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Andhra’s 4th phase of Gram panchayats polls to be conducted tomorrow

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Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh) [India], February 20 (ANI): The fourth phase of Gram panchayat elections will be held on Sunday in Andhra Pradesh for 2,743 sarpanch and 22,423 ward member posts, according to a statement by the state’s Panchayati Raj department.
The third phase elections were conducted for 2,745 sarpanch and 22,514 ward member seats. Out of which, 554 sarpanch and 10,921 ward members were unanimously elected. No nominations have been filed for 2 sarpanch and 91 wards members post,” informed Gopal Krishna Dwivedi, principal secretary, Panchayati Raj department.
The fourth phase of polling is scheduled in 16 revenue divisions, 161 mandals of 13 districts. Approximately 67,75,226 voters are going to cast their vote.
The election will take place in 28,995 polling stations, out of which 6,047 polling stations have been identified as sensitive polling stations and 4,967 polling stations have been identified as hypersensitive polling stations.
“1,538 stage-1 returning officers, 3,130 stage-2 returning officers 3,848 assistant returning officers, 34,809 presiding officers and 53,282 other polling personnel have been appointed. Besides these personnel, 544 zonal officers, 1,406 route officers and 2,620 micro observers have been appointed,” he said.
All the necessary arrangements are made to handle any untoward incidents during polling time in coordination with the police department. Elaborate security arrangements have been made at counting centres with COVID-19 protocols in place.
“18,967 counting supervisors and 51,862 counting personnel have been appointed and necessary training was also given to them,” the principal secretary said.
A command and control centre has been established in the office of the commissioner, Panchayat Raj and Rural Development to monitor the election process.
The webcasting arrangements are made in the Office of the Commissioner, PR and RD to monitor polling process on polling day. All the 13 district in-charge officers are instructed to continuously monitor the polling process through webcasting. (ANI)

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Congress prepared for upcoming Assembly polls, says KC Venugopal

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New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): Congress leader KC Venugopal on Friday said his party is totally prepared for upcoming Assembly elections in four states and one Union Territory, adding that they have finalised alliances in some of the states.
“Congress is totally prepared for elections. We will appeal to the people for change, for good governance. Alliance for Assam has been finalised. In Kerala and West Bengal, the alliance also almost finalised. In Tamil Nadu, talks underway on the alliance,” Venugopal told ANI.
Earlier in the day, the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced Assembly elections in Assam, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala and Puducherry.
Commenting on Rahul Gandhi’s “MP in North” remark, he said that Gandhi praised Kerala but this does not mean he criticised north India.
“Rahul Gandhi in his speech praised Kerala. But this does not mean he criticised north India. For Congress, India is one. We respect the merits of each state. This is our party’s tradition and that is what he highlighted,” he said.
Gandhi, who addressed an event to mark the conclusion of ‘Aishwarya Kerala Yatra’ in poll-bound Kerala on Tuesday, had said he had been MP for 15 years from the north and had been used to a different type of politics and coming to Kerala was very refreshing.
“For the first 15 years, I was an MP in the north. I had got used to a different type of politics. For me, coming to Kerala was very refreshing as suddenly I found that people are interested in issues not just superficially but they like to go into detail about issues,” he had said.
“I was talking to some students in the United States and I said to them I really enjoy going to Kerala. It’s not just affection but the way you do your politics, the intelligence with which you do your politics. So, for me, it’s been a learning experience and a pleasure,” he had added.
Gandhi had represented Amethi, a bastion of the Nehru-Gandhi family, for 15 years in Lok Sabha. He fought from two constituencies in 2019 and was defeated from Amethi but won from Wayanad in Kerala. (ANI)

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Holistic development of North-east being planned, says Harsh Vardhan after laying foundation stone of Mon Medical College in Nagaland

