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After babus and ministers, role of journalists emerges in MP sex scandal

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Bhopal, Sep 26 : Names of several Bhopal-based journalists have emerged in the high-profile honey-trap and extortion racket of Madhya Pradesh. The journalists allegedly having a role in the case, include a resident editor of a Hindi newspaper, a cameraman of a news channel and an owner of a regional satellite TV channel. The journalists were apparently negotiating deals with bureaucrats and honey-trap kingpin Shweta Jain, acting as key conduits, sources said.

On the involvement of journalists in the case, spokesperson for ruling Congress in the state K.K. Mishra said whoever is involved in the scandal would be booked as soon as evidence is gathered by the Special Investigation Team (SIT).

Mishra, considered close to Chief Minister Kamal Nath, was the first to highlight the case. “As far as I know, a few journalists, close to bureaucrats, negotiated deals on behalf of the officials. They were not directly involved with the accused, arrested in the case,” said Mishra.

Earlier, BJP General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya alleged that he has specific information about three-four journalists who were involved in the blackmailing scandal. The SIT has not yet denied Vijarvargiya’s allegation about the involvement of journalists in a case which has rocked the central Indian state.

After bureaucrats and politicians, the alleged involvement of journalists in the scandal has added more hype to the case, generating curiosity about the real identities of the accomplices in the crime. On the role of a few journalists in the scandal, editor-in-chief of a prominent Hindi daily published from Indore, Hemant Sharma said for years a small group of journalists in the state capital have been found engaged in striking such shady deals.

“Actually it is a small bunch of so-called journalists, who move in the corridors of power with the sole purpose of extorting money from bureaucrats or politicians involved in corrupt practices. However, as of now, SIT has not named anyone (journalist). I can only say that Shweta and Aarti, used a few journalists in negotiating deals with the bureaucrats or ministers,” said Hemant Sharma.

Sources in the SIT revealed to IANS that the investigation at present is focussed on ascertaining the role of bureaucrats and other persons(politicians) holding important positions in the government. “The mastermind of the racket, Shweta Jain, her husband Swapnil Jain, and aide Aarti Dayal have already been arrested. During their interrogation, it came to light that people in power, honeytrapped by Shweta and Aarti, have funded their NGOs.

Besides, lucrative government contracts were also offered to the Jains in lieu of seeking sexual favours. “If documents of such contracts are traced, we will definitely take action against government servants,” said an MP police officer, adding, that “sex-scandal was going on in Bhopal for more than 7-8 years.”

Meanwhile, SIT chief Sanjeev Shami told media persons that if evidence suggests that bureaucrats have misused their office in obliging sex-scandal operators, then they will be booked. Shami, an ADG rank IPS officer of MP cadre, had allegedly put together various teams and assigned them specific tasks. One of the most important tasks was to identify government contracts allotted by bureaucrats or Ministers to the ring leader of sex-scandal. Once the police establish the misuse of official powers, cases will be registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act against officials and politicians, Shami said.

India

Ready for any alternative to law repeal demand, Tomar to farmers

Tomar, who is leading the negotiations on behalf of the government, has repeatedly reiterated that whatever provisions would be appropriate in the interests of the farmers of the country, the Modi government would consider including them in the new farm laws.

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narendra singh tomar

New Delhi: Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Sunday again appealed to the farmers unions to suggest ways to resolve the deadlock over the agrarian reforms implemented by the Modi government.

Prior to the next round of talks scheduled on January 19 with the farmer unions leading the protests against the farm laws passed by parliament last year, he said that if the farmer unions could suggest any alternative solution, apart from the repeal of the three Central farm laws, the government would certainly consider it.

On the other hand, as the ongoing farmer agitation at the borders of the national Capital has entered the 53rd day, the farmer unions have clearly said they would continue with all their programmes announced earlier to intensify the protest.

The Agriculture Minister in a statement to IANS said in the next round of talks, the farmers unions should discuss the three farm laws point-wise and express their reservations, and the Central government would consider these. Apart from repeal of the three laws, the government would seriously consider whatever alternatives the farmers suggest, he added.

With a view to improving agriculture and allied sectors, the Central government implemented the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020. Though the Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of these laws and set up am expert committee to resolve the issue, the Central government has kept open the path for dialogue with the farmer unions.

Tomar, who is leading the negotiations on behalf of the government, has repeatedly reiterated that whatever provisions would be appropriate in the interests of the farmers of the country, the Modi government would consider including them in the new farm laws.

But the leaders of farmer unions are adamant on that the three laws be repealed. The Central government has said it is ready to present its case before the committee set up by the Supreme Court to find solutions to the problems of the farmers, but the protesting farmer unions are not ready to appear before it.

The protesting farmers are adamant on repealing the three Union farm laws and demanding a legal guarantee for procurement of crops at the Minimum Support Price (MSP) while the Union government has already accepted two other core demands related to power subsidy and stubble burning.

