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Ahmedabad court frames sedition charges against Hardik

The Gujarat High Court had earlier dropped charges under IPC Section 121 (A) pertaining to “waging war against the state,a which could attract death penalty.

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Hardik Patel

Ahmedabad, Nov 21 : The Ahmedabad Sessions Court here on Tuesday framed sedition charges against firebrand Patidar agitation spearhead Hardik Patel and two of his former associates in connection with alleged rioting after a massive Patel rally in Ahmedabad on August 25, 2015.

Sessions Judge D P Mahida framed the charges under Sections 124 (A) (sedition), 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) and others of the Indian Penal Code against Hardik Patel, 25, and his then close aides Dinesh Bambhaniya and Chirag Patel. All the three were out on bail in the sedition case filed by Ahmedabad crime branch in January, 2016.

Chirag Patel later joined the ruling BJP while Dinesh Bambhaniya quit the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, though never joined any political party.

The court fixed January 29, 2019, as the next date of hearing when the trial on the sedition charges against the trio would begin.

The Gujarat High Court had earlier dropped charges under IPC Section 121 (A) pertaining to “waging war against the state,a which could attract death penalty.

The framing of charges got delayed as Hardik Patel was not present in the court and was away to attend a social function. The court rejected his application for absence and threatened to issue an arrest warrant if he failed to turn up, prompting him to immediately reach the court. He was attending an OBC convention.

Dinesh was arrested in the morning and presented in the court as he had remained absent from the court several times in the past during hearings. Chirag Patel was duly present.

All the three unanimously pleaded not-guilty against the charges framed.

According to the chargesheet, Hardik and his aides, who were part of the PAAS then, were allegedly involved in inciting the Patel community youths to resort to violence as part of their conspiracy to put undue pressure on the government to accept their demand of reservation to their community under the OBC category.

Going by the allegations, inflammatory messages and rumours were spread by the accused and resulted in large-scale riots across Gujarat, which forced the police to impose curfew in several parts, as people resorted to stone pelting, arson and damaging public property for almost four days, the charge-sheet alleged.

The chargesheet claimed that the police was forced to open fire at different places in which 14 Patel youths were killed.

The police also attached call detail records, transcripts of calls intercepted, CDs containing video and audio clips, forensic reports of mobile phones of Patel leaders, Hardik’s speech at the mega rally and statements of 502 witnesses.

Meanwhile, the Gujarat High Court on Tuesday granted bail to Alpesh Kathiriya, a close aide of Hardik Patel, in the Ahmedabad sedition case. Alpesh, who had been in jail for the last eight months, but was not released immediately as the police subsequently detained him in connection with a separate sedition case in case.

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LG Polymers CEO among 12 arrested over Vizag gas leak mishap

According to police, while 12 people died on May 7 and 8, three more villagers succumbed on May 25 and afterwards. A total of 34 animals also died in the incident.

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Visag Gas Victims Protests

Visakhapatnam, July 7 : LG Polymers Managing Director and CEO, Sunkey Jeong and Technical Director D.S. Kim were among 12 officials of the company arrested by Visakhapatnam police on Tuesday, in connection with the styrene gas leak tragedy that left 15 dead and hundreds hospitalised in May this year.

Assistant Commissioner of Police, R.V.S.N. Murthy, who is also the investigation officer, said the accused were booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

They were also booked under Indian Penal Code”s Sections 278 (Making atmosphere noxious to health), 284 (Negligent conduct with respect to poisonous substance), 285 (Negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter), 337 (Causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (Causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) read with section 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).

The gas leak from LG Polymers plant on the intervening night of May 6 and 7 affected Venkatapuram and five other villages.

According to police, while 12 people died on May 7 and 8, three more villagers succumbed on May 25 and afterwards. A total of 34 animals also died in the incident.

The development comes a day after the High Powered Committee (HPC) submitted its probe report to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.

The HPC probe report had listed several lapses on the part of the LG Polymers management, which led to the styrene gas leakage.

