Monday December 18, 2017
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BJP slams Mamata over Vyapam scam probe demand

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Howrah/Kolkata: Countering West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s demand for a neutral agency probe into Madhya Pradesh’s Vyapam scam, the BJP on Tuesday wondered if she would agree for such a probe into “irregularities and manslaughter” going on in her state.

Bharatiya Janata Party national secretary Siddhartha Nath Singh asked if Banerjee would allow a CBI probe into alleged irregularities surrounding Teachers Eligibility Test (TET).

“The Madhya Pradesh government has already recommended a CBI probe while a high court monitored SIT is also probing the Vyapam scam,” Singh told media persons on the sidelines of a party programme here.

“But we want to ask if Mamata ji will she agree for a CBI probe into the TET scam. Will she agree for a CBI or NIA probe into the mass killing going on in Birbhum district,” he asked.

Singh was referring to frequent clashes between the activists of the Trinamool and BJP in Birbhum. While Banerjee has been denying any such clashes, the BJP has claimed several of its activists have been killed, injured and driven away from the district by “Trinamool goons”.

Terming the series of deaths over the Vyapam scam as “cold-blooded murder”, Banerjee on Tuesday said she was in favour of a probe by a” neutral and capable agency”. On Monday too she had called for an independent agency probe asserting her Trinamool will raise the matter in parliament.

The Madhya Pardesh scam is related to irregularities in admission and recruitment conducted by the Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal (Vyapam). More than 40 people associated with the scam have lost their lives, including a Delhi-based TV journalist who was covering it.

(IANS)

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Gujarat Elections: The Fight to the Finish between Congress and BJP

The counting of votes for the Gujarat elections will begin on December 18 at 8.00 AM

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The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Women on their way to the polling booths in Gujarat on December 9, VOA News

 

  • The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress into a close contest over the seats.
  • The exit polls predict a victory for BJP.
  • The counting of votes will begin at 8.00 A.M. on Monday, December 18.

The Gujarat elections, which were carried out in two phases on December 9 and December 14, will finally come to its culmination on Monday, December 18, as the counting of votes will commence from 8.00 A.M. The Gujarat polls, over which seasoned BJP politicians such as Narendra Modi and Amit Shah  have locked horns with the newly appointed president of the Congress, Rahul Gandhi, have been subjected to numerous speculations and predictions, ever since the two political parties have launched themselves into relentless campaigning for the various constituencies.

The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Rahul Gandhi kissing his mother after being elected as the President of Congress on December 16, 2017, VOA News

Congress vs. BJP: Who will Win the Gujarat Elections

The campaign for the Gujarat assembly elections has been a vehement one for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has extensively referred to the growth index and other statistical details while enumerating the virtues of the BJP government. His developmental policies, such as the Ujjwala Yojana through which free LPG gas facilities were provide to households below the Poverty Line, have made him immensely popular among the women of Gujarat. Modi’s appeal as the ‘son of the soil’ has earned him support in the urban and commercial hubs of Gujarat, in spite of the brewing discontent over demonetisation and the imposition of GST. The BJP has also succeeded in securing the support of the tribal people of Gujarat, who were previously considered as a stronghold of the Congress.
However, with the trio of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, Rahul Gandhi seems to have infused young blood into the Gujarat elections, and has thereby attracted a significant number of young voters. Hardik Patel, with his political acumen has become a potential threat for the BJP, as multiple scandalous tapes of him as well as his aides have not decreased his popularity. In North, Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kutch, people seem to be disappointed with the BJP government, since the much-applauded ‘Gujarat Model’ has failed to solve basic issues in their lives, such as shortage of water.

 

The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the voters at Kalol, in the outskirts of Ahmedabad on December 8, 2017, VOA News

Gujarat Elections: The Exit Polls

The Gujarat Polls of 2017 have often been hailed as one of the closest competitions faced by the BJP government during its 22 year long tenure as speculations are rife regarding who will win the Gujarat elections. However, in spite of the unyielding campaign by the Congress and Rahul Gandhi, the speculations hint towards another victory for the BJP in the state. An aggregate of nine exit polls in Gujarat show that the BJP is expected to secure 162 seats, while 65 seats may be secured by the Congress.

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Surajpal Singh Amu: A case of Fatwa by Hindus?

BJP's Surajpal Singh Amu announced a reward roughly equivalent to $1.5 million to anyone who would behead Deepika Padukone and the film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

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A man signs a banner during a signature campaign as part of a protest against the release of Bollywood movie "Padmavati" in Kolkata, India, Nov. 22, 2017. VOA

A leader of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced that he would pay a reward roughly equivalent to $1.5 million to anyone who would behead an Indian actress and a film director.

Surajpal Singh Amu, a member of the BJP in northern Haryana state, is apparently upset about an upcoming movie, Padmavati, starring actress Deepika Padukone as the 14th-century Hindu queen Padmini.

