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HSGMC members clash with police in Kurukshetra

CHANDIGARH: Tension escalated in Haryana's Kurukshetra district today as members of newly formed HSGMC clashed with the police after they "forcefully" tried to take control of a gurdwara, where Amritar-based SGPC task force personnel were already present in large numbers.

"As members of HSGMC made a forceful attempt to enter Gurdwara Chhevin Patshahi here, the police used water canons, tear gas shells and cane charge to disperse the agitated members," Kurukshetra Superintendent of Police Ashwin Shenvi said.

"Police personnel were targeted by HSGMC members after they were stopped from marching towards the gurdwara ... they pelted stones on security personnel and also indulged in scuffle," he said.

In the melee, at least five cops were injured, he said adding that the situation was brought under control after half-an-hour.

Meanwhile, Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee vice-president Didar Singh Nalwi alleged that the police used force on members of the newly formed body without any provocation.

"Several of HSGMC members were injured and some vehicles too were also damaged as HSGMC members were chased away by the police," he said.

He said the situation became tense when some 400 people owing allegiance to Amritsar-based SGPC reached the gurdwara.

"When the people from Amritsar-based SGPC were entering into the gurdwara, some persons started pelting stones.

Suddenly the police used force on HSGMC members who ran for cover," he said, adding that some of HSGMC members were injured in the clash.

"We will decide the next course of action after taking stock of situation," he said. 

The situation is tense, but under control, the SP said, adding that a heavy police deployment had been made to check law and order around the Sikh shrine.

No sooner they were dispersed, the HSGMC members again congregated on a road leading to Gurdwara Chhevin Patshahi, the main Sikh shrine in Haryana at Kurukshetra, whereas workers owing allegiance to SGPC remained inside the gurdwara.

The ad-hoc committee of HSGMC, which has 41 office bearers, wants to take control of about 30 Sikh shrines which are currently being managed by the SGPC task force.

Meanwhile, Nalwi said their protest at Kurukshetra will continue in a "peaceful manner" and the Sikhs in Haryana will "not compromise" on the formation of HSGMC.

The SGPC row has been escalating after Haryana formed its separate committee last month, yielding to the long-standing demand of the Haryana Sikhs.

The Congress had promised in its poll manifesto a separate committee for the state's Sikhs in 2005, but it remained unfulfilled in the first term of the Bhupinder Singh Hooda Government. — PTIBack














SC to hear plea on constitutional validity of Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Act

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to examine the constitutional validity of Haryana Sikh Gurdwara (Management) Act, 2014 under which a separate committee was formed to manage the affairs of the Gurdwaras in the state.

The formation of a new committee had sparked a bitter tussle between the Amritsar-based Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) and the new panel over control of Sikh shrines in Haryana.

A bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha, however, turned down the plea for immediate status quo on SGPC row and listed the case for an urgent hearing tomorrow.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioner who is a member of SGPC, pleaded for status quo saying the situation is volatile in the state and the apex court must intervene in the matter immediately.

The bench, however, said that there is no need of passing order on status quo right now and posted the case for hearing tomorrow.

"We would examine the issue. There is a duly-elected government to take care of law and order situation in the state," the bench said.

The matter was listed for hearing before another bench but one of the judges of the bench recused himself. The petitioner then rushed to the Chief Justice's court for an urgent hearing.

The Chief Justice's bench, however, declined to hear the case today saying the matter would be heard on Friday.

After Salve vehemently pleaded the court for early hearing, the bench posted the case for tomorrow.

Petition filed by Harbhajan Singh, a resident of Haryana and member of SGPC, said that Section 72 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 says that the power to make law in respect of SGPC as an Inter-State Body Corporate has been reserved to the Central Government only and there is no provision in law for any bifurcation by enacting a State legislation. The petition has said that the hasty enactment is not only against the constitutional provisions and the statutory provisions of Punjab Reorganisation Act but is also divisive in its intention to create dissension among followers of Sikh religion.

