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West Bengal

Extremely severe cyclone Fani to hit Odisha coast on Friday afternoon

The extremely severe cyclonic storm, Fani, over westcentral Bay of Bengal, was very likely to cross the Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali, around Puri, on Friday afternoon, the India Meteorological Department said on Thursday.
The extremely severe cyclonic storm, Fani, over westcentral Bay of Bengal, was very likely to cross the Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali, around Puri, tomorrow afternoon, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said here today.
 
The IMD has already issued a cyclone warning for the coastal areas of Odisha and West Bengal and Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram and Visakhapatnam districts of Andhra Pradesh.
 
In a bulletin issued at 1230 hours today, the IMD said Fani had moved further north-northeastwards with a speed of about 16 kmph in the previous six hours and lay centred at 1130 hours IST near latitude 16.7°N and longitude 84.8°E, about 360 km south-southwest of Puri (Odisha), 190 km south-southeast of Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and 550 km south-southwest of Digha (West Bengal). 
 
"It is very likely to move north-northeastwards and cross Odisha Coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali, around Puri by the afternoon of 3rd May with maximum sustained wind speed of 170-180 kmph gusting to 200 kmph," the bulletin said.
 
The cyclone is being tracked by Doppler Weather Radars Vishakhapatnam & Machilipatnam.
 
The bulletin said light to moderate rainfall would occur over most places in North Andhra Pradesh with isolated heavy to very heavy falls over Visakhapatnam and Vijayanagaram districts and isolated heavy to extremely heavy falls (>20 cm) over Srikakulam district today.
 
There could be heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places over Srikakulam district tomorrow, it said.
 
In  south coastal and adjoining interior Odisha, the IMD said there could be light to moderate rainfall at most places today, with heavy to very heavy rainfall and extremely heavy falls over Ganjam & Gajapati districts at isolated places.
 
"It is likely to increase with moderate rainfall at most places and heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and extremely heavy falls at isolated places over coastal Odisha and adjoining districts of interior Odisha on 3rd. Light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at isolated places over Balasore, Mayurbhanj districts of north Odisha on 4th May," it said.
 
The bulletin also forecast light to light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and extremely heavy falls at isolated places very likely over coastal and adjoining districts of West Bengal tomorrow; and heavy to very falls at isolated places over Gangetic West Bengal on May 4.
 
"Light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy falls at isolated places over sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim on 4th May," it said.
 
The bulletin said Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya would experience light to moderate rainfall at most places, with isolated heavy to very heavy falls on May 4 and 5. There could be isolated extremely heavy falls over Assam and Meghalaya on May 4.
 
There could also light to moderate rainfall at many places over Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura on May 4, with isolated heavy falls.
 
The bulletin said gale winds, with speed reaching 180-190 kmph, gusting to 210 kmph, were very likely to prevail over westcentral Bay of Bengal around the system centre during the next 24 hours and decrease thereafter.
 
It said squally winds, with speed reaching 40-50 kmph, gusting to 60 kmph, were very likely to prevail along and off north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha Coasts and become gale wind, speed reaching 60-70 kmph gusting to 85 kmph, from tonight. It is very likely to become 170-180 kmph, gusting to 200 kmph, along and off south Odisha and adjoining north Andhra Pradesh (Srikakulam district) coasts; and 90-100 kmph gusting to 115 kmph along and off remaining districts of coastal Odisha and north Andhra Pradesh (Visakhapatnam and Vijayanagaram Districts) by tomorrow forenoon for the subsequent 12 hours and decrease thereafter.
 
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"Squally wind speed reaching 40-50 kmph gusting to 60 kmph is very likely along & off West Bengal coast from 2nd May evening. It is very likely become gale wind speed reaching 60-70 kmph gusting to 85 kmph from 3rd May afternoon and become 90-100 kmph gusting to 115 kmph from 4th May early morning for subsequent 12 hours and decrease thereafter," it said.
 
The sea condition will be phenomenal over westcentral Bay of Bengal, off north Andhra Pradesh coasts, till tomorrow and over northwest Bay of Bengal off Odisha and West Bengal till May 4.
 
Sea conditions are very likely to be very rough to high off north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, along and off south Andhra Pradesh coasts till May 3.
 
The bulletin warned that storm surge of 1.5 metre height above astronomical tide was very likely to inundate low-lying areas of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha at the time of landfall.
 
Fishermen were advised not to venture into deep sea areas and those out in deep sea in the above aeas were advised to return to the coasts.
 
The bulletin said the cyclone could cause extensive damage to kutcha houses and old pucca and badly managed pucca structures in Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha.
 
It said there could be extensive uprooting of communication and  power poles. There could also be disruption of rail and road links and extensive damage to standing crops, plantations and orchards. Large boats and ships may get torn from their moorings.
 
The IMD suggested total suspension of fishing operations, extensive evacuation of people from coastal areas, and diversion or suspension of rail and road traffic. People in affected areas have been advised to remain indoors.
 
The cyclone could also cause damage, on a lesser scale, in Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Balasore districts of Odisha and east and west Medinipur, south and north 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hoogli, Kolkata districts of West Bengal and Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam and Vijayanagaram districts of Andhra Pradesh, the bulletin added.
 
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Opposition slams Modi government at Mamata rally, calls for BJP ouster

Leaders of more than 20 opposition parties attended a massive rally in Kolkata organised by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and joined her in giving a clarion call for the ouster of the BJP government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre in the coming elections.
 
TMC rally: Opposition unites in a show of strength
Leaders of more than 20 opposition parties attended a massive rally in Kolkata organised by West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) Chairperson Mamata Banerjee and joined her in giving a clarion call for the ouster of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre in the coming elections.
 
All the leaders who were present at the "United India Rally", which attracted thousands of people, spoke of the problems being faced by the poor and vulnerable sections across the country because of the present regime's policies and measures and urged the people to vote it out in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
Ms. Banerjee also said the question about the Prime Ministerial candidate could be decided later, stressing the immediate task was for all of them to come together and oust the BJP from power.
 
Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) did not attend the rally but sent their representatives. Mr. Gandhi also sent a message in which he extended his support to "Mamata Di" on the show of unity and hoped that they send a powerful message of a united India together.
 
"Across India, there are powerful forces afoot. Forces that are fanned by the anger and disappointment of hundreds of millions of Indians who have seen through the false promises and lies peddled by the Modi government," he said in the message.
 
