Amarinder has been in lockdown for last 3 years. Maybe he knew corona was coming: Sukhbir - The Daily Guardian
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Amarinder has been in lockdown for last 3 years. Maybe he knew corona was coming: Sukhbir

Priya Sahgal

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More than 120 people have died in the Punjab hooch tragedy in recent times. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has demanded a CBI probe into the matter, alleging the involvement of a cabinet minister, Congress MLAs and party leaders in the illicit liquor trade. SAD leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal raises some serious allegations against the Capt Amarinder Singh government in an exclusive chat with The Daily Guardian.

Q: You are blaming the Captain Amarinder Singh government for the recent illicit liquor deaths. Why?

A: This has been one of the biggest tragedies that has taken place in India and I can say with confidence that the state government is clearly responsible. We have been saying for the last few months that illicit liquor has become the fashion in Punjab; all the scotch whisky that is served in hotels is being manufactured illegally here; and these illegal distilleries have the patronage of the Congress MLAs. Six months back, an illegal distillery was caught in Rajpura, a second in Khanna and a couple more. There was an attempt to cover up by the government, we have been raising this issue that a lot of lives are endangered because of these, but government was not interested in catching these guys

Q: There are allegations that Congress MLAs are involved, and interestingly these are being raised by Congress leaders like Bajwa, not just SAD leaders.

A: It’s not just the Congress who is alleging this. The matter came up in the cabinet also as to why the state’s excise revenues are going down. In every state, excise revenues go up but in Punjab Rs 5,600 crore worth of revenue has gone down. The ministers were blaming the bureaucrats for this, but the Chief Secretary told the CM that excise revenue has gone down because of patronage by Congress MLAs belonging to the liquor mafia. He lost his job because of that.

Q: That’s a very serious allegation.

A: After this, the ED swung into action and wanted papers from the excise department, but the Punjab government refused. You should read our local papers. Do you know that at a distillery around 50 people had died due to illicit liquor, the excise officials went to raid the distillery but the local Congress leader from the area, Danny, got a case registered against the excise officials for raiding the illegal distillery. He then had a press conference stating that no excise official can enter my area. Can you imagine this is the level at which they operate.

Q: You have asked for a CBI probe. Don’t you trust the state agencies?

A: If the CBI inquiry takes place half of the Punjab cabinet will be behind bars because of this illicit liquor trade, as will half of the Congress MLAs. Half of the distilleries caught in Punjab belong to Congress leaders, zilla parishad leaders, MLAs, etc

Q: Rahul Gandhi had once said 7 of 10 people in Punjab are drug addicts, now you say half of Capt Amarinder’s cabinet will go behind bars for dealing in illicit liquor. Are you simply trading allegations?

A: Problem with Rahul Gandhi is that he doesn’t use his brain but reads out whatever is handed to him on a piece of paper. A study was done by Guru Nanak Dev University that surveyed drug addicts only, asking what is the age profile of drug addicts. This study surmised that 70 percent of drug addicts are below the age of 30. Rahul picks up the paper and says 70 percent of youth of Punjab are drug addicts. The study was only limited to drug addicts not the entire population of Punjab. That is the problem with Rahul Gandhi and also why the Congress is in the state it is today.

Q: How would you evaluate Captain Amarinder’s handling of the lockdown and Covid-19?

A: I would like to congratulate Capt Amarinder because he has been in lockdown for the last three and half years. Maybe he knew that corona was going to come and was taking precautions since then. He hasn’t been out of his house, and now he’s left his official residence and moved to his farmhouse. He hasn’t met anyone. More than 120 people have died in this illicit liquor tragedy. It is his job as chief minister and the excise minister to go and meet the families. He hasn’t met anyone. All his cabinet meetings are happening via zoom. This is the state of affairs.

Q: Hasn’t he visited the sites of the tragedy?

A: He hasn’t visited and he will not visit. His fundamentals are very clear. He is going to abide by the Government of India regulations of staying at home. Ask anyone in Punjab that have you seen the CM in your district in the last three and a half years? 100 percent of the people will say no. If you look at the record of how many times the CM has left Chandigarh in the last three and half years, it won’t be more than 5 or 6 times.