Union Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal had, on October 14, first held talks with the farmer leaders to resolve the misgivings of the farmers regarding the new farm laws. The ministerial-level talks began after this, but the nine rounds of talks till now have been inconclusive on the main demand. Apart from Tomar, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Som Prakash, were leading the government side in the talks.

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India

Centre-farmers’ standoff will resolve through dialogues: Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu

Vice President pointed out that the people of India always accorded a very high status to agriculture and this was the reason why our festivals and rituals are closely associated with agriculture.

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Rajya Sabha VP Naidu

New Delhi, Jan 18: Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday said that the current standoff between the protesting farmers and the Centre will resolve only through dialogues.

“We cannot forget the farmers’ efforts in increasing the food production even during the Covid times,” Naidu said while speaking at an awards ceremony jointly organised by Rythu Nestham and Muppavarapu Foundation at the Swarna Bharat Trust in Hyderabad.

He also added that he sees the possibility of a certain meeting ground.

“Restriction-free marketing of farm produce has been a long-standing demand. One country and one food zone has been the demand for a long time. The development of the country is closely tied to farmer’s progress,” Naidu said.

Comparing the farmers’ compassion with that of a mother, he said: “It is the duty of everybody to support the farmers.”

The Vice President lauded the farmers for rendering a great service to the nation during the pandemic by pro3ducing record food grains despite hardship.

He also appreciated the efforts shown by the doctors, sanitation workers, police and media personnel during the pandemic.

“Both the Centre and state governments should work as ‘Team India’ in addressing the needs of the farmers. Apart from ensuring remunerative prices, the farmers should be provided with timely and affordable credit.

“There was also a need to increase the cold storage facilities and the godowns at all levels. As a matter-of-fact, every tehsil must have a cold storage facility,” Naidu added.

Vice President pointed out that the people of India always accorded a very high status to agriculture and this was the reason why our festivals and rituals are closely associated with agriculture.

Referring to a FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) report which cautioned about the food crisis in the coming times, Naidu asserted saying, “If we support our farmers, India would not only be food secure, but would also be able to feed the world.”

Naidu emphasised for a change in perspective towards agriculture among the public and urged the youth to become proactive partners in promoting farming.

Earlier in the day, Naidu interacted with the youth undergoing training at the Swarna Bharat Trust and advised them to maintain discipline, eat healthy food and always remain fit. He said that the youth in India were highly talented and their skills need to be upgraded through regular training.

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Delhi schools to reopen today after 10 months , parents still hesitant

Schools have also been directed not to hold assemblies and physical outdoor activities.

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Children wearing mask

New Delhi, Jan 18: After being closed for nearly 10 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, schools in Delhi are set to reopen from Monday for students of Classes 10 and 12. However, parents are still in a quandary whether to allow their wards to attend.

The Delhi government has decided to reopen schools, shut since the first 21 day nationwide lockdown was imposed in March, 2020, in the view of the upcoming CBSE board exams.

Schools that reopen will have to follow the standard operating procedures (SOP) issued in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, including social distancing, compulsory mask wearing and sanitisation and others.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, in a tweet on Sunday, said: “Had a review meeting with senior Education Dept officials. Everyone is excited and a little nervous at having Class 10& 12 students back in schools from tmrw for practical/counselling. All preparations-sanitizers, masks, social distancing measures- are in place. Good luck to all!”

The Directorate of Education has made it clear that students can come to school only if their parents allow it, and the school administration cannot compel physical attendance of their students.

However, parents spoke to IANS were not sure if they would send their children to schools from Monday onwards.

“It’s not only me but most parents have made a unanimous consent not to send their children to school in this situation. As we all are aware that Covid-19 is still with us and our children can get affected. I can’t say all parents have the same thought but, yes, all are concerned about safety of their children,” said the mother of a Class 12 student in the Andhra Education Society School, ITO.

Sources told IANS that the schools administrations in Delhi have sought parents’ consent through an ‘NOC for offline classes’.

A letter issued by Preet Public School in Preet Vihar read: “As per the order of Delhi government, the school may start the offline classes for practical, doubt session, assignment activities related to CBSE examination 2021. The school will follow the SOP guidelines in respect of Covid-19 issued by MHA, Govt. of India.”

In the letter, parents have been asked to submit their consent in writing. Parents have to ensure that their children will wear face masks, carry hand sanitiser and maintain social distancing. Parents also have to ensure that there is no history of Covid-19 infection in their families.

“It has been over a week since we (parents) have been debating whether to send our children to school or not. See, practical classes are very important in view of exams preparation. If I talk about my own daughter, who is in Class 10, she has completed almost all the syllabus but practical classes are also important. I know, it is about the future of my daughter but, I would wait at least one week to see if school is fully safe from Covid-19,” said a mother of a Preet Public School student.

The Directorate of Education had earlier made it clear that physical attendance is not compulsory and students will attend schools only with the consent of parents. It had also said that only schools outside the containment zones will be allowed to reopen and teachers and school staff living in such areas will not be allowed to attend schools.

Schools have also been directed not to hold assemblies and physical outdoor activities.

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