"These forces are moved by the hope of a new tomorrow; a tomorrow filled with the idea of an India in which  the voice of every man, woman and child will be heard and respected no matter what their religion, economic status or region.
 
"The entire opposition is united in our belief that true nationalism and development can only be defended on the tested pillars of democracy, social justice and secularism, ideas that the BJP and Mr. Modi are intent on destroying.
 
"We commend the great people of Bengal who have historically been at the forefront of defending our ideas," he said.
 
Those present at the rally included former Prime Minister and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) chief H D Deve Gowda, Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Singhvi, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, Karnataka Chief Minister and JD-S leader H D Kumaraswamy, Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmy Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav,  former Union Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers and National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah and former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Gegong Apang.
 
Others present included Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) chief Sharad Yadav, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M K Stalin,  Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, former Jharkhand Chief Minister Babulal Marandi, senior BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra, former BJP Ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Ram Jethmalani, dissident BJP MP and actor Shatrughna Sinha, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary, Patidar leader Hardik Patel, Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Hemant Soren.
 
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"A new dawn is coming. We have taken the pledge to work together," Ms. Banerjee told the huge crowd.
 
"Some people are trying to destroy the country. As Arvind Kejriwal said, what Pakistan could not do in 70 years, the Government at Centre managed to do in just five years. They have managed to drive a wedge between communities. They have destroyed all the institutions. They have started politics of hate. They have destroyed the country’s economy," she said.
 
"Jan Dhan, NPA, Rafale, insurance are big scams. There are other big scams as well. Those who are dishonest are preaching about integrity. They are talking about honesty? How much money did they have five years ago and how did their wealth increase? I don’t want to make personal comments but they initiated it. I believe in politics of courtesy but they do not care about it. They crossed the Lakxman Rekha. They tried to implicate Sonia ji, Lalu ji, Akhilesh, Mayawati ji and even me. Why will they expect to be spared?" she asked.
 
"People are asking who will be the leader. There is no dearth of leaders here. Their party is leaderless, so there is just one Prime Minister. In our gathbandhan, we all are leaders, we all are workers, we all are the subjects and we all are the kings. This is democracy. We will later finalise who will be the Prime Minister. The time has not yet come," she said.
 
"Enough of Achhe Din, it is time to bid goodbye to BJP. It is time for change at Centre. For the sake of youths, farmers, labourers, and people of the country, we have to defeat the BJP," shhe said.
 
"We are against divisive politics. We are against hate. We do not want bloodlust. We are against discrimination. We want constructive politics, not destructive agenda.
 
"Hindu stands for sacrifice, Muslims represent integrity. Christians stand for love and Sikhs represent validaan. This is our country. A person who can work for all, without discrimination, will be the leader of the nation," she said.
 
Addressing the rally, Congress leader Kharge appealed to all parties to unite to save the Constitution and democracy. He said the BJP had promised two crore jobs every year, but has only helped its corporate friends.
 
"A rainbow of 22 parties is replacing dark clouds hovering over the country," Mr. Abhishek Singhvi said.
 
Mr. Chandrababu Naidu said Mr. Modi and BJP president Amit Shah had betrayed the nation. He said the public mandate that brought them to power also had the strength to overthrow them.
 
"If BJP tries to victimize our leaders and harass the public, it will pay a heavy price. We will fight fearlessly to save democracy," he said.
 
"All the leaders forming the Mahagathbandhan have one ambition, ‘Save India, Save Democracy'. Since coming to power, the BJP govt has used every strategy to divide the people. We have united India and a new Prime Minister will rise out of this union," he said.
 
Mr. Kumaraswamy said the government at the Centre was headed by "undemocratic persons". He said demonetisation had hit the poor in the country hard, especially in the rural areas. He said it was sad that the Union Government had turned a deaf ear to the needs and woes of the people.
 
Mr. Stalin said the 2019 Lok Sabha elections would be the second war of independence. He said Mr. Modi was sure that he would not get a second term as Prime Minister and that is way he was fiercely attacking the Opposition at every opportunity.
 
"He is afraid of our unity. We must come together to protect India," he said.
 
Dr. Farooq Abdullah said there was a need to save India from the BJP, which  was dividing people on religious lines. He said the parties present must fight the elections together, pointing out that the question of who should become the Prime Minister could be decided later.
 
Mr. Tejashwi Yadav said the opposition parties were united in their diversity and would not be scared by the government's intimidation tactics.
 
Mr. Arun Shourie said no Government had said so many lies or undermined institutions as the Modi regime had done. "We all should have one aim, of removing BJP from the Centre," he said. He said the Opposition must ensure a single candidate against the BJP in all constitutuencies and urged them to hold rallies in every corner of the country.
 
Mr. Yashwant Sinha said it was not about removing one man from power but about coming together to defeat an ideology.
 
Shatrughan Sinha said people kept asking him why he spoke against the BJP when he was still in the party. "The mood of the nation is for 'parivartan' (change). People want a new leader," he said.
 
"If speaking truth is rebellion then you should consider me a rebel. Along with truth, I also don't compromise with principles," he said.
 
Mr. Jayant Chaudhary said Ms. Banerjee had united the Opposition and said it was imperative to get rid of Mr. Modi from the Centre.
 
Hardik Patel, who was invited to be the first speaker, said, "Subhas Chandra Bose had given a slogan to fight against ‘goro’ (Britishers), we are fighting against ‘choro’ (thieves),” he said.
 
Mr. Jignesh Mevani said the country was facing an unprecedented crisis with the exploitation of the poor, minorities and Dalits under the present regime.
 
Mr. Pu Lalduhoma of Zoram Nationalist Party of Mizoram said minorities felt unsafe under the BJP-led NDA government.
 
Mr. Hemant Soren said the BJP must be uprooted from not just the Centre but the States, too.
 
Thousands of people turned up for the rally. The TMC put up flexes and posters with photographs of the visiting leaders on roads leading to the venue of the rally from the airport.
 
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Kolkata bridge collapse: Rescue operations on, suo motu case lodged

Rescue operations continue on Wednesday after a portion of a 40-year-old bridge collapsed in south Kolkata a day earlier, even as a suo motu case has been lodged against the persons responsible for the accident. Two persons are still reported missing.
 
Kolkata bridge collapse: rescue efforts on
 
 
Rescue operations continue on Wednesday after a portion of a 40-year-old bridge collapsed in south Kolkata a day earlier, even as a suo motu case has been lodged against the persons responsible for the accident. Two persons are still reported missing.
 