Q: The SAD had planned to gherao Sonia Gandhi’s residence, why not CM’s residence?

A: Because he (CM) will only wake up once the Gandhi family tells him to. He is not taking this issue seriously. It’s a serious matter. When the lockdown opened up there were lines outside liquor shops all across the country, Punjab was the only state where there were no lines, because there was continuous supply of liquor by Congress MLAs throughout the lockdown.

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Citing Pakistan, China, IAF says need more fighter aircraft

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Citing Pakistan, China, IAF says need more fighter aircraft

Citing the increasing number of fighter aircraft in the Chinese and Pakistan air forces, the Indian Air Force on Tuesday said it would need more combat aircraft to meet security challenges. 

“The environment around us remains hostile and there would be a requirement for 42 squadrons of fighter aircraft by the Indian Air Force. We have to see the case of China and Pakistan also,” Indian Air Force Vice Chief Air Marshal Sandeep Singh said. He was speaking at a press conference where he was asked whether the IAF could lower its authorised squadron strength number from 42. 

The IAF chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari said the aircraft numbers authorised to the force were as per the requirement in view of the security challenges.
IAF is authorised to have 42 squadrons which would mean around 800 fighter aircraft but at present it is stuck at 30 squadrons only due to delays in the development of the LCA Tejas as well as in the procurement of high-ability multirole fighters. 

The situation is going to worsen further with the planned decommissioning of the MiG-21s in near future and all squadrons of Jaguar, Mirage-2000 and MiG-29 fighters by the middle of the next decade.  The IAF has plans of inducting around 200 LCAs and 114 multirole fighters in the next 15 years along with six squadrons of Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft.
Pakistan which has to defend borders mainly with India only has around 25 squadrons of combat aircraft while the Chinese Air Force has a large number of aircraft including fifth generation fighters like J-20. 

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Parliamentary panel rejig: BJP takes Home, Sena gets IT committee, TMC left out

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Parliamentary panel rejig: BJP takes Home, Sena gets IT committee, TMC left out

A major reshuffle took place in the Parliamentary panels on Tuesday as Congress lost the Home and the crucial Information Technology and Communications panels among others. According to an official notification, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi who headed the Home panel was replaced by BJP Rajya Sabha MP and former DGP of Uttar Pradesh Brij Lal who has been named as the new chair. 

Another loss for the grand old party is losing the committee for IT which was chaired by Lok Sabha MP Dr Shashi Tharoor. The Eknath Shinde-led faction of Shiv Sena now has its chairmanship in three-time Lok Sabha MP Prataprao Jadhav.
The Standing Committee for Environment and Forests is currently with the Congress party. Jairam Ramesh remains its chairman. 

Professor Ram Gopal Yadav from the Samajwadi party, who had been holding the post for a long time as chairman of the Health Committee, has been replaced by BJP MP Bhubaneshwar Kalita. 

It will be the gain of a committee for DMK as the party has the chairmanship of the Industry Committee with Tiruchi Siva as chief. YSR Congress which had earlier had Commerce has swapped for the big Transport Tourism & Aviation Committee with Vijaysai Reddy as chief. 

The panel on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports will now be chaired by BJP MP Vivek Thakur after its earlier chairman Dr Vinay Shahastrabuddhe retired.

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It’s ‘celebration’ time: TRS leader distributes liquor ahead of launch of KCR’s national party

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It’s ‘celebration’ time: TRS leader distributes liquor ahead of launch of KCR’s national party

Amid the buzz over Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao announcing his national party on Wednesday, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader Rajanala Srihari distributed liquor bottles and chicken to locals in Warangal. 

In a video, Srihari is seen distributing liquor bottles and chicken to the people who are waiting in a long queue for their turn. There are also large cutouts of TRS chief KCR and his son and minister KT Rama Rao where Srihari is distributing the chicken and liquor bottles. 

