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3 arrested for lynching student in Bengal

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Kolkata: Three people have been arrested for beating a student to death inside a college in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district, police said on Saturday. However, the district police chief said none of the three were seen with any weapon in the CCTV footage.

Photo credit: indiatvnews.com
Photo credit: indiatvnews.com

The incident took place at Sabang Sajanikanta Mahavidyalaya in West Midnapore on Friday when Krishna Prasad Jana, a BA student, was beaten to death during a clash between two groups of students.

“Six people were named in the complaint and last night (Friday), we arrested three of them. We are looking for the rest three,” a police officer said.

While the officer refused to comment on their political affiliation, he said the arrested trio were former students of the college.

But Superintendent of Police Bharati Ghosh said the CCTV footage from the union room showed none of those arrested or against whom complaints were lodged carrying ‘lathis’ (bamboo staffs).

“None of the six whose names figure in the FIR were seen wielding lathis. There is no such video footage featuring the three arrested also,” she said.

Ghosh said the footage did not show two groups of students clashing. “There was only one group of student wielding the lathis and beating up others,” she said.

The incident has taken a political colour with the opposition Congress accusing the Trinamool Congress students’ wing of orchestrating the attack while Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as well as Education Minister Partha Chatterjee attributed the death to internal feud among the Congress affiliated Chhatra Parishad activists.

An eye witness and complainant in the case, Somen Ganguly, claimed Jana was killed for his refusal to felicitate state minister Soumen Kumar Mahapatra.

“When Jana refused to go and join the felicitation of the minister, a group of 30-40 students attacked him with sticks and rods. We want those who killed him be given exemplary punishment,” said Ganguly.

While Mahapatra has denied the charges, former minister and Congress leader Manas Bhuniya indicted the Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad for the lynching.

Besides the Congress affiliated Chhatra Parishad observing a students’ strike on Saturday, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) backed Students’ Federation of India (SFI) organised a ‘condemnation day’ to protest the incident.

The SFI also called a strike in schools and colleges.

(IANS)

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With The Elections Coming Up, Indian Government Promises Farmers Their Income Support

The government said the fiscal deficit this year will rise from 3.3 percent to 3.4 percent due to the outlay for the income scheme for farmers.

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Farmers, India
An Indian woman helps her farmer husband irrigate a paddy field using a traditional system, on the outskirts of Gauhati, India, Feb. 1, 2019. VOA

With an eye on wooing voters ahead of what is expected to be a tough national election, India’s Hindu nationalist government announced cash handouts of billions of dollars for poor farmers.

In the annual budget presented in parliament Friday, interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said 120 million farmers with less than two hectares of land would get an income of $85 a year.

Goyal announced that the measure, which will cost about $10.5 billion, would be implemented with immediate effect. “This will pave the way for them to earn a respectable living,” he said. “Such support will help them avoid indebtedness.”

India, Farmers
Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal, center, holds a briefcase containing federal budget documents with Junior Finance ministers Shiv Pratap Shukla, center right, and Pon Radhakrishnan, left, upon their arrival at the parliament house in New Delhi, India, Feb. 1, 2019. VOA

Farmers complain that a sharp decline in crop prices has hurt their incomes and driven millions into debt. Rural experts said they were not sure whether the measure will assuage disgruntled rural communities that have been demanding loan waivers and better prices for their produce.

The government also announced a pension scheme of about $40 a month for nearly 100 million poor workers in the country’s vast unorganized sector and tax breaks for the middle classes.

The welfare measures come as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party tries to address rising discontent in the country — there is growing anger in rural areas over falling crop prices and widespread worries that his government has failed to create jobs to meet the needs of the country’s huge young population.

The Bharatiya Janata Party recently lost elections in three heartland states, raising concerns it could struggle to win a majority in the upcoming elections. Modi had sailed to power in 2014 on the promise of creating millions of jobs.

Modi, India, Farmers
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, is garlanded by BJP leaders on the first day of the two-day Bharatiya Janata Party national convention in New Delhi, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

Although economic growth numbers have been good, lack of jobs has emerged as the biggest challenge for Modi. A report in the Business Standard newspaper says a government survey that has not been released pegs the unemployment rate at a 45-year high of 6.1 percent.

Expressing optimism that “India is solidly back on track and marching towards growth and prosperity,” Goyal said that infrastructure projects such as building roads in rural areas will boost employment.

The opposition Congress Party slammed the income support of $85 a year announced for farmers as inadequate. Saying that it is not going to be transformational, senior party leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted, “₹6000 [6,000 rupees, or $84] in income support for farmers boils down to ₹500 [500 rupees, or $7] per month. Is that supposed to enable them to live with the honor and dignity?”

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The Congress Party is also trying to woo voters with the promise of a minimum income for the poor if it wins the upcoming general election. The BJP has dismissed the pledge as unaffordable, while economists have expressed concern that the “competitive populism” by India’s two main parties ahead of general elections could strain the country’s finances.

The government said the fiscal deficit this year will rise from 3.3 percent to 3.4 percent due to the outlay for the income scheme for farmers. (VOA)