A part of the Majherhat Bridge between Taratala and Mominpur collapsed around 4.30 p.m. on Tuesday in south Kolkata, crushing a person to death and injuring 19 others.
 
"Two persons are still missing and a suo motu case has been lodged under IPC 304 and 308 against responsible persons," police said.
 
Four teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), fire brigade and personnel of disaster management teams are at the spot.
 
Cranes have been deployed and gas cutters are being used for the rescue operation. Three columns of army personnel are also present at the spot.
 
"Our team is still working on the rescue. Overnight and this morning, we tried to dig holes in the concrete slab decks that caved in to find out whether anyone is still trapped underneath.
 
"Cameras are also being used to find out what remains below the debris. Removing the rubble would take more time," a member of the rescue team said on Wednesday.
 
The West Bengal government has initiated a probe into the incident. "Investigations are going on. At this point, we cannot come to any conclusion regarding the possible reasons behind the accident," a member of the forensic team said.
 
Pedestrians and commuters in buses and cars who were on the collapsed structure were rescued.
 
The bridge was the main connector between central and southwest part of the city. Due to the partial collapse of the bridge, traffic has been diverted. Tram services on some routes have been withdrawn, a Kolkata Traffic Control official said.
 
Goods vehicles' movement has been restricted on some of the arterial roads between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.
 
State government will pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of Soumen Bagh, who died in the accident.
 
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State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said on Tuesday that heavy construction work of the metro project beside the collapsed bridge could have weakened its pillars.
 
City metro railway authority, however, ruled out any such possibility.
 
Amid blame game over the partial collapse of the bridge, the Eastern Railway said it was not conducting any maintenance work at the accident site.
 
However, experts said the bridge was very old and as such structural defect or use of inferior quality material cannot be cited as the reason for the collapse.
 
They said the bridge has been withstanding heavy vehicles for more than 40 years and that the only reason that may have triggered the collapse could be "lack of maintenance".
 
According to a state official, the 40-year-old bridge was constructed by the Kolkata Port Trust and maintained by State Public Works Department.
 
However, a Kolkata Port Trust official said it does not have any records that show the bridge was constructed by it.
 
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Heavy turnout of voters in first phase of Assembly polls in West Bengal, Assam

More than 80.92 percent of the voters exercised their franchise in the first phase of polling in the elections to the legislative assembly of West Bengal and 78 percent in Assam amidst tight security on Monday.
More than 80.92 percent of the voters exercised their franchise in the first phase of polling in the elections to the legislative assembly of West Bengal and 78 percent in Assam amidst tight security today.
 
Polling was by and large peaceful in both the states, with no major untoward incident reported from anywhere, official osurces said.
 
In West Bengal, voting was held today in 18 constituencies in Phase IA of polling. They include six seats in Paschim Medinipur, nine in Purulia and three in Bankura district.
 
These constituencies have a total electorate of 40,09,171 voters, including 20,47,202 men and 19,57,453 women. There are 4500 service electors in these constituencies.
 
There were a total of 133 candidates in these constituencies, including 11 women.
 
The Election Commission had set up 4945 polling stations and made elaborate arrangements to ensure a smooth poll in these constituencies.
 
As many as 65 constituencies went to the polls in the first phase of voting in Assam. There were 566 candidates in all, including 44 women. Prominent candidates in the fray included Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi of the Congress, who is seeking a fourth conseccutive term, and Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, the chief ministerial candidate of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
 
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16 dead, 63 injured as under-construction flyover collapses in Kolkata

At least 16 persons died and 63 others suffered injuries when an under-construction flyover, which has been more than six years in the making, collapsed in the busy and congested Bura Bazaar area of north Kolkata on Thursday.
 
Kolkata: 10 dead in under-construction bridge collapse
 
At least 16 persons died and 63 others suffered injuries when an under-construction flyover, which has been more than six years in the making, collapsed in the busy and congested Bura Bazaar area of north Kolkata today.
 
Police sources told NetIndian that the 16 dead included 14 men and two women, all of whom were crushed under the tonnes of concrete and steel that came crashing on them around 1215 pm today without any warning.
 
They said nearly 60 others had been taken to various hospitals in the city for treatment of injuries.
 
Officials feared the number of casualties could increase as search and rescue teams made their way through the mangled steel and concrete through the night.
 
Army personnel and teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) joined the local police, the fire brigade, other agencies and hundreds of volunteers in a massive rescue effort with specialised equipment, sniffer dogs and so on.
 
Several people were feared trapped below the debris of the bridge and frantic efforts were being made to reach them without loss of time. As people dug through the rubble, they found cars, taxis and other vehicles trapped under the concrete.
 
Hundreds of people of the locality and passers-by rushed to the spot and began trying to remove the debris with their bare hands, using whatever equipment they could lay their hands on, even as the authorities made arrangements to rush cranes, gas cutters and other machinery as well as ambulancesto the scene. 
 
Scores of witnesses told journalists at the scene that they heard a loud rumble and then a massive thud as the huge bridge suddenly came down without any warning.
 
Footage from a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera in the area showed people going about their normal business and traffic moving as usual under the flyover when it suddenly came crashing down.
 
Traffic in the entire area came to a total standstill and there were traffic snarls in several nearby areas as a consequence.
 
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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was campaigning for the state assembly elections outside Kolkata, rushed back to the state capital and visited the scene of the tragedy.
 
She said stringent action would be taken against officials of the construction company, the Hyderabad-based IVRCL Limited, or any others found guilty of negligence.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is currently in the United States on an official visit, took stock of the situation and expressed shock and grief over the incident.
 
“Shocked and saddened by collapse of under construction flyover in Kolkata. Took stock of the situation and rescue operations. 
 
"My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in Kolkata. May the injured recover at the earliest," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was touring West Bengal as part of the BJP's election campaign, asked the Director General, NDRF, Mr. O.P.Singh, to rush rescue teams to the spot.
 
An official press release said seven NDRF teams had been deputed to the site and two more teams were being mobilized for the rescue operations.
 
"I am deeply saddened to know that precious lives have been lost in the Kolkata accident," he added.
 
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Modi invokes spirit of Team India; says Centre, states must work together

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday described the Central government and the 29 state governments in the country as "30 pillars of Team India" which would together take the country forward.
 
Delhi alone will not run nation: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today described the Central government and the 29 state governments in the country as "30 pillars of Team India" which would together take the country forward.
 
