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Amarinder urges Centre to extend help to kin of hostages killed in Iraq

Expressing grief at the news, the Chief Minister said it had come as a shock to the families and to everyone else in Punjab, as they had been hoping and praying for the well-being of the hostages, who had been abducted by the ISIS in 2014.

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Amrinder Singh

Chandigarh, March 20 : Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday asked External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to provide all necessary assistance to the families of the hostages killed in Iraq in performing the last rites, along with an ex-gratia relief for them.

The Chief Minister, who wrote to Sushma Swaraj on the issue, also called her to speak to her personally to ensure that the central government makes all efforts to bring the mortal remains of the deceased to India for the last rites.

The External Affairs Minister assured Amarinder Singh that the Indian government was making arrangements to bring the last remains in coffins with due respect being accorded to the deceased, a statement by the state government said.

The Chief Minister told her that his government would make arrangements for the coffins to be delivered to the families of the victims for the final rites.

Amarinder Singh said he had already directed state government officials to personally visit the bereaved families to share the sad news.

In his letter to the Union Minister, the Chief Minister pointed out that 24 of the deceased hailed from Punjab.

While the state government had been providing a monthly assistance of Rs 20,000 to the bereaved families, he said he would be grateful if the Centre could also give them due assistance in view of the extra-ordinary circumstances surrounding the matter.

Expressing grief at the news, the Chief Minister said it had come as a shock to the families and to everyone else in Punjab, as they had been hoping and praying for the well-being of the hostages, who had been abducted by the ISIS in 2014.

Amarinder Singh earlier told reporters outside the state assembly here that the deaths of the 39 hostages should have been confirmed by the central government immediately after the lone survivor revealed that the remaining had been taken hostage.

The families had been living under a pall of uncertainty all these years, which would naturally have aggravated their miseries manifold, he added.

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Explosion in Poonch Army camp caused by Pakistan shelling

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Srinagar, Oct 23 : Pakistani troops today violated the ceasefire along the Line of Control in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir with one of the shells landing inside an Army camp that caused explosion in the brigade headquarters in the town but causing no casualties.

“Today (Tuesday), approximately at 10.30 a.m., in a ceasefire violation, Pakistan troops fired a rocket-propelled grenade and also resorted small arms firing. One round landed on a barrel-type store shelter in Poonch, causing fire,” Lieutenant Colonel Devender Anand said.

“Initial analysis indicates that calibre 105/106 mm remote-controlled launcher was used by Pakistan troops to target the shelter. No casualty was caused in this incident.

“In Krishna Ghati (KG) sector also, at 5.35 p.m., one round of 82mm shell landed at Jhalas area. One muffled blast occurred at 6 p.m. This was misconstrued as a blast in the KG garrison.”

No casualty occurred in this explosion, he said.

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Shivpal Yadav launches new party

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shivpal yadav

Lucknow, Oct 23 : The rebel Samajwadi Party (SP) leader and estranged uncle of former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has floated a new political outfit  known as ‘Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia’.

 Shivpal Yadav, the younger brother of SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was also the number two in the party has announced that the Election Commission had granted his party the new name and added that he will ensure that every marginalized person in the political and social system found a voice in his party.

Yadav said that time had come to take the socialist movement forward in the form of the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party- Lohia (PSP-L).

He cautioned party workers to keep away from people who flatter and sugar-coat their words. This, he said, had led to the downfall of the SP and should be taken as a serious lesson.

He also informed that 40 small and regional parties had so far come under the umbrella of his party. Completely marginalized in the SP, a party he founded with Mulayam Singh Yadav, Azam Khan and Beni Prasad Verma some 25 years back, Shivpal has also announced his intention to field 80 candidates in the 2019 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Yadav, who was formerly irrigation and PWD minister in successive SP government, has broken ranks with the SP after Akhilesh Yadav saw him out as the state SP chief in January 2017 and completely banished him from the party.

Shivpal waited for more than a year before he decided to carve out his own outfit, initially named as Samajwadi Secular Front.

Mulayam Singh Yadav who initially threw his weight behind Shivpal has since distanced himself from his younger brother and is inching closer to his son.

SP leaders allege that Shivpal is being propped up by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to dent the prospects of the SP, especially in Yadav-dominated belts.

The recent allotment of a sprawling bungalow vacated by Mayawati to Shivpal is also being cited as a proof of the growing proximity between the Yadav chieftain and the saffron camp. Shivpal, however, has trashed such charges.

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Bengal Stampede: Mamata blames Railways of negligence, demands probe

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Kolkata, Oct 23 :West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said “negligence and callousness of some people” was responsible for the stampede at a railway foot-overbridge in Howrah that killed two and injured 12 others, urging the railways to take proper care of the passengers.

Referring to the horrific train accident in Punjab’s Amritsar four days ago in which at least 59 people died and scores injured, Banerjee said the department should initiate inquiries into the matters rather than shying away from taking responsibility.

“The accidents in railways should be reduced because so many modern equipment are available. But I think there must be some negligence or callousness… I do not know from which part,” she told reporters.

The Railways should “take more responsibility and take care of coordination among various sections” of it so that coordination-gap between its various internal departments can be reduced, she said.

According to her, money has not been a constraint for the railways to construct wider railway foot-overbridges.

Banerjee also alleged that the railways did not seek any help from the state government during the festive seasons, but they “should work in liaison with the state” particularly during the festive period.

“See what happened in Amritsar. Even during the Puja time, I noticed three-four incidents in my state also. I asked the chief secretary to talk to the railway authorities to find out if they are monitoring the situation,” said Banerjee, who herself is a former railway minister.

“I do not want to blame the railways just for the sake of it. Let them investigate. Why are they not investigating the matter?” she questioned.

“When BJP called a bandh, I saw there were only four people on the tracks and they withdraw their train. But in Amritsar where 59 people died had so many people on the track… and they said they cannot take responsibility… I do not understand this,” she added.

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