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Mon (Nagaland) [India], February 26 (ANI): Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday laid the foundation stone of the Mon Medical College here in Mon district and underscored that the government is planning holistic development of North-east and carrying out it on the ground.
Chief Minister of Nagaland Neiphiu Rio, Health Minister of the state S Pangnyu Phom and Lok Sabha MP from Nagaland Tokheho Yepthomi were also present at the event.
Speaking at the event, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “At present, there are 562 medical colleges in the country out of which 286 are in government sector while 276 are in private sector. Another 175 medical colleges are also in the process of development. Against 52,000 MBBS seats in 2013-14, there are now 84,000 UG seats. Several medical commissions are also being set up. Around 1,50,000 health and wellness centres have been set up in the country.”
Expressing his elation at the opening of the second medical college in the state, he said that this medical college is approved at a cost Rs 325 crore under Phase III of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme for establishment of new medical colleges attached with existing district/referral hospitals.
The project will have a central share of Rs 292.50 crore and is slated to be completed by 2023-24. “The setting up of the new college in Mon, one of the most backward and farthest districts from the state capital will help bring affordable secondary healthcare facilities to the doorsteps of nearly 2.5 lakh people,” he said.
He also lauded the efforts of healthcare workers in combating COVID-19 and stated, “India is ahead of many developed countries in the war against the pandemic”. He also mentioned the significance of the Ayushman Bharat programme, asserting that the government aims to eliminate Tuberculosis by 2025 from the country and urged the state government to work to ensure the same.
Chief Minister Rio in his address observed that the college will not only benefit Mon and Nagaland but also the people living in neighbouring states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh and even Myanmar.

Stating that the college will be run by the state government under PPP mode, he outlined that Mon Medical College is one of the 75 district medical colleges to be constructed in the districts of the country where people have been historically deprived of development and health facilities (due to their locational disadvantage). (ANI)

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Terrorist hideout busted in J-K’s Reasi district, cache of arms and ammunition recovered

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Reasi (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], February 26 (ANI): In a joint operation, the Mahore Police, Army and the Central Reserve Police Force’s 126 Battalion on Friday busted a terrorist hideout in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district and recovered arms and ammunition, including explosives and automatic rifles.
Based on specific information from a reliable source regarding the suspicious movement in Upper Sildhar and adjoining areas of Ranjati top and Rousouwali top, a joint party of Jammu and Kashmir Police from the Mahore police station, the army and the CRPF’s 126 Battalion launched a cordon and search operation in the Upper Sildhar Forest area, Ranjati top area, Rousowali Top and areas adjoining Dagantop hills early morning.
During the search, an underground hideout was found from which a huge cache of arms and ammunition was recovered.
The seizure includes one AK-47 rifle with 22 magazines and 150 cartridges, one rocket launcher, 16 under-barrel grenade launcher (UBGL) grenades, 4 hand grenades and two very high frequency (VHF) radio sets with antennas.

“The timely recovery of a huge cache of arms and ammunition has thwarted any possible untoward incident in the otherwise peaceful region and has scuttled the nefarious plans of terrorist outfits to derail peace and harmony in the region South of Pir Panjal Ranges,” police said.
A case under the Explosive Act and other relevant section of law has been registered at the Mahore police station Mahore and an investigation has started.
It is pertinent to mention here that on February 18, 2021, a terrorist hideout was busted in the Makhidar Forest area, Upper Shikari in which another huge cache of arms and ammunition’s was recovered.
Meanwhile, in another joint operation launched by the police and the army based on disclosure by an arrested terrorist, arms and ammunition including 4 grenades, 15 pistol bullets and 10 AK-47 bullets were recovered from the forest area of Balakote, said Poonch Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Ramesh Kumar Angral on Friday. (ANI)

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Assembly Elections 2021: 18.68 crore electors to choose 824 MLAs in 4 states, Puducherry