"Under the law, Haryana cannot legislate in respect of a subject where the field is already occupied by central legislation as the subject of religious institutions correlates to Entry 28 List III. The strict provisions with regard to interstate body corporate under the law have not been complied with.

"It is important to note that mandate with regard to several actions including reservation of constituencies, constitution of Sikh Gurdwara Elections Tribunal and notification of Gurdwaras for bringing them within the provisions of Section 85 of the 1925 Act have been done by the Central Government," the petition said.

The petitioner sought court's direction in the nature of certiorari for quashing the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Act on the ground that it is ultra vires the Constitution. –PTI


















Under fire from Opposition, govt to convene all-party
meet on UPSC row

NEW DELHI: Under fire from the Opposition on the UPSC row, the government on Wednesday decided to convene an all-party meeting on the issue while indicating its unwillingness to postpone the civil services preliminary examination scheduled for August 24.

The matter, which has disrupted parliamentary proceedings during the past week, rocked the Rajya Sabha again on Wednesday with members from the CPI-M, CPI, SP and BSP staging a walkout expressing dissatisfaction over Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Prakash Javadekar’s statement on the issue.

Maintaining that it was a sensitive issue, which has many aspects, the Minister said a discussion is needed to determine on whether a major reform of the examination pattern of the UPSC is required.

Referring to the demands of some Opposition members and a suggestion given to him by Ramgopal Yadav (SP) in this regard, Javadekar said, “An all-party meeting will definitely take place. If there is need, more such meetings can take place.”

Noting that nine lakh students are appearing for the August 24 preliminary test of the UPSC, the Minister urged the members, “Let us give our best wishes to all those who are taking the August 24 exam.”

Reacting sharply to the suggestion by the Minister, Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said the views of all the parties have already come in the House and asked why does the government not take a decision on that basis rather than calling an all-party meeting.

Members from the CPI-M, including P Rajeeve, wanted to know the “status quo” asking whether the statement given by the Minister of DoPT Jitender Singh earlier on the issue now remains valid after Javadekar’s remarks.

“What is the status quo? Is it incorporative of the UPSC notification,” Rajeeve asked.

Deputy Chairman P J Kurien tried to pacify the members saying, “The Minister has not said that the statement is invalid.”

“Do not apply delaying tactics. the government should say what is the status quo…this is not satisfactory. That is why we are staging a walk out,” Yechury said before joining members of SP, BSP and CPI in the walkout.

Javadekar said the government took two decisions in the matter showing its sensitivity to the issue and “there are still many more questions” like “how relevant is the CSAT” exam pattern and in what language the exams including interviews should be held.

He said that perhaps there was never such a comprehensive debate on the UPSC exam pattern in the past insisting that “this debate is needed” on whether there is need for some change.

The issued was raised in the House soon after the Question Hour was over as members from the Congress, Left, SP, BSP and Trinamool Congress stood up slamming the government over its reply on the issue on Monday.

Minister of State Personnel Jitendra Singh had said, “The government is of the opinion that in the Civil Services Preliminary examination Paper-II, marks of the question section on ‘English Language comprehension skills’ should not be included for gradation or merit”.

“Candidates, who appeared in Civil Services Examination 2011, may be given one more attempt in 2015,” he had said.

Slamming the government, Pramod Tiwari (Congress) said these suggestions will add fuel to fire and alleged that government did it “deliberately” to divert the attention from the “internal fight within the government” and the problems of the country.

Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP) said the formula suggested by the DoPT Minister has “further complicated” the matter. “A decision is not taken in this manner,” he said.

Mishra also castigated the Congress on the issue reminding that the CSAT pattern of UPSC exams had begun in 2011 when they were in power.

Derek O’Brien (TMC) said the government has come with a “knee-jerk reaction in a hurry” which has further compounded the problem. — PTIBack














Prima facie case appears to be made out
against Virbhadra: Centre to HC

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that a prima facie case of money laundering appeared to be made out against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice G Rohini also asked the Income Tax Department to file before it tax assessment record and other documents of the chief Minister within a week.

