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Women scribe groups seek Akbar’s dismissal; court to hear defamation case on Thursday

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MJ Akbar

New Delhi, Oct 16 : As the court listed the criminal defamation case filed by Union Minister M.J. Akbar against a woman journalist for Thursday, two women journalist bodies sought Akbars removal from the government for the sake of fair and impartial probe.

The Network of Women in Media in India (NWMI) wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding dismissal of Akbar, the Minister of State for External Affairs who has been accused by several women journalists of sexual harassment.

“We are extremely concerned that he continues to be a Minister even as he pursues whatever legal action he plans. You will agree that this is highly unethical and improper and will cast a cloud over any investigation,” NWMI said in its letters to the President and the Prime Minister.

It said that all support should be extended by the government to women in their struggle for justice, and that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj should “take workplace harassment seriously and not encourage intimidatory tactics against women who have complained”.

The Indian Women Press Corps (IWPC) on Tuesday wrote to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi and National Commission for Women Chairperson (NCW) Rekha Sharma, seeking fair inquiry and dismissal of the Minister.

“We hope that your government will rise to the occasion and institute an impartial and fair inquiry in the interests of gender justice…The continuation of the Minister in his position only sends out the wrong message that the government is apathetic to the serious concerns and the need for a fair and impartial inquiry.”

In the letter to Maneka Gandhi, the IWPC said that it was “dismayed” that despite a “long list of complaints”, no formal inquiry has been instituted into the complaints comprising serious charges of sexual harassment.

“We would like your ministry to take suo motu cognizance of these complaints and come out with recommendations within a time-frame,” it said.

Meanwhile, another woman journalist, Tushita Patel came out with her account of how Akbar allegedly molested her at the workplace in 1993.

“Stop lying about your plywood and glass cabin in the Asian Age. Ghazala Wahab is not the only woman to have been molested in that cabin. There are other victims who you almost broke and destroyed with your lust and power trip,” Patel wrote in a piece on the Scroll.in.

“And enough with the legal intimidation – we can see you in court too,” she added.

Meanwhile, Akbar’s counsel Sandeep Kapur said on Tuesday that the defamation case (against journalist Priya Ramani) will be heard by a magisterial court in the Patiala House court complex on October 18.

Akbar, in his complaint, said that it was apparent that the false narrative against him was being circulated in a motivated manner and for the fulfilment of an agenda.

Ramani’s husband and IndiaSpend Editor Samar Halarnkar in a piece written for Scroll.in said he and his wife had only the “truth” as a weapon against the “vast resources” a Minister can muster.

“This is not M.J. Akbar vs Priya Ramani, this is the Union of India vs Priya Ramani. He has access to a battery of powerful lawyers: There are 97 listed in the legal notice. She has, thus far, one,” Halarnkar said.

Ruing the lack of any “expressions of support” from opposition parties, he wrote: “(It is) because they are all complicit in maintaining the status quo. India’s patriarchy understands what is at stake and will not give in without a bitter fight. If an Akbar is conceded, there are countless others whose careers will be in jeopardy.”

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RJD calls for Bihar ‘Bandh’ against farm Bills on Friday

Tejashwi himself uploaded a photograph on social media posing as a protester while driving a tractor on Thursday evening.

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Tejashwi Yadav

Patna, Sep 24 : Raising strong objections against the farm Bills, the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has called for a Bihar ‘Bandh’ on Friday.

Party leader Tejashwi Yadav has asked supporters to hit the roads in each of the 38 districts headquarters of Bihar and register strong protests against the Bills.

“The farmers of Bihar are already distraught. The agri Bills will make them completely helpless. These Bills will allow industrialists to take over the agriculture sector,” he said.

Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, he also said that if RJD supremo Lalu Yadav would shake hands with the BJP, he would be seen as “Raja Harishchandra” and the fodder scam or “Chara Ghotala” would be converted into “Bhaichaara” or brotherhood.

In Patna, supporters have been asked to assemble at the party office on Veerchand Patel Path followed by march towards Income Tax roundabout, Dak Banglow Chowk and return to the party office.

Party insiders believe it is a show of strength by the RJD.

Tejashwi himself uploaded a photograph on social media posing as a protester while driving a tractor on Thursday evening.

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Sisodia’s Condition Stable, To Undergo Second Covid-19 Test Soon

Manish Sisodia was admitted to the LNJP Hospital on Wednesday.

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Manish Sisodia

New Delhi: Aam Aadmi Party Leader and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, currently undergoing treatment for Covid-19, is stable and he will be administered another Coronavirus test in a couple of days, officials said on Thursday.

He was admitted to the LNJP Hospital on Wednesday after he had contracted the infection.

“He is in ICU since yesterday, but his condition is stable. The minister has been put on oxygen support as per requirement, and is under constant observation,” a senior doctor of the hospital said. “The Deputy CM will be administered an RT-PCR test in a couple of days,” the doctor added. Asked if the minister has any co-morbidities, the doctor said, “he has hypertension.”

The 48-year-old Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader was admitted to the hospital after he complained of fever and low oxygen levels. In a video message, Sisodia praised the efforts made by doctors at the LNJP hospital.

“I have been brought to the LNJP Hospital after a need was felt for it. But, seeing the spirit with which the doctors and other healthcare workers are serving patients, I must say, as a deputy chief minister, it is very encouraging,” he said. The minister also said that he was proud of the health workers serving in the hospital. “It is a wonderful facility here and I am very proud of them. If you need any medical attention in this coronavirus time, LNJP is ready to serve you,” the minister said.

Sisodia had tested positive for COVID-19 on September 14 and was in home isolation. “He (Sisodia) was admitted to the hospital as a precautionary measure since he was continuously having a little higher body temperature and his oxygen level dropped slightly,” a senior official said on Wednesday.

Sisodia was unable to attend the one-day Delhi Assembly session on September 14 since he had tested positive for the disease. He is the second Cabinet minister in the Arvind Kejriwal government to contract COVID-19 infection after Health Minister Satyendar Jain. The health minister had tested positive for COVID-19 in June and was hospitalized. He was later administered plasma therapy.

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Advocate Babar Qadri shot Dead in Srinagar

Militants reportedly opened fire on advocate Babar Qadri at his Hawal residence this evening.

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Advocate Baber Qadri

Jammu and Kashmir: According to police, unidentified gunmen shot and killed advocate Babar Qadri in Srinagar’s Hawal area today. Qadri was a panelist, debater, and a writer apart from being a lawyer.

“Militants fired upon advocate Babar Qadri at his Hawal residence around 6.25 pm from close range before fleeing the spot,” a police official said.

Qadri, in his early 40s, was rushed to the SKIMS hospital, where doctors declared him “dead on arrival,” according to official reports. The advocate used to appear on TV debates and wrote op-eds in local newspapers. Three days ago, he had tweeted a screenshot and urged the police in Jammu to register an FIR against a Facebook user for spreading a “wrong campaign” against him.

“I urge the State Police administration to register FIR against this Shah Nazir who has spread wrong campaign that I work for agencies. This untrue statement can lead to threat to my life, Qadri had written in his last tweet.

Qadri is the second political/ social activist to be shot dead by militants in the past 24 hours. Bhupinder Singh, a member of the block development council in Khag area of Budgam district, was shot dead by militants at his ancestral village Dalwash on Wednesday night.

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