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BJP trying to disrupt peace in Jhargram, alleges Mamata Banerjee

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Mamata Banerjee

Jhargram | West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday accused the BJP of trying to disrupt peace in the erstwhile Maoist-affected areas of Jhargram district. She also alleged that the saffron party was creating a divide among people on the basis of religion, caste and creed.

Banerjee asked people to repose faith in her, saying she would never allow anybody to act against their interests. During a visit to Jhargram district, her first after the panchayat polls in May this year, the Trinamool Congress chief urged the people to stay united against communal forces and stop them from entering the district. The BJP had fared well at the rural polls in the tribal-dominated district.

The BJP, on the other hand, accused Banerjee of “throttling democracy” in the state and supporting infiltrators from Bangladesh after the complete draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was updated in Assam last month.

BJP national general secretary P Murlidhar Rao said Banerjee was “supporting infiltrators” to secure her vote bank. The BJP, he said, will never “tolerate” infiltrators.

“Mamataji is supporting infiltrators from Bangladesh … She is touring the entire country to garner support for infiltrators just to secure her vote bank. She is trying to communalise the issue,” Rao told reporters here.

Meanwhile in Jhargram, Banerjee directed the MLAs, TMC leaders as well as the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police to help solve people’s problems. She also inaugurated a number of health care projects for the district.

Accusing the BJP of trying to disrupt peace in this erstwhile Maoist-affected area, she said, “In the last seven years, we have not let anybody disrupt peace in this region. We have not allowed the Maoists to enter this place. A few people are bringing in Maoists from neighbouring Jharkhand to create bloodbath in Jhargram.”

“If you (people) have faith in me, I will ask you not to trust anybody else other than us (TMC). Till I am alive, I will never let anybody to act against the interests of the people. You are my family. I love the Adivasis (tribals),” she said at a public meeting here.

Banerjee claimed that during the Left Front government, around 300 people were killed in Jhargram in a year, while it was almost nil now.

Hitting out at the BJP, she said, “I do not create any division among people. I do not create division among the Hindus and Muslims, nor among the other communities. It’s the ruling BJP at the Centre which does that. We are not with them (the BJP).”

“They (BJP) want the poor to face problem. They do not want them to get rice at Rs 2 a kg, free education, job and health care,” the TMC chief alleged.

Calling upon people to stay united in the fight against communal forces, Banerjee said, “Let us strengthen the unity. Let us take oath today that there would not be no place for communalism in our state. We will stay together and create a new Bengal,” Banerjee said.

Against the backdrop of the BJP making inroads in Jhargram district, the TMC had made some organisational changes last month at block level in the district.

Earlier in the day, Banerjee tweeted that her government has ensured all-round development for the tribal people in the state.

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Trial against Virbhadra Singh in DA case to start from April 3 in Delhi court

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New Delhi | The much-awaited trial against former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh will commence on April 3 as the veteran Congress leader on Friday claimed innocence before a Delhi court and decided to contest the disproportionate assets case of over Rs 10 crore lodged by CBI.

Special CBI Judge Arun Bhardwaj fixed three dates — April 3, 4 and 5 — when the CBI will start recording statements of the witnesses in the case.

“Today, the case is listed for recording plea of the accused no 1, Virbhadra Singh and accused no 3 Anand Chauhan to the charge framed against them pursuant to order passed on December 10, 2018,” the court said.

Charges have been read over and explained to the accused to which they pleaded not guilty and claimed trial, it said.

During the hearing, Singh and his wife, who were present in the court, moved a plea seeking permanent exemption from appearing in the court during the trial of the case.

The court asked CBI to file its reply on their plea before the next date of hearing.

In a separate case filed by the Enforcement Directorate, the agency filed third supplementary charge sheet against Singh in a money laundering case.

The court said it would take up the matter on March 18.

ED’s supplementary charge sheet was filed through advocates Nitesh Rana and N K Matta.

The court had on December 10 last year ordered framing of charges against Singh for alleged criminal misconduct and amassing disproportionate assets of over Rs 10 crore, saying he intended to cause loss to the tax authorities by presenting unaccounted money as sale proceeds of apples.

Apart from the two offences under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act, the court had said that prima facie charges of alleged forgery and attempt to cheat under the IPC were also made out against the 82-year-old Congress leader and former Union minister.

The court had also ordered framing of charges against his wife, Pratibha Singh, and seven others for allegedly abetting in the offences.

After formal framing of charges, the court commences trial in the case.

The other seven accused are LIC agent Anand Chauhan, Chunni Lal Chauhan, Joginder Singh Ghalta, Prem Raj, Vakamulla Chandrasekhar, Lawan Kumar Roach and Ram Prakash Bhatia.

The court in its 105 page order said that Virbhadra Singh and Anand Chauhan “fraudulently and dishonestly” signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) by ante-dating it to give an impression that it was signed on June 15, 2008 by them.

“They knew that MoU was not made, signed or executed by them on June 15, 2008. They prepared and signed this MoU with the intention of causing it to be believed that this MoU was made by them on June 15, 2008..

“The investigation of CBI has shown that this MoU was ante-dated. Therefore, they can be said to have made a false document,” the court said.

It had added that since the document was made for showing unaccounted money as sale proceeds of apples, they were liable to be charged for the offence of forgery.

“Resultantly, Virbhadra Singh is liable to be charged under section 13 (2) (misconduct) read with Section 13 (1) (e)(amassing disproportionate assets) of PC Act.