The movie is directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Amu alleged that the movie is misleading, not based on truth and offends Hindu sentiments in the country.

FILE - Actress Deepika Padukone and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali attend the opening of the 13th annual Marrakech International Film Festival in Marrakech, Nov. 29, 2013.
FILE – Actress Deepika Padukone and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali attend the opening of the 13th annual Marrakech International Film Festival in Marrakech, Nov. 29, 2013. VOA

“We will reward the ones beheading them, with 10 crore rupees, and also take care of their family’s needs,” Amu said in an interview with India’s Asia’s Premier News (ANI) earlier this week.

Threats against movie

Amu also vowed not to allow the release of the movie and warned movie theaters to avoid playing the movie or risk being torched.

The movie was set to be released during the first week of December.

Rights activists have reacted strongly to the threats and urged the government to take action.

“This is pretty outrageous that you announce publicly and no action takes place at a time when people are being arrested for most trivial reasons in this country,” Gotum Naulakha, an Indian-based civil liberties activist, told VOA.

A security guard walks past a poster of the upcoming Bollywood movie "Padmavati" outside a theater in Mumbai, India, Nov. 21, 2017.
A security guard walks past a poster of the upcoming Bollywood movie “Padmavati” outside a theater in Mumbai, India, Nov. 21, 2017. VOA

An official complaint has been registered against Amu, but many are criticizing the stance of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party — which controls the central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi — on the matter.

“I’ve not heard any official stance from the central government or the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting,” Vinod Sharma, an Indian-based analyst, told VOA.

Anil Jain, a local BJP spokesperson, told ANI that the law applies to everyone in the state of Haryana and no one can threaten others. The central government has yet to react, however.

Bollywood actress Padukone stood her ground and said the movie would be released despite the threats.

“Where have we reached as a nation? We have regressed. The only people we are answerable to is the censor board, and I know and I believe that nothing can stop the release of this film,” Padukone told Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) last week.

Controversy

Padmavati was controversial right from the start. Opponents of the movie stormed the filming of one scene and destroyed the film sets. They were upset that the director of the movie was distorting facts by alleging romance between the Hindu queen and the Muslim invader Alauddin Khilji.

Film director Bhansali, however, denies the allegations and maintains the story is based on a Sufi and medieval-era poem written about the Hindu queen. In the poem, the Hindu queen chooses death before the Muslim conqueror could capture her.

Some experts say the poem is centuries old and there is a possibility the Hindu queen might be purely a fictional character found only in folklore.

“There’s a lot of debate in India whether Padmavati was actually a living being many, many years ago or whether she was just an imagined person in a poem,” analyst Sharma said.

Rights activists maintain that if government fails to draw clear lines around the threat made by the politician, and discourage a growing sense of impunity for some, incidents like this will only increase and threaten the freedom of expression in the world’s biggest democracy.

“By letting loose and giving [a] sense of impunity to the goons of the ruling party or people who’re connected or close to the ruling party, we’re paving the ground for much bigger and [worse] things to happen in the near future,” Naulakha told VOA.

The movie is awaiting approval from India’s Central Board of Film Certification.

Written by Madeeha Anwar of VOA.

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Ryan International School Murder Mystery Solved! 16-year-old Student who wanted exams Postponed Accused of Murder

The Haryana Police had earlier claimed that Pradhuman was killed by Ryan International School bus conductor Ashok Kumar inside the toilet as the boy resisted a bid to sodomise him.

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Murder mystery of the class 2 student at Ryan international school, Gurugram has finally been solved (representative image) IANS

Gurugram, November 8, 2017 : A 16-year-old student of Ryan International School in Gurugram who wanted exams and a scheduled meeting between teachers and parents delayed is the prime accused in the murder of Class 2 student Pradhuman Thakur, the CBI said on Wednesday.

CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said the Class 11 student was detained on Tuesday night after “inspection of the crime spot, scrutiny of CCTV footage, call records, statements and questioning of several people” revealed that he had carried a knife inside the school campus on the day of the crime and used it to kill his junior school mate.

“The weapon used in the commission of crime is a knife which was recovered initially by police in Gurugram (Haryana). It is now with us,” Dayal told reporters here.

He said the detained student was weak in studies and “wanted to have examination and parent-teacher meeting postponed”. Pradhuman, 7, was his random target.

The parents of the detained student were kept informed throughout the investigation, said the spokesperson for the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The CBI took over the case on September 22 from Haryana Police, nearly two weeks after the Class 2 boy was found with his throat slit in a bathroom of Ryan International School.

The accused will now be produced before the Juvenile Justice Board, where the court is expected to decide whether he is to be treated as a major or a minor as per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

The Haryana Police had earlier claimed that Pradhuman was killed by Ryan International School bus conductor Ashok Kumar inside the toilet as the boy resisted a bid to sodomise him.

While Ashok Kumar was arrested, Pradhuman’s parents and two other staffers have claimed that he was being made a scapegoat. (ians)