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Uttarakhand

Six coaches of Utkal Express derail near Muzzafarnagar in Uttar Pradesh

Six coaches of the 18477 Utkal Express, from Puri in Odisha to Haridwar in Uttarakhand, derailed at Khatauli, about 25 km from Muzzafarnagar, in Uttar Pradesh, this evening.
 
The mishap occurred around 5.46 pm today, railway sources said, adding that details of casualties were not immediately available.
 
Television pictures from the scene showed that one of the coaches had climbed on to the top of another coach, and one of its ends had crashed into a building on the side of the track.
 
Gas cutters were being used to cut through the mangled steel to pull out those trapped inside the coaches. 
 
"Our focus right now is on rescue and relief operations. Officers and staff from the nearby railway stations have reached the spot," Ministry of Railways spokesman Anil Saxena told journalists in New Delhi.
 
Khatauli is located on the Meerut-Saharanpur section of the Delhi Division of Northern Railway.
 
"We have geared up our rescue and relief machinery. Senior officials of Delhi Division have rushed to the accident site. Staff and officers from the nearby stations have already reached there," Mr. Saxena said.
 
He said personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) would also reach the site soon.
 
The train had left Puri yesterday and was due to reach Haridwar at 9 pm today, they said.
 
Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said on micro-blogging site Twitter that he was personally monitoring the situation and had instructed senior officers to reach the spot immediately and ensure speedy rescue and relief operations. He said medical vans had been rushed to the site of the accident.
 
"Have instructed Chairman Rly Board, Member Traffic to oversee rescue and relief operations. I am personally monitoring situation," he said. "Instructed General Manager, other senior officers to ensure all possible help to the people."
 
"In close touch with @CMOfficeUP , State Government officials, district administration to coordinate rescue and relief operations," he said.
 
Mr. Prabhu said he had instructed the Member, Engineering of the Railway Board, the Director General, Health and other senior officers to rush to the scene.
 
"Have ordered inquiry into the unfortunate accident to ascertain the cause. Strict action will be taken against any lapse," he added.
 
Mr. Prabhu said Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha and Minister of State for Water Resources Sanjeev Kumar Baliyan were on their way to the scene of the accident.
 
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath told journalists that two State Ministers -- Satish Mahana and Suresh Rana -- have also left for the spot.
 
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Assembly elections: Counting of votes to be taken up on Saturday

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

Nine passengers including a woman, were killed when a fire broke out in the speeding 19019 Mumbai-Dehradun Express near Dahanu in Thane district of Maharashtra in the early hours of Wednesday.
Fire kills nine on Mumbai-Dehradun Express
Nine passengers including a woman, were killed when a fire broke out in the speeding 19019 Mumbai-Dehradun Express near Dahanu in Thane district of Maharashtra in the early hours of today.
 
Western Railway sources said the fire broke out in S3 coach of the train and then spread to the adjoining coaches S2 and S4, taking the passengers, most of whom were asleep, unawares.
 
The cause of the fire, which broke out at around 0235 hours today while the train was running between Dahanu Road and Gholwad stations , could not be ascertained immediately, the sources said.
 
According to them, the fire was noticed by a gateman at a level crossing, and he alerted the station master of Gholwad station, who quickly contacted the driver and asked him to stop the train.
 
Fire tenders and ambulances rushed to the spot and the blaze was brought under control soon. The affected coaches were detached and the rest of the train was later brought to Gholwad station, about 145 km north of Mumbai, on the Maharashtra-Gujarat border, around 0530 hours.
 
Accident and medical relief vans were rushed to the spot from Mumbai and Valsad in Gujarat to assist in the relief efforts.
 
Five persons who felt suffocated due to the smoke were given first aid in the acident relief vans and later discharged, te sources said.
 
The Divisional Railway Manager of Mumbai Central Division and other top railway officials rushed to the spot to supervise the relief operations.
 
Five of the deceased have been identified by the Railways as Ms Deepika Shah , 65, Mr Dev Shankar Upadhyay, 48, Mr Surendra Shah, 68, Mr Nasirkhan Ahmedkhan Pathan, 50, and Mr Feroz Khan, 38. 
 
The bodies of the victims were sent to Civil Hospital, Dahanu Road (Telephone No. 02528 222371) by the Government Railway Police.
 
The  Railways have offered free accommodation in the train to the relatives of the deceased up to Dahanu Road.
 
Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge has expressed his grief at the loss of lives and announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh to the next-of-kin of those killed in the fire.
 
