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AAP leaders, workers march to LG office, Yashwant Sinha joins protest

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The fight between the Delhi government and the Lt Governor over IAS officers’ “strike” intensified today with thousands of AAP leaders and workers marching to the L-G’s office where Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues had been staging a sit-in since Monday evening.

Former Union finance minister Yashwant Sinha, who resigned from the BJP recently, also joined AAP leaders and workers outside the chief minister’s Civil Lines residence from where the protest march proceeded to the L-G’s office.

Addressing the AAP gathering, Sinha expressed solidarity with Kejriwal and the AAP in their “struggle”.

If former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were there, he would have directed the home minister to find a solution to the crisis, but the present dispensation was “sleeping”, Sinha said, adding that the entire country was concerned with the situation in Delhi.

“It would be better for the country if a solution to the crisis in Delhi is found at the earliest,” the former Union finance minister said.

The AAP government’s demands to the L-G include a direction to IAS officers to end their “strike”, action against those who have struck work for “four months”. It has also asked the L-G to approve the proposal for doorstep delivery of rations.

During the protest march, party leaders and workers raised slogans against the lieutenant governor — “LG sahab, Delhi Chodo (LG, quit Delhi)”.

In view of the protest march, police made appropriate security arrangements.

Rajya Sabha MP and senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh said that if the IAS officers give assurance in writing to end their strike and resume work, the AAP will appeal the chief minister and his colleagues to end their sit-in at the L-G office.

He said that the party would take out a candle light march tomorrow, adding that if the matter was not sorted by Sunday, its leaders and workers would stage a dharna at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Singh warned that the AAP will resort to a massive agitation if no solution is found to the existing situation.

The IAS officers’ association has maintained that no officer is on strike and no work of the Delhi government has been affected.

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Probe cyber expert’s EVM claims, Munde’s death, says Goa Congress

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Panaji | Goa Congress on Tuesday demanded an investigation into the death of former Union minister and senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde after a cyber expert alleged that it was because the former was “aware” of Electronic Voting Machine manipulation.

On Monday, a cyber expert, identified as Syed Shuja, addressing a press conference in London via Skype, had alleged that EVMs were hacked during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and claimed Munde was “killed” because he was aware of the EVM hacking.

Munde died in a road accident in New Delhi weeks after the BJP won the 2014 elections.

Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Girish Chodankar, addressing a press conference here Tuesday, said, “The revelation indicates how elections can be manipulated.

The names of many BJP leaders and ministers are being discussed in the plot. We need to know who is the actual brain behind all this.”

“This is a setback to the democratic set up of the country,” he added.

The Election Commission of India has denied the cyber expert’s claim and the latter himself gave no proof of his allegations.

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BSF hands over 31 stranded Rohingyas to Tripura Police

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Agartala/New Delhi | The BSF on Tuesday handed over the 31 Rohingya Muslims, who were stranded on the India-Bangladesh border since January 18, to the Tripura police, after the paramilitary force and its counterpart, the BGB, failed to reach a decision during talks on the issue, officials said.

The Rohingyas were stuck in no-man’s land, beyond the barbed wire fence along the Indo-Bangladesh border in Tripura since last Friday. The situation led to a blame game between the Border Security Force (BSF) and its counterpart — Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) — with the two sides accusing each other of pushing them into their territories.

Deputy Inspector General of the BSF Brijesh Kumar said, “The Rohingyas were behind the barbed wire fence since January 18. We took up the matter with the BGB and requested them to take them back to Bangladesh. They denied. Several rounds of talks with the BGB had failed. So, we handed them over to police.”

A battalion commander-level meeting was held at the Zero Line on Sunday, the officials said.

Officials in New Delhi said the BSF informed the Home Ministry about the final result of the talks and gave the situation report.

After receiving the ministry’s nod, the BSF signed the papers and handed over the 31 Rohingyas to the staff of the Amtoli police station in West Tripura district police at 11 am, ending the standoff with their Bangladeshi counterparts.

Pranab Sengupta, officer-in-charge of the Amtali police station, said the Rohingyas were sent to the Tripura Medical College for a check-up and will be produced before a local court later.

“During medical check-up, they were found to be alright,” Sengupta told PTI.

He said the BSF provided them food, water and other essentials on humanitarian grounds.

The 31 Rohingyas include six men, nine women and 16 children. They were detained at Rayermura, about 15 km from Agartala, in West Tripura district, according to the officials.

While the BGB claimed they had come from India, the BSF said they had not as there was no tell-tale sign of breach of the barbed wire fence on the Indian side.

In 2017, 12 Rohingyas were apprehended in Tripura and 62 more were detained in different parts of the state the next year.

In October 2017, the Home Ministry had urged all states to take immediate steps to identify and monitor Rohingya refugees.

It had said that the government viewed infiltration of Rohingyas from Rakhaine state of Myanmar into the Indian territory as a burden on the country’s limited resources and it aggravated security challenges.

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Goa government may recommend dissolution of Assembly, fears Congress

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Panaji | The Congress in Goa on Tuesday expressed fear that the BJP-led state government might recommend dissolution of the Legislative Assembly after the passage of the vote-on-account during the upcoming session scheduled to be held next week.

Congress Legislative Party (CLP) members, who met at Porvorim near, expressed concerns over the shortness of the assembly session, saying there would be no time to discuss important issues.

The three-day-long Assembly session will begin on January 29 with the address of Governor Mridula Sinha.

“The government is holding only vote-on-account. We are worried…this might indicate that they want to dissolve the assembly,” Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar told reporters in the presence of Goa Pradesh Congress Committee chief Girish Chodankar.

He said the state government had opted for “immature dissolution” of the Assembly in the past and called for fresh polls.

Kavlekar said the three-day-long session was not enough to discuss various issues plaguing the state.

He said during the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting held on Monday, he had raised the issue of this “curtailed” session.

According to the Congress leader, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had assured that this session would be a lengthier one.

“We have asked the CM to specify the dates for the next session. We can’t just go by his words,” he said.

“The current session is of three days but would be curtailed to two days, as there will be no business taken up after the Governor’s speech on the first day. There will be no time for discussion. I had also pointed out that last year the session was held only for 16 days,” he said.

“I have demanded that the assembly sessions should be lengthier. The CM told us that he will call for next session immediately. We will be writing to the CM, asking him for the dates of next Assembly,” Kavlekar stated.

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