Addressing a public meeting after dedicating to the nation the 2.5 million tonne modernised and expanded IISCO steel plant at Burnpur in West Bengal, he mentioned various instances of cooperative federalism of recent months, including the setting up of the NITI Aayog, and the devolution of additional revenues to the States through acceptance of the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission. 
 
He also mentioned that the decades-old land boundary issue between India and Bangladesh had been successfully resolved through the same spirit of Team India, with all state governments concerned and political parties coming together to support a solution of the problem.
 
He said the nation would move ahead faster when the Centre and the states worked together.
 
"Sadly Centre-State relations were tensed for a long time. I have been Chief Minister for a long time and I know that such behaviour will not be good. We have brought in a change, we focused on co-operative federalism. Delhi alone will not run the nation," he said.
 
"India will not change without a 'Team India'. The Prime Minister and Chief Ministers are one team that will take India ahead. The nation is bigger than any party," he said.
 
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Mr Modi said the time had now come for India to address the issue of "geographical imbalance" along with the economic and social imbalances. He said that eastern India, too, should develop as fast as western India is developing, and for that, development of West Bengal is essential. 
 
"The eastern part of India has immense potential. The people are also skilled," he said.
 
He said District Mineral Foundations would be set up to help speed up progress and welfare of the poor in mineral-rich districts. He said that, within a year, the atmosphere of gloom in the country had lifted, and all global rating agencies were now agreed that India is among the world's fastest growing economies.
 
"A year ago the world had a different perception about India. Now the world says in one voice that India is a fast growing economy," he added.
 
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Modi "deeply concerned", asks for report on Nadia nun's gang-rape, Hisar church attack

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has voiced deep concern about the alleged gangrape of an elderly nun at Nadia in West Bengal recentlyand the attack on a church at Hisar in Haryana and sought an immediate report on the incidents.
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has voiced deep concern about the alleged gangrape of an elderly nun at Nadia in West Bengal recentlyand the attack on a church at Hisar in Haryana and sought an immediate report on the incidents.
 
"PM is deeply concerned about the incidents in Hisar, Haryana and Nadia, West Bengal," the Prime MInister's Office (PMO) said on micro-blogging site Twitter today.
 
"PMO has asked for immediate report on facts & action taken regarding the incidents in Haryana and West Bengal," it added.
 
A 71-year-old nun was allegedly gang-raped by dacoits at a convent in Nadia district in the early hours of Saturday. The incident has triggered protests in West Bengal and the state government has ordered a probe by the CID in the case.
 
In the second incident, a church under construction at Kaimri village near Hisar in Haryana was vandalised by a group of people on Sunday.
 
Both the incidents have evoked widespread condemnation across the country, with the Christian community expressing serious concern about the safety of churches and other institutions.
 
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Polling underway for 41 seats in final phase of LS elections

Polling was underway on Monday amidst tight security in 41 constituencies spread over three states -- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal -- in the ninth and final phase of elections to the 16th Lok Sabha.
 
Ninth phase of 16th LS polls underway
Polling was underway today amidst tight security in 41 constituencies spread over three states -- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal -- in the ninth and final phase of elections to the 16th Lok Sabha.
 
Thousands of voters turned out to exercise their franchise in these constituencies and long queues of voters  were seen at many polling stations despite the sweltering heat,
 
All eyes were, however, on Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the second constituency from which BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is trying to make his maiden entry into the Lok Sabha. His main rivals in Varanasi are Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal and local Congress leader Ajay Rai.
 
Mr Modi is also in the fray from Vadodara in Gujarat, where polling was held on April 30.
 
Around 1.6 million people are eligible to cast their votes in Varanasi in what is clearly the keenest contest of the 2014 elections. There were long queues of voters outside polling stations in most areas of the city.
 
The authorities have deployed around 45,000 security personnel to ensure free and fair polls in the constituency. More than 12,000 polling booths were put under surveillance with CCTV cameras and proceedings at more than 300 polling stations were being videographed.
 
The Election Commission has deployed Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar as a special observer for the constituency following complaints of bias against the local election officials by the BJP. Several senior police officers of Uttar Pradesh are also camping in the city.
 
The constituencies that voted today included 18 in Uttar Pradesh, 17 in West Bengal and six in Bihar. They have a total of 66.13 million voters and there were 606 candidates in the fray.
 
The first phase of polling in the long drawn out election process was held on April 7. Counting of votes for all constituencies will be taken up on May 16 and all results are expected by that evening. Two members in the 545-member Lok Sabha are nominated by the President from the Anglo-Indian community.
 
Other prominent candidates in the fray in Uttar Pradesh include Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo and former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav from Azamgarh and UP Legislative Assembly Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey from Doomariaganj.
 
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Union Minister of State for Home Affairs R P N Singh is contesting from Kushinagar and popular Bhojpuri film actor Ravi Kishan from Jaunpur, both on the Congress ticket. Veteran BJP leader Kalraj Mishra is contesting the Deoria seat. Quami Ekta Dal (QED) leader Mukhtar Ansari, who withdrew from the contest in Varanasi and later announced his support for the Congress, is in the contest from Ghosi.
 
In Bihar, the prominent candidates include well-known Hindi filmmaker Prakash Jha, who is trying his luck yet again, this time as a Janata Dal (United) candidate, and former Union Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
 
In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has fielded former Union Ministers Sudip Bandopadhyay, Dinesh Trivedi in Barrackpore and Sougata Roy in Dum Dum and actors Dipak Adhikari (Dev) from Ghatal and Tapas Paul in Krishinagar.
 
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has put up Ms Subhashini Ali against Mr Trivedi in Barrackpore, while the BJP has fielded well-known magician P C Sorcar (Junior) in Barasat. West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury is the party's candidate in Berhampore.
 
The TMC had won 14 of the 17 seats that went to the polls today in West Bengal in the 2009 elections, while the CPI, SUCI and Congress had won one each. The TMC and the Congress were in an alliance then. The CPI (M) had not won a single seat from these in 2009.
 
There are a total of 328 candidates, including 18 women, in the 18 constituencies of Uttar Pradesh, which have a total electorate of 31.6 million voters.
 
In Bihar, more than 8.8 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the six constituences which have a total of 90 candidates in the fray.
 
The 17 constituencies that went to the polls in West Bengal have a total electorate of  25.61 million and 188 candidates in the fray.
 