He has also announced an inquiry by the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Western Circle, into the incident.
 
Meanwhile, services on the up line resumed at 0640 hours, the sources added.
 
About 500 food packets along with tea and drinking water were arranged for the passengers of the train at Valsad where five more coaches were added to the train before dispatching it for its o­nward journey.
 
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The Railways have opened helplines to provide information to relatives of the passengers.
 
The numbers are:
 
Mumbai: 022 23011853 and 022 23007388
Valsaid: 241903- Valsad; 
Dahanu Road: 022 67649632
Bandra Terminus: 022 26435756
Surat: 0261 2423992
New Delhi: 011 23342954
Dehradun: 0135 2624002, 2624003
 
Just 11 days ago, on December 28, 2013, as many as 26 passengers were killed and eight others suffered injuries when a major fire broke out in an air-conditioned coach of the 16594 Bangalore-Nanded Express shortly after it left the Satya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam station in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh.
 
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Four kanwarias from Haryana killed in Tehri accident

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Four kanwarias from Haryana were killed and eight others injured when a boulder fell on their vehicle in the Tehri district of Uttarakhand on Sunday, the police said.
 
The accident occurred at Bagardhar when the Tata Sumo carrying 12 kanwarias was hit by a boulder on the Gangotri-Rishikesh Highway. They were returning from Gangotri after fetching Ganga jal.
 
While the four kanwarias were killed on the spot, the injured were rushed to the AIIMS at Rishikesh. The condition of two of them is stated to be serious.
 
Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat expressed shock over the incident and asked AIIMS doctors to provide the best medical facilities to the injured. 
 
Nearly 1.5 lakh kanwarias, mostly from the northern states, have visited Haridwar and other areas of the state as part of the annual 13-day Kanwar yatra.
 
IANS
 

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BHEL, CONCOR to set up rail-based logistics facility at Haridwar

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Public sector companies Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Container Corporation of India Limited (CONCOR) today said they had signed an agreement to form a joint working group (JWG) for jointly setting up a rail-based logistics terminal at Haridwar in Uttarakhand.
 
The JWG, named BHELCON, will leverage BHEL's strategic location and CONCOR's expertise in logistics, a press release from BHEL said.
 
"With this, BHEL is making a strategic entry into a new growth area. This terminal will further be developed into a multi-modal-logistics-facility," the release said.
 
In addition to meeting BHEL’s own requirements, the terminal will also cater to the large number of industries located in the neighbouring SIIDCUL as well as other industrial clusters in the vicinity of the terminal. 
 
"These industries stand to benefit immensely as the cost of rail transportation is significantly cheaper than transportation by road. Moreover, BHEL’s Haridwar plant is in close proximity to both the upcoming Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors and advantageously placed to take benefit of these corridors in future," it said.
 
BHEL has one of its largest manufacturing units at Haridwar since 1967 and now has three manufacturing units and one research centre in the state. 
 
CONCOR, under the Ministry of Railways, has a network of 83 terminals located across the country and owns more than 300 rakes for container transportation.
 
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Ex-Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat gives up party post

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A day after Rahul Gandhi announced his resignation as Congress President owning responsibility for the party's Lok Sabha election rout, former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat on Thursday quit as General Secretary.
 
A party source told IANS: "Rawatji has stepped down from the post of General Secretary and as the (party) in-charge of Assam."
 
It is the first resignation by any General Secretary after Gandhi's resignation.
 
Earlier, Rahul Gandhi's sister and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi hailed her brother saying only "few have the courage that you do".
 
Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday posted an open letter on Twitter saying he had resigned as "accountability is critical" for the future growth of the party in the wake of the disastrous Lok Sabha election outcome.
 
"Few have the courage that you do Rahul Gandhi. Deepest respect for your decision," tweeted Priyanka Gandhi.
 
Congress Treasurer and Rajya Sabha member Ahmed Patel described Rahul Gandhi's resignation as unfortunate and said "he is and will remain his leader".
 
"Rahulji's resignation letter is unfortunate. We all are accountable for this defeat. He has, in a short span, already made tremendous contribution in strengthening the party and we all believe his endeavour should continue," Patel tweeted.
 
"He is and will remain my leader, our leader and will continue to provide solid strength for the Congress," he said.
 
Rahul Gandhi had first told the Congress Working Committee about his decision to quit on May 25, two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to power and the Congress won only 52 seats in the Lok Sabha.
 
