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Farmers reject Centre’s ‘conditional’ offer, vow to step up agitation

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Farmers reject Centre’s ‘conditional’ offer, vow to step up agitation
Farmers at the Singhu border during their protest against the farm laws, on Tuesday. ANI

Thousands of protesting farmers on Sunday rejected the proposal by the Centre to shift all agitation to Delhi’s Burari ground and lift the blockade at the borders, calling the offer of talks “conditional”. They further vowed to intensify their action against the three farm laws made by the Central government.

In a statement on Sunday, an umbrella group representing different farmers’ unions slammed the government for saying it would engage in talks with the farmers if they moved their protest off the roads into a designated stadium site.

“The government, if serious about addressing the demands of farmers, should stop laying down any conditions and should come straight out with the solution it is offering,” the statement said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asserted that he was committed to the welfare of hardworking farmers, and the Centres’ new farm laws were a step in this direction.

Union and opposition leaders, however, were unmoved by PM Modi’s comments. The farmers have been instructed to stay put wherever they are till further instructions from their leaders. Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait said they have also decided to stay at Ghazipur. “We will not leave this spot. We will not move to Burari. The Centre should come forward and listen to the farmers,” he added.

Refusing to accept the Centre’s offer to shift to the Burari ground in north-west Delhi to hold their proposed protest against the three farm laws, thousands of farmers continued to rally for the third consecutive day on Sunday at Delhi’s three interstate border points.

As the farmers continued to protest peacefully by shouting slogans against the government at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur entry/exit points on the Delhi-Chandigarh, Delhi-Bahadurgarh and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh routes respectively, their numbers were swelling as more and more farmers were arriving at the spots.

The farmers were adamant on their demand that the Centre revoke the three farm laws to end the impasse, though they were not clear about their next course of action as leaders of multiple farmers’ unions were holding meetings since Sunday morning to decide on their future strategy.

Farmer Satbir Singh, a resident of Fatehgarh Sahib district in Punjab, told news agency IANS at the protest site that it was the “biggest revolution against the three farm laws enacted by the Central government”.

“Even the Punjabi diaspora in the US and Canada have come in support of the farmers’ protest. We will not move back an inch until and unless they repeal the laws. We will not go back until these draconian laws are done away with,” Satbir said. He asserted that a general consensus among the protesting farmers was to refuse the Union Home Minister’s offer to shift to the Burari ground before the government holds parleys with them. “We will not move from the Singhu and Kondli borders. The supply chain has been disrupted and the pressure is mounting on the government.”

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KHRA workers tonsure heads to protest against fuel price hike

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Kochi (Kerala) [India], March 2 (ANI): Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHRA) workers on Tuesday tonsured their heads to show their protest over rising prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas.
The workers carried begging bowls in their hands as a part of their protest in front of the Indian Oil Corporation’s office here. They also demanded the inclusion of petroleum products in the GST.
G Jayapal, General Secretary of the KHRA, said that the prices of daily necessities have tripled but the government is pretending it is not important. “It is also an indication that small and medium hotels in Kerala will have to take to the streets with begging bowls without much delay,” said Jayapal.
“We are staging this struggle here by raising three demands. These include the inclusion of petroleum products in the GST, urgent redressal of the issue of gas price hike and redressal of the issue uncontrolled price hike of the necessary products. In the last four months, the price of LPG has gone up by Rs 500. This is a serious blow to the food distribution sector, which is struggling with COVID-19. An ordinary hotel now has an additional liability of Rs 1,500 per day,” he added.
The prices of petrol and diesel have increased sharply over the past few days, with that of petrol touching the 100-rupee mark in some of the cities. Opposition parties have held protests in different parts of the country over the rising prices of fuel.
On February 25, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that she won’t be able to answer when the prices of petrol and diesel will be reduced.
“I won’t be able to say ‘when’. It is a ‘dharam sankat’ (dilemma),” Sitharaman said at an event in Ahmedabad after being asked when would the central government reduce fuel prices.
Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Steel Dharmendra Pradhan has, however, assured that price of fuel would decrease once the winter season ends.
“Increase in petroleum price in international market has affected consumers too. Prices will come down a little as winter goes away. It is an international matter, price is high due to increase in demand, it happens in winter. It will come down as the season ends,” Pradhan had said on February 26. (ANI)

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BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari likely to step down as Chairperson of Jute Corporation of India

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Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], March 2 (ANI): Bharatiya Janata Party leader Suvendu Adhikari is likely to step down as Chairperson of Jute Corporation of India.
Speaking to ANI over a phone call on Tuesday, the BJP leader said, “I have to contest in West Bengal elections. To prioritise this position, I might resign as Chairperson of Jute Corporation of India. Also, I cannot work having two government positions at a time.”
Adhikari, former West Bengal Minister, had joined the BJP in December 2020. Later, in January 2021, he was appointed as the Chairperson of the Jute Corporation of India.
The Jute Corporation of India Limited (JCI) was set up in 1971 as an official agency by the Government of India with the aim to provide minimum support price (MSP) to the jute cultivators and also work as a helping hand in the raw jute sector.
At present, he is actively campaigning in West Bengal for the upcoming Assembly elections in the state.
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.
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.
On January 20, Adhikari said although he does not know who from his party would contest from the Nandigram seat, he would make sure that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee loses the poll there by 50,000 votes. (ANI)

