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Three girls dead as boat with 34 students capsizes in Maharashtra

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Three female students drowned when a boat with at least 34 students on board capsized off the Dahanu coast in this Maharashtra district on Saturday morning, officials said.

A massive search and rescue operation was launched and by late evening, 31 students of the K.L. Ponda High School & Junior College were rescued from the Arabian Sea waters.

Bodies of all three girls were recovered and the deceased identified as Sonal Surti, Sanskriti Mayavanshi and Jahnvi Surti, all 17 years old and hailing from Ambedkar Nagar area of Dahanu, Palghar Superintendent of Police Manjunath Singe told IANS.

A massive search is underway to find any remaining unaccounted student amidst fears of casualty figures increasing in the incident that took place around 5 kms in the sea off the Parnaka Beach here.

The 34 students were out on an annual college picnic in a double-decked boat named ‘Dahanu King’ which topple, Singe added.

Even the lone boatman, Mahesh Ambre, who was injured in the incident, has been rescued and undergoing treatment in a Dahanu hospital.

According to an eyewitness account, the tragedy apparently happened when some students crowded on one side of the boat to click selfies, resulting in loss of balance and the vessel capsizing.

President Ram Nath Kovind, who arrived in Mumbai this afternoon on a two-day visit, expressed grief over the boat tragedy in the state.

“Anguished to hear of boat carrying schoolchildren capsizing in Dahanu, Maharashtra. The state government has rescued most of the passengers is making efforts to trace those still missing. My condolences to the bereaved families,” the President said in a tweet.

The boat is owned by Parth Ambire and Mahendra Ambire, who are being booked under charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder for the tragedy.

The boat had been recently refurbished and hired out for joyrides in the seas, but it was not clear whether the student picknickers were given life-jackets or not, officials said.

The tragedy occurred during a low-tide, enabling the rescuers to reach the site quickly, and “save precious lives”, said an ICG spokesperson.

Hundreds of parents of the victims crowded the Parnaka Beach, many wailing and crying to know the fate of their children since the tragedy occurred around 11.30 am.

The Indian Coast Guard from Maharashtra and Gujarat helped the local police and maritime authorities in the combined sea and air operations, besides the local fishing community.

The ICG diverted at least three ships and two aircraft to the site to rescue the victims, an official said.

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Will visit Congress-ruled states, too, if they block justice: Rahul Gandhi

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Rahul Gandhi Farmers

New Delhi, Oct 24 : After coming under attack from BJP leaders for not visiting families of rape victims in Rajasthan and Punjab unlike Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said that the two of his party-ruled states did not deny incidents of rape and didn’t block justice and “if they do” he will go there to fight for justice as well.

“Unlike in UP, the governments of Punjab and Rajasthan are not denying that the girl was raped, threatening her family and blocking the course of justice. If they do, I will go there to fight for justice,” Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet.

His remarks came after Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Prakash Javadekar and Dr Harsh Vardhan questioned the Congress leader for not visiting Punjab and Rajasthan.

Rahul Gandhi, along with his sister and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had visited Hathras to meet the family of alleged gang rape victim.

He was roughed up by Uttar Pradesh Police on Yamuna Expressway when he started to march towards Hathras.

Earlier in the day, Congress leader Sushmita Deb also slammed BJP leaders for politicising the issue ahead of Bihar assembly polls.

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Modi govt should bring white paper on demonetisation: Congress

Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh asked why is the government afraid to make public the names of entities involved in scams, the details of defaulters and transaction trails, since the Income Tax Department was probing all those with undisclosed incomes.

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Ahead of the 4th anniversary of demonetisation, the Congress demanded that the government bring a white paper on the benefits of its decision to ban notes of higher denomination.

Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh asked why is the government afraid to make public the names of entities involved in scams, the details of defaulters and transaction trails, since the Income Tax Department was probing all those with undisclosed incomes.

“In the next couple of weeks, when we will be commemorating the 4th anniversary, we demand that the government should come out with a white paper highlighting the cost and benefits of this ‘Tughlaqi decree’,” he said at a press conference.

The Congress leader said the government should answer how many such alleged defaulters has the Income Tax Department probed and what is the undisclosed income unearthed.

The Income Tax Department had announced that they would initiate assessment proceedings to check black money instances after demonetisation, but till date there has been no disclosure from the department.

“Demonetisation was an organised loot and legalised plunder,” he said.

“How much black money has the government recovered from such defaulters so far,” he asked.

Vallabh alleged that serious charges of tax evasion have come out in the wake of demonetization against a prominent jeweller of Surat, who made sales of Rs 96.3 crore post 8.30 pm on November 8, 2016, when noteban was imposed.

Subsequently, between November 10 and 12 the jeweller deposited close to Rs 110 crore cash in banks and the total tax paid as per allegations is only Rs 80 lakh.

He said what is surprising is that rather than acting on the complaint, the IT Department has been after the complainant itself, who is a former income tax officer.

“Why did the government decide to misuse the machinery to raid the whistleblower instead of instituting an inquiry against the alleged scam,” he asked.

Vallabh also accused the Modi government of being “autocratic in the garb of a democratic one”.

He said the Indian economy is still reeling with the aftershocks of this ill-advised move.

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We are anti-BJP, not anti-national: Farooq Abdullah after Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration meeting

The Lok Sabha member from Srinagar was elected chairman of the PAGD after the first meeting of the amalgam at the residence of PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.

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Farooq Abdullah

SRINAGAR: National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah on Saturday said the Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), which is fighting for restoration of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, is an anti-BJP platform but not an anti-national amalgam.

“I want to tell you that this false propaganda by the BJP that the PAGD is anti-national. I want to tell them that this is not true. There is no doubt that it is anti-BJP but it is not anti-national,” he told reporters here.

The Lok Sabha member from Srinagar was elected chairman of the PAGD after the first meeting of the amalgam at the residence of PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.

Abdullah said the BJP has tried to break the federal structure through acts like abrogation of Article 370 and dividing Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.

“They have tried to destroy the constitution of the country, they have tried to divide the nation, to break the federal structure which we saw what they did on August 5 last year,” the NC president said.

“I want to tell them that this (PAGD) is not an anti-national jamaat. Our aim is that people of Jammu Kashmir, and Ladakh should get their rights back. That’s where our battle is, our battle is not for more than that,” he said.

Abdullah said the BJP was doing propaganda against the constituents of the PAGD in Jammu and elsewhere in the country.

“They are trying to divide us (people of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh) in the name of religion. This attempt will not succeed. This is not a religious battle, this is a fight for our identity and for that identity, we are standing together,” he said.

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