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Uttar Pradesh government announce SIT to probe hooch deaths

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Lucknow, Feb 10 (PTI) The Uttar Pradesh government Sunday night announced a probe by a special investigation team (SIT) into the deaths of over 40 people due to consumption of spurious liquor in the state.

An official spokesperson said that the SIT has been constituted to make an in-depth enquiry into the tragedy that struck Saharanpur and Kushinagar districts in the state last week.

The five-member SIT, constituted on the directives of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, is headed by ADG (Railways) Sanjay Singhal. It has been specifically asked to find out whether there was any conspiracy angle and also to review past incidents, and submit its report within 10 days, suggesting measures to stop recurrence of such incidents.

Meanwhile, a home department official said that the government has decided to suspend the circle officers in both the districts where the tragedy took place. The circle officer of Deoband in Saharanpur district, Siddharth, and the circle officer of Tamkuhi Raj in Kushinagar district, Ramkrishna Tiwari, have been placed under immediate suspension, he said.

The latest action of the government came against the backdrop of a blame game over the twin incidents with Adityanath referring to the involvement of the Samajwadi Party in “such mischievous acts” in the past and BSP supremo Mayawati seeking a CBI probe into the matter which she said was a result of “sheer callousness” of the BJP government.

Adityanath, from his home turf Gorakhpur, warned of stern action against all those found involved in illicit liquor trade even if they were associated with any political party. “In the past too, such type of mischievous acts by SP leaders had come to fore. In Azamgarh, Hardoi, Kanpur and Barabanki, SP leaders were found to be involved in past hooch tragedies. We can’t deny conspiracy this time too,” Yogi told reporters Saturday night.

Hitting back, Samajwadi Party (SP) president and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government on Sunday over the deaths in the tragedy. He said, “The opposition has been notifying the government about such activities, but they did not act as some of its leaders are involved. The truth is that without the backing of the government, such businesses cannot be carried out. The BJP should accept the fact that they cannot run the state.”

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the SP’s alliance partner for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, also blamed the BJP governments in UP and Uttarakhand for the deaths.

BSP chief Mayawati in a statement said that both the state governments were “callous” in their approach towards banning sale of spurious liquor and demanded a CBI probe into the tragedy. She said till the CBI probe was complete, excise ministers of both the states should be asked to step down to ensure free and fair inquiry.

Mayawati said bootleggers who are running a parallel administration right under the nose of the authorities and selling spurious liquor.

Over 70 people have died in the hooch tragedy that hit two adjoining districts in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, officials said. Thirty-six people died in Balupur and its neighbouring villages in Haridwar district in Uttarakhand and as many people had died in UP’s Saharanpur district. In an unrelated incident, nine people have died over the week in eastern Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar district, allegedly after drinking spurious liquor.

Adityanath said he had spoken to his Uttarakhand counterpart Trivendra Singh Rawat and asked him to share details as the spurious liquor was served to the natives of Uttar Pradesh in a Haridwar village. “A racket of spurious liquor was being operated there in Uttarakhand. Therefore, I have spoken to the CM seeking details,” Adityanath said.

He said action has been taken against the excise officer, the excise inspector, SHOs and beat constables in Saharanpur and Kushinagar districts of UP.

Taking serious note of the deaths due to spurious liquor in Kushinagar as well as Saharanpur districts, the state government has ordered a 15-day joint drive by excise and police officials against those involved.

The UP government has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased and help of Rs 50,000 each for those undergoing treatment in hospitals.

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PM Modi inaugurates, lays foundation stone of projects worth Rs 33,000 crore in Bihar

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Barauni | Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of projects worth over Rs 33,000 crore in Bihar, including the Patna Metro Rail Project.

He inaugurated the Patna City Gas Distribution project. The prime minister laid the foundation stone of the Barauni Refinery Expansion Project and the ATF Hydrotreating Unit (INDJET) at Barauni Refinery. He also laid the foundation stone of the Patna Metro Rail Project through a remote at a function in Baruani.

The first phase of River Front Development at Patna was inaugurated and the foundation stone for the Karmalichak Sewerage Network, spanning 96.54 km was also laid by Modi.

The prime minister inaugurated the electrification of railway lines on many sectors and flagged off the Ranchi-Patna AC Weekly Express. He also laid the foundation stone of medical colleges at Chhapra and Purnia.

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Punjab extends time period of policy granting reservation in plot allotment to riot victims

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Amarinder Singh

Chandigarh | The Punjab government has decided to extend till December 2021 the time period of a policy under which victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and terror attacks in the state get reservation in allotment of plots or houses by Urban Estates, Improvement Trust and Pepsu Township Development Board.

The time limit of the policy that expired on December 31, 2016, has been extended till the end of December 2021, an official release said here.  he Cabinet, which met here under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, considered the demand of the ‘Danga Peerat Committee’ (1984 riot victims’ committee), Barnala and Sangrur, in this regard, “to take the significant decision in the interest of victims of the riots and terrorist violence”.