IANS
 

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Former Uttarakhand Governor Sudarshan Agarwal passes away

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Former Uttarakhand Governor Sudershan Agarwal died after a prolonged illness at a hospital in New Delhi on Wednesday. He was 88.
 
State mourning has been declared in the hill state on Thursday during which the national tricolour will fly at half mast. All cultural functions have also been cancelled.
 
Agarwal had served as the second Governor of the hill state from 2003 to 2007 during which he established the Him Jyoti school in the Sahastradhara area here. He had earlier served as the Secretary General of the Rajya Sabha.
 
State Governor Baby Rani Maurya condoled the demise of Agarwal and prayed for the peace of his soul, a Raj Bhavan statement said. Agarwal was an efficient administrator and a great social worker, she said.
 
Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat also expressed grief over the death of Agarwal.
 
IANS

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Auli weddings: Rs 2.5 lakh penalty on Gupta brothers

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A penalty of Rs 2.5 lakh has been slapped on the South Africa-based businessmen brothers Ajay and Atul Gupta for scattering garbage in Auli, Uttarakhand where the weddings of their sons were held last week, an official said on Saturday.
 
"We have imposed a fine of Rs 2.5 lakh on the Gupta brothers," said S.P. Nautiyal, Executive Officer of the Joshimath municipality. 
 
While a one lakh fine is for defecating in the open, a Rs 1.5 lakh penalty is for scattering garbage. A copy of the challan has also been sent to the event management company which made arrangements for the weddings, he said.
 
In addition, the municipality is also preparing a bill of Rs 8.14 lakh for collecting the garbage left behind after the weddings that were held amid environmental concerns. 
 
The Gupta brothers have already deposited Rs 5.54 lakh with the municipality which also includes Rs 54,000 as user charges.
 
After the high-profile weddings, the Joshimath municipality has so far collected 306 quintals of garbage from the marriage site with the municipality pressing 3-4 trucks daily to collect the waste. Officials said they would be able to clean the entire site by Sunday.
 
Meanwhile, the issue of refund of the Rs 3 crore security deposited by the Gupta brothers with the Chamoli district administration will be decided on July 8 by the Uttarakhand High Court.
 
As per the high court orders, a group of 13 officials from the Forest Department, the State Pollution Control Board, the Chamoli District Administration, the Uttarakhand Jal Sansthan, the Revenue Department and the Public Works Department monitored and made a video recording of the wedding.
 
Top officials said they did not come across any damage to the flora and fauna of Auli.
 
Since the court barred the use of helicopters at Auli, the choppers landed at Ravigram near the Joshimath helipad from where the guests were ferried to the wedding venue in cars.
 
The court had also fixed the number of guests at 150. Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and yoga guru Baba Ramdev were among the VIPs who blessed the newlywed couples. A bevy of Bollywood stars, including Katrina Kaif, performed at the weddings.
 
The Chief Minister had defended the marriages saying environmental concerns were not justified and Auli could be developed as a big tourist destination.
 
IANS

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Six from Saharanpur killed in Uttarakhand accident

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Six persons, including four children, were killed and four injured when a car in which they were travelling fell into a deep gorge at Moriana Band area in Thatyur block of Tehri district in Uttarakhand on Wednesday, police said.
 
All the ten people travelling in the car were the natives of Chhutmalpur area of Saharanpur district in Uttar Pradesh. The car was going from Chhutmulpur area to Uttarkashi district when the accident occurred.
 
The six persons killed in the accident belong to two families including two women.
 
The police took the injured persons to a nearby hospital. The condition of all the four persons is stated to be serious.
 
IANS
 

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Bodies of 7 foreign mountaineers recovered on Nanda Devi

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A search team on Sunday found seven bodies of foreign mountaineers who had gone missing last month while climbing the Nanda Devi East peak in Uttarakhand, a top government official said.
 
District Magistrate, Pithoragarh, Vijay Kumar Jogdande, who had organised the search team comprising personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, National Disaster Response Force and the State Disaster Response Force, confirmed that seven bodies, including one of a woman, have been found at a height of 5,800 metres on the mountain this morning.
 
The team found the seven bodies buried under a thick layer of snow on the western ridge of the peak.
 
The bodies have not yet been identified.
 
The search is on to find one remaining body as there were a total of eight members in the team, including an Indian, which had gone missing on way to the peak. The operation to retrieve the bodies from the mountain had begun on June 12.
 
The mission called 'Operation Daredevil' was assisted by Indian Air Force helicopters. 
 
