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Northern Railways Suspend Services Ahead of Verdict of Rape Case Against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh

Major towns in Haryana and Punjab continue to remain on lock-down as thousands of supporters haven taken to the roads.

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Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan
Self-proclaimed spiritual guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan. Wikimedia
  • Special court announced verdict in case against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
  • Religious leader held guilty in rape case 
  • Indian Railways suspend services keeping security in mind

Chandigarh, August 25, 2017: The states of Punjab and Haryana have been brought to a standstill. It is a big day for the Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh ji Insaan and his thousands of devotees as a special CBI court announced its verdict in the 15-year old rape case filed against him. State authorities fear that the decision can lead to possible agitation for which stringent security arrangements have been put in place.

The rape allegations against the religious leader go as far back as 2002 when a Dera sadhvi alleged, in an anonymous letter to the then-Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that the chief had raped her and several other female followers. The court today held the self-declared spiritual guru guilty of the charges filed against him, the sentence hearing for which will now be held on August 28.

Rahim, who arrived in a 200-car convoy to the court today in Panchkula drew enormous support from his followers, who had blocked the roads days ahead of the verdict.

ALSO READ: Indian Gurus: Preaching Spiritualism or Business?

A heavy mantle of security forces had been deployed in Punjab and Haryana ahead of the CBI’s verdict with as many as 53 companies of the paramilitary forces and 50,000 Haryana Police officers deployed on duty. Section 144 (curbing mass mobilization) has additionally been imposed by the Punjab government forcing schools and colleges to keep shut until August 28.

Following a formal request from the state governments of the two states, the Northern Railway also decided to stall their services. Over 89 trains that include passenger trains and express trains, have been cancelled to keep the law and order situation in Haryana under check.

Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Ambala Division, Dinesh Kumar in an interview with Chandigrah Newsline said, “On Friday, 44 trains will be cancelled in Ambala division and more trains will remain cancelled on Saturday (Aug 26) and Sunday (Aug 27)”.

Security concerns have affected all possible means of travel in and around Punjab and Haryana as effects have also been observed on air and cab fares. According to a report by ANI, the air fare from Delhi to Chandigarh has gone up to almost Rs.11, 000.

The Dera Sacha Sauda chief had previously released a video on August 24 requesting supporters to keep peace and return back to their home.

However, the swarms of his followers have largely ignored the appeal as routes connecting the states to Panchkula remain blocked.

Following the court’s verdict, mass reactions have been observed among the leader’s followers who wept, fainted, and created a huge violent ruckus raising security concern in multiple towns. Major towns in Haryana and Punjab continue to remain on lockdown for the day.


 

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PM Narendra Modi Launches Plan to Tackle Water Shortage in India

Modi Unveils Plan to Tackle Water Shortages in India's Heartland States

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PM Modi
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to the media inside the parliament premises on the first day of the winter session in New Delhi, India. VOA

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched a 60-billion-rupee ($842 million) plan to tackle water shortages in the country’s seven heartland states where agriculture is a mainstay.

India, the world’s second-most populous country, faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history as demand outstrips supply, threatening farm output and overall economic growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.

Almost every sector of the $2.6 trillion economy is dependent on water, especially agriculture, which sustains two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people.

“Water shortages in the country not only affect individuals and families; the crisis also has an effect on India’s development,” Modi said. “We need to prepare the new India to deal with every single aspect of the crisis.”

The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water and boost overall availability in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat states, which produce staples such as rice, wheat, sugar and oilseeds.

PM Narendra Modi
The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water. Wikimedia Commons

India is the world’s leading producer of an array of farm goods, and nearly 60% of the irrigation for agriculture comes from ground water, mainly through electric water pumps. Subsidised electricity gives farmers an incentive to pump out more water, a key reason behind fast-depleting water tables in the vast country.

Supplying clean drinking water to millions of poor people and reviving moribund irrigation projects were a key part of Modi’s policies for India, where the monsoon accounts for nearly 70% of the annual rains needed to water farms and recharge aquifers and reservoirs.

Nearly half of India’s farmland, without any irrigation cover, depends on annual June-September rains to grow a number of crops.

Drinking water is also an issue, as about 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to safe water and 600 million face high to extreme water stress, according to the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, a think tank chaired by Modi.

According to UK-based charity WaterAid, about 163 million people in India — roughly 12% of the population — do not have access to clean water close to home.

Also Read- 45% Indians Feel that Enough Steps are Not Taken for Women’s Safety: Survey

Every summer water shortages tend to be more acute in large cities such as the capital New Delhi, Chennai — a car-making center dubbed “India’s Detroit”, and Bengaluru, the country’s software capital.

Modi also exhorted farmers to increasingly adopt drip and sprinkler irrigation and use water-management techniques as well as eschewing water-guzzling crops such as rice and sugar cane. (VOA)