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Sacrilege cases: Actor Akshay Kumar appears before Punjab Police SIT

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Chandigarh | Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar Wednesday appeared before the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Punjab Police, which is probing the 2015 police firing incidents at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura in the state following cases of sacrilege in Faridkot.

Soon after his arrival at the Chandigarh airport, the actor headed straight to the Punjab Police headquarters at sector-9 here where security has been stepped up. Kumar refused to talk to reporters at the airport.

The SIT wants to question Kumar as his name was mentioned in the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report on sacrilege incidents. The SIT had earlier asked him to appear before it on November 21 at the Amritsar circuit house. However, police later allowed the actor to appear before the SIT at Chandigarh.

The Justice Ranjit Singh commission report, which was tabled in the Punjab Assembly in August, had given a reference of a letter written (October 9, 2017) to it by former MLA Harbans Jalal claiming that a meeting took place between Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and former deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal at the actor’s flat in Mumbai in 2015 in connection with the release of the Dera head’s movie “MSG”.

The meeting was allegedly held before the Dera chief was pardoned in a blasphemy case. The movie “MSG” was not released in Punjab in September 2015 because of an edict by the Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs, against it.

Kumar has denied arranging any meeting between former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and the Dera Sacha Sauda sect head. The actor has also denied having ever met the Sirsa headquartered Dera head, who is currently serving a 20-year jail term in a rape case.

Kumar had issued the denial on November 12 after the SIT summoned him along with former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal.  “It has come to my knowledge that some rumours and false statements are being loosely made on social media about my involvement with a person named Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in the context of a fictitious meeting involving Sukhbir Singh Badal, Kumar had said in tweet.

“With all humility, I would like to state the following facts. I have never ever met Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in my life, anywhere. I learnt from social media at some point that Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh resided for a while at some place in my locality Juhu in Mumbai but we never crossed each other’s paths, Kumar had said. The SIT has already questioned former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal in Chandigarh.

On Monday, Sukhbir told SIT members, that he had never met Akshay outside Punjab when he was asked by the SIT members whether he had met the actor in Mumbai. The summons are related to the investigation of cases involving various incidents of sacrilege in 2015, police had said.

The summons had been issued under the section 160 of the CrPC, requiring the attendance for investigation, relating to the Bargari sacrilege case and the Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura police firing incidents.

The summons state, “The presence of the aforesaid person is necessary for the purpose of inquiry into the above-mentioned offence and the person summoned needed to give such information relating to the said alleged offence as he may possess.  The 5-member SIT was set up by the state government in September this year.

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India invited as ‘Guest of Honour’ to OIC meet, Sushma Swaraj to attend

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Official sources said it was for the first time, India has been invited to an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting as a guest of honour.

 

New Delhi| In a significant move, India has been invited to the inaugural plenary of the foreign ministers’ conclave of the OIC, a powerful grouping of Muslim majority nations, and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will attend it in Abu Dhabi next month as the ‘guest of honour’.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) called the invitation a “welcome recognition” of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world.

Official sources said it was for the first time, India has been invited to an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting as a guest of honour. The 46th Session of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers will be held in Abu Dhabi from March 1 to 2.

The invitation to India by the OIC comes at a time when India has been mounting a diplomatic offensive against Pakistan to isolate it internationally following the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

The OIC has usually been supportive of Pakistan and, often sided with Islamabad on the Kashmir issue.

The MEA said Foreign Minister of United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan invited Swaraj as the ‘guest of honour’ to address the inaugural plenary and that India was happy to accept the invitation.

“We see this invitation as the desire of the enlightened leadership of the UAE to go beyond our rapidly growing close bilateral ties and forge a true multifaceted partnership at the multilateral and international level,” the MEA said in a release.

“We see this invitation as a milestone in our comprehensive strategic partnership with the UAE. We also see this invitation as a welcome recognition of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world,” it said.

India is, therefore, happy to accept the invitation and thanked the leadership of the UAE for it, the ministry said.

Last year, Bangladesh proposed a restructuring of the charter of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to pave way for the inclusion of non-Muslim countries like India as an “observer state” of the 50-year old grouping.

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Assam hooch tragedy death toll mounts to 59, 200 taken ill

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Jorhat| At least 59 people have died and over 200 taken ill after consuming spurious liquor in tea gardens in Assam‘s Golaghat and Jorhat since Thursday night, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday.

The death toll is rising every minute, the minister said after visiting Jorhat Medical College Hospital (JMCH) here.

“This morning the death toll in Golaghat and Jorhat districts was 59 and 200 people have been admitted to hospitals. The death toll and the number of people admitted are changing minute by minute,” Sarma told reporters after meeting some patients at the hospital.

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100 cars gutted in fire at Aero India 2019 show in Bengaluru

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Bengaluru | More than 100 cars have been gutted in to fire at the parking lot near the Aero India Show held at the Yelahankha air base in Bengaluru.

According to a local eye witness, a grass fire spread to parking area number 5 and some vehicles which were parked there have also caught fire. The fire department has stated that around 80-100 cars gutted in fire near the venue of the Aero India Show in Bengaluru.

 

Officials stated that around 10 fire engines have rushed to the spot. Responding on the incident Senior police official MNReddi tweeted, “Fire in the open field parking lot of aero show. Nearly 20 cars burnt. Fire fighting operations by Chief Fire Officer and 10 water tenders staff underway.”

Earlier on Tuesday, one fighter pilot was killed after two Surya Kiran Aircraft crashed during the rehearsal of the Aero India Show.

 

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