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CBI at Rajeev Kumar's door, as protection from arrest ends

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Soon after the Calcutta High Court on Friday withdrew interim protection from arrest given to former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in the Saradha chit fund scam case, CBI officials reached his official residence here apparently to serve a notice.
 
In a jolt to the IPS officer, the High Court withdrew the interim protection giving the CBI an immediate chance to ask him to appear before the agency in connection with the Ponzi scam probe that saw many lakhs lose their hard earned money with some pushed to the extreme point to end their lives.
 
The Bench of Justice Madhumita Mitra refused to extend Kumar's interim protection beyond Friday. "The application filed by the petitioner Rajeev Kumar has been heard by the court and turned down, and all the interim orders passed earlier by the honourable judges were vacated and turned down," the CBI counsel told reporters.
 
The court had given the interim protection on May 30 and then extended it multiple times. The judge observed if the investigative agency operated within the parameters of the law then there was no need for the court to intervene.
 
As a responsible high-ranking officer, it was Kumar's duty to cooperate with the investigative agency, the court said.
 
A source said Kumar -- posted as Additional Director General of the state Criminal Investigation Department -- was on leave at present.
 
When the CBI officers reached Kumar's Park Street residence, the former Kolkata Police Commissioner was not there.
 
A large number of policemen in uniform and plainclothes from the Park Street police station were present at the spot when the CBI officials reached there at 4.55 p.m.
 
The investigative agency had sent a notice to Kumar asking him to appear before it and later issued a lookout notice against him in May, alerting all airports and immigration authorities against him leaving the country.
 
Kumar had moved the court on May 22 seeking quashing of the CBI notice asking him to appear before the agency.
 
He appeared before the CBI on June 7 and was grilled for several hours.
 
Kumar, who headed the special investigation team (SIT) as the Commissioner of Bidhannagar police that probed the Saradha scam, is accused of tampering with evidence in the case.
 
The CBI is seeking Kumar's custodial interrogation arguing certain documents seized by the SIT during the initial investigation into the scam was not handed over to it.
 
An unprecedented chain of events had unfolded on February 3 when a CBI team reached Kumar's residence to question him. The team was detained and was taken to a police station before being released.
 
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had also visited the officer's residence and later held a 45-hour sit-in at the city hub on the issue. But in February itself, as per the Supreme Court orders, Kumar was interrogated by the CBI in Shillong.
 
IANS
 

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Banned for age fraud, Gaurav Mukhi cleared by AIFF

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Gaurav Mukhi, who while playing for Indian Super League (ISL) side Jamshedpur FC was banned for six months for age-fraud, has been cleared to take the field after the footballer provided the All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) with his correct birth certificate.
 
The AIFF Disciplinary Committee had sanctioned him in November last year but upon submission of correct documents, the ban was lifted according to a source in the know of the developments.
 
"He was banned for age fraud, but he is clear to play after he submitted original documents to the AIFF. The federation had banned him for 6 months and had asked him to submit correct documents for (central registration system) CRS. He accepted the verdict and on completion of the ban, AIFF looked at his original documents and gave him clearance to participate in official events," the source told IANS.
 
Mukhi scored a goal against Bengaluru FC on October 7 last year and went on to be named as the 'Indian Super League's youngest-ever goal-scorer'. But it then came to light that the 16-year-old was overage.
 
IANS
 

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Disaster strikes Kolkata Metro work: Bengal Minister among hundreds homeless

Houses in Central Kolkata's Bowbazar area damaged in underground tunnelling work for the East-West Metro Project, in Kolkata on September 5, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Houses in Central Kolkata's Bowbazar area damaged in underground tunnelling work for the East-West Metro Project, in Kolkata on September 5, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
A West Bengal Minister was among over 400 persons forced to evacuate their residences and shops in the heart of the city after more than 50 buildings developed cracks -- and several collapsed -- apparently due to tunnelling work for the under-construction 16.60-km East-West Metro Railway project -- a part of which constitutes India's first under-river train line.
 
The project -- technologically analogous to the Eurostar (connecting Paris and London) -- met with what the implementing agency Kolkata Metro Railway Corporation Limited (KMRCL) called an "unprecedented disaster" on August 31, when a tunnel boring machine hit an aquifer resulting in water and silt gushing in and triggering serious ground loss on several roads in central Kolkata's Bowbazar area -- close to the city's bustling office and business hub Esplanade and Dalhousie.
 
While 10 buildings developed cracks on August 31, the number increased to 20 the next day and climbed up to 52 till Thursday, prompting authorities to shift more than 400 dwellers to hotels or guest houses in the vicinity. At least two buildings have caved in.
 
Among those asked to vacate their residences by senior KMRCL officials, as a precautionary measure as cracks have appeared in most adjacent buildings, is state Planning and Statistics Minister Tapas Roy . Roy, who has been residing at BB Ganguly Street for over a decade, termed the situation "unfortunate".
 
Meanwhile, the KMRC has announced a relief of Rs 5 lakh to each household evacuated in a sudden/unplanned manner following damage to their residence.
 
"The KMRCL board of directors have decided to immediately release Rs 5 lakh per family to those affected," it said in a statement.
 
The order to vacate "immediately" came to families on Durga Pituri Lane, Babu Ram Seal Lane and Gour De Lane.
 
Anindita Dey, 25, is scheduled to get married on December 1. Her family was given "10 minutes" on Monday to take out their valuables and important documents. But before they could get anything out, the building collapsed burying their belongings in the rubble.
 
The Dey family, now lodged in a hotel by the KMRCL, is now banking on the announced Rs 5 lakh compensation and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to see through the wedding.
 
The KMRCL has promised to reconstruct or repair the damaged buildings, and provide the shifted residents flats on rent if their hotel stay "is prolonged".
 
The agency has also engaged several experts "of both national and international repute" for addressing the issue in the best possible manner", the statement said.
 
"International experts namely Paul Vireli (tunnel expert from South Africa), Guy Bridges (Hong Kong), geotechnical engineer John Endicott (Singapore), grouting expert Kiril Shramka (Russia) and Kumar Pitchumani from Chennai are already in Kolkata," it said.
 
According to KMRCL, the tunnel boring work has been stopped and would resume only after a green signal from the court. Company officials fear that the project could be delayed by at least a year, leading to a massive cost escalation.
 
The court will hear the matter on September 16.
 
Meanwhile, state Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim has sought Railway Minister Piyush Goel's intervention to control the damage and ensure proper rehabilitation of the affected denizens. Hakim also charged the KMRCL with negligence that has caused the "massive human suffering".
 
