Body of young woman found, BJP leader, son expelled as outrage grows

Body of young woman found, BJP leader, son expelled as outrage grows 1

Dehradun: The body of Ankita Bhandari who worked in an Uttarakhand resort was recovered from a canal on Saturday, police said as the ruling BJP swung into action to expel its leader whose son, the main accused, owned the property and the administration began demolishing the structure.

Outrage over the killing of the 19-year-old, who worked as a receptionist in the Vanantara resort in Pauri district’s Yamkeshwar block owned by Haridwar BJP leader Vinod Arya’s son Pulkit Arya, escalated as details emerged of her trauma in the days preceding her death.

Violent protests erupted in areas surrounding the resort with locals breaking glass panes and some trying to torch a pickle factory in its premises. However, the fire did not spread much as the weather was cloudy.
BJP’s Yamkeshwar MLA Renu Bisht’s car was also attacked near the Cheela canal close to Rishikesh from where the young woman’s body was recovered, six days after her parents found her missing from her room. However, the crowds, seething with anger, succeeded only in breaking the rear windscreen of her car and Bisht was escorted to safety by police personnel.

Bhandari had been under pressure from Pulkit Arya who was arrested on Friday with resort manager Saurabh Bhaskar and assistant manager Ankit Gupta and sent to 14 days judicial custody to provide “special services” to guests, Director General of Police Ashok Kumar said.

This had been gleaned from her chat with a friend, he said.
Earlier in the day, Bhandari’s Facebook friend reportedly alleged that she was killed because she refused to have sex with guests as demanded by the owner of the resort.

As the ripples of anger spread, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami promised that no one would be spared and that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Deputy Inspector General P Renuka Devi had been constituted to probe all aspects.

“It is a tragic incident. Such a heinous crime has been committed against our daughter. Action is being taken against those involved in it. The father and brother of the main accused Pulkit Arya have been expelled from the BJP,” Dhami told reporters.

“Demolition of the resort owned by the main accused is underway. Some of its rooms have also been sealed so that evidence is not destroyed. We have also issued an order to identify all resorts built illegally on government or forest land and demolish them,” he added.

The administration had started demolishing the structure on Friday night on grounds of illegalities.
Vinod Arya had formerly served as chairperson of the Uttarakhand Mati Board with a state minister’s rank. His other son Ankit, who was also in the BJP, has now been removed as vice president of Uttarakhand OBC Commission.

Bhandari had called a friend the night before she was reported missing to say she was in trouble, according to local reports.

The Congress staged protests in district headquarters across the state on Saturday to voice its anger over the vulnerability of women in the state.

Pradesh Congress Committee president Karan Mahra said the young woman had gone missing on September 18 and the FIR was lodged four days later. “It shows the state government is not serious in its actions. Women are not safe in Uttarakhand,” Mahra said.

“The action being taken by the state government is just an eyewash. The resort has been demolished only partially. It may also be an attempt to destroy evidence,” added Congress leader Garima Dhasauni.
Countering the allegations of delay in action against the culprits, DGP Kumar said the matter was transferred to regular police from revenue police on Thursday and the accused were sent behind bars within 24 hours.

The autopsy is being done at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, police said.
According to Pauri Additional SP Shekhar Chandra Suyal, Ankita was found missing by her parents on September 19 (Monday) but they reported the matter to the revenue police the following day.
Due to slow progress in the investigation, the matter was handed over to regular police on September 22 and the arrests made on September 23 (Friday).

The three men accused of the crime initially tried to mislead the police, but confessed when interrogated closer, Suyal said yesterday.

On Friday, crowds attacked the police car when the accused were being taken to a court in Kotdwar. They smashed the windowpanes of the car and roughed up the three men. Some womem who were part of the mob demanded that the accused must be “hanged.”

Congress to issue notification for party prez polls Thursday; contest likely after 2 decades

Congress to issue notification for party prez polls Thursday; contest likely after 2 decades 2

New Delhi: The Congress’ central election authority will issue a notification for the AICC president polls on Thursday, setting the ball rolling for electing the successor to the longest-serving party chief Sonia Gandhi.

After over two decades, the Congress is likely to see a contest for the post of party chief with Shashi Tharoor looking set to enter the fray after his meeting with Sonia Gandhi and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot indicating that he will throw his hat in the ring if Rahul Gandhi does not agree to take on the party’s reins.

The process for filing nominations for the election will be held from September 24 to 30.
The date of scrutiny of the nomination papers would be October 1, while the last date of withdrawal of nominations would be October 8.

The election, if there is more than one candidate, will take place on October 17, while counting of votes, if necessary, and the counting of votes and the declaration of results would be on October 19.
Even though there is no clarity on the contenders, the likelihood of a Tharoor versus Gehlot contest is high.

