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Debabrata Saikia seeks judicial probe into Assam lynching

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Assam lynching

Guwahati | The Leader of the Opposition in Assam Legislative Assembly Debabrata Saikia today demanded a judicial probe into the lynching of two youths in Karbi Anglong district last week.

In a statement, senior Congress leader Saikia urged Assam Chief Minister to “institute a judicial enquiry” to get to the root of the motive behind spreading fake news across social media fora such as WhatsApp and Facebook, which resulted in the lynching of the two youths.

He said that it was essential for the government to ascertain whether the fell victims to a nation-wide conspiracy of creating an atmosphere of fear and doubt via social media.

Saikia referred to similar rumours about the presence of child-lifters being spread in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, while pointing out that already several people have been lynched as a result.

“The opposition leader said that there was ample scope to suspect that the well-coordinated spreading of fake news might be a ploy to divert people’s attention from issues of actual importance.

“In view of increasing doubts about a section of supporters of a particular political ideology being the masterminds behind such fear and hate-mongering, Saikia said that the Chief Minister should take it upon himself to order a thorough probe to unearth the truth and consequently prevent more damage being caused in Assam by such poisonous propaganda,” the statement said.

The two youths, Nilotpal Das and Abhijeet Nath, had gone to the picnic spot of Kangthilangso waterfalls under Dokmoka police station in Karbi Anglong on Friday. While returning, their vehicle was stopped at Panjuri Kachari by a group of irate villagers, who pulled them out and killed them for being child-lifters.

Altogether 63 persons have been arrested from different parts of Assam for killing the youths and spreading rumours and hate messages on social media.

While 28 persons were held for killing the duo, the rest 35 were arrested for posting hate messages and rumours on social media.

The main accused Alfajoz Timung, who was out on bail in an old murder case and was arrested yesterday for the lynching, had asked the villagers over telephone to stop the duo’s vehicle and spread rumours of them being child-lifters.

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PM announces immediate relief of Rs 500 crores to flood-hit Kerala

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Thiruvananthapuram  |  Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced today an immediate financial assistance of Rs 500 crore to the rain-battered Kerala, after reviewing the flood situation in the state.

Modi also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh per person to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF), a Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) statement said.

“The prime minister announced a financial assistance of Rs 500 crore to the state. This is in addition to Rs 100 crore announced by Home Minister Rajnath Singh on August 12,” it said.

After a high-level review meeting in Kochi, the prime minister made an aerial assessment of the damage caused due to floods in some of the affected areas of the southern state.

He was accompanied by Governor P Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Union Minister K J Alphons and officials during the aerial survey in the worst-hit Aluva-Thrissur regions.

Expressing grief over the unfortunate deaths and damage caused to property due to floods, the prime minister observed that rescue of people who are still marooned remains the topmost priority.

Vijayan later tweeted that the prime minister has sanctioned Rs 500 crore as immediate relief.

“As per the initial estimate, the state has suffered a loss of Rs 19,512 crore. The actual loss can be ascertained after the water recedes in the affected areas. The state has sought an immediate assistance of Rs 2,000 crore,” he said.

Modi, who reached the state capital last night, proceeded to Kochi in the morning and reviewed the flood situation during a meeting with Vijayan and the state government officials.

The prime minister’s visit comes a week after Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited the state and conducted an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas.

Modi also assured the state government that relief materials, including food grains and medicines, would be provided, as requested.

Insurance companies have been asked to hold special camps for assessment and timely release of compensation to the affected families and beneficiaries under social security schemes and directions have been issued for early clearance of claims under the Fasal Bima Yojana to agriculturists.

The prime minister also directed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to repair the main national highways damaged due to the floods on a priority basis.

The central public sector undertaking like the NTPC and the PGCIL have been asked to render all possible assistance to the state government in restoring power lines.

Villagers, whose ‘kutcha’ houses have been destroyed in the devastating floods, would be provided the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin homes on a priority basis.

Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme, 5.5 crore person days have been sanctioned in the labour budget 2018-19.

Any further request for incurring the person days would be considered as per the requirement projected by the state.

Under the Mission for the Integrated Development of Horticulture, farmers would be provided assistance for replantation of damaged horticulture crops.

The prime minister also complimented the state government for the efforts made in meeting the challenges of the unprecedented situation, the PMO statement added.

Meanwhile, rains lashing several parts of the state since this morning is causing concern as it could hamper the rescue and relief operations.

As per information from the control room of the State Disaster Management, since August 8, 194 persons have lost their lives so far and 36 are missing.

Over 3.14 lakh people have been moved to relief camps.

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PM reviews flood situation in Kerala

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Thiruvananthapuram  |  Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed today the flood situation in rain-battered Kerala at a high-level meeting in Kochi.

Earlier, there were reports that the prime minister’s helicopter could not take-off for an aerial survey of flood affected areas due to bad weather. But, there was no official confirmation from the state and the Union government.

“The prime minister is reviewing the flood situation in Kerala at a high-level meeting. @CMOKerala,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) tweeted.

Modi, after an overnight stay in the state capital, left for Kochi this morning for the aerial survey and the review meeting to get a first-hand knowledge of the enormity of the mayhem caused by the southwest monsoon.

Meanwhile, rains lashing several parts of the state since this morning is causing concern as it could hamper the rescue and relief operations.

Chengannur in Pathnamthitta, Chalakudy in Thrissur and various parts of Ernakulam district are among the worst hit where rescue efforts are likely to be concentrated today.

Since airlifting is the only option in some remote areas, where people are marooned since the past four days, the state government has sought more helicopters for airlifting them, the Chief Minister said.

Chengannur MLA Saji Cherian pleaded for more help and said thousands of people were stranded in houses without food and water, if immediate steps are not taken to evacuate them, their life will be in danger.

“For the past five days, people are without food in many places. We urgently need food, medicines, water. People need to be airlifted urgently. Evacuation by Army, Navy and Air Force are urgently needed,” Cherian told a television channel this morning.

The leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ramesh Chennithala said the government machinery has to be properly coordinated to ensure all the needy get help.

As per information from the control room of the State Disaster Management, since August 8, 194 persons have lost their lives so far and 36 are missing.

Over 3.14 lakh people have been moved to relief camps.

The maximum deaths have been reported from Thrissur (42), Idukki (37) and Malappuram (35).

According to the latest weather report, heavy rains accompanied with gusty wind speed reaching 60 kmph is expected in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki and Ernakulam districts.

The state is facing its worst flood in 100 years with 80 dams opened and all rivers in spate.

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Dalai Lama condoles Vajpayee’s demise, hails his eloquent support to Tibetan people

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Dharamsala  |  Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has condoled the death of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saying he was an “eloquent” supporter of the Tibetan people and a “friend”.

In a letter to Vajpayee’s foster daughter Namita Bhattacharya yesterday, the Dalai Lama said with his passing away, India has lost an eminent national leader.

“We met regularly during the course of his career and I continued to visit him at (his) home after he retired. Shri Vajpayee was a truly dedicated politician. With his passing away, India has lost an eminent national leader. His eloquent support of the Tibetan people began in the late 1950s. Since then, he regularly took Indian governments to task in Parliament, prompting them to take a stronger stand on Tibet,” he said.

“I feel privileged to have known him and am honoured to have counted him as a friend,” the spiritual leader added.

He also offered his condolences to Vajpayee’s relatives, friends and colleagues.

Vajpayee, who served as India’s prime minister three times, died at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in Delhi yesterday following a prolonged illness. He was 93.

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