The Chief Minister, who reviewed the situation with KMRCL authorities, experts, police and administrative officials earlier this week, has decided to form a core group comprising the Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, City Police Commissioner and representatives of affected houses and shops to look into the tunnelling related problems.
 
The Metro corridor bridges the twin cities of Howrah and Kolkata -- two of the most populous areas -- and has been planned to drastically cut down travel cost and time, almost by an hour and a half.
 
The Metro would run from Salt Lake's Sector V, Kolkata's IT hub, and Howrah Maidan. Out of the total 16.60 km, 5.8 km is an elevated corridor and 10.8 km will run underground. The 520-metre twin tunnels under the river are part of the underground stretch.
 
Once commissioned in 2019, one would travel more than a 10-storeyed building below the water surface for almost half a kilometre across the 460 metre-wide Hooghly.
 
The Metro project -- connecting two of the world's busiest railway stations Sealdah and Howrah -- was originally slated to be operational by 2012, but the deadline has got pushed back repeatedly due to land and other issues.
 
The affected section -- from Esplanade to Sealdah -- is a 2.45 km stretch. The tunnel boring machine was about 600 metres from Sealdah when disaster struck. The projected daily maximum passenger load is nine lakh.
 
IANS
 

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Minor earthquake shakes Nadia region of West Bengal

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale, shook the Nadia region of West Bengal in the early hours of today.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 23.8°N and longitude 88.6°E, occurred at 0213 hours at a focal depth of 33 km.
 
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Arrest warrant issued against Shami for domestic violence

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A court here on Monday issued an arrest warrant against India cricketer Mohammed Shami, which gave him 15 days to surrender and apply for bail for alleged domestic violence accusations levelled against him by his estranged wife Hasin Jahan.
 
The judge of the Alipore court issued the warrant around six months after the police filed a charge sheet in the case against the celebrated cricketer under Section 498A (domestic violence) and 354A (sexual harassment).
 
Shami is presently in the Caribbean islands as part of the Indian Test team which is playing the second Test of the two-match series against the West Indies.
 
IANS
 

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TMC MP appears before CBI in Narada case

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Trinamool Congress MP Prasun Banerjee on Saturday appeared before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) here in connection with the Narada sting operation probe even as he accused the probe agency of harassing him and his fellow party leaders in the investigation.
 
The CBI on August 29, issued summons to several Trinamool Congress ministers and leaders in the Narada sting footage case, in which the politicians were purportedly seen taking hoards of cash from representatives of a fictitious company for extending favours.
 
The agency will conduct a voice sample test of the persons purportedly seen in the sting footage, which had surfaced in 2016 ahead of the West Bengal Assembly polls.
 
"I responded to the CBI summons and submitted my voice sample. I had already submitted all the details regarding the incident to them when I was interrogated two years back. There was nothing new for me to tell them," Banerjee said after coming out of the CBI office here.
 
"It seems they are trying to harass us. I told them that as I am an MP, my voice samples are easily available in the public domain. There was no requirement to summon me for the voice sample. It seems they want to tarnish our image in public by repeatedly summoning us," Banerjee said.
 
Meanwhile, BJP leader and former Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, who was also asked by the CBI to appear before it on Saturday, skipped the summons saying he was in Delhi.
 
Sending a letter to the CBI officials through a representative, Chatterjee said he was in Delhi in connection with the ongoing divorce case with his wife.
 
IANS
 

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Five killed in Bengal temple stampede

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Five pilgrims died and about 60 others were injured in a stampede that followed the collapse of a wall near a temple in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal on Friday, police said.
 
The wall had collapsed amid incessant rain, a minister said.
 
The incident took place in the famous Loknath temple in North 24 Parganas' Kachua where a large number of pilgrims had gathered on account of the Bengali saint Baba Loknath Brahmachari's birth anniversary.
 
Kachua is under North 24 Parganas district's Basirhat subdivision. It is 28 kilometers from the state capital Kolkata.
 
"Two more persons succumbed to their injuries at SSKM in the last night incident near Baba Loknath Temple, Kachua, taking the total death toll to five. Injured persons are being treated and no one else is critically serious, " a press release issued by the Bengal police said.
 
"Apart from those killed in the tragic accident, 60-70 persons got injured in the Kachua temple early on Friday. A number of injured persons have been shifted to Kolkata's National Medical College and Hospital," state Food Minister and Trinamool's North 24 Parganas district President Jyotipriya Mullick told IANS.
 
He said the accident happened as thousands to pilgrims jostled to enter the temple through a narrow entrance after the rain had stopped.
 
"Close to 10,000 pilgrims took shelter under the tarpaulins erected for temporary shops amid massive rain near the temple ground. They rushed towards the temple gate as soon as the rain had stopped. Due to this massive crowd pressure, a wall of an abandoned house beside the temple collapsed, creating a stampede-like situation," he said.
 
Mullick, accompanied by other senior members of the party's district leadership, went to the spot on Friday afternoon.
 
West Bengal Police's Director-General Virendra also visited the accident spot.
 
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee went to the National Medical College and Hospital here where some of the injured have been shifted and announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the family of the deceased.
 
"The temple at Kachua draws a huge crowd on this occasion and the administration remains active. But this time the gathering surpassed all previous records.
 
"Amidst the rain and storm, some people tried to take shelter in the stalls on the narrow lane. Some fell in the adjacent pond.. In the rush, the stampede-like situation occurred," she said.
 
Banerjee also said Rs 1 lakh will be given to the pilgrims who received critical injuries while the ones with minor injuries will be given Rs 50,000 each.
 
Trinamool leader Mullick blamed the temple committee for the accident and claimed those who organised the fair on occasion of Loknath birth anniversary, did not follow the guidelines laid down by the administration.
 
"When the state government grants permission for a fair or a festival, it should be organised according to the guidelines given by the local administration. The government held six meetings with the temple committee but they did not bother to follow the guidelines," he alleged.
 
"Police built at least 10 barricades in the area but all of them broke due to massive crowd pressure. The local administration had proposed separate routes for entry and exit from the temple... if that was followed, the accident could have been avoided," he said, adding that strict legal action will be taken against those responsible for the accident.
 
However, a temple managing committee member said he saw no administrative fault on their part.
 
"We have engaged 5,000 volunteers. Both these volunteers and police were there to control the crowd," he said.
 
Baba Lok Nath Bramachari, an 18th-19th-century saint, is believed to have lived for 160 years. He has a legion of followers in Bengal and Bangladesh.
 
