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Yashwant Sinha-led anti-CAA rally to reach Agra on Saturday

“The 21-day rally which started from Mumbai on January 9 is a peaceful protest against the CAA which has been imposed by the BJP on the country. The truth will surface someday and the party will have to face the consequences for its steps taken against the public.”

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Yashwant Sinha

New Delhi, Jan 24 : The ‘Gandhi Shanti Yatra-2020’ which started from Mumbai on January 9, will reach Agra on Saturday after travelling through Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana and conclude at Rajghat here on January 30.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha-led rally against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Population Register (NPR) had started from the Gateway of India, Mumbai.

Sinha on Friday told IANS: “The 21-day rally which started from Mumbai on January 9 is a peaceful protest against the CAA which has been imposed by the BJP on the country. The truth will surface someday and the party will have to face the consequences for its steps taken against the public.”

When asked why he was protesting against the policies of the party of which he used to be a strategist, he said: “Till the BJP’s policies were favouring the country, I was with the party.”

Samajwadi Party spokesperson I.P. Singh, who will be leading the rally in Uttar Pradesh, told IANS: “The BJP was planning to end this peaceful rally. We travelled through various states. If we do what we say then nothing is difficult.”

“This peaceful rally is for everyone. According to a senior leader like Yashwant Sinha, this was the best possible way to protest against the CAA. Though the BJP-led central government and state BJP government tried their best to stop the rally but they failed. On Saturday, when we will reach Agra, the state government will try to impede it but I am sure that they will fail again because the aim of the rally is to protest against the draconian Act not to demand votes,” he added.

The rally will reach Etawah on Sunday where Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav will also join in.

From Etawah, Sinha and Yadav will lead the rally to Lucknow on Monday.

(Sanjeev Kumar Singh Chauhan can be reached at [email protected])

Business

Excise duty collection surges 48% in FY21 on high fuel levies

The total excise duty in the last financial year was over Rs 2.39 lakh crore.

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Modi Poster on Petrol Pump

New Delhi, Jan 17 : As the government has kept excise duty on petrol and diesel elevated amid the pandemic with a view to increase revenue, the total excise duty collection during April-November FY21 has surged nearly 48 per cent as compared to the year ago period.

The excise duty collection during the first eight months of the current financial year was over Rs 1.96 lakh crore, compared to over Rs 1.32 lakh crore collected during April-November FY20, official data showed.

The collection in November 2020 was highest so far in the financial year 2020-21 at Rs 35,703 crore. In November 2019, excise duty collection stood at Rs 18,948 crore.

The total excise duty in the last financial year was over Rs 2.39 lakh crore.

As fuel prices are at record high despite low crude oil prices, demand has been raised from several quarters to reduce the excise duty on petrol and diesel to provide relief to the common man.

In the national capital, petrol is sold at a record high level of Rs 84.70 a litre while diesel is priced at Rs 74.88 per litre.

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India

Arnab Goswami WhatsApp chats : Congress demands inquiry

Akin to playing with national security and shows the hollowness of those in power, says Congress spokesperson

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Arnab Goswami

Three days before the Indian Air Force’s Balakot strike, Republic TV Editor Arnab Goswami told his friend and former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) CEO Partho Dasgupta ‘something big will happen’, indicating that he knew about the confidential military action, transcript of WhatsApp messages between the two, which is part of the supplementary charge sheet filed by the Mumbai Police investigating the TRP tampering case reveals.

On February 26 2019, the IAF hit a Jaish-e-Mohammad training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot town. The government claimed that this was in response to the February 14 terrorist attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir, where 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed after an explosive-laden car driven by a suicide bomber rammed into their bus.

At 10 p.m. on February 23, three days before the Balakot strike, the conversation begins with Mr. Goswami boasting about Republic TV bagging then Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s first-ever interview after the Pulwama incident.

Mr. Goswami during a conversation texted to Mr Dasgupta, “On another note something big will happen”. To which Mr. Dasgupta asked, “Dawood?”. Mr. Goswami responded, saying, “No sir Pakistan. Something major will be done this time.” Mr. Dasgupta, in response, said that “it’s good for big man in this season” and that “he will sweep polls then.” The 2019 general election was just a few months away. Mr. Dasgupta pressed for further clarity, asking Mr. Goswami, “Strike? Or bigger”. And Mr. Goswami responded, saying that it would be “bigger than a normal strike”. Then he went on to add, “And also at the same time something major on Kashmir. On Pakistan the government is confident of striking in a way that people will be elated. Exact words used.”