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Man held for input tax credit fraud of Rs 38.91 crore in Delhi

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New Delhi [India], March 2 (ANI): In the ongoing drive to counter the fake billing operations, the Central Goods and Service Tax (CGST) Commissionerate arrested an accused for creating a network of 38 fictitious firms to generate and pass fake Input Tax Credit (ITC) of Goods and Service Tax (GST) amounting to Rs 38.91 Crore.
“Information from analytics tool NETRA (Network Exploration Tool for Revenue Augmentation), was developed by the officers of CGST commissionerate, Delhi East to unearth a network of fictitious firms used to generate and pass on fake ITC of GST,” said an official release.
According to the release, the investigation revealed that the multilayered network was being operated by one Nihaluddin who has confessed to having created a fake firm in his own name and also arranging ITC from 38 other fictitious firms on a commission basis to pass on fake ITC to multiple beneficiaries.
“The investigation has so far established the issuance of fake bills of Rs 216.06 Crore involving fake ITC of Rs 38.91 Crore, which is expected to increase as the investigation progresses.”
“The offence committed by the accused Nihaluddin is covered under Section 132(1)(b) of the CGST Act, 2017 which is cognizable and non-bailable offences as per the provision of Section 132(5) and punishable under clause (i) of sub section 1 of Section 132 of the Act ibid,” it stated.
The Commissionerate said that the accused has been arrested under Section 69(1) of the CGST Act, 2017 and produced before the Duty Magistrate on March 1 who remanded him to judicial custody of 14 days till March 15.
Further investigation is underway.
Notably, since the inception of GST Central Tax, Delhi Zone has made 28 arrests in various cases involving GST evasion amounting to more than Rs 4058.86 Crore. (ANI)

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ISF submits names for six seats in North Bengal for upcoming Assembly elections

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By Joymala Bagchi
Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], March 2 (ANI): The Indian Secular Front (ISF) on Tuesday submitted the final list of six candidates for its seats in North Bengal to Congress for the upcoming West Bengal Assembly elections.
“All over today’s meeting between ISF, Congress and Left at Alimuddin went well,” ISF chief Naushad Siddiqui told ANI.
“Our discussion with Left Front on seat sharing is settled and importantly we gave a list of six candidates for seats in North Bengal. They (Congress) will let us know tonight,” Siddiqui said.
Earlier the ISF was demanding 12 seats from this part.
This comes a day after veteran Congress leader Anand Sharma tweeted, “Congress’ alliance with parties like ISF and other such forces militates against the core ideology of the party and Gandhian and Nehruvian secularism, which forms the soul of the party. These issues need to be approved by the CWC.”
The meeting between ISF, Congress and Left parties, which was held today was attended by ISF chairman Naushad Siddiqui along with Pradeep Bhattacharya, Abdul Mannan, Biman Bose and Mohd Salim.
West Bengal Assembly elections will be held in eight phases starting from March 27 with the final round of voting taking place on April 29. Counting of votes will take place on May 2. (ANI)

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh takes first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at RR Hospital

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New Delhi [India], March 2 (ANI): Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has taken the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at RR Hospital in the national capital on Tuesday.
“The first dosage of COVID-19 vaccine was administered to me at RR Hospital today. India’s resolve for making the country COVID free has been strengthened by this inoculation drive. The vaccine is completely safe and hassle free,” tweeted the Defence Minister.”
“I salute the efforts of India’s scientists and doctors who developed the vaccine in a short span of time. I also thank the doctors and paramedic staff at the RR Hospital for the vaccination. I urge everyone who is eligible to take the vaccine and make India COVID free,” added Singh.
On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the first dose of Covaxin, the indigenous coronavirus vaccine developed by biotechnology firm Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research.
Soon after receiving the jab, he tweeted, “Took my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS.”
“Remarkable how our doctors and scientists have worked in quick time to strengthen the global fight against COVID-19,” he added.
The second phase of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive for age-appropriate population groups (people above 60 and those with comorbidities above 45) began on Monday with the Union Health Ministry calling out eligible people to get an appointment at respective hospitals in the country. (ANI)

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Delhi HC raps petitioner for using ‘Tom, Dick and Harry’ in plea

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New Delhi [India], March 2 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Tuesday pulled up a petitioner for using “Tom, Dick and Harry” in the petition and said such language is not permissible in pleadings before the court.
A single-judge bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh was hearing a petition filed by Group Captain Atul Jain against the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), on the ground that wrong procedures are being adopted by these tribunals.
The petitioner was appearing in person. The court noted that the petitioner appeared to have drafted the petition on his own.
The court also noted that a perusal of paragraph 6(f) shows that there is slang language being used in this petition.
“The said paragraph reads as under, ‘(f) The AA/NCLT cannot permit any person – Tom, Dick, and Harry’ to represent and defend the respondent u/s-7 of IBC, as the rules do not permit it,” the court noted.
The court further said the petition is liable to be dismissed, however, the petitioner later wished to withdraw it.
“Such language is not permissible in pleadings before the court. Accordingly, this petition is liable to be dismissed. If the petitioner is, aggrieved by any order of the NCLT or NCLAT, he may draft a proper petition and only then, file the same,” the court said.
The court added that the petition is dismissed as withdrawn with liberty to avail of his remedies in accordance with the law.
“Since the petitioner is appearing in person, this court is refraining from imposing costs at this stage,” it said. (ANI)

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