IANS

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Married couple's bodies found in garden house near Kolkata

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The bodies of a married couple were recovered from inside trolley bags in the washroom of a garden house in West Bengal's South 24 Parganas district on Tuesday, in what seems to be a case of twin murder, police said.
 
Locals were alerted by the foul smell emanating from the garden house in the Tiuria area on Tuesday morning and informed the Narendrapur police station.
 
"When the bags were opened, we found two bodies, one of a male, the other of a female. Blood stains were also found inside the house," said a police officer.
 
The bodies were said to be of Paradip Biswas and his wife Alpana, who were employed as caretakers of the garden house since 1997.
 
"We are yet to find any weapons. The way the bodies have decomposed, it seems they were murdered three days ago. We will get the details from post mortem," said the officer.
 
The police also suspect that there could be more than one assailant.
 
IANS
 

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Mild earthquakes recorded in Puruliya in West Bengal and in Jammu & Kashmir

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Two mild earthquakes were recorded in the Puruliya region of West Bengal and in Jammu and Kashmir in the early hours of today.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that, in Puruliya, a quake measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale occurred at 0255 hours today. It had its epicentre at latitude 23.2°N and longitude 86.5°E and occurred at a focal depth of 22 km.
 
In Jammu and Kashmir, a tremor measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale occurred at 0054 hours. It had its epicentre at latitude 32.8°N and longitude 78.4°E and was recorded at a focal depth of 10 km, the bulletin added.
 
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Suspected kidnapper lynched in Bengal

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A middle-aged man was lynched at Nagrakata in the Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal on suspicion of being a kidnapper, the police said on Tuesday.
 
Six people have been arrested in connection with the lynching on Monday in the Sukhani Basti area under the Nagrakata police station. 
 
The profusely bleeding man was rushed to a block primary health centre where he was declared dead.
 
The identity of the victim, a vegabond, is yet to be ascertained.
 
Videos of the lynching that has gone viral show locals, including some children, encircling and thrashing the victim.
 
IANS

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Bengali actress Rimjhim Mitra, two others join BJP

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Three days after a host of Bengali actors, including Parno Mittra, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Delhi, Bengali film and television actress Rimjhim Mitra followed suit here on Sunday.
 
Rimjhim is a popular TV actress who won 'Jhalak Dikhla Jaa Bangla' in 2013 and was also seen in Bigg Boss Bangla. She also made her mark in films like 'Teen Yaari Katha' and 'Cross Connection'.
 
"I am not happy working under the monopolistic approach in the Bengali film and TV industry. I have felt cornered many times and this is the first time I am openly talking about supporting a party. I have joined the BJP as I found it welcoming," Rimjhim said after she was handed the BJP flag by its state President Dilip Ghosh.
 
Actor Surojit Choudhury and model Pamela Goswami also joined the BJP alongside Rimjhim.
 
Only a couple of hours before Rimjhim arrived at the state BJP headquarters, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged at the Trinamool Congress 'martyrs' day programme that celebrities were being forced to join the BJP out of fear of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
 
Negating the allegation, Rimjhim said there wasn't an iota of truth in that. "I have joined the BJP as I believe in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision and want to work for the betterment of the television industry," she said.
 
On July 18, film and TV personalities Rishi Kaushik, Kanchana Moitra, Rupanjana Mitra, Parno and Biswajit Ganguly were among the dozen of celebrities who cast their lot with the BJP at its Delhi headquarters.
 
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Coast Guard repatriates Indian fishermen, boats from Bangladesh

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The Indian Coast Guard (ICG), in a coordinated operation with Bangladesh Coast Guard, successfully repatriated 516 fishermen along with 32 Indian fishing boats from Bangladesh on July 16.
 
These boats were stranded and had taken shelter at Payra Port in Bangladesh, approximately 135 kilometres from IMBL (International Maritime Boundary Line), due to inclement weather and rough sea conditions in the Bay of Bengal.
 
The fishing boats were escorted by two Bangladesh Coast Guard Ships Mansoor Ali and Sadhini Bangla up to the IMBL where they were formally handed over to ICG ships Vijaya and Anmol. The boats along with the fishermen are being escorted up to Kakdwip harbour where they will be handed over to the State Fisheries Authorities.
 
This gesture from the Bangladesh Coast Guard comes at a time when the visit of delegation of the Bangladesh Coast Guard to India is underway for Annual Zonal /Regional Commander’s meeting at Kolkata.
 
The search for the remaining 24 missing Indian fishermen is in progress by Bangladesh Coast Guard/Naval ships/aircraft in Bangladesh Waters. Besides search across IMBL in Bangladesh waters, Indian Coast Guard ships, hovercraft and aircraft are also carrying out a search off the West Bengal coast and along the IMBL.
 
"The coordinated response between Coast Guard agencies of India and Bangladesh demonstrates mutual commitment for safety of fishermen at sea and further strengthens the bilateral relationship between the two countries," the release added.
 
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Man who floated in sea for 5 days sans food brought to Kolkata

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Rabindranath Das, the master of a capsized fishing trawler who floated for five days clinging on to a bamboo pole in the turbulent Bay of Bengal without food and life jacket till he was rescued by a Bangladeshi ship off the Chittagong coast, has been brought to the city for treatment.
 
In a virtual epic struggle against the forces of nature, Das survived solely on 'water when it rained' from July 6 -- when his trawler capsized in the sea during a storm -- to July 10, when he was finally rescued by the crew of the ship MV Jawad.
 
Das, hailing from Narayanpur in South 24 Parganas district's Kakdwip, was the master of the trawler FB Nayan-I. He had set sail for the deep sea along with 14 fishermen on July 4.
 
Once the vessel capsized, three of the occupants got trapped in it, while Das and 11 others jumped into the sea, offloading fuel drums and tying them together with a bamboo pole and rope.
 
While all his 11 colleagues were drowned one after another over the next few days, Das displayed unbelievable resilience and grit to stay afloat.
 
Finally, he was spotted by the Bangladeshi vessel near Chittagong on July 10. After a two-hour heroic effort, during which the ship even lost sight of him once, Das was finally rescued.
 
"All I can recollect now is that my trawler capsized and we jumped into the water and were floating. I did not eat during the entire time I was floating. There were intermittent rain and big waves. I drank water when it rained," Das said on Sunday, a day after reaching Kolkata.
 
