CBI HANDS OVER SACRILEGE CASE FILES TO PUNJAB POLICE, CM ACCUSES SAD OF SCUTTLING PROBE - The Daily Guardian
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CBI HANDS OVER SACRILEGE CASE FILES TO PUNJAB POLICE, CM ACCUSES SAD OF SCUTTLING PROBE

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Within months of the Akalis walking out of the Union Government, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday finally handed to the state police papers relating to the sacrilege cases, which Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said clearly exposed that the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had been scuttling the process to prevent their complicity in the cases from being exposed.

The documents and files relating to the cases were handed over to the Punjab Police hours before the deadline set by Punjab and Haryana High Court for the CBI to do so was to expire. Notably, the Director Bureau of Investigation had written to Director CBI on January 18, 2021 to return the entire record to the State police without any further delay after withdrawal of investigation of sacrilege cases from CBI and consequent return of the entire record including evidence gathered in cases transferred to CBI on November 2, 2015 vide notification no.7/52113-2H4/619055/1.

The Chief Minister termed it a victory for the state government and an endorsement of its stand that the CBI had, all these months, been trying to scuttle the investigation by the Special Investigative Team (SIT) of Punjab Police at behest of SAD, which was part of the ruling NDA at the Centre till September 2020.

“It is clear now that Harsimrat Badal, as union minister, had been pressurising the central agency to obstruct the SIT probe by refusing to hand over the case files as she knew that her party’s role in the entire affair would be exposed once the police take the investigation to its logical conclusion,” said Captain Amarinder.

SAD’s complicity in the 2015 cases and their subsequent efforts to scuttle a fair and free probe would now be exposed with the completion of the SIT probe, he said, asserting that all those found guilty would be identified and punished under the law. Nobody will be spared, irrespective of their political affiliation or position, he declared.

Pointing out that his government had withdrawn consent to CBI to probe the cases as far back as in 2018, after the Vidhan Sabha unanimously resolved to do so, the Chief Minister said the SIT was also constituted then to take over the investigation. The central agency had, for more than two years, been persistently refusing to hand the case files back to state, he said, adding that the agency, which had earlier filed a closure report in the matter, went on to constitute a new investigative team in September 2019 with the clear and obvious aim of preventing the state government from conducting its own impartial, fair and speedy probe, he added.

The shocking part, according to the Chief Minister, was that the CBI adamantly refused to hand over the case diaries even after the High Court, in January 2019, upheld the state government’s decision, and again, in February 2020, the Supreme Court dismissed CBI’s appeal challenging the HC judgement. “Why else would CBI have behaved in this manner had it not been under political pressure from the Akalis, who clearly did not want the probe to be completed,” he asked, adding that SAD’s acts of omission and commission would now be exposed with the SIT no longer obstructed due to the absence of the case files.

The incidents of sacrilege occurred between June to October 2015 following theft of the sacred Guru Granth Sahib from a Gurudwara in Burj Jawaharsinghwala, Faridkot and discovery of torn pages from the Holy Book in Bargari, Faridkot. They caused widespread discontent and outrage amongst members of the Sikh community.

These incidents led to large-scale protests and agitations in October 2015. The retaliatory action taken by the police led to injuries and death of two persons. In 2015, the Akali Dal Government had transferred investigation of the sacrilege incident to the CBI. Retd. Justice Zora Singh Commission was appointed to inquire into the incidents of sacrilege and police action in the protests, and a report was submitted to the Government in 2016.

After the Congress Government came to power in 2017, finding the report of Retd. Justice Zora Singh to be inconclusive, the Government appointed a fresh Commission of Inquiry, Retd. Justice Ranjit Singh Commission, who submitted a report in 2018.

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SURAT TEACHERS ORDERED TO REGISTER COVID DEAD BODIES

Abhijit Bhatt

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Surat Corporation has gone too far in handing over the responsibility of Covid-19 management to its employees. Teachers have been assigned Covid-19 work. They are given the task of registering the bodies coming for the funeral. Teachers, along with SMC (Surat Municipal Corporation) employees, will also be on duty in three shifts of eight hours each. It’s teachers responsibility to ensure that there is no disruption in the registration of the bodies coming to the crematorium.

During the pandemic, all SMC employees were assigned different tasks, in which the teachers were asked to be outside the homes of the infected Covid patients.

There were orders to go with Dhanvanri Rath to carry out survey work, and distribute food grains, which were performed by the teachers as part of their duty amid such a difficult situation in the city.

At that time, the teachers who were assigned to the operation of the cemetery have been put in a dilemma.

A teacher, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “The process of registering a body in a cemetery is not appropriate for us.. We made a presentation for our Teachers’ Union last night on this matter. We were given a message about this operation through social media. The Union has informed our appointees to cancel this order. Union officials have also vowed to inform the Municipal Commissioner and the State government about handing over the work to teachers.”

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UTTARAKHAND CM RAWAT CONFIDENT TO CONDUCT HARIDWAR KUMBH MELA SAFELY

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Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat on Friday said that the state government is determined to conduct Haridwar Kumbh Mela safely.

He inaugurated the Command and Control Room and Adarsh Barrack of the Police Surveillance System built for the Kumbh Mela, at the CCR Tower in Haridwar.

On this occasion, the Chief Minister said that the state government is fully committed to the modernization of the police.

He said, “Our government is determined to conduct Haridwar Kumbh Mela safely. 310 CCTV cameras have been installed in the area. Command and Control Room of Police Surveillance System has been set up at CCR Tower, Haridwar.”