Gehlot on Tuesday told Congress MLAs in Rajasthan that they will be asked to come to New Delhi if he decides to file his nomination for the party president election.

But he also said that he will first visit Kochi to persuade Rahul Gandhi, who is leading the Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra there, to contest for the post.

Gehlot made the remarks at a Congress Legislature Party meeting at his official residence in Jaipur, according to state cabinet minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas.

The upcoming polls would certainly be historic as the new president would replace Sonia Gandhi, the longest-serving party president who has been at the helm since 1998, barring the two years between 2017 and 2019 when Rahul Gandhi took over.

The party last saw a contest for the post in November 2000. Jitendra Prasada had lost to Sonia Gandhi in 2000 and prior to that Sitaram Kesri had defeated Sharad Pawar and Rajesh Pilot in 1997.

With Rahul Gandhi likely to stick to his earlier stance of not taking on the mantle of party president, it seems the party will have its first non-Gandhi president in over two decades.

Also, with Sonia Gandhi asserting that she would remain neutral in the polls and there would be no “official candidate” it could be a keener contest than the one in 2000.

Tharoor on Monday met Sonia Gandhi and expressed his intention to contest the upcoming AICC chief polls, while the Congress president conveyed that she would stay “neutral” in the elections, according to sources.

Sonia Gandhi welcomed the idea of more people contesting the polls and dispelled the notion that there would be an “official candidate”, they said.

The feedback by Sonia Gandhi on Tharoor’s desire to contest is being seen by many as an encouragement to him to contest and he could announce his candidature in the next few days.
Amid hectic activities ahead of the polls, around 10 PCCs have come out in support of Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to the top post so far, even as party General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said on Tuesday that such measures have no binding effect.

“Entire party is immersed in making Bharat Jodo Yatra a success. Even so, it’s important to reiterate that any member is welcome to contest for Congress President. This is a democratic and transparent process.
“Nobody needs anybody’s nod to contest, especially that of party leadership,” Ramesh had tweeted.
Congress general secretary K C Venugopal met party president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday and is learnt to have discussed the AICC chief’s election

Echoing Ramesh, he said anybody can contest the Congress president’s poll which will be free and fair as well as transparent.

“Whoever wants to file a nomination, can file it. We have said it will be an open election, anybody can contest, free and fair election, definitely it will be a transparent election,” he told reporters here.
Rahul Gandhi had resigned as Congress president after the party suffered its second consecutive defeat in parliamentary elections in 2019.

Sonia Gandhi, who took over the reins of the party again as interim president, had also offered to quit in August 2020 after criticism by a section of leaders, referred to as G-23, but the CWC had urged her to continue.

Congress wins Timisgam in LAHDC bypoll, BJP Loses

Congress wins Timisgam in LAHDC bypoll, BJP Loses 3

Leh: The Congress on Saturday retained Timisgam seat in the BJP-led Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), with its candidate defeating the BJP candidate by 273 votes in the by-election, officials said.

Congress candidate Tashi Tundup won the by-election for 22-Timisgam constituency, by polling 861 votes against 588 polled by the BJP’s Dorjay Namgyal, they said.

Senior Congress member Jairam Ramesh congratulated the Congress committee in Ladakh and also took a dig at the BJP’s central leadership and Ghulam Nabi Azad, who quit the grand old party recently.
“Here is some breaking news for Modi, Shah and Azad. The Congress party has defeated the BJP by a convincing margin in the Temisgam bye-election to the Ladakh Hill Council. Congratulations to the Ladakh District Congress Committee!,” he said on Twitter.

The by-election in the constituency was necessitated following the death of sitting Congress councillor Sonam Dorjey.

The voting, held on September 13, saw 98.7 per cent polling, the officials said, adding, the counting of votes started this morning and 1,449 votes of the total 1,467 votes polled were considered.
Fourteen voters had opted for NOTA and four votes were rejected.

In October 2020, the BJP had retained power by winning the election to the 26-member LAHDC by bagging 15 seats. The Congress had won nine seats, and two seats were bagged by Independent candidates.

Omar responds to Twitter video featuring J&K BJP chief

Omar responds to Twitter video featuring J&K BJP chief 4

Srinagar: Political opponents are not enemies and politics is not about division and hatred, National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah said on Friday.

His remarks were in response to a video posted on Twitter wherein a netizen hinted at some backdoor understanding between the National Conference (NC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In the video, Jammu and Kashmir BJP chief Ravinder Raina describes Abdullah as a “gem” among top political leaders in the Union territory.

“As I became a member of the assembly when Omar was also there, we saw that as an individual, as a person, Omar Abdullah is a gem among the top political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir… so we are friends as well,” Raina said.