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New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): A total of 824 assembly constituencies shall be going for polls in four states–Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam– and the Union Territory of Puducherry, said Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora on Friday.
The polling in these states will start from March 27 and end on April 29. The counting of votes for elections to four states and one UT will be held on May 2. As many as 18.68 crore electors will cast vote at 2.7 lakh polling stations in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry, Arora said during a press conference here.
The CEC added that the polling time has been increased by one hour and the Postal Ballot has been extended to voters above age of 80, people with disabilities and people involved in essential services. “Adequate CAPFs deployment shall be ensured during elections. All critical, vulnerable polling stations have been identified and an adequate number of CAPFs will be deployed,” CEC Sunil Arora said.
With this, the Model Code of Conduct has come into force immediately in four states and Puducherry after the announcement of the election dates.
Here is all you need to know about the polling in these states and Puducherry:
Assam: The term of the 14th legislative assembly of Assam is up to 31 May 2021. The Assembly elections for 126 seats will be held in three phases starting from March 27. In 2016 Assembly polls were held in two phases.
A total of 2,32,44,454 electors will elect the candidates in Assam for the 15th legislative assembly of Assam.
Of the 126 seats, the number of reserved seats for SCs is eight and for STs it is 16.The number of polling booths in Assam has been increased from 24,890 to 33,530, an increase of 35.71 per cent.
Addressing a press conference, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said: “In Assam, elections shall be held in three phases. The first phase of notification is March 2 and 47 seats in 12 districts will go to the polls. The last date of nomination March 9 and the date of poll is March 27. In the second phase, 39 constituencies in 13 districts will go to polls on April 1. A total of 41 constituencies in 12 districts will go to polls on April 6.”
In 2016, the BJP scripted history and formed the government for the first time in the state ending Congress’s 15-year rule. BJP and its allies Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) won a combined 86 seats in the 126-member Assam Assembly. BJP bagged 60 seats, AGP 14 and BPF 12 seats. Congress, which ran the state for three straight terms under the leadership of Tarun Gogoi, could manage to win only 26 seats.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP won nine of the 14 parliamentary seats while its allies the AGP and the BPF drew a blank. On the other hand, Congress bagged three seats and the AIUDF and an independent won one seat each.
Earlier in January, the Assam Congress unit had announced that five political parties including Congress, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), Communist Party of India (CPI), CPI(Marxist), CPI(Marxist-Leninist) and Anchalik Gana Morcha would contest the state Assembly polls together to oust the Sonowal government from power.
The BJP is relying heavily on central leadership to return to power again in the state. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP chief JP Nadda visited the state and addressed the huge gatherings in different parts of the state.
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal is pushing the issue of insurgency in the state and has said that his government is working to make Assam a terror-free state. Five militant groups of Karbi Anglong surrendered in front of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at a function in Guwahati on February 23, ahead of the state’s assembly elections. The development comes a year after the Modi government signed the Bodo peace accord — bringing an end to the long violent movement for a separate Bodoland.
Kerala: The election for 140-member Kerala Assembly in 14 districts will be held in a single phase on April 6.
The tenure of the 14th Kerala legislative assembly will come to an end on June 1, 2021. A total of 2,67,88,268 electors will elect the candidates in Kerala for the 15th legislative assembly.
For Assembly poll 2021, the number of polling booths in Kerala has been extended from 21,498 to 40,771. The counting of votes will be held on May 2.
According to the commission, of the 140 Assembly seats, 14 seats are reserved for SC category and two are reserved for ST category candidates.
In the 2016 Kerala assembly election, the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front ( LDF) bagged 91 seats in 140-member Assembly. The BJP opened its account for the first time from the Nemom constituency, where BJP veteran O.Rajagopal won the seat.
Wresting power from Congress -led United Democratic Front (UDF), led by Oommen Chandy, CPI(M) is hoping that its Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who is also the lead campaigner for the assembly polls will ensure the party’s return to power after the polls.
This time around the BJP is focusing more on the Kerala polls and managed to rope in ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan who joined the BJP yesterday at Malappuram.
Against the big development push in Kerala that the CPI(M) is projecting as a major poll plank, BJP is trying to cross swords equally riding on the development agenda set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The latest entrant to turn the tide in favour of BJP is E Sreedharan, 88 year old, who is hailed as Metro Man of India after his successful stint with DMRC, who declares that he is open to become Chief Minister of Kerala, if BJP comes to power.
“If BJP comes to power in Kerala, I am ready to become the chief minister. The party has not asked me till now as it is too premature. But if BJP asks me, I am willing to take up the post and show how a state can be run efficiently like we are running DMRC,” Sreedharan said earlier.
The Congress is betting huge on Rahul Gandhi. In the 2019 general elections, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) coalition registered a remarkable victory with wins in 19 out of the 20 parliamentary constituencies. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who is spearheading the campaign for Assembly polls 2021 is Lok Sabha MP from Waynad.
Political parties including the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and other parties had started campaigning even before the announcement of the date of the polls.
The United Democratic Front (UDF) led by Congress and comprising like-minded parties is pitched against Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by CPI-M comprising left and like-minded parties
A faction in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), a constituent in the ruling LDF has parted ways with the CPI(M)-led alliance and joined the Congress-led front.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Aditynath recently flagged off Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Vijaya Yatra from Kasaragod, Kerala in presence of state party president K Surendran.
A host of BJP national leaders will visit Kerala to partake in the Vijaya Yatra rally in various districts which includes Union Minister Gen VK Singh, former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, Union Ministers including Pralhad Joshi, Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani among others. Union Home Minister Amit Shah will be present at the concluding session of the rally on March 7 in Thiruvananthapuram.