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) can announce the national party on Wednesday. All preparations have also been made regarding this. 

Amid this, the shocking video of the TRS leader has surfaced. The new party has not been announced yet, even before TRS leader Rajnala Srihari was seen distributing liquor bottles and cock to the local people in Warangal. 

The act invited widespread criticism from the political fraternity. Slamming KCR, Congress leader Madhu Yashki called the Chief Minister a “brand ambassador of liquor”. Making it too personal, he alleged that KCR is “known for his drinking habits”. 

Yashki alleged that KCR is trying to make the people and youth of the state “addicted to liquor and drugs”. “KCR is a brand ambassador of liquor. He not only drinks liquor but is also involved in the liquor scam. So this establishes that the TRS party supremo is known for his drinking habits. His passion for drinking and the way he is promoting liquor sales in Telangana. Instead of giving jobs, he is distributing liquor,” he said.

According to the sources, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao is likely to announce his national party on the occasion of Dussehra. TRS party’s meeting will be held on Dussehra, 5 October at Telangana Bhavan, an official release from K.Chandrashekar Rao’s office said on Monday. 

So there are speculations that KCR, may reveal the details of his approach toward national politics after the meeting. It is also believed that a delegation of TRS party leaders will leave for Delhi to change the name of the party. According to the sources, it is also believed that KCR will be addressing a public gathering on October 9 in the national capital. 

TRS leader and former SAAP Director Rajanala Srihari on Tuesday distributed liquor and chicken to the poor on the occasion Of Dussehra in the Warangal East constituency.

TRS leader bought 200 chicken and 200 liquor bottles for distribution. He then distributed them to 200 porters. Srihari and his team called the porters for a gathering where cutouts of Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao and state IT & Industries Minister. KT Rama Rao were erected as they received free chicken and liquor bottles.

Srihari said that prayers will be offered on the occasion of Dussehra for Chief Minister KCR to become the national party president. 

He further said that special pujas were offered for KCR to become the Prime Minister and KTR to become the state party president.

CM KCR is likely to announce the details of his national agenda on the occasion of Dussehra. 

Also, KCR on Monday clarified that the TRS General Body meeting would be held on Dussehra (October 5) at 11 AM in Telangana Bhavan.

According to the sources, it’s strongly believed that CM KCR will announce the name of his national party on the occasion of Dussehra. 

There are speculations that KCR may reveal the details of his approach to national politics after the meeting.

 It is also believed that a delegation of TRS party leaders will leave for Delhi to change the name of the party. 

According to the sources, KCR will address a public gathering on October 9 in Delhi.

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Centre declares two top HuM members as terrorist under UAPA

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Centre declares two top HuM members as terrorist under UAPA

The Centre on Tuesday declared two top Hizb-Ul-Mujahideen (HuM) terrorists including the Chief Launching Commander of the terror outfit Showkat Ahmed Sheikh as terrorist under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967 on charges of spreading terror violence in Jammu and Kashmir. 

Another active member of HuM, Imtiyaz Ahmad Kandoo, was also declared as terrorist under the UAPA for “radicalizing and motivating youths to join terrorist ranks to carry out terror activities in the Kashmir Valley”. 

Born in 1970 in Ganie Hamam area in Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla, Showkat alias Showkat Mochi, son of Ghulam Nabi Sheikh, is presently based in Pakistan. Showkat is also accused of his involvement in “coordinating infiltration and recruitment of terrorists and execution of terror attacks owing to his deep network of associates in North Kashmir”. 

In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 35 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notification issued on Tuesday said, the Central government declared Showkat Ahmed Sheik as a terrorist. 

“The Central Government believes that Showkat Ahmad Sheikh alias Showkat Mochi is involved in terrorism and he is to be notified as a terrorist under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.”

Kandoo alias Sajad alias Fayaz Sopore, a resident of Kraltang, Sopore, Jammu and Kashmir, is presently based in Pakistan. Kandoo is also accused of his involvement in “managing finances for the terrorists, supply of arms and ammunition to terrorists and narcotics smuggling”. 