IAF choppers early this month had spotted the bodies of five of the eight mountaineers who perished on way to the Nanda Devi East peak. The bodies had been sighted at an unnamed peak adjoining Nanda Devi East during an air search by the helicopters.
 
The team which went missing en route to the Nanda Devi East peak consisted of climbers from the UK, the US, Australia, apart from one Indian.
 
They had left Munsiyari on May 13 to scale the peak but did not return to the base camp on the appointed date of May 25. The route to the peak begins from Munsiyari, about 132 km from Pithoragarh district headquarters.
 
IANS
 

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Uttarakhand BJP MLA suspended over indiscipline

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The ruling BJP in Uttarakhand has suspended Khanpur MLA Kunwar Pranav Singh Champion from the party for three months on charges of indiscipline, a party spokesman said on Sunday.
 
Champion's suspension on Saturday night came after a preliminary report prepared by the state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Disciplinary Committee found him guilty of gross indiscipline. It also took cognizance of the legislator's alleged threats to a journalist. 
 
State BJP President Ajay Bhatt later suspended Champion. 
 
Recently, a video had gone viral in which Champion appeared to be threatening an electronic media journalist. He was also in the news for publicly making fun of BJP MLA from Jhabreda Deshraj Karnawal. 
 
Champion, who wanted a ticket for his wife for the Lok Sabha polls from Haridwar, had described then sitting MP from the seat and now Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank as a "migratory bird".
 
He was among the nine Congress MLAs who had rebelled against Harish Rawat and crossed over to the BJP in 2016. Later, all the nine MLAs were disqualified by the Speaker. 
 
IANS
 

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Boxing: Services crowned champions; Haryana girls dominate finals with 5 golds

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Services scripted a whitewash in the boys' category, finishing their campaign with an impressive 10 medals including 9 golds and one bronze, while Haryana rampaged the lower weight categories in the girls' event to end on a high with five gold, two silver and one bronze  on the  final day of the 3rd Youth Boxing Nationals in Rudrapur, Uttarakhand. 
 
Services picked up a whopping 69 points to be declared best team of the tournament while Haryana girls topped with 46 points.
 
It was a dominating show by the Services boxers, led by their frontline youth boxers of 2018 Youth World bronze medalist Bhavesh Khattimnani (52kg), Harsh Chaudhury (75kg) and Lakshya Chahar (81kg) as they amassed unanimous verdicts while Vijaydeep (69kg) ensured the top spot with a split decision. 
 
The only category where no Services boxer featured was the 91kg, where Harsh Gill of Haryana won the gold after getting the better of Harsh Rana from Delhi, who had to settle for the silver. 
 
In the girl's category, Minakshi (51kg) gave Haryana a strong start to the day after winning the battle of nerves in an intense encounter against Sandeep Kaur of Punjab as the referees tipped the verdict 3:2 in favour of the Haryana pugilist. 
 
Poonam extended Haryana's lead without breaking much sweat to secure a unanimous 5:0 win over top contender, Rajasthan's Arshi Khanan, in the 54kg summit clash. 
 
However, Rajasthan, on the other end, put up a great show finishing with 6 medals including 3 golds, two silver and one bronze. Nikita Bansal (60kg) staged an upset to edge out Haryana's Yashi Sharm in a well fought 4:1 win and Lipakshi (+81kg) continued her sublime run in the nationals to secure the yellow metal in dominating 5:0 win over Punjab's  Komalpreet Kaur.
 
Arundhiti Chaudhary got a walkover in her final bout against local girl Neha Kasnyal to assure the third gold for Rajasthan. 
 
Punjab and Manipur secured their lone golds through Komal in 81kg Sanamacha Chanu in 75kg, respectively.
 
Haryana boys won nine medals including one gold and secured the second position while Delhi made it to the third spot with two silvers.   
 
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Nine Services pugilists to battle for top honours in Youth Boxing Nationals

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Spearheaded by top youth boxers of the country, Vijay Deep and Bhavesh Khattimnani, nine Services boxers ensured almost a whitewash win as they secured berths in the finals of the 3rd Youth Boxing Nationals in Rudrapur, Uttarakhand, on Wednesday.
 
Displaying a lethal attack, youth world bronze medalist Bhavesh Khattinmnani ousted local boxer Sanjay Kumar with a unanimous 5:0 win. He will next take on Haryana’s Ankit in the 52kg summit clash.
 
His teammate, Vijay Deep, a bronze medalist at the Golden Glove Boxing Championships in Serbia, did not have to toil much as his opponent faced a round 1 exit with a power, packed knockout punch in Round 1 and Vijay could make it to the finals.
 