Among the issues which will likely to gain space in the campaign are the Kerala Gold smuggling case, the alleged backdoor appointment made by Left Democratic Front (LDF) government.
The gold smuggling case pertains to the smuggling of gold in the state through diplomatic channels. It had come to light after 30 kg gold worth Rs 14.82 crores smuggled in a consignment camouflaged as diplomatic baggage was busted by the Customs in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5, 2020. It is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), NIA and Customs department.
The opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that maximum illegal appointments were carried out in the IT department, a portfolio handled by the Chief Minister himself. The Congress and the United Democratic Front have been attacking the state government over the protest of Public Service Commission rank holders in Thiruvananthapuram.
In the 2019 general elections, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) coalition has registered a remarkable victory with wins in 19 out of the 20 parliamentary constituencies.
Tamil Nadu: Tamil Nadu assembly elections will be held in a single phase on April 6 and the counting of votes will be done on May 2.
The term of the fifteenth legislative assembly in Tamil Nadu is ending on May 2, 2021. As many as 6,28,23,749 electors will choose candidates for the sixteenth legislative assembly in Tamil Nadu.
Ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) is contesting the poll in a pre-poll alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). MK Stalin’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has joined hands with Congress. This time actor-turned-politician Kamal Hassan’s party Makkal Neethi Maiam (MNM) is also in the fray.
In the last Assembly elections held in 2016, the DMK won 80, Congress won just eight, AIADMK won 134 seats, BJP won 4 seats and the rest were won by other parties and independent candidates.
The opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-led front, which includes the Congress, had won 37 of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu in 2019.
Ahead of the Assembly polls, the Tamil Nadu government led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had on February 20 issued an order to withdraw 308 cases registered against 26,460 people in connection with Jallikattu protests in 2017.
Hours before the announcement of state election dates,Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami today declared a gold loan waiver. Gold loans against up to six sovereigns given by cooperative banks to farmers and the poor will be waived, the state government announced.
Recently, the government increased the retirement age of state government employees to 60 years. DMK president M K Stalin took a swipe at Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami saying the announcement was made with an eye on the forthcoming assembly elections in the state.
“Raising the retirement age is welcome, albeit the announcement made for the election,” the DMK leader said in a Facebook post on Thursday. He said the chief minister should have fixed the age criteria of 60 years, when he had increased the retirement age to 59 from 58 years in May last year.
West Bengal: West Bengal will witness eight-phased Assembly polls beginning March 27.
The tenure of the 16th Legislative Assembly of West Bengal will end on May 30 this year. A total of 7,34,07,832 voters will choose their representative for the 17th Legislative Assembly of West Bengal.
Addressing a press conference, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said: “West Bengal will see eight-phase elections. 30 Assembly constituencies in five districts will go to polls in the first phase on March 27. 30 Assembly constituencies in four districts will go to polls in the second phase on April 1. In the third phase, 31 constituencies in 3 districts will go to polls on April 6. 44 constituencies in five districts will go for polling on April 10.”
“In the fifth phase, 45 constituencies in six districts will witness polling on April 17. 43 constituencies in four districts in the sixth phase will go to polls on April 22. 36 constituencies in five districts in the seventh phase will go for polling on April 26. In the eighth and final phase, 35 constituencies in four districts will witness polling on April 29,” he said.
West Bengal is likely to witness a triangular contest this time with TMC, Congress-Left alliance and BJP in the fray.
While Mamata Banerjee is seeking her third consecutive term, BJP has set a target of winning 200 seats in the 294-member state Assembly. Congress and the Left have stitched the alliance for the polls and had already finalised the seat-sharing agreement. They are also in touch with the Indian Secular Front (ISF), recently floated by influential minority leader Abbas Siddique.
In 2016 West Bengal Assembly elections, out of the 294 seats, Congress had managed to win 44 seats while the Left Front bagged 33 seats. The ruling TMC secured 211 seats and the BJP had won 3 seats.
The BJP made deep inroads in the state in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections winning 18 seats and reducing TMC’s tally to 22. Out of the total 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal, Congress won two seats, the Left drew a blank.
After BJP’s performance in the 2019 polls, several TMC leaders have joined the party led by JP Nadda.
Puducherry: Polling for 30 assembly seats in Puducherry will be held on April 6. Of the 30 Assembly seats, five are reserved for the Scheduled Caste candidates.
As many as 10,02,589 electors will choose the candidates for the 15 legislative Assembly of Puducherry.
The Congress-led government in the Union Territory fell before completing its five-year term under the Chief Minister V Narayansamy.
Narayanasamy had resigned on February 22 ahead of a floor test in the 33-member House (including three nominated) following the resignations of five Congress and one Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) legislators. On February 23, President Ram Nath Kovind accepted the resignation of Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and his council of ministers.
Kiran Bedi was replaced as Puducherry L-G with Telangana governor Tamilisai Soundararajan being given the additional charge of the Union Territory.
In the 2016 Assembly polls, Congress had won 15 seats, All India NR Congress eight seats, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) got four seats, DMK walked away with two MLAs. BJP could not win any seats.
In the 2019 general elections, Dr Narayanasamy Kesavan of Congress won the single-seat from the Union Territory.
This year, BJP president of the Puducherry unit, V Saminathan is trying hard to woo voters with the help of the party’s central leadership.
On February 25, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the development of Minor Port at Puducherry under Sagarmala Scheme. He also inaugurated the Blood Centre at Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Puducherry, which will function as a research laboratory and a training centre for the short- term and continuous blood bank personnel training in all aspects of transfusion.
Rahul Gandhi visited Puducherry on February 17 and addressed fishermen in the neighbouring Solai Nagar in the Muthialpet assembly constituency and interacted with students of the Bharathidasan Government College for women.
Puducherry Lt Governor today announced a 2 per cent reduction in VAT (Value Added Tax) on petrol and diesel in the union territory before the announcement of dates by ECI.