(With ANI inputs)

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CELEBRATIONS IN JAMMU AFTER THE RELEASE OF COBRA COMMANDO BY NAXALS

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As soon as the news of Rakeshwar Singh Manhas’ release reached Jammu, there were celebrations not only in his village but in other adjacent villages as well. Earlier his wife Meenu had appealed to the government that her husband should be rescued from the Naxals and the Congress leaders of the Jammu region visited the family and made her talk to the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister who assured all help and action.

People in the villages adjacent to his hometown were glued to television sets and expressed their joy when he stepped out of an ambulance as shown by different media channels.

Meenu Manhas exclaimed, “This is the happiest moment in our lives. Hope never died though we were anguished for his safe return. I am thankful to the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh and also to the Central government as everyone stood by us.”

Earlier, the relatives of Manhas and villagers protested and blocked the traffic for hours, appealing to the government to intervene and save him from the captivity of Naxals. He was posted in Chhattisgarh and was captured alive by the Naxals in a fierce gun battle in which dozens of his colleagues were killed while over 15 Naxals were also killed.

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DELHI SCHOOLS TO REMAIN SHUT FOR ALL CLASSES AMID COVID SURGE: KEJRIWAL

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Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal

NEW DELHI: The Delhi government on Friday announced that all schools will be shut given the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the national capital.

“Due to increasing cases of COVID-19, all schools, government and private, in Delhi are being closed for all classes till further orders,” the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted. Schools have been shut ever since the pandemic broke out last year but for those from Classes 9 to 12 had resumed their classes. The board examinations for Class 10 and Class 12 are slated for May-June.

Several other states and Union territories have also closed down schools and colleges to curb the surging infections.

Delhi on Thursday reported 7,437 fresh cases and 24 related deaths over the last 24 hours. As per the daily health bulletin, the total positive cases in the city now stand at 6,98,005, including 23,181 active cases and 6,63,667 recoveries. So far, 11,157 lives have been claimed by the infectious virus.

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Covid chaos in Gujarat, waiting list in hospitals, cemeteries & crematoria

Abhijit Bhatt

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The state of Covid-19 spread in Ahmedabad seems frightening. The scenario in various cemeteries and crematoria of the city is bad with people waiting for hours for the burial and cremation of the dead bodies.

A total of eight bodies were brought to a cemetery in Vadaj cemetery in the city for burial around the same time. There is also a two-hour wait for the funeral at Thaltej. Both chimneys are currently in operation at the city’s Vadaj crematorium, where relatives of the deceased have been seen waiting.

There are no vacant beds in hospitals because of the surge in Covid-19 cases. As the number of patients keeps on increasing, the beds are getting filled. In some hospitals there is no stock of injections and while at other hospitals videos of missing oxygen are emerging. Extremely heart-rending videos surfaced on Friday at the Vadaj Cemetery in Ahmedabad, where eight bodies were being prepared for burial while many others were waiting in the cemetery. Similar is the case with Thaltej cemetery in Ahmedabad.

As a result of the worsening situation due to Covid-19 in Gujarat, relatives have to wait in hospitals for as long as 12 hours to get the body of the deceased in cities like Rajkot and Surat. Not only that, even after getting the dead body, they have to wait for 8 to 10 hours for cremation. Worse, the rising death toll at Rajkot Civil Hospital is waiting not only for cremation but also for ambulances to take the dead bodies to the cemetery.

In the Nagarwada area of Vadodara, a 65-year-old man died of Covid-19 and his body had to be taken in a handcart as the ambulance was not available to take him to the crematorium.

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ALL-PARTY MEET TO DISCUSS LOCKDOWN IN MAHARASHTRA

State reports 58,993 Covid cases and 301 deaths in 24 hours.

Preeti Sompura

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In view of the alarming spike in Covid-19 cases in the state, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has called an all-party meeting on 10 April. The government will take stock of the Covid-19 situation in the state.

The meeting will be attended by prominent leaders of the three parties involved in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, leaders of BJP, MNS, API, SP, and others.

On Friday, State Disaster Management Minister Vijay Wadettiwar said that he has proposed a complete lockdown in the state, during a virtual meeting earlier in the day, given the continued spike in Covid-19 cases and upcoming festivals. While speaking to India Today, the Minister said that it was crucial to close all shops and establishments to break the chain of the pandemic.

“Every day we are witnessing 50,000 to 60,000 cases. We have 5.31 lakh active cases today. If the upsurge continues like this, we will have over 10 lakh active cases soon,” the Disaster Management Minister said to India Today. “If we have to break the chain, it’s not possible keeping half the shops and establishments open. In the virtual conference that took place today, I have suggested a strict lockdown of three weeks to break the chain,” the Minister said.

Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Pravin Darekar said the decision to organise the all-party meeting was taken this afternoon.

“This decision was taken during the meeting held today to decide the postponement of MPSC exams scheduled for Sunday,” he said.

When asked about the weekend lockdown that comes into force from Friday night, Darekar said the state government should decide on financially supporting small businesses.

Maharashtra Chief Minister will brief all parties regarding the covid situation. Maharashtra is planning a complete three weeks lockdown.

Maharashtra on Friday reported 58,993 coronavirus cases and 301 deaths in 24 hours amid a second wave of infections. Pune, with 10,084 Covid cases, was the worst-affected district today, followed by Mumbai with 9,200 single-day infections.

After the new additions, the total of active cases has reached 5,34,603. The state had reported 56,286 cases and 376 deaths on Thursday.

With Agency Inputs

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