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Farmer-sponsored shutdown gets huge response in Maharashtra

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Mumbai, June 5, 2017: The first-ever Maharashtra “shutdown” called by farmers organisations got a massive response across the state on Monday with minor incidents of violence on the fifth day of the ongoing farmers strike.

The shutdown got enthusiastic response from several lakh aggressive farmers with many regular markets, locals markets and supplies of milk, fruits and vegetables paralysed since early in the day.

For a change, all major political parties, including the ruling coalition constituent Shiv Sena, opposition Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Peasants and Workers Party, Left parties, various trade unions, NGOs, affiliated organisations and farmers groups wholeheartedly supported the statewide bandh.

Major milk suppliers like Gokul Dairy joined the strike along with fresh fruits and vegetables cultivators, but the milk federation in Mumbai kept off the shutdown on Monday.

The day was marked with blocking of roads, state and national highways by burning tyres, an incident of blocking the railway line at Puntamba in Ahmednagar, at least five incidents of stoning and damaging buses of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation, dharnas, processions, emptying truckloads of milk, fruits and vegetables, and other protests.

Accusing Fadnavis of “betraying” them, farmers in Nashik and Osmanabad burnt his effigy and those in the latter place made a bonfire of large stocks of onion on the roads.

Nanded lawyers abstained from court work for a few hours to join the farmers-sponsored shutdown, while lawyers in Latur are expected to join the farmers on Tuesday.

At least five state transport buses were damaged in stone-pelting incidents in Nanded and Osmanabad even as police rushed in to take control of the situation and prevent matters from escalating.

In Osmanabad, farmers also resorted to a unique “topless” protest by removing their shirts/kurtas and squatting in markets or roads sporting their dhotis and pyjamas.

Farmers locked the gates of the APMC markets in Solapur and squatted outside, while in Parbhani, all political parties joined a farmer-led procession and rally shouting anti-government slogans demanding their demands must be conceded.

Youths organisations joined farmers to ensure a total shutdown in Wardha and they offered flowers in a display of ‘Gandhigiri’ to truckers and transporters plying through the town.

Blockades on roads, state and national highway were the norm in most districts creating traffic jams as hundreds of farmers squatted on roads.

In Nashik, former legislator Shankarrao Gadakh and over 120 farmers were detained for stopping traffic on the Nashik-Aurangabad state highway this afternoon, while the busy Mumbai-Ahmedabad national highway was blocked for short while near Dhule.

The shutdown elicited full response in Chandrapur, Dhule, Latur, Bhandara, Hingoli, and Satara where farmers made bonfire of onion stocks, besides Yavatmal where scores of farmers resorted to mass-tonsure to protest against the government.

According to some estimates, fresh stocks of milk, fruits and vegetables worth hundreds of crores of rupees have been disrupted on account of the five-day afarmers strike’ in the state.

Urban centres like Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Aurangabad, Nagpur and other semi-urban centres were out of purview of the shutdown but would be impacted in terms of shortages of daily essentials and spiralling prices.

The shutdown called by Kisan Kranti – an umbrella organisation of various farmers groups in the state – was part of intensifying the farmland “strike” from June 1.

On Tuesday the plan was to lockdown all government offices followed by gherao of legislators and ministers’ offices on Wednesday.

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Snake rescued from Delhi Assembly premises

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File Photo: Delhi Legislative Assembly

New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) A five-feet-long snake was rescued on Wednesday from the Delhi Assembly complex here by an animal welfare NGO.

The snake, which was identified as a non-venomous Royal Snake, was found taking refuge in an air cooler installed in the library block on the premises, following which it was rescued by Wildlife SOS.

The team said several snakes had been rescued from the Vidhan Sabha complex in the past, though this was the second case of rescue of a Royal Snake.

“Several snakes have been rescued from the premises since it is located very close to Kamla Nehru Ridge, which is home to a variety of wildlife,” said Wildlife SOS Special Projects Manager Wasim Akram.

Protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Royal snakes are excellent climbers and are found on trees, low bushes and hiding in crevices.

Delhi is home to 13 species of snake, of which only two — common krait and common cobra — are venomous.

IANS

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Improper to dub Asaram as rapist: Ex-cop Vanzara

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Jodhpur: Asaram Bapu gets life term in 2013 rape case. Photo: IANS

Ahmedabad, April 25 (IANS) Former Gujarat top cop D.G. Vanzara came out in defence of Asaram Bapu after the self-styled godman was convicted and handed a life term in jail in a 2013 rape case of a minor by a Jodhpur court in Rajasthan on Wednesday.