“Since an attempt was also made to cheat the Income Tax authorities using a false document i.e. ante-dated MoU to procure favourable Income Tax assessment order, Virbhadra Singh is also liable to be charged under section 511 (attempt) of IPC read with section 420 (cheating) of IPC,” the court had said.

The punishment for the offences of criminal misconduct and disproportionate assets under the PC Act range between one to seven years jail term, forgery under IPC entails a maximum of two years imprisonment and the offence of cheating could lead to a maximum sentence of seven years.

On the role of his wife, the court had said there was “grave suspicion” that she committed the offence of abetment under the IPC.

Advocate Tarannum Cheema, representing Virbhadra Singh, had argued that no prior consent of the Himachal Pradesh government was taken for carrying out the investigation in the state.

Dealing with the argument, the court had said that the Delhi High Court in October this year had held that for registration of the case in a state other than in a Union Territory, the consent of that state government was required.

“No consent is required for investigation in another State, if the case is registered in Delhi,” the special court said referring to the high court decision.

CBI had registered the case against Singh and others for allegedly amassing assets worth around Rs 10 crore disproportionate to their known source of income when he was the Union Minister in the UPA government.

A charge sheet running into over 500 pages, filed in the court, claims that Singh had amassed assets worth around Rs 10 crore which were disproportionate by 192 per cent of his total income during his tenure as a Union Minister.

The final report, filed against nine people for alleged offences punishable under section 109 (abetment) and 465 (punishment for forgery) of IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act, arrayed around 225 witnesses and 442 documents.

The matter was transferred by the Supreme Court from the Himachal Pradesh High Court to the Delhi High Court, which on April 6, 2016 had asked the CBI not to arrest Singh and had directed him to join the probe.

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India should boycott match with Pakistan: Giriraj Singh

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Nawada (Bihar) | Union minister Giriraj Singh on Friday said India should boycott its June 16 cricket World Cup clash against Pakistan in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack.

The BJP hardliner also lauded Union minister Nitin Gadkari’s remarks that India has decided to “stop” the flow of its share of river water to Pakistan under the Indus Water Treaty.

“What Nitin Gadkari has said should also be seen in the backdrop of the anger that is simmering in the country. It would be perfectly appropriate if flow of water from three rivers to Pakistan is stopped,” Singh, the Minister of State (Independent charge) for MSME, said.

He said the decision was in sync with the prevailing sentiment of outrage.

“There should be no cricket matches with Pakistan till it continues with abetting terror. In fact, there should be no sporting, cultural or economic ties with the nation.

“Do families dine at each other’s place while not on good terms?,” Singh said at a function in his Lok Sabha constituency here.

There has been a call to boycott the June 16 World Cup face-off against Pakistan at the Old Trafford in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack, which killed more than 40 CRPF personnel.

In a similar expression of outrage, many Bollywood filmmakers have decided not to release their upcoming flicks in the neighbouring country and boycott Pakistani actors and musicians who have secured a foothold in the Hindi film industry.

The Committee of Administrators (CoA) running Indian cricket Friday decided against taking any stand on the World Cup clash against Pakistan but said it would individually urge ICC members to “sever ties with any nation that is a terrorist hub”.

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Andhra Pradesh CM challenges Amit Shah to prove allegations against him

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Amaravati | Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Friday challenged BJP president Amit Shah to prove the allegations that he reposed faith in the Pakistan Prime Minister while doubting Narendra Modi on the Pulwama terror attack.

Naidu asked BJP leaders to stop “meaningless” criticism and propaganda against him.

He also wanted the BJP to tender an apology to the country by withdrawing the remarks against him.

In a statement released to the media here, the Chief Minister claimed he had only “recalled” Modi’s demand in 2013 after the terror attacks in Bihar and Kashmir that Manmohan Singh resign as Prime Minister.

“I only questioned if Modi will step down as Prime Minister owning responsibility for the Pulwama attack.

I am unable to understand why the BJP leaders are jittery over this,” Naidu said.

He wondered if it was patriotism when Modi spoke and not when he spoke.

“If you do, it is good politics and if we do is it mean politics,” he said.

What would Modi answer to the nation about the allegations that he spent three hours shooting for a television channel programme when the Pulwama attack happened, Naidu asked.

Slamming Naidu for his remarks on Islamabad’s claim of it not being involved in the Pulwama terror attack, Shah on Thursday had said the former had more faith in the Pakistan Prime Minister than on Modi.

“Chandrababu endorses what Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan says on Pulwama that his country is not involved in the dastardly attack.

He is taking Imran Khan’s side in his greed for vote bank politics and is seeking to create doubts on India’s Prime Minister. Don’t indulge in such mean and low politics,” the BJP president had said.

Naidu had Wednesday reportedly said “Pakistan has made it clear that it has no role in the Pulwama attack.

Suspicion is now strengthening across the country that political expediency could be behind the attack.

We will not tolerate such things to further political vested interests.”

The Telugu Desam Party had initially circulated this message on the Telegram mobile App about Naidu’s remarks during the teleconference with party leaders and local television news channels also ran scrolls on it.

Sometime later, the message was apparently replaced with another one that read there were ‘doubts’ on Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks.

On Thursday, former Chief Secretary I Y R Krishna Rao, who is now with the BJP, met Governor E S L Narasimhan at Raj Bhavan and sought action against Naidu over the remarks.

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