via its gateways at Amsterdam, Paris and London Heathrow, the release added.
 
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New tri-weekly Allahabad-Anand Vihar Humsafar Express introduced

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The Indian Railways has introduced a new Humsafar Express train that will ply thrice a week between Allahabad and Anand Vihar in  New Delhi.
 
The train service was inaugurated by Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha from Allahabad station here yesterday.
 
The train number 22437 will run from Allahabad to Anand Vihar Terminus on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2220 hours to reach its destination at 0615 hours.  On the way, it will halt at Kanpur Central at 0040 hours and depart at 0045 hours.
 
Train number 22438 will depart Anand Vihar Terminus at 2240 hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays to reach Allahabad at 0610 hours. It will stop for 5 minutes at Kanpur Central at 0340 hours, departing at 0345 hours.    
 
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Ambedkar statue vandalised in Allahabad

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A statue of Dalit icon Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was vandalised in Allahabad on Saturday, police said.
 
The statue with its head chopped off was found by residents at a park in the city's Trivenipuram locality.
 
"We are aware of the matter and are trying to locate the suspects," Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Allahabad Aakash Kulhari told IANS.
 
He said a case has been registered and ruled out any tension in the area following the incident. 
 
A similar incident took place in Meerut on March 7.
 
IANS
 
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Kovind lays foundation stone of Nyaya Gram Project of High Court of Allahabad

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President Ram Nath Kovind laid the foundation stone of the Nyaya Gram project of the High Court of Allahabad here yesterday.
 
Speaking on the occasion, he said freedom of the judiciary is a cornerstone of the country's democracy. India’s credibility is enhanced by a fearless and independent judiciary, he said.
 
The President said that citizens have faith in the judiciary. And yet common people tend to avoid knocking on its door. It is important to change this situation. 
 
"On all of us lies the responsibility of providing justice on time, making the justice system less expensive, providing judgments in a language understandable to the common citizen, and ensuring justice for women and weaker sections in society," he said.
 
Mr. Kovind said that it is necessary to strengthen judicial infrastructure. He expressed hope that the Nyaya Gram project would prove to be a milestone in fulfilling the requirements of the Allahabad High Court.
 
He said that training of judicial officers is very important to improve the efficiency and quality of the lower courts. He noted that there is a plan to establish a judicial academy on the Nyaya Gram campus. He expressed confidence that this judicial academy will make a significant contribution to the capacity of the lower judiciary in Uttar Pradesh.
 
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