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Amritsar train accident: Punjab CM orders magisterial inquiry, seeks report within 4 weeks

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punjab cm Amarinder Singh

Amritsar, Oct 20: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday arrived in Amritsar to meet the victims who were injured in a tragic incident in which least 60 people were crushed to death by a train while watching the burning of a Ravana effigy on Friday evening.

Singh visited the Civil Hospital in Amritsar where injured have been admitted after the accident on Friday.

After meeting the families of the victims, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh ordered an immediate release of Rs three crore to the Amritsar district collectorate for payment of compensation to the family of the deceased.

While addressing the media, CM Singh said, ‘It is necessary for us to hold an enquiry into the incident. We have ordered a magisterial enquiry and have sought a report within four weeks. Let the railways continue with their probe, we shall conduct one of our own.’

The Chief Minister, accompanied by Punjab Congress President and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar, arrived on a special flight from New Delhi.

He immediately held a meeting with senior officers of the district administrations, cabinet ministers and Congress legislators.

The officers briefed him about the whole tragedy and the number of deaths and injuries.

On Friday evening, a 700 strong crowd watching a huge Ravana effigy go up in flames amid exploding crackers spilled on to the tracks at Jora Phatak area when the Jalandhar-Amritsar Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) passenger train heading to Hoshiarpur from Amritsar came hurtling down at around 7 p.m.

Most people reportedly could not hear the hooting of the train due to the exploding crackers.

In just 10-15 seconds it left behind a heap of crushed and dismembered bodies.

amritsar train tragedy

The Punjab government has declared state mourning on Saturday.

Following the accident, the railways cancelled 37 trains, diverted 16 trains, short terminated 12 trains and short originated six trains on the route

Railway authorities have said that the tragedy was not their responsibility as the organisers and local authorities had not informed them about the event being held so close to the railway tracks.

Senior railway officials said here that the presence of so many people, who were watching the function, on the railway tracks was a “trespass”.

The Chief Minister has ordered a probe into the incident.

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India

‘Human Rights Cannot Be An Excuse To Defy Law Of The Land’: MHA Responds To Amnesty International

“A significant amount of foreign money was also remitted to Amnesty (India) without the MHA’s approval under FCRA. This mala fide rerouting of money was in contravention of extant legal provisions,” the MHA said.

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Amnesty International

New Delhi, Sep 29 : The stand taken and the statements made by Amnesty International are unfortunate, exaggerated and far from the truth, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Tuesday.

The MHA issued a statement after Amnesty International through a statement earlier in the day announced that it has halted its operations in India, saying it had to let go of its staff after its accounts were frozen earlier this month as part of what it called a “witch-hunt” by the government over its adverse reports.

The MHA said that Amnesty International had received permission under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) only once and that too 20 years ago on December 19, 2000.

Since then, the ministry said, the global human rights watchdog, despite its repeated applications, has been denied FCRA approval by successive governments since as per the law it is not eligible to get such an approval.

However, in order to circumvent the FCRA regulations, Amnesty UK remitted large amount of money to four entities registered in India, by classifying it as foreign direct investment (FDI), it said.

“A significant amount of foreign money was also remitted to Amnesty (India) without the MHA’s approval under FCRA. This mala fide rerouting of money was in contravention of extant legal provisions,” the MHA said.

Owing to these illegal practices of Amnesty, the MHA said the previous government had also rejected its repeated applications to receive funds from overseas.

“This had led Amnesty to suspend its India operations once during that period as well. This bipartisan and purely legal approach towards Amnesty, under different governments, makes it clear that the entire fault lies in the dubious processes adopted by Amnesty to secure funds for its operations,” the MHA statement said.

It added that all the glossy statements about humanitarian work and speaking truth to power are nothing but a ploy to divert attention from their activities which were in clear contravention of the laid down Indian laws.

“Such statements are also an attempt to extraneously influence the course of investigations by multiple agencies into the irregularities and illegalities carried out over the last few years,” the ministry said.

