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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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Heroin worth Rs. 100 crore seized by BSF in Punjab

22kg heroine was recovered during a combat between Pakistani smugglers and BSF troopers

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22kg heroin seized in Punjab
BSF recovers heroine worth Rs. 100 crores from Pakistani smugglers. Wikimedia Commons.

In a joint operation, Border Security Forces (BSF) troopers and the Punjab Police have recovered 22kg of heroin in Punjab’s Ferozepur sector following exchange of fire with Pakistani smugglers near the international border, a BSF officer said on Saturday.

The encounter took place late on Friday following a tip-off that smugglers were trying to send heroin consignment into India.

At least one Pakistani smuggler was injured in the exchange of fire as blood stains were found during search of the area on Saturday, BSF officer D.S. Rajpurohit said.

The BSF recovered a pistol and one Pakistani Sim card.

The BSF also arrested three Indian smugglers who were waiting close to the border fence to collect the heroin consignment.

The smugglers were trying to smuggle the heroin consignment using a plastic pipe across the border fence.

The heroin is worth nearly Rs 110 crore in the international market.

The Ferozepur border is around 275 km from here.

Punjab shares a 553-km-long barbed-wire fenced international border with Pakistan. (IANS)

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The major Challenge is to make the Youth of the Country Entrepreneurial and not Job Seekers : Venkaiah Naidu

"The challenge for us is to make the youth entrepreneurial, and not become job seekers," Venkaiah Naidu said pointing to the NDA government's various initiatives.

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Venkaiah Naidu
Venkaiah Naidu. Wikimedia Commons
  • At a time of tepid job growth and continuing income disparities, the major challenge is to make the youth of the country entrepreneurial and not job seekers, Vice President  Venkaiah Naidu said on Thursday.

“Disparities continue to remain in India and so there is a need for inclusive growth… there is the need to take care of the suppressed, oppressed and depressed,” Venkaiah Naidu said at the Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust’s (BYST) silver jubilee celebrations here with Britain’s Prince Charles as the chief guest.

“The challenge for us is to make the youth entrepreneurial, and not become job seekers,” Venkaiah Naidu said pointing to the NDA government’s various initiatives to encourage youth enterprises like Startup India, Standup India and the Mudra financing scheme for underprivileged sections.

Modelled on Prince Charles’ Trust for business startups, BYST, founded by Lakshmi Venkatesan, daughter of former President R. Venkatraman, is engaged in building rural entrepreneurship — “grampreneurs” — as also enterprise among under-privileged sections, which includes business mentoring. The current BYST chairman is Bajaj Group chief, Rahul Bajaj.

“Without mentoring, it would be very difficult to set up startups, with all the business, marketing and other vital issues involved in the first two-three years,” Prince Charles said in his address at the International Mentoring Summit organized by BYST to mark its 25 years.

“What amazes me are the sheer number of jobs these young entrepreneurs had created. The aim of such a project should be to create a virtual cycle of creating entrepreneurs who can then invest in the future of business,” Charles said referring to his trust.

BYST was officially launched in 1992 by Prince Charles and expanded its operations to six major regions of India.

Out of these six regions, four — Delhi, Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad — run the urban programme while two regions — Haryana and Maharashtra — run the rural programme.(IANS)

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Indian Farmers reason behind Smog in Pakistan

Smog in Pakistan has affected the health of people but also caused road accidents.

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Indian Farmers causing smog in Pakistan
Indian Farmers causing smog in Pakistan. wikimedia commons
  • Pakistani officials have said that stubble burning by Indian farmers has caused a thick blanket of smog in Punjab province which led to smog in Pakistan as well.

The officials with Environment Protection Department of Punjab province told Xinhua news agency on Saturday night that the smog is causing various diseases and the provincial government is taking measures to control the situation.

The department’s minister Zakia Shah Nawaz Khan said that the smog engulfed the province for the last two weeks, and is feared to continue for the coming week.

She added that the smoke from the Indian farms moved at a velocity of 7 to 8 km per hour towards Punjab province.

Also Read: Restrictions on Freedom of Expression: Pakistani Journalists Struggle with Growing Threats from Government and Militants alike

Local experts said that the total Air Quality Index in the provincial capital of Lahore is 357 whereas the maximum limit should be around 100, adding that if the situation was not controlled, the level is feared to exceed 500 soon.

Syed Mubashir Hussain, an official of the environment department said that the provincial government has banned stubble burning across the province and violators were being arrested.

A total of 197 First Information Reports have been filed against violators and 65 people have been arrested due to stubble burning and solid waste burning.

Some 175 pollution-causing units have been stopped. About 15,718 smoke emitting vehicles have been confiscated, and a total of 43 lakh Pakistani rupees (about $43,000) fine has been imposed, Hussain told Xinhua.

Apart from this, brick kilns using substandard fuel and running their units without emission control devices like wet scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators and fly ash arrestors have also been closed, he added.

Smog in Pakistan has not only affected the health of people but also caused road accidents. According to local media reports, at least 18 people have been killed and 45 others injured in separate fog-related accidents across the province.

Air traffic was also affected due to smog-caused low visibility. Six domestic flights from various airports have been suspended due to smog in Pakistan, spokesperson of Pakistan International Airlines said in a statement.

The Met office said that smog will disappear after rains or heavy winds, but there was no possibility of any of it in the next 48 hours.( IANS)