However, the only other services player who failed to make it to the final was Satender Sindh after losing to his opponent, Harsh Gill (91kg) from Haryana in a split verdict.
 
Haryana stands in the second position with 7 of their boxers cruising into the finals while two boxers from Delhi and one each from Assam and Uttar Pradesh also have assured themselves of berths in the summit clash.
 
Assam’s Bullen Buragohain (56kg) advanced to the finals after a thrilling encounter against Chandigarh's Parveen Singh with a split 4:1 verdict.
 
Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra pulled off three bronze medals each as three of their boxers each settled for the third spot in the boy's category.
 
In the women’s category, Haryana continued their domination with as many as seven boxers guaranteeing berths for themselves in the finals. However, it was the performance of the young boxers from Rajasthan that stole the show as five of the girls qualified for the finals. Led by Arundhati Chaudhuri, who was voted the best youth women boxer of Asia in 2018 by Asian Confederation of Boxing (ACB), the girls gave a tough fight to their opponents.  
 
Arundhati, a Khelo Indian trainee, defeated Haryana's Alisha in the 69kg semi-finals in a convincing 5:0 verdict. Lipakshi (+81kg), a silver medalist at the Silesian Boxing Championship in Poland, continued her fine run for Rajasthan as she defeated her opponent Swastik Bhardwaj with her attacking game. The referee, in fact, had to stop the contest.
 
Uttarakhand will see a lone representation in Neha Kasnyal while two of the boxers from UP and Punjab are also assured spots in the final roster.
 
Kerala picked up three bronze medals courtesy Amala Joseph (69kg) Dalena Biju (75kg) and Parvathi (81kg) medals while Andhra Pradesh finished their campaign with two bronze medals in the girls' event.
 
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Bhavesh leads Services' boxers on top, Haryana girls dominate

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World Youth bronze medalist Bhavesh Khittimani outpunched his Manipuri opponent Bhimjit Singh Heikrujam to win the 52kg  bout on day 4 at the 3rd Youth National Boxing Championships in Rudrapur, Uttarakhand, on Tuesday.
 
Along with Bhavesh, three more boxers from the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) advanced to the semi-finals, thereby ensuring a leaders position.
 
While three boxers from Haryana, two from Uttar Pradesh and one each from Madhya Pradesh, Chandigarh and Assam reached the last four, it was young Sikkimese boxer, Krishna Kailash Roy, who stole the show in the lightweight category. 
 
Kailash defeated his rival from West Bengal on points as he sailed into the semi-final.
 
In the girls' category, Haryana continued their dominance on day four, with four pugilists qualifying for the semi-finals, followed by three boxers from Uttar Pradesh.
 
Manipur's Babyrojisana Chanu continued her sublime run in the tournament, this time getting the better of Uttar Pradesh's Aprajita Mani with a unanimous 5:0 verdict in the flyweight category.
 
Haryana’s Poonam (54kg) proved too strong for her Manipuri opponent Thotyolo who was left flustered with a flurry of punches and the referee had to stop the contest in the final round. Poonam won the bout 5-0. 
 
Following suit was yet another promising boxer, Arshi Khanan of Rajasthan who made no errors to oust Chandigarh's Akanksha Rana. 
 
Khanan looked in rampaging form and ensured the referee intervened to stop the contest in R1.
 
Shobha Kohli (45-48kg) and Sanjay Kumar (52Kg) from Uttrakhand are the lone representation in the knockout stage in girls' and boys' categories.
 
While Kumar put up a power packed show to snatch a RSC verdict in R2 against Harshal Phondni from Chandigarh; Kohli dominated over her opponent from West Bengal, too, to register a unanimous win and secure berth in the last four stages.
 
Mizoram, Assam, Rajasthan, Punjab and Manipur have ensured one boxer each advance to the semi-finals.
 
After some dominating performances, the young pugilists will now be gunning for the top honours with the semi-finals scheduled for Wednesday.
 
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Haryana, Maharashtra pugilists dominate pre-quarters in 3rd Youth Boxing Nationals

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Young pugilists from Haryana and Maharashtra dominated the proceedings of the 3rd Youth Men’s and Women’s National Boxing Championship in Rudrapur, Uttarakhand on Monday, a day which witnessed exciting bouts as the winning pugilists progressed into the quarter-finals.
 
Four boxers from Maharashtra entered the quarter-finals. Following suit was Ankit Narwal who led three others from Haryana who joined the other quarter-finalists on the merit of some superior performances. 
 