For the Assembly Elections 2021, the Election Commission has issued a protocol for voting. All poll officials will be vaccinated against Covid-19 before elections for five assembly polls, the commission said.
ECI guidelines for the upcoming elections include– door-to-door campaigning to be restricted to five persons including the candidate, polling officials to be vaccinated, separate norms for suspected COVID-19 patients.
Central Armed Police Forces would be deployed and also special observers from other states would be nominated for monitoring the expenses during the assembly elections.
According to official communication accessed by ANI, a total of 45 CAPFs companies will be deployed in Tamil Nadu, 40 in Assam, 10 in Puducherry, 125 in West Bengal and 30 companies in Kerala. (ANI)

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Court asks Delhi Police to conduct probe in impartial manner in case against Deep Sidhu

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New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): A Delhi court on Friday directed Delhi Police to conduct an investigation in a fair and impartial manner in the case against the January 26 accused Deep Sidhu and said that Investigating Officer is not supposed to collect the evidence only to prove the guilt of the accused, rather he has to bring true picture before it.
“The Investigating Officer is duty bound to conduct proper investigation in the matter in fair and impartial manner. He (IO) is not supposed to collect the evidence only to prove the guilt of the accused, rather he has to bring the true picture before the court,” the court said.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gajender Singh Nagar said: “Police officials are directed to investigate on the points as mentioned in the application made by the complainant to unearth the truth.”
“Furthermore, appropriate action may be taken and appropriate sections may be added if accused (Sidhu) is trying to mislead the investigation by fabricating false evidence.”
With this direction, the court disposed of the plea filed by Deep Sidhu seeking fair probe.
Delhi Police said that accused cannot guide the police to conduct investigation in a particular manner and police is duty bound to conduct fair and impartial investigation.
However, the accused cannot be allowed to divert the investigation of the police from its path, the prosecutor said.
Earlier today, Deep Sidhu urged the Delhi Court to preserve the CCTV footage of the Red Fort which is already with the investigating agency and said visuals show that he did not participate in any act of violence and rather he was helping the police in pacifying the crowd during January 26 Red Fort violence.
Appearing for Deep Sidhu, advocate Abhishek Gupta told Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gajender Singh Nagar that the applicant accused is apprehensive that the CCTV footage of Red Fort from 10 AM to 4 PM and the video will also not be considered by the investigating agency.
Sidhu, therefore, sought direction from the Court to preserve the CCTV footage, call and made part of the record so that it would help him to prove his innocence.
Sidhu’s lawyer Advocate Gupta also sought to conduct fair and impartial investigation in the matter.
The lawyer also told the court he was falsely implicated in the matter and made victim of the circumstances.
Advocate Abhishek Gupta also apprised the court that Sidhu had shared various videos in the public domain with the Investigating Agency which show his innocence, however, there was no interrogation done with respect to the said videos while in police custody and that therefore, the applicant is apprehensive that fair and impartial investigation may not be done in the instant case. That all the videos/proof of the innocence of the applicant/accused were provided to the investigating agency in a pen drive, he said.
“That during the investigation/interrogation it was clearly stated by the Applicant/accused that no call was ever made by him in connection with going to Red Fort on the Republic Day nor did he join any tractor rally (All Videos containing the statement of Applicant shared with the Investigating Agency). It was also indicated that there were certain videos wherein some others were calling upon farmers to reach Red Fort on Republic Day (All videos containing such statements shared with the Investigating Agency), ” Sidhu’s lawyer submitted.
He also told the court that during investigation it was also disclosed by Sidhu that he was at a hotel at Murthal till 12 PM on January 26 and that he left for Delhi only after checking out.
