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Anti-Maoist operations launched on Andhra-Odisha border

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New Delhi, Sep 24 : A day after Maoists gunned down a sitting MLA and a former legislator, personnel of the elite Greyhounds anti-Maoist force and the CRPF launched a massive combing operation in the tribal areas of Visakhapatnam district on Monday.

The Andhra Pradesh Police Greyhounds and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers combed the tribal belt along the inter-state border with Odisha to flush out the insurgents.

About 50-60 Maoists, including women had participated in Sunday’s attack near Lipittuputtu village, about 15 km from the Odisha border.

They gunned down K. Sarveswara Rao, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MLA from Araku (Reserved-Scheduled Tribe) and his party colleague and former MLA Siveri Soma.

The armed guerillas intercepted the TDP leaders’ vehicles and shot them dead after snatching weapons from their security guards.

As the first major attack on legislators in more than a decade shocked the state administration, top police officers rushed to the region to redraw their strategy to counter Maoists.

Director General of Police R.P. Thakur was monitoring the situation. A team headed by Visakhapatnam Deputy Commissioner of Police K. Fakeerappa, probing Sunday’s incident, on Monday visited the scene along with Visakhapatnam Rural Superintendent of Police, Rahul Dev Sharma.

The team spoke to the eye-witnesses and the villagers.

In a related development, the DGP has ordered the suspension of Amman Rao, Sub-Inspector of Dumbriguda police station for dereliction of duty. The action came amid allegations by the supporters of the slain leaders that the police failed to protect them.

The villagers on Sunday staged violent protests against the alleged police negligence. They ransacked Dumbriguda and Araku police stations and attacked police personnel.

An autopsy on the bodies of Rao and Soma were conducted at the government-run hospital in Araku late on Sunday. The body of the MLA was shifted to Paderu and that of Soma to his native Battivalasa. Their last rites would be performed with state honours later in the day.

The tribal region remained tense with huge deployment of police force and a two-day shutdown called by the supporters of the slain leaders.

The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) suspended bus services while shops and business establishments remained closed.

Araku Valley, the tourist hotspot about 100 km from the coastal city, wore a deserted look on Monday with transport and tourism operators suspending their services.

As some state ministers and TDP leaders were scheduled to take part in the MLA’s funeral, the security agencies were making arrangements to ferry them in a helicopter from Visakhapatnam to Paderu in view of the prevailing condition in the area.

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Delhi Riots: Congress leader Salman Khurshid, CPM Leader Brinda Karat Named In Chargesheet

The Delhi riots charge sheet said that the protected witness have stated in the statement recorded, under section 161, that several big names like politician Udit Raj, Khurshid, Karat had come to the Khureji protest site and gave “provocative speech”.

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Salman Khurshid Jamia Studentes

Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Salman Khurshid, CPM leader Brinda Karat and Udit Raj were among politicians who gave provocative speeches during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), alleged Delhi police in the charge sheet filed in connection with the February riots here.

Police have referted to former Congress Councillor Ishrat Jahan and a protected witness in a case related to the north east Delhi riots and said that they told about the speeches in their disclosure statements given to the them.

The charge sheet said that the protected witness have stated in the statement recorded, under section 161 (examination by police) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, that several big names like politician Udit Raj, Khurshid, Karat had come to the Khureji protest site and gave “provocative speech”.

“Several big names used to come to the Khureji site to give speeches against CAA/NPR (National Population Register)/NRC (National Register for Citizens), like Udit Raj, Salman, Khurshid, Brinda Karat, Umar Khalid (former JNU student leader)…,” the witness alleged.

The charge sheet further said that Jahan, in her disclosure statement, alleged that in order to sustain the anti-CAA protests, several known persons like Khurshid, filmmaker Rahul Roy and Bhim Army member Himanshu were called by her and activist Khalid Saifi on the instructions of Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC).

“In order to sustain the protest for a long time, several known persons were called by me and Khalid Saifi on the instructions of JCC, like Salman Kurshid, (filmmaker) Rahul Roy, Bhim Army member Himanshu, Chandan Kumar… gave provocative speeches because of which all the people sitting in the protest used to get instigated against the government,” Jahan said according to her disclosure statement.

The disclosure statement of Saifi stated that during the anti-CAA protests held in January 2020 “Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogender Yadav, (senior advocate) Prashant Bhushan, Salman Kurshid… also used to come to these speeches.”

The supplementary disclosure statement of Saifi, which was a part of the charge sheet, stated that in order to sustain the protest for a longer time several known persons like Khurshid, JNU student Sharjeel Imam, JCC member Meeran Haider were called to the Khureji protest site.

“In order to sustain the protest for a longer time several known persons like Kurshid, Sharjeel Imam, Meeran Haider etc were called to the Khureji protest site by me and Ishrat Jahan,” he said in his disclosure statement.

Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

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Rajasthan unemployment rate doubles national average of 8.35% in August

However, the national average unemployment rate in the same month was 8.35 per cent.