The MHA also said that Amnesty is free to continue humanitarian work in India, as is being done by many other organisations. However, it also clarified that India, by settled law, does not allow interference in domestic political debates by entities funded by foreign donations.

“This law applies equally to all and it shall apply to Amnesty International as well,” the MHA said.

The ministry further said that India has a rich and pluralistic democratic culture with a free press, independent judiciary and tradition of vibrant domestic debate.

Claiming that the people of India have placed unprecedented trust in the current government, the ministry said, “Amnesty’s failure to comply with local regulations does not entitle them to make comments on the democratic and plural character of India.”

According to officials in the Home Ministry, the organisation “got money into India through the FDI route”, which is not allowed in the case of non-profit bodies.

Amnesty India did get the government’s permission to receive around Rs 1.69 crore from Amnesty UK in 2011-12. But since 2013, that permission has been denied, said sources.

In 2018, the Enforcement Directorate froze its accounts, after which Amnesty approached the court and won a reprieve. But their accounts were sealed.

Last year, the CBI also registered a case based on a complaint that Amnesty International UK allegedly transferred Rs 10 crore to Amnesty India entities as FDI without the ministry’s approval.

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Tamil Nadu Govt Extends Covid-19 Lockdown Till October 31

All the other relexations and restrictions announced earlier will continue, the Chief Minister added.

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Lockdown in Maharashtra

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami on Tuesday announced the extension of Covid-19 lockdown in the state till October 31, though giving some additional relaxations.

Palaniswami also said the Government Order issued earlier allowing students of Classes 10, 11 and 12 standard to go to school to clear doubts from October 1 has been kept on hold.

He made the announcement after holding meetings with the District Collectors, and medical experts and after consultations with senior ministers.

The relaxations announced by Palaniswami are that restaurants, and tea stalls can function from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. for dining-in and for parcel service till 10 p.m., movie shooting is permitted with not over 100 persons and no permission for onlookers, permission for 100 aircraft landings per day from the current 50 per day in Chennai Airport.

All the other relexations and restrictions announced earlier will continue, the Chief Minister added.

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Entertainment

Will add value, says minister on Shekhar Kapur’s appointment as FTII president

Shekhar Kapur has been appointed to hold the FTII president’s post till 3 March 2023

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Shekhar Kapur

Celebrated filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, 74, has been appointed president of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Society which runs the prestigious film school in Pune, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Kapur, who is known for movies from the Indian superhero film ‘Mr India’ to ‘Bandit Queen’ based on the incidents in the life of Phoolan Devi and an acclaimed biopic on Queen Elizabeth, will hold the post till March 3, 2023.

According to a person aware of the developments, the ministry of information and broadcasting has also appointed Kapur as the chairperson of the FTII governing council.

The tenure of the earlier members of the society had ended in March 2020. The other members of the governing council will be appointed soon, the person cited above said.

Kapur will head the premier film school at a time when, like many other colleges and universities, it is also grappling with the challenges posed by Covid-19.

The FTII had earlier declared the results of the entrance test and is planning the future course. Online classes and training courses have been continuing.

“Wherever it is difficult for students to attend classes, the institute has been putting up the material on the website,” said the person cited above.

Information and Broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar said “Kapur, who has a vast experience, will add more value to the Institute. I am sure everybody will welcome his appointment”.

“Shekhar Kapur, as a reputed film maker of international stature, is without doubt an excellent choice. FTII welcomes him as its Chairman. It’s come a full circle from Dev Anand who started his career working at Prabhat Studio within the campus of FTII today, to his nephew Shekhar Kapur as Chairman of FTII,” said Bhupendra Kainthola, Director, FTII.

The previous FTII chief was BP Singh known for his role as the lead actor in tele-serial CID. Singh was recently appointed by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to its general assembly.

The Film and Television Institute of India was set up by the Centre in 1960 in the premises of the erstwhile Prabhat Studios in Pune. It conducts various film related courses including on acting, direction, sound recording, editing and cinematography.

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