Narwal, the 2018 Youth Asian Championship bronze winner, put up an incredible show in the 60kg men’s category to stave off a resilient challenge from Orissa’s S R Sahoo and advance with a unanimous 5:0 win.
 
Haryana’s Akshay Kumar also replicated a similar result. The 2018 Youth World Championship bronze winner exposed his opponent’s defence with a flurry of punches to score a comfortable 5:0 victory and assure his berth in the 64kg quarter-finals. 
 
In the women’s category, the highlight was the bout between Manipur’s Babyrojisana Chanu and Kerala’s Aiswariya Raj P T in the 51kg clash. Chanu proved too strong for her opponent as the referee had to stop the contest in  a few seconds on the clock in R1. 
 
Haryana’s Bharti and Poonam continued the fine run for the state as well. Bharti registered a well fought 3-2 win against Ekta Saroj (54kg) of Punjab in a bout which went down to the wire; Poonam got the better of Assamese boxer Kimpa Boro in 54kg.
 
Arshi Khanan scripted an upset to outclass Dama Hetal of Gujarat in a unanimous 5:0 (54kg)verdict. The Rajasthan boxer showed a good mix of defence and aggressive tactics to beat her opponent with ease. 
 
It was, however, a disappointing day for local boxers Pankaj Kumar and Neeraj Singh Devli. Pankaj suffered defeat at the hands of Vijaydeep of SSCB in a unanimous 5:0 victory while Neeraj went down to 2018 Asian Championship bronze medalist Vinit in the 75kg bout.
 
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Two engineering students drown in Uttarakhand

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Two engineering students drowned in Nainital's Garudtal lake in Uttarakhand, police said on Sunday.
 
Akshay Dharamwal (21) and Ritesh Verma (21), both natives of the hill state, had gone to Garudtal for a picnic on Saturday evening along with four friends.
 
However, the duo went into deep water and drowned. The two were B. Tech students at a private university in Nainital district.
 
A team of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) this morning launched a search operation and retrieved the two bodies. A post-mortem examination of the bodies is being conducted.
 
IANS
 
 
 

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Uttarakhand Finance Minister Prakash Pant passes away in US

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Uttarakhand Finance Minister Prakash Pant, who was battling with cancer for some time, passed away in Texas in the US on Wednesday. He was 59. He had recently gone to the US for treatment.
 
Born in Pithoragarh, Pant later became an MLA from the district. He was also a pharmacist by profession. 
 
In February, Pant had fainted in the Vidhan Sabha while presenting the state budget for 2019-20. Thereafter, he was hardly seen in public. 
 
Before he left for the US, Pant handed over his portfolios -- Finance and Parliamentary Affairs -- to Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, a government official said.
 
Pant also held the Finance portfolio in the previous BJP government in 2007-12. He was also appointed the Speaker of the interim Assembly, formed immediately after the hill state was carved out on November 9, 2000. 
 
Expressing deep shock at his Cabinet colleague's untimely death, the Chief Minister said he had lost his younger brother. He said Pant was a dynamic leader and was always smiling. 
 
A three-day mourning has been declared in the hill state. A state holiday has also been declared on Thursday.
 
IANS
 

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Forest fires spread in Uttarakhand hills as temperature rises

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As the temperature rises in the hills of Uttarakhand, forest fires have engulfed 1,960 hectares of jungles, an official report said on Wednesday.
 
Significantly, the fires were spreading fast in the reserved forest areas where 1,466 hectares of forests were affected with 1,153 incidents so far, the report said.
 
According to the data provided by the forest department, a total of 73 fire incidents were reported during the past 24 hours in the state, taking the total number to 1,493. 
 
This has resulted in a loss of Rs 35.41 lakh in terms of forest property.
 
Almora and Nainital were the worst affected districts where 297 and 289 incidents have been reported. 
 
Dehradun and Tehri districts have reported 137 and 140 incidents. 
 
The hill resort of Nainital with thick jungle cover on Wednesday recorded 28.3 degrees Celsius of maximum temperature which was a few notches more than the normal. Similarly, Almora and Dehradun recorded 34.1 and 38.8 degree Celsius of maximum temperature respectively.
 
So far, 10 people have suffered burn injuries due to forest fires. 
 
Within the last one fortnight, 960 hectares of forests have been destroyed in the fire in the state. Till May 13, nearly 1,000 hectares of forests were affected. Forest incidents were reported in all the 13 districts. 
 