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Unemployment Rate in India

Jaipur, Sep 24 : Rajasthan’s unemployment rate has more than doubled the national average rate of 8.35 per cent in August due to the lockdown imposed amid pandemic, which has grounded all vital activities, including tourism in the state.

The data has been recently released by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).

As per the data, the desert state has been ranked third after registering an unemployment rate of 17.5 per cent in August. Haryana tops the list with an unemployment rate of 33.5 per cent, followed by Tripura whose unemployment rate was 27.9 per cent in the same month.

However, the national average unemployment rate in the same month was 8.35 per cent.

A prominent hotelier of the state, Prithvi Singh said, “Rajasthan depends on tourism, export and handicrafts. Because of the pandemic, all three segments are shut as of now. Hence the dip.”

Tourism in Rajasthan contributes 23 per cent to its GDP, and hence, the need of the hour is aggressive marketing of tourism as it creates jobs for millions of people in the state directly and directly, he added.

A Rajasthan-based tour operator Sanjay Kaushik says, “Unlocking tourism at the right time is the need of the hour. As per reports, one foreign tourist generates jobs for around 40 people while one domestic tourist also creates jobs for around 25 people.

“Those guides, taxi drivers, artists engaged in puppet shows and the artisans making puppets and many more local handicraft makers and folk dancers get their regular income via tourism. Even in rural Rajasthan, the economy depends on tourism, those owning camels and horses, guides, taxis, cabbies, folk singers and all earn money with tourists coming in. There is a need for aggressive marketing of tourism in the state.

“Campaigns like ‘Padharo Mharo Des’ should be aggressively promoted; people are waiting to travel. However, there is a fear amongst them. Do they have to undergo quarantine? Do they have to take covid-19 test, if they come to the state? These doubts should be resolved. The festive season is coming and, hence, restrictions should be eased like other states,” he said.

Prithvi Singh said, “The need of the hour is to promote domestic tourism. Government needs to market Rajasthan extensively. People are scared to go out. The government should remove their fears and bring in confidence-building measures. In fact, promotion of pilgrim tourism can give a major boost,” he added.

He further said that the government should give rebates on extensive travelling. For example, if you travel after spending a particular amount, you should be eligible to get a rebate in one or the other form. The idea can be fine tuned with further brainstorming, Singh said, adding “These slew of ideas can help to generate employment in villages as well as urban areas.”

Meanwhile, a prominent travel agent said that taxes on liquor in the form of corona tax were thwarting the growth of hospitality in the state.

“In bars, every bottle is charged for corona tax, alcohol is highly taxed, petrol and diesel are also being taxed when their prices are plunging across the globe. The government, instead of planning to fill its empty coffers via taxes, should give respite from these taxes, which will boost tourism,” he added.

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Farmer bodies gear up for ‘Bandh’ on Friday

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Farmers Protests Kurukshetra

New Delhi, Sep 24 : Over two dozen farmer organisations have announced support to the ‘Bandh call on Friday to protest against the farm Bills passed by Parliament amid massive protests from 18 political parties.

The 31 farmer organisations in Punjab and Haryana are already on protest and come Friday the organisations want to convey their concerns to the government.

V.M. Singh, convener of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, who is from central UP, said “There will be nationwide unrest if MSP is not guaranteed and the food security of the poor is handed over to multinationals and corporates,” he said while appealing to President Ram Nath Kovind not to give assent to these Bills.

The same demand has been raised by 18 parties who met the President on Wednesday and requested him to return the Bills for reconsideration of the House.

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Avik Saha of Jai Kisan Andolan said, “We have been trying to engage democratically with the government. After the ordinances were issued, hundreds and thousands of letters have been sent to the Prime Minister. But even in Parliament, this government has refused listen”.

Farmers’ unions have requested farmers to come out in open to oppose the legislations as Bharatiya Kisan Union said “On September 25 there will be farmers’ curfew, blockade and till purchase of produce as per MSP is guaranteed in the law the agitation will go on.”

Rakesh Tikait of the BKU has appealed its members to come out in large numbers.

Farmers unions in Punjab are claiming that it is due to their pressure that Akali leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned as a minister from the Cabinet but the real success will be when the law is repealed. The most vociferous protests are in Haryana and Punjab.

The farmers’ unions say that the problem with the Bills goes beyond MSP to the whole issue of phasing out the ‘mandis’ as farmers are far more vulnerable to exploitation outside the ‘mandi’ system and they are producers, not agri-businesses.

Hannan Mollah , of All India Kisan Sabha, an affiliate of the Left parties, said, “How can a small farmer negotiate a fair deal with the big corporates?”

The farmers have received support from 18 parties including the Congress which has governments in four states, TMC in West Bengal, Left in Kerala, AAP in Delhi, TRS in Telangana while the BJD has also demanded the Bills be sent to a select committee.

The farmers are opposing the Bills passed by the government as the Upper House gave the nod to the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.

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