But amid the happiness and ecstasy over his miraculous survival, what hurts Das the most is the way his nephew got drowned only a couple of hours before he was rescued.
 
"We were floating together. He had a life jacket. But since he was very much scared, I was carrying him on my shoulders for days. But he drowned shortly before I was picked up by the ship," Das said.
 
IANS
 

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Kolkata Metro passenger dies as train starts moving with his hand stuck between doors

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A passenger on the Kolkata Metro railway died a horrific death after the train started moving with his hand stuck between the doors and his body hanging outside on Saturday.
 
Eyewitnesses said the victim -- a middle-aged man -- tried to board the Kavi Subhas-bound train around 6.40 p.m. at Park Street station, but could not get in fully due to a heavy rush of passengers.
 
He had only got his hand inside the compartment when the doors closed, and his hand got stuck. To the horror of onlookers, the train started moving towards Maidan station with the man's body hanging outside.
 
After the train had moved some distance, he fell down in the tunnel.
 
A passenger Sudip Roy said soon after the train started moving towards Maidan there was a burning smell and the train came to a halt.
 
Eyewitnesses said the victim lay in the tunnel for quite some time before security personnel ran and removed him.
 
The victim was taken to SSKM hospital where he was declared brought dead.
 
A Kolkata Metro spokesperson described the incident as "unfortunate" and said a three-member inquiry committee has been formed. The committee will view the CCTV footage and the circumstances leading to the incident.
 
IANS

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Trinamool leader shot dead in Bengal's Murshidabad

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A Trinamool Congress leader was shot dead in West Bengal's Murshidabad district on Friday, police said.
 
The victim Shofiul Hasan was travelling in his car when miscreants surrounded the vehicle, forced him to alight, hurled bombs and fatally shot him in Hariharpara.
 
Shofiul died on the spot. Police later reached the site of the crime and took possession of the body.
 
The incident has triggered tension in the area.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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SpiceJet technician crushed to death at Kolkata airport

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A SpiceJet trainee technician died a horrific death early on Wednesday when he got stuck between hydraulic door flaps while carrying out maintenance work on an aircraft at the NSCBI airport here, officials said.
 
The incident occurred around 1.45 a.m. and the technician was identified as Rohit Bhushan Pandey. 
 
"He was doing maintenance work on a Q400 aircraft, and accidentally the landing gear door closed on him. He died almost on the spot," a highly-placed airport official told IANS.
 
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation will carry out an inquiry into the incident, the official said.
 
A SpiceJet spokesperson said Pandey was working in the right hand main landing gear wheel well area of the aircraft, which was parked in bay no. 32 when the accident took place.
 
"Inadvertently, the main landing gear hydraulic door closed and he got stuck in between the hydraulic door flaps. The doors had to be broken to rescue Pandey but he was declared dead," the spokesperson said.
 
A case of "unnatural death" has been lodged at the Kolkata Airport police station, while police and forensic teams visited the site.
 
Police have spoken to the eyewitnesses to ascertain whether the incident happened due to technical glitches or human error.
 
The landing gear is in the aircraft's undercarriage that is used for take-off and landing. The landing gear door covers it during a flight. A hydraulic opening system and a hydraulic closing system are two of the constituent parts of the landing gear door.
 
IANS
 

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Another Trianmool MLA, zilla parishad members in Bengal switch to BJP

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In yet another blow to West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress, party MLA Wilson Champramary and several Zilla Parishad members from South Dinajpur district joined the BJP on Monday.
 
The Trinamool leaders switched to the saffron outfit at the party's New Delhi headquarters in the presence of BJP's General Secretary and Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya, its Bengal president Dilip Ghosh and senior leader Mukul Roy.
 
Former Trinamool Congress district President Biplab Mitra, known to have played a key role in building the party organisation in the South Dinajpur district, led the defectors which included 14 members of the Zilla Parishad, the highest tier of the three-tier Panchayat system in the country.
 
The chairperson of the local body -- Lipika Roy -- also joined the saffron party.
 
With this defection, the BJP, that has successfully snatched away a number of municipalities from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's party in Bengal since the 2019 elections results were announced on May 23, has now gained control over the first Zilla Parishad in the state.
 
Champramary, a three-term MLA of Kalchini constituency of north Bengal's Alipurduar district, said he decided to switch to the BJP as he was fed up with the violence unleashed by Trinamool Congress in the state.
 
He also alleged that he was not allowed to work for the people in his constituency by the local ruling party leaders.
 
Attacking Trinamool supremo Banerjee, Mitra said that, due to her "autocratic behaviour", it had become impossible to continue in the party of which he was one of the founders. 
 
"I built the party from scratch in South Dinajpur. But it is now impossible to work with dignity in Trinamool," he said.
 
Mitra was apparently cut up with the Trinamool ever since the party leadership this year turned down his plea that he be nominated as its candidate from Balurghat constituency replacing then sitting MP and theatre activist Arpita Ghosh.
 
Ghosh lost to BJP's Sukanta Majumdar and then accused Mitra and his associates of not working for her.
 
BJP leader Mukul Roy claimed more such defections will take place in near future and many more Trinamool Congress legislators are willing to switch over.
 
A number of Trinamool Congress MLAs joined the saffron party in recent weeks. On June 16, Bongaon MLA Biswajit Das along with 12 party councillors joined BJP. A day earlier, Trinamool's Noapara legislator Sunil Singh with 15 party councillors, joined BJP.
 
Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy's son and Bijpur MLA Subhrangshu Roy also switched to the saffron party after being suspended by Trinamool Congress for six years for making anti-party comments.
 
Trinamool Congress, however, said the desertions would not affect it much and claimed that many of the 14 Zilla Parishad members will rejoin Trinamool once they come back to Bengal.
 
"Many of the party leaders were intimidated and forced to join BJP. But they will come back to us as soon as they reach Bengal. We are confident that we will be able to hold the majority in the South Dinajpur Zilla Parishad if an election is held," said Arpita Ghosh, party's current district president.
 
Senior Trinamool leader and state urban development minister Firhad Hakim said those switching over to BJP lack ideals and claimed that the saffron outfit will eventually "use and throw" the defectors.
 
"We (Trinamool) believe in the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. I think these people were there in our party because they also believed in those ideals. Then how come they are joining a party that encouraged Gandhi's assassination?" Hakim questioned.
 
"BJP believes in the use-and-throw policy. They will use these leaders and later throw them away," he added.
 
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