Forest fires are common during summers in Uttarakhand where more than 70 per cent of the area comes under forest cover. 
 
IANS
 

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BJP wins all five LS seats in Uttarakhand

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Repeating the feat of 2014, the BJP on Thursday scored a big victory in Uttarakhand bagging all the five Lok Sabha seats in the state.
 
In all the five seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party candidates won by more than 2 to 3 lakh votes.
 
BJP state President Ajay Bhatt scored an emphatic victory by 3.39 lakh votes against Congress General Secretary and former Chief Minister Harish Rawat from Nainital seat.
 
In Haridwar, BJP's candidate and former Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank defeated Congress' Ambrish Kumar by 2.58 lakh votes.
 
In Tehri, Maharani Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah of the BJP defeated state Congress chief Pritam Singh by nearly three lakh votes.
 
In Pauri, BJP National Secretary Tirath Singh Rawat crushed Congress' Manish Khanduri, son of BJP stalwart B.C. Khanduri, by nearly three lakh votes.
 
In Almora, BJP candidate and Union Minister of state for Textiles Ajay Tamta defeated Congress' Pradip Tamta by 2.32 lakh votes.
 
In 2014, the BJP had made a clean sweep winning all the five seats in the state.
 
IANS
 

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On polling day, Modi prays at Badrinath, Kedarnath

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meditating in a cave called 'Dhyan Kutia' in Uttarakhand's Kedarnath on May 18, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meditating in a cave called 'Dhyan Kutia' in Uttarakhand's Kedarnath on May 18, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
After spending Saturday night meditating in a cave, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday offered prayers at the Badrinath and Kedarnath shrines in Uttarakhand.
 
His visit to the two shrines, nestled in the Garhwal Himalayas came on a day when the country was witnessing the last phase of polling for the Lok Sabha elections.
 
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) lodged a complaint with the Election Commission against the Prime Minister for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) on polling day. 
 
"Though the campaign for the last phase of polling for 2019 Lok Sabha elections got over on May 17 at 6 p.m., Narendra Modi's Kedarnath Yatra is being covered and widely reported in local media as well as the national for the last two days. This is a gross violation of the Model Code Of Conduct," said Derek O'Brien, leader of the TMC Parliamentary Party in the Rajya Sabha. 
 
Earlier at Badrinath, Modi paid obeisances to the Lord Badri (Vishnu) shrine. The priests and purohits chanted Vedic hymns while the Prime Minister offered prayers. The Badrinath Temple Committee Chairman Mohan Prasad Thapliyal also presented him a memento.
 
Before that in the morning, he offered prayers at the Kedarnath temple. He later thanked the Election Commission for permitting him to visit the Himalayan shrine and take a break from the gruelling election campaign. "I got two days rest," he said.
 
In Kedarnath, Modi told the media that he was completely cut off from the world inside the specially-created cave, which was furnished with amenities such as power, an attached toilet, a telephone, a CCTV etc. "There was no communication, only a small window through which I could see the temple," he said.
 
He said blessings of Lord Shiva would continue to bestow on India as well as the whole humanity. "I don't ask for anything from God. I think, the God has made us to give something to society," he said.
 
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Modi also appreciated the redevelopment work at Kedarnath after the 2013 deluge left town battered and said a dedicated team was engaged in the process. "I monitor the work through video conference from time to time," he said.
 
Expressing satisfaction with the rebuilding work, Modi said people should visit Kedarnath and other areas of India in addition to visiting places like Singapore and Dubai.
 
The Prime Minister also lauded the work of all those people who are engaged in providing various amenities at the tough terrains of the Himalayan shrine. 
 
"Normally people come here only after the portals (of shrine) are opened. But we must not forget that hundreds of people remain engaged in providing various amenities to pilgrims much before the doors are opened," he said.
 
He thanked the media for coming to Kedarnath despite the tough election schedule and said the message through the media about the redevelopment in the area would be positive.
 
IANS
 

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Modi offers prayers at Kedarnath temple

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meditating in a cave called 'Dhyan Kutia' in Uttarakhand's Kedarnath on May 18, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meditating in a cave called 'Dhyan Kutia' in Uttarakhand's Kedarnath on May 18, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered prayers at the Kedarnath temple here on Sunday morning.
 
Modi, who arrived here on Saturday, meditated overnight at a cave called 'Dhyan Kutia'.
 
Speaking to the media after offering prayers on Sunday morning, Modi said that he was blessed to spend a night at the holy shrine.
 