"In the meantime, we would like to peruse status reports filed by the CBI in the case," the Bench, also comprising Justice Jayant Nath, said.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre, said, "There was enough prima facie material available on record to say that a money laundering case is made out against respondent no. 5 (Virbhadra Singh)." The ASG was responding to the submissions made by Prashant Bhushan, who is representing NGO Common Cause, that an undue delay has been caused by the agency in registering an FIR despite the fact that there is sufficient material to prosecute the chief minister.

Only the CBI can say about the exact status of the investigation, the ASG said.

The CBI had earlier told the High Court that it can probe allegations of corruption and bribery against the Congress leader during his tenure as chief minister of Himachal Pradesh in 2002 after the court issues necessary order.

The agency had placed an affidavit before the court which on April 4 had asked the CBI to expedite the preliminary enquiry into the allegations of corruption and bribery against Singh and to take it to a logical conclusion.

In the affidavit, the CBI had said probe into the allegations against Singh pertaining to grant of Sai Koti Hydel Power Project to Venture Energy and Technology Pvt Ltd on June 14, 2002 "would require order of the competent high court having jurisdiction".

Earlier, the court had expressed concern over the delay in probing the matter and had said the CBI cannot take so much time. The affidavit was filed in connection with an application of the NGO seeking direction to the CBI to probe allegations of corruption and bribery against Singh.

It had said that during his tenure as CM, the state government had allotted the Sai Koti project to the private firm.

"The said company defaulted in the execution of the project and the state government granted several extensions to the company. After Singh became the Chief Minister, his government granted it a further extension of 10 months. The decision was made on extraneous considerations," it had alleged.

In its main petition, the NGO has sought a court- monitored CBI inquiry into allegations of money laundering, amassing disproportionate assets and criminal misconduct against Singh during his tenure as Union Steel Minister.

Singh has refuted the allegations.

On November 27, last year, the high court had asked the CBI to file a status report on the action taken by it regarding the corruption allegations against Singh raised in the PIL after the agency said it was conducting an inquiry into the matter.

The PIL alleged that despite complaints to the Centre, the CBI and the CVC, no action has been taken so far, which shows malafide on their part. — PTI
























5-yr-old molested by school van driver in south Delhi

NEW DELHI: A five-year-old girl student of a government school in south Delhi's Defence Colony was allegedly molested by the school van's driver, police said.

Police has arrested the driver identified as Vipin (33).

"The incident had taken place around 10 days back. Since then, the girl had been refusing to go to school on one pretext or the other. But as days passed, the girl remained reluctant to go to her school.

"This morning she again declined to go to school and looked scared when her van arrived. When her mother asked her what was wrong, the girl broke down and told her that the van driver had touched her inappropriately," a senior police official said.

The mother immediately informed the police about the incideny following which a case under section 376/511 and sections of Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences was registered at Govindpuri police station and the accused was arrested, police said. –PTIBack













Jaitley says Cong facing 'palace coup'

NEW DELHI: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday lashed out at the Congress party's allegations of not being allowed to speak in the House by stating that there was not a single instance where they were not being allowed to raise issues.

Jaitley told reporters, "The question is why has the Congress Party made an issue out of a non-issue? The reason is very clear to me. A section of the leadership of the Congress Party, because of its inability to lead, has been under pressure."

Unsparing in his criticism of the party, Jaitley added, "They have been facing a palace coup. It's a coup within their own party. Day after day, established leaders of the party are speaking out. It's an internal compulsion within the party. For that, you need not drag the House or the presiding officer into the debate."

"If you want to show yourself as doing something, it will be better if you lead your own party rather than develop a contrived aggression against the functioning of the House itself, which otherwise has been functioning well," he said.

Jaitley also stressed that it was time for the Congress to introspect itself.