The former Deputy Inspector-General of Gujarat, who was allegedly involved in fake encounter cases, stated that it was improper to dub Asaram a “rapist”.

“We respect the judgment and are not contesting or supporting any action proven in a court of law.

“However, it is improper to dub Asaram as rapist for being convicted in the sexual assault case,” said Vanzara, who arrived at Asaram’s Ahmedabad-based ashram after the Jodhpur SC/ST Court Judge Madhusudan Sharma pronounced the verdict.

Vanzara said: “In the FIR lodged by the victim or in the chargesheet filed, nowhere does it say that she was raped. What it says is that he tried to touch her improperly,” said Vanzara.

According to Vanzara the victim never stated that she had been raped even during the trial.

“Her virginity was found to be intact when medical tests were carried out after the complaint. This was never a case of rape. The sentence is not based on rape committed.

“The victim said that Bapuji had touched her with bad intent, which is also a crime. But I doubt whether Asaramji did so. He has been convicted in this matter but decision of any court is not final,” Vanzara added.

“We respect this decision but will go to the higher court against it. We believe that we will get justice,” he said.

Vanzara, in the past too, had claimed that the case against Asaram Bapu was a frame-up. “Being a police officer, I know that the entire case against Asaram Bapu is a frame up. The FIR against him is fake,” he had said in 2016.

Vanzara said that the case against Asaram was a conspiracy, as the 77-year-old godman was a “protector of the Sanatan Hindu dharma”.

The survivor, who was a Class 12 student at Asaram Bapu’s Chhindwara Ashram in Madhya Pradesh, was raped in August 2013.

Following complaints about her sickness while in Chhindwara, the godman had summoned the girl and her family to his ashram in Manai village on the outskirts of Jodhpur in Rajasthan.

According to the victim’s complaint, she was raped for an hour by the godman on the intervening night of August 15-16, 2013.

She reported the matter to her parents, who in turn had filed a zero First Information Report (FIR) with the Kamla Nagar police station in New Delhi on August 20.

Asaram Bapu was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013. He has been in judicial custody since September 2, 2013.

The godman was convicted on Wednesday under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act and the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act. Two co-accused were also convicted in the case.

The police chargesheet against Asaram Bapu and four other co-accused Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash was filed on November 6, 2013, under the Pocso Act, the JJ Act and the IPC.

Informed sources said the court also convicted Shilpi (warden of Asaram’s ashram) and Sharad, while Shiva and Prakash were acquitted in the case.

Asaram Bapu is facing trial in another sexual assault case in Gujarat.

IANS

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SunSource to set up 2.5MW solar plant at Jamia Millia university

With the installation of the 2.5MW plant, the university is expected to save over Rs 1 crore annually apart from significantly contributing to the environment.

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New Delhi, April 24 : Solar solutions provider SunSource Energy said on Tuesday that it is on course to set up a 2.5MW solar rooftop plant at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University, by the end of June 2018.

In a statement, the Noida-based SunSource said the plant would help the university save around Rs 1 crore in energy costs per year.

“Jamia Millia recently signed an MoU with SunSource (which in turn was approved by the Solar Energy Corporation of India) to execute the project on a turnkey basis for the next quarter of a century under the Renewable Energy Service Company model (RESCO).

“Electricity would be supplied at Rs 3.39 per unit for a period of 25 years,” it said.

The installation of solar panels on over 50 rooftops of various buildings like central library, colleges and departments of Jamia and the hostels had already started, it added.

Commenting on the developnment, university Vice-Chancellor Talat Ahmed said in a statement: “Jamia Millia University’s current project is an attempt to run the university on renewable energy and will position it as a leader among central universities in the use of renewable energy. The solar plant would also greatly benefit students pursuing BTech and BVoc degrees at Jamia Millia.”

The university “will incur no cost on the setup and maintenance as it will be taken care of by SunSource Energy, with the support from the SECI”.

“With the installation of the 2.5MW plant, the university is expected to save over Rs 1 crore annually apart from significantly contributing to the environment,” said SunSource COO and Co-founder Kushagra Nandan.

SunSource has executed some prestigious solar rooftop projects here including at the India Habitat Centre and Vasant Valley School, and is currently involved in over 200MW of solar projects in India and internationally and targets to reach 1.5 GW (gigawatt) capacity by 2025, the statement said.

The firm expects to reach an annual turnover of over Rs 600 crore by 2020.

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