"It's a privilege to spend the night here. I'm blessed to visit the holy shrine. My development mission for Kedarnath includes nature, environment and tourism," he said.
 
When asked if he asked for anything from Lord Shiva, Modi said: "I do not ask for anything from God."
 
The Prime Minister also said that he has a dedicated team for Kedarnath's development.
 
"I also monitor this place via video conferencing," he added.
 
IANS

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Modi in Kedarnath, to visit Badrinath on Sunday

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Five days before the election results, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday morning offered prayers at the Kedarnath shrine nestled in Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand.
 
Early in the day, Modi arrived at Dehradun's Jolly Grant airport and took a helicopter to Kedarnath. He was wearing a grey suit with a pahari cap and a saffron gamchha around his waist. 
 
Alighting from the chopper, he headed straight to the holy shrine, where he offered special prayers to Lord Shiva. 
 
Modi also reviewed the reconstruction work in Kedarnath, which was extensively damaged in the June 2013 deluge.
 
The Prime Minister will spend the night here and will fly to Badrinath on Sunday. He would return to New Delhi later on Sunday.
 
Security has been tightened around both the shrines in view of the Prime Minister's visit, said Ashok Kumar, Director General (Law and Order).
 
This is the Prime Minister's fourth visit to Kedarnath in the past two years. 
 
In 2017, he visited it once in May after its gates were opened following a six-month winter break and again in October, before the temple again closed for winters. He last offered prayers at the temple on Diwali in November.
 
IANS
 

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Uttarakhand girl facing matricide charges found dead

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A teenaged girl, who was recently arrested for allegedly murdering her mother, was found dead at a rehabilitation centre here in Uttarakhand, police said on Thursday.
 
Vinita Chauhan was arrested last month by the Haridwar police on charges of murdering her mother in the Kankhal area of the district.
 
Chauhan was found lying unconscious in the bathroom of the girls rehabilitation centre on Wednesday night. She was rushed to the government Doon hospital where the doctors declared her dead.
 
Police said that the girl was depressed. Her father had refused to meet her despite several messages being sent, police said.
 
Usha Negi, Chairperson of the Uttarakhand State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, told the media that the girl was mentally disturbed after she lost her mother and was worried about her two siblings.
 
IANS
 

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Kedarnath temple reopens for pilgrims

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The Kedarnath temple in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand was re-opened for pilgrims on Thursday.
 
Amid chanting of vedic hymns and religious rituals, an idol of Lord Shiva was placed in the temple and the gates were thrown open at 5.35 a.m. 
 
Built by Adi Shankracharya, the temple, which is said to be 1,200 years old, was decorated with 10 quintals of flowers provided free by a Rishikesh-based NGO, said Mohan Lal Thapliyal, Chairman of the Badrinath-Kedarnath Temple Committee.
 
Uttarakhand Governor Baby Rani Maurya along with hundreds of pilgrims visited the temple and offered prayers. 
 
Kedarnath, which is built on the banks of Mandakini and Saraswati rivers, is among Panch Kedar -- five shrines of Lord Shiva -- established in the Garhwal region.
 
The government had taken up the uphill task to clear the snow by pressing dozers and reconstruct the huts damaged in the 15-20 feet heavy snowfall at Kedarnath area, situated at a height of 11,755 feet in Rudraprayag district. 
 
The government has arranged night stay for nearly 3,000 pilgrims by constructing makeshift tents and reconstructing the damaged huts.
 
Most of the snow has already melted. But all the peaks around the temple are still covered with thick sheet of white snow.
 
IANS
 

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Young woman shot dead in Uttarakhand

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A young woman was shot dead by unidentified assailants in front of her apartment here, police said on Wednesday.
 
The incident occurred on Sahastradhara Road when Rehana alias Samarjahan, 23, a native of Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar district, was returning home after closing her boutique late on Tuesday. 
 
As soon as Rehana reached outside her flat, the car-borne gunmen fired two shots at her. Eyewitnesses said she ran nearly 500 meters before collapsing. 
 
She was rushed to a hospital where she was declared dead. No one has been arrested so far as the assailants fled the scene, said Shweta Chuabe, the Superintendent of Police (City).
 
Police are questioning Rehana's 50-year-old live-in partner Rakesh Kumar Gupta, a businessman, who had brought her from Muzaffarnagar last fortnight. 
 
Gupta is married and has two sons and his wife lives in Muzaffarnagar. Top police officials said they are looking into various angles such as family feuds. 
 
IANS

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