He also stated that the CCTV footage of the concerned hotel, which was in working condition, and the checkout bill showing the time/payment details, as online payment was made, be obtained to ascertain the said fact (CCTV footage of Hotel Shree Ji Murthal of January 26, 2021 from 8 AM to 1 PM along with bill paid and mode of payment along with its accurate time).
He told the Court that Sidhu reached the area around Red Fort only around 2 PM and he also gave the entire route from Murthal. Huge crowd had already gathered at the spot before Sidhu reached there. For the said purpose, Sidhu had asked the Investigating Agency to obtain his own phone location and also the car navigation system, however, the investigating agency has chosen not to check the said evidence which completely belies the case thrusted upon the applicant, the lawyer said.
Sidhu was arrested by the Delhi police special cell on February 9 for his alleged involvement in 26 January violence in the national capital after which was he was sent to seven-day police custody the same day.
Currently, he is in judicial custody in the matter. Delhi Police had earlier told the Court that Deep Sidhu was the main instigator. He allegedly instigated the mob not to follow the permitted route of the Kisan parade and to breach barricades with tractors on January 26.
Delhi Police had told the Court that there was video evidence to show that Sidhu entered Red Fort with supporters carrying lathis and flags. Delhi Police also told the court that he was at the rampart of the fort where a flag was raised.
On Republic Day, protestors did not follow the prearranged route and broke barricades to enter Delhi, clashed with police, and vandalised property in several parts of the national capital during the farmers’ tractor rally. They also entered the Red Fort and unfurled their flags from its ramparts.
Farmers have been protesting at the different borders of the national capital since November 26 against the three newly enacted farm laws: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. (ANI)

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If TN can hold elections in one day, why not WB?: asks TMC’s Sougata Roy

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By Joymala Bagchi
Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], February 26 (ANI): Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Sougata Roy has questioned the Election Commission of India’s announcement over eight-phased polling for 294 Assembly seats of West Bengal starting from March 27.
Calling the decision “unfair”, he asked the poll body if a state like Tamil Nadu can hold an election in one day then why West Bengal needs eight phases.
“I am very unhappy. It is unfair for West Bengal to have elections in eight phases. All activities will come to a standstill for more than a month. All activities including schools, colleges and development works will come to a standstill. If Tamil Nadu can hold elections in one day then why West Bengal need eight phases?” Roy asked while speaking to ANI, immediately after election dates were announced by ECI.
He further questioned if the eight-phased polling for the state has been requested by the BJP.
“We do not know if it (election in eight phases in West Bengal) is on the plea of the ruling party (BJP) at the Centre. Because as far I see there is “no abnormality” in law and order situation in West Bengal,” he added.
The ECI has appointed two special police observers — Vivek Dubey and MK Das — for West Bengal.
On this decision, Roy said, “That also appears unusual to me, because last time there was only one police observer. Why we need two police observers… it is also not clear, only the Election Commission can explain the logic behind this decision,” Roy said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee questioned the Election Commission’s decision to bifurcate the polls into eight phases and alleged that it was being done to suit the convenience of the BJP.

Addressing media persons here after the poll dates were announced, Banerjee said, “I request the ECI to consider West Bengal as their own state, not through the eyes of BJP. I respect ECI’s decision, but why have they broken-up the districts. South 24 Parganas is our stronghold. Voting will be held in three different phases there. Has it been done for the convenience of PM Modi and Amit Shah?”
The ECI on Friday announced that West Bengal will witness eight-phased Assembly polls (in contrast to seven-phased polling last time). While the voting will begin on March 27, the counting of votes will take place on May 2.
The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) in the state has come into force after the announcement of the election dates.
Moreover, the commission has made adequate arrangements to ensure the effective implementation of MCC guidelines. (ANI)

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