He is also charged with “coordinating attacks on security forces and civilians, in which many security forces personnel and civilians were killed” in Jammu and Kashmir.  

“The Central government believes that Imtiyaz Ahmad Kandoo is involved in terrorism and he is to be notified as terrorist under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967,” reads the notification.

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One arrested for killing J&K DG Prisons Lohia

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One arrested for killing J&K DG Prisons Lohia

The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Tuesday apprehended Yasir Ahmed, the prime accused in the murder of the Director General of Prisons, H.K. Lohia who was found dead under suspicious circumstances in a house in the Udaywala area of Jammu. 

“In a major manhunt launched by Jammu and Kashmir police throughout the night, the accused involved in the murder case of DG Prison, Hemant Lohia has been apprehended,” Mukesh Singh, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), J-K said. 

DG Prison Lohia was found dead under suspicious circumstances in a house in the Udaywala area of Jammu on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday. Initial examination revealed this as a suspected murder case, according to the police. The body of Hemant Lohia, DG Prisons Jammu and Kashmir, was found under suspicious circumstances. First Examination of the scene of crime reveals this as a suspected murder case, said J-K police. 

A search has been initiated for the absconding domestic help of the officer.
Forensic and crime teams are on the spot and a probe is underway.

Earlier, the ADGP had informed that the accused, who worked as domestic help with Lohia was on the run and they have recovered the murder weapon. Besides, “a diary of the accused has also been found, which reflects his depressed mental state,” he added. 

Singh had also said that so far no terror act is apparent but a thorough probe into the matter is on to rule out any possibility. 

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir DGP Dilbag Singh informed that Lohia had been staying at his friend’s place for the past few days. “He (H.K. Lohia) had been staying at his friend’s house for the past few days. After having dinner, he went back to his room. The domestic helper was inside his room on the pretext of helping him with some ailment,” Singh said. 

“The helper then latched the door from inside and attacked him several times with a sharp weapon, and also tried to suffocate him. The accused as per history is an aggressive, unstable person. His pictures have been issued in the media and hunt for him is on,” the DGP added.  The J-K administration has also warned against uncorroborated stories allegedly spread regarding the murder of Lohia.

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8-month-old, parents among 4 Indian-origin abducted in U.S.

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8-month-old, parents among 4 Indian-origin abducted in U.S.

An 8-month-old infant, among 4 Indians was kidnapped on Monday (local time) in California.

A case of abduction of 4 Indians has been reported in the United States. The victims include an 8-month-old infant and they were abducted from Merced County in California on Monday (local time), authorities said.

The Merced County Sheriff’s Office in a statement identified the kidnapped persons as 36-year-old Jasdeep Singh, 27-year-old Jasleen Kaur, their eight-month-old child Aroohi Dheri, and 39-year-old Amandeep Singh, reported ABC 10.

The police have identified the suspect as armed and dangerous. Police said that the four were taken against their will from a business in the 800 block of South Highway 59, reported ABC 30. The site of the alleged abduction is a roadway lined with retailers and restaurants.

However, not much detail about the incident has been released as the investigation is in its early stages.  NBC News reported that officials have not named a suspect or a possible motive.

But the sheriff’s office released a photo of the suspect. “He is described as a light-complected male with a shaved head. He was last seen wearing a hoodie. “We consider the suspect to be armed and dangerous,” a Facebook post by the Sheriff’s Office stated, as the authorities advised the general public not to approach the man and to call 911 if they are seen.

In 2019, another kidnapping incident was reported where an Indian-origin techie, Tushar Atre was found dead in his girlfriend’s car hours after the owner of a digital marketing company in the US was allegedly kidnapped from his posh California home.

Additionally, the investigating authorities have not been able to identify a possible motive behind the abduction but released a photograph of the suspect on the Twitter handle of Merced County Sheriff’s Office.   

 “He is described as a light-complexed male with a shaved head. He was last seen wearing a hoodie. We consider the suspect to be armed and dangerous,” a Facebook post by the Sheriff’s Office stated as the authorities advised the general public not to approach the man. 

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