Congress leaders raise questions

The Congress party, did not hold an official press conference on the issue, but few senior leaders have raised questions on this conversation. Party spokesperson and senior supreme Court lawyer Abshishek Manu Singhvi said, “Arnab’s chats dated 23.02.2019 refer to sharing of Intel reaction along the Pak border. It means someone very senior in Govt is leaking highly confidential info which may endanger the lives of our soldiers and so that mercenary considerations can add to TRPs.”

Party general secretary and Assam in charge Jitendra Singh in a tweet called it a major breach of “national security”. “Arnab Goswami is not only the mouthpiece of the government but has access to defence secrets as if he was the Chief of Army Staff himself. This is a major breach of national security. Furthermore “people will be elated” just goes to show the intent of the BJP behind the attacks, he tweeted.

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PM flags off 8 trains to Statue of Unity in Gujarat

He said many routes including Ahmedabad-Kevadiya Janshatabdi will have attractive ‘Vista-Dome Coaches’

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Sardar Patelt Statue

New Delhi, Jan 17 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday flagged off eight trains connecting major destinations in various states of the country with the Statue of Unity in Gujarat’s Kevadiya, via video-conferencing.

The trains will connect Kevadiya to Varanasi, Dadar, Ahmedabad, Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin, Rewa, Chennai and Pratapnagar. These trains will facilitate seamless connectivity to the Statue of Unity.

During the programme, the Prime Minister also inaugurated the Dabhoi-Chandod Gauge converted Broad Gauge railway line, Chandod-Kevadiya new Broad Gauge railway line, newly-electrified Pratapnagar-Kevadiya section and the new station buildings of Dabhoi, Chandod and Kevadiya. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal were also present on the occasion.

The Prime Minister said that, perhaps, for the first time in the history of Railways, trains have been flagged off for the same destination from different corners of the country.

While addressing the audience, the Prime Minister said the train connectivity will be beneficial for tourists coming to see the Statue of Unity in Kevadiya and it will also help in changing the lives of the tribal community of the region.

“The connectivity will bring new opportunities for jobs and self-employment,” said Modi, adding “one lakh tourists will visit Kevadiya everyday after improvement in connectivity”.

The eight connectivities include Dabhoi-Chandod-Kevadiya comprising of 50 k electrified section, rightwards arrow Pratapnagar-Kevadiya section comprising of 80 km of electrified section, rightwards arrow Vistadome coaches for scenic journeys, Chandod-Kevadiya New Broad Gauge Rail line, right-pointing triangle Dabhoi-Chandod Converted BG Rail line, right-pointing triangle Pratapnagar-Kevadiya electrified section, and Right-pointing triangle new station buildings of Dabhoi, Chandod and Kevadiya.

Mentioning that one of the Kevadiya-bound trains is originating from ‘Puruchi Thaliaivar’ M.G. Ramachandran Central Railway Station, the Prime Minister paid tribute to Bharat Ratna and Tamil film icon ‘MGR’ on his birth anniversary.

“This will benefit both the tourists and local Adivasis as this will bring new avenues of self-employment and employment. The railway line will provide connection to places of faith like Karnali, Poicha and Garudeshwar on the Narmada.”

Continuing with the development journey of Kevadiya, the Prime Minister asserted that Kevadiya is no longer just a small block in some remote area, as it has come up as one of the biggest tourist destinations of the world.

Dwelling at length on the transformation of Indian Railways through goal-centric efforts, Modi said that apart from traditional role of passenger and goods transportation, railways is giving direct connectivity to places of tourism and religious importance.

He said many routes including Ahmedabad-Kevadiya Janshatabdi will have attractive ‘Vista-Dome Coaches’

He also presented Dedicated Freight Corridor as an example of change in approach from earlier times. This project was under progress and between 2006-2014 work was done only on paper with not even a single kilometre of track laid. Now a total of 1,100 kms are about to be completed in the next few days, he said.

The Prime Minister also pointed out that it is being ensured that the Railways remain environment-friendly, mentioning that Kevadiya station is India’s first railway station to start with green building certification.

He also stressed the importance of “Aatmanirbharta” (self-reliance) in railway-related manufacturing and technology which is yielding good results now.

The Prime Minister stressed the need for skilled and specialist manpower and professionals to meet the requirement of the Railways’ transformation.

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