“Victims of the 1984 riots and terror attacks in Punjab are all set to get a major relief with the Punjab Cabinet deciding to extend to them 5 per cent reservation in allotment of plots/houses by Urban Estates/Improvement Trust/Pepsu Township Development Board, without any financial concession, for five more years (from December 2016),” the release said.

In another decision, the Cabinet gave its nod to “The Punjab Food Grains Transportation Policy 2019-20” for transportation of food grains from ‘mandis’ to its storage points at minimum rates through competitive tenders from various transporters. The decision is aimed at bringing further efficiency and transparency in procurement of food grains operations, the release said.

It said for the upcoming procurement season, commencing from April 1, transportation of food grains beyond eight km would be allowed through a competitive online tender process.

This would be done by district tender committees, of which the respective Deputy Commissioners would be the Chairpersons, with district Food Corporation of India head, district heads of all state procurement agencies and district Controller of Food Supplies as members.

The tenders under this policy would be invited for the financial year 2019-20 and would be valid for the period from April 1, 2019 to December 3, 2009.

Further, to ascertain competitive rates, detailed Schedule of Rate (SOR) guidelines have been incorporated in the policy, listing out rates per metric tonne from more than 8 km up to 52 km. For every additional km beyond 52 km, charge of Rs 3.10 per tonne/kilometer would be applied.

Notably, the state procuring agencies of Punjab including Punjab State Warehousing Corporation (PSWC), PUNSUP, along with Food Corporation of India (FCI), procure food grains every year for the Central Pool or for Public Distribution System at the Minimum Support Price fixed by the Government of India.

Among other decisions, the Cabinet decided to provide the facility of air ambulance to serving/retired High Court Judges and their dependents. It has been decided to accordingly amend the particular Rule of Punjab Services (Medical Attendance) Rule, 1940, which covers Punjab government employees.

At a meeting in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on January 28, 2019, the Chief Justice and other judges had sought amendment to the Punjab Services (Medical Attendance) Rule, 1940, for providing facility of air ambulance in case of emergency to sitting and retired Judges and their dependents.

The Cabinet also approved filling up of 153 vacant sanctioned direct quota posts of 42 professors, 46 associate professors and 65 assistant professors in the Government Medical Colleges at Amritsar and Patiala.

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Curfew continues without relaxation in Jammu, efforts on to restore normalcy

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Jammu | Curfew continued without any relaxation in Jammu for the third consecutive day on Sunday even as the Army staged flag march in sensitive areas, officials said.

Senior civil and police officers held a marathon meeting with prominent citizens as part of efforts to restore normalcy in the city, they said. Internal security columns of the Army, which were deployed in the curfew-bound areas, were seen staging flag marches, while dozens of persons were taken into preventive custody to maintain law and order, they said.

Curfew was imposed in Jammu city on Friday following massive anti-Pakistan protests and sporadic incidents of violence over the terror attack in Pulwama district of south Kashmir which left 40 CRPF personnel dead on Thursday. “Curfew continues to remain in force in the city and there is no untoward incident reported during the night or this morning,” Inspector General of Police, Jammu, M K Sinha, told PTI.

He, however, said minor stone-pelting incidents were reported at a few places on Saturday but overall the situation was under control. “The situation is being monitored and a decision to relax curfew will be taken later in the day after fresh review of the situation,” he said.

Sinha along with Divisonal Commisioner, Jammu, Sanjeev Kumar Verma and district development commissioner, Jammu, Ramesh Kumar held a marathon meeting with prominent citizens of different faiths here late Saturday evening.

The officers appealed to participants to play their role in restoring normalcy in the city and frustrate nefarious designs of elements bent upon dividing people on communal lines. “Anti-national elements have a design to divide people. They want to change the narrative of a terror incident into a communal incident. We need to stand up united and do not fall pray to their propaganda,” the IGP said addressing the meeting. He said there is a need to look deeply into the Thursday’s terror attack on CRPF convoy.

“There is a game plan behind the killing of our jawans and it is to divide the society,” he said, asking participants to guide and counsel youngsters to stay away form the violence and help the administration catch those persons who are trying to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in the region.

The officials said 18 Internal Security (IS) columns of Tiger Division along with air support from White Knight Corps continue to remain deployed in curfew-bound areas including Gujjar Nagar, Janipur, Shahidi Chowk, Talab Khatika, Sidhra and other sensitive areas.

While nine columns were deployed on Friday after a requisition by Jammu civil authorities to bring the situation under control, nine more columns were deployed on Saturday. “Helicopters and UAVs of Army also put into operation to monitor the situation. The proactive approach jointly taken by J&K Police, Civil administration (Divisional Commissioner and District Collector’s office) and Indian Army has ensured the situation in control,” a defence spokesman had said.

The officials said dozens of persons were taken into preventive custody as groups of protesters attempted to defy curfew at some pockets including Janipur and New plot in the city on Saturday. “The police acted promptly and the situation was brought under control,” he said.

Reports of peaceful candle light protests were also reported from almost all district headquarters across Jammu region Saturday night to pay homage to martyrs. Authorities have deployed security personnel in strength in sensitive areas across Jammu region to maintain law and order, the officials said.

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