A war of words broke out between Congress and BJP workers after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said the opinions of his party were not being heard in Parliament, and that the new government did not encourage any form of discussion over any issue.

"It is one-sided partiality that is what we are raising. I have raised my voice many times in the Parliament. We are not being allowed to speak," said Gandhi. 

"We are asking for discussions, but this government does not want or accept discussions. Only one man's voice is being heard," he added.

However, BJP leaders, including Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu and party general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy, came out heavily against Rahul's allegations.

Naidu said, "I won't take anyone's name, but I am sad at the way the Congress is behaving in the Lok Sabha. I can't understand why the Congress is behaving like this; we had agreed to discuss all issues. People have given us majority; the Congress should accept the verdict or it will prove to be costly for them in future."

Rajiv Pratap Rudy, too, stated that what Gandhi had said was a result of pure frustration.

"Rahul Gandhi has spoken about the Speaker which is not at all accepted. It depicts utter frustration from their part. He has given a statement against the nature of law," said Rudy.

"He is the face of the party and if he is not following the rules, it shows that they are trying to get into the frame by any means," he added.

Earlier today, upheaval prevailed in the Lok Sabha, as the Congress demanded a debate on rising incidents of communal violence across the country through an adjournment motion.

Leader of the Congress Party in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, party MP MI Shahnawaz and party whip K C Venugopal demanded discussion on the issue, failing which they would seek suspension of the Question Hour for taking up the adjournment motion.

Congress members of the Lower House were also seen pressing Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to suspend the Question Hour, so that a debate on rising communal tension in various parts of the country could be initiated. — ANI















Rajeev Mehta mulling legal action against Scotland Police

NEW DELHI: Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary general Rajeev Mehta on Wednesday reitirated that there was some serious confusion as no charges were framed against him in the alleged drunk-driving case in Glasgow and is now mulling legal action against Scotland Police for damaging his reputation.

Asked whether he is planning legal recourse after being detained by the Scotland Police, Mehta replied, "Yes, may be I will talk to my lawyers and then I will decide," the IOA secretary general told reporters on arrival here on Wednesday.

"There were no charges levelled against me. I was innocent then and I am innocent now. There are no problems," Mehta said.

He also added, "There were some confusions but everything is clear now." When asked, what if Scotland Police again open the case, Mehta said that he is not at all worried as he has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

While replying to questions on alleged financial irregularities in Dehradun which the Uttarakhand government is probing, he said, "It has been done 10 years back. Everything, every investigation has been done." –PTI














Cartoonist Pran, creator of iconic Chacha Chaudhary, dead

NEW DELHI: Eminent cartoonist Pran Kumar Sharma, popularly known as Pran, who gave life to lovable comic characters Chacha Chaudhary and his friend Sabu, is no more.

Pran succumbed to cancer early this morning at a hospital in Gurgaon, according to his publisher Diamond Comics. He was 75.

"Pran passed away at 9 am at the Medanta hospital. He had been suffering from cancer of the intestine for the past eight months. He is survived by a son and a daughter," Gulshan Rai, Publisher, Diamond Comics, told PTI.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to twitter to express his grief over the passing away of the cartoonist.

Modi described Pran "as a versatile cartoonist who brought smiles on the faces of people through his rich work".

Born in Kasur, near Lahore in Pakistan in 1938, Pran began his career in 1960 as a cartoonist for the Delhi-based newspaper 'Milap' with comic strip 'Daabu'. In 1969, Pran sketched Chacha Chaudhary for the Hindi magazine 'Lotpot', which made him famous.

"Pran was making small cartoons for newspapers when I first contacted him in 1981. At that time there were no Indian comics, it was all reproductions of foreign titles. For the last 35 years we have been the sole publisher of his cartoons," said Rai.

With a career spanning over five decades, Pran employed a simple style of art and sense of humour to create a family of characters like Shrimatiji, Pinki, Billoo, Raman and Channi Chachi, which are regularly published in Indian magazines. –PTI




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