He added that Abdullah was also the first person to call him when he was suffering from coronavirus.
Responding to the tweet, the NC leader said politicians do not have to hate each other personally while disagreeing politically.

“Why is politics all about division & hatred? Where does it say that to disagree politically we also have to hate each other personally? I have political opponents, I don’t have enemies,” he said in a series of tweets.
“I’m grateful for Ravinder’s kind words & I’m glad they won’t stop us opposing each other,” he added.

PM Modi turns 72; President, ministerial colleagues extend wishes


New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned 72 on Saturday, with politicians and dignitaries extending their best wishes to him.

His birthday is often marked with development initiatives while the BJP launches ‘seva’ (service) activities.
Modi will be speaking at four programmes linked to diverse fields, including the release of cheetahs brought from Namibia in a Madhya Pradesh national park.

Wishing him, President Droupadi Murmu said the work for nation-building under his incomparable hardwork, dedication and creativity continue to advance.
Modi’s ministerial colleagues paid fulsome tributes to his leadership and administrative acumen as they wished him on his birthday.

Home Minister Amit Shah hailed him as the flag-bearer of Indian culture who has connected the country to its roots and led it forward in every field. Under his farsighted leadership, India has emerged as a world power and he has distinguished himself as a global leader respected by the world, Shah said.

Modi’s life symbolises service and dedication, he said, calling him the builder of a secure, strong and ‘aatmanirbhar’ new India.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said his leadership has boosted progress and good governance like never before and taken India’s prestige and self-respect to a new high.

He has given a new dimension to Indian politics and given importance to the poor’s welfare along with development, Singh said.

An RSS pracharak from a young age, Modi was drafted into the BJP’s organisation and later became Gujarat chief minister in 2001.

Since then, he has achieved the unique feat of never losing the state and now national election when he has been the face of the party.

He led the BJP to win in three consecutive Gujarat assembly polls in 2002, 2007 and 2012 and then in the Lok Sabha polls in 2014 and 2019.

Mehbooba condemns booking religious scholars under PSA

Mehbooba Mufti

Srinagar: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Friday condemned the booking of clerics under the Public Safety Act by the Jammu and Kashmir administration.

“If normalcy as claimed by GOI has indeed returned to J&K with zero incidents of stone pelting & other activities considered anti-national, why are they booking religious scholars under draconian laws like PSA?” Mehbooba said in a tweet.

“Outrightly condemn such actions that reflect BJPs communal mindset.”

The Peoples Democratic Party president was reacting to government’s move to book five people, including three clerics, under the stringent Public Safety Act.

Singapore’s Deputy PM Lawrence Wong to arrive in India on 5-day official visit

Singapore’s Deputy PM Lawrence Wong to arrive in India on 5-day official visit 5

Singapore: Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong will arrive in India on Saturday on a five-day official visit to deepen the existing cooperation and identify opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration in new and emerging areas, the Prime Minister’s Office here said on Friday.
This will be Wong’s first official visit to the country in his capacity as the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore.

He will participate in the inaugural India-Singapore Ministerial Roundtable (ISMR) in New Delhi on Saturday, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement.

The ISMR is a new ministerial platform between the two countries, seeking to “deepen existing cooperation and identify opportunities for mutually-beneficial collaboration in new and emerging areas”, it said.

Wong, who is also the Finance Minister, will attend the ISMR with Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong and Minister for Transport and Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations S Iswaran.

He will also meet senior Indian leaders and personalities, the PMO said. On Sunday, Wong will travel to Gujarat, where he will meet Chief Minister Bhupendrabhai Patel and visit Gujarat International Finance City.

He will be accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance, Channel News Asia reported.

India and China are important for Singapore to progress in the current volatile economic environments, and global markets are hit by high-powered headwinds, with disruption of supplies and increasing tension caused by Ukraine-Russia conflicts and uncertainties caused by positions and postures taken by China, Taiwan and the US, political observers said.

Commercially sensitive Singapore, which sits in the midst of the largest markets of India and China, is concerned about managing a balanced relationship.

Market-oriented economies like Singapore are concerned about China-US postures and need an in-depth understanding of deep thinking in New Delhi and Beijing while seeking Washington-led Western economies’ strategies for a prosperous world, said the observers.

Former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh to join BJP next week

Former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh to join BJP next week 6

Chandigarh: Former chief minister and Punjab Lok Congress chief Amarinder Singh will join the BJP next week, party spokesperson said on Friday.

Singh will also merge his newly formed party with the BJP. Singh (80) had floated the Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) last year after quitting the Congress following his unceremonious exit as chief minister. He will join the BJP in the presence of party president JP Nadda and other leaders in Delhi.