The other accused arrested on Tuesday are LG Polymers” and Additional Director (Operations) P.P. Chandra Mohan Rao, HOD, SMH (in-charge) K. Srinivas Kiran Kumar, team leader production Raju Satyanarayana, engineers C. Chandrasekhar, K. Gowri Sankara Nagendra Ramu, K. Chakrapani, operator Muddu Rajesh, night duty officer (operations) P. Balaji, incharge GPPS S. Atchyut and safety officer in night shift K. Venkata Narasimha Ramesh Patnaik.

According to the investigating official, the investigations disclosed that the incident at M6 styrene storage tank took place due to negligence of the accused who were also having knowledge that their acts are likely to cause death.

“The investigations so far made disclosed that the accident occurred to the poor design of M6 Tank, inadequate refrigeration and cooling system, absence of circulation systems, inadequate measurement parameters, weak safety protocol, poor safety awareness, inadequate risk assessment and response, poor management, slackness of management, insufficient knowledge amongst staff, insufficient understanding of the chemical properties of styrene, especially during storage under idle conditions and total breakdown of the emergency response procedures,” the police said.

Meanwhile, in a related development in the case, the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) suspended environmental engineers R. Lakshmi Naryana and P. Prasada Rao for negligence.

Acting on the report of the HPC, APPCB suspended Prasada Rao, environmental engineer, regional office, Visakhapatnam, for gross negligence in allowing operation of LG Polymers without environmental clearance, allowing import and storage of huge quantity of styrene without verifying safety and environmental issues. Lakshmi Narayana, environmental engineer, zonal office, Visakhapatnam, was also suspended on the same charges.

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Kanpur Shootout: Now Vikas Dubey’ wife Richa also ‘most wanted’

A local resident, on condition of anonymity, said that Richa stayed mostly in Kanpur city but kept tabs on the activities in the house through her mobile phone.

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Vikas Dubey and Wife

Kanpur, July 7 : Kanpur police is on hot pursuit of Richa Dubey, wife of Uttar Pradesh’s most wanted gangster Vikas Dubey, who killed eight policemen within hours.

Richa Dubey is said to have fled the house in Bikru village with her son, minutes after the bloodbath early on Friday.

Sources said that the police have recovered her mobile phone during a search of the house and it has been found that the phone was connected to the CCTVs installed in Dubey’s house.

“Apparently Richa kept a watch on the house and the activities there even when she was not in Bikru village. She may have used the mobile to delete footage.

“Earlier, in 2017, when Vikas Dubey was arrested by the STF, she had released the footage on social media in an obvious attempt to save her husband, as she pre-empted the possibility of Vikas being killed in an encounter,” said a member of the police investigating team.

The police have already contacted all relatives of Richa but she is nowhere to be found, even though she is a member of the zila panchayat.

A local resident, on condition of anonymity, said that Richa stayed mostly in Kanpur city but kept tabs on the activities in the house through her mobile phone.

“The servants and other workers were always wary of ‘Bhabhiji’ because she would check on them at regular intervals. If they lied to her on anything, she would pull them up. She supported her husband and his activities. She never interacted with women in the village,” he said.

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No manual cleaning of sewage chambers in Rajasthan, says CM Gehlot

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Ashok Gehlot

Jaipur, July 7 : No sanitation worker should be forced to enter into sewage chambers to clean the sewer lines, said Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot while addressing a video conference with public representatives and urban bodies.

The entire cleaning work should be done by machines and there should be no deaths during cleaning of sewerage lines, he instructed all district collectors and civic authorities on Monday.

Gehlot said that the sanitation workers, who have been risking their lives to keep us safe, played a strong role in keeping the city, streets and neighbourhood free from the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The government was able to check the spread of the pandemic due to the dedication with which the sanitation workers and the public representatives of the urban bodies worked, he added.

The CM said that Rajasthan”s pride “increased” in the nation owing to hard work by doctors, nurses, anganwadi workers, police, sanitation workers and urban bodies. In fact, Rajasthan was the first state to provide insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh to government and non-government personnel engaged in Covid-19 battle, he said.

The CM also took suggestions from the civic body mayors, chairpersons, councillors and others and released two posters to create awareness among the people against the virus.

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