December 15, 2018

Prohibit sale of liquor at all places during the polling time: EC

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Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi | PTI

NEW DELHI: The election commission has told ministers and CMs of poll-bound states to stop hearing appeals of people till the MCC is in-force. It has also instructed the state administrations to prohibit the sale of liquor in shops, restaurants, hotels and at all other places during the polling time.

Moreover, the poll panel has directed chief electoral officers (CEOs) of five poll-bound states to ask top police brass that cash transfers during the election period be done under the protection of cops and that they stay informed regarding such movements from banks or currency chests.

The EC, in its directives to the CEOs of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa, has cited the standing orders of poll body in this regard even as it appended the recent instructions issued by the Department of Financial Services (DFS) under the Finance Ministry on the subject.

The DFS has said the “operating procedure for transportation of cash by banks and transfer of currency from one chest to another operated by the banks within the state or interstate level as laid down in the above mentioned letters shall be followed scrupulously.”

The EC directives on transportation of cash are seen in the backdrop of an incident in poll-bound Tamil Nadu last year, when three trucks carrying Rs 570 crore were intercepted by EC-appointed surveillance teams.

On public hearing by the ministers or chief ministers, the poll panel has said that it has direct or indirect infleunce on the voters and it might disturb the level playing field.  The poll panel is of the view that if any such hearing is necessary, it should be held by the senior officers.

The poll panel has also said that Dry Day should be declared and notified under the relevant state laws during 48 hours ending with conclusion of the polls.

States including Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur will go for assembly polls between February 4 and March 8 and the model code of conduct came into force on January 4 when the EC announced the election schedule.

BJP distances itself from controversial remarks by Haryana minister

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NEW DELHI: The BJP on Saturday distanced itself from the controversial remarks of the Haryana minister Anil Vij, saying that he made the comment in the personal capacity.

The BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma, while reacting to the controversial remarks of the Haryana minister on the removal of the picture of Mahatma Gandhi from the calendar and diary of Khadi Board, said that the party does not associate itself with his remarks.

“These are his personal comments. We condemn them,” said Sharma, while adding that the Haryana minister has already withdrawn his comment.

Incidentally, Vij is known to make controversial remarks and withdraw them afterwards. The BJP stressed that Mahatma Gandhi is an icon for the party. “Gandhi and his values are held in highest esteem by the BJP,” said the BJP leader.

However, the BJP leader took the opportunity to hit out at the Congress. “The Congress has no moral right to speak about the father of the nation as it only misused his name and photograph all these years. It has been only the BJP government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi which has promoted the philosophy of Khadi and swachhta as espoused by Mahatma Gandhi,” said Sharma.

Vij had sparked off a controversy with remarks that Mahatma Gandhi’s image did not help Khadi and caused devaluation of the currency.

More than 30 regime fighters dead in IS assault in east Syria: Sources

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Image for representation purposes only. (File photo | AP)

LEBANON: The Islamic State group launched a ferocious assault on Saturday on a city in eastern Syria, leaving more than 30 jihadists and regime fighters dead, a monitoring group said.

At least 12 members of government forces and 20 IS militants were among the dead in the IS attack on regime positions in Deir Ezzor, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Both the Observatory and Syrian state news agency SANA said two civilians were also killed in IS rocket fire on government-controlled zones in the city. 

Around 200,000 people live in Deir Ezzor city, which has been besieged by IS since early 2015 and is the capital of the oil-rich province of the same name.

IS has sought to overrun the entire city, including the key nearby military airport. 

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said Saturday’s attack was the “most violent” assault mounted by IS on the city in more than a year. 

He said IS was using tunnel bombs and suicide attackers, while Syrian and allied warplanes battered jihadist positions with air strikes.

“Daesh is amassing its forces to attack Deir Ezzor and breach government lines,” a Syrian military source told AFP, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

He said jihadists had aimed to cut the route between the airport and the city, but that the government’s counter-attack had stopped IS. 

“Warplanes attacked Daesh’s supply lines in all the battlefronts and around the airport,” he said.

IS is excluded from a nationwide truce that was brokered by Turkey and Russia and came into effect on December 30. 

Diplomatic efforts to end Syria’s nearly six-year war have thus far failed, but Moscow and Ankara are hoping that peace talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana later this month will lead to a political solution. 

Radar failure at Lucknow Airport, all operations suspended

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LUCKNOW: All flight operations were suspended until further notice at the Lucknow Airport on Saturday following the failure of the radar frequency system, which affected the landing and takeoff of all aircrafts. 

So far, almost 16 flights have been affected due to the Radar DVOR failure which was reported at 4:30 pm today.  

The disturbing development has resulted in severe inconvenience to several passengers who are now stranded at the airport.

MH17 search operations to renew after discovery of victim remains

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Image used for representational purpose. (File Photo | AP)

NETHERLANDS: Families of the MH17 plane disaster victims may push for a renewed search of the crash site in eastern Ukraine after the recent discovery of a bone fragment belonging to one of the dead.

“We are considering speaking to authorities about another search for human remains,” Evert van Zijtveld, chairman of the MH17 victims’ foundation, said on Saturday.

“As relatives, we simply don’t want any human remains to be left behind,” Van Zijtveld, who lost a son, daughter and his parents-in-law, told AFP.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 passenger jet was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur killing all 298 on board, most of them Dutch citizens.

Last Sunday, when freelance journalist Michel Spekkers returned to Amsterdam from Ukraine, Dutch police confiscated the items he had collected including the human bone fragment.

DNA tests this week showed that the bone belonged to one of the victims, whose other remains were identified in 2014, Dutch prosecutors said in a statement on Friday. The victim’s family was informed.

The rest of the articles brought back by Spekkers were “not relevant to the criminal investigation,” prosecutors said.

A Dutch-led criminal investigation into the attack concluded in September that a BUK missile, transported from Russia, was fired from a field in a part of war-torn Ukraine then controlled by pro-Russian rebels, and hit the plane. But it stopped short of saying who pulled the trigger.

Van Zijtveld said the new findings had opened painful wounds for victims’ relatives, who now wanted to know why a journalist was able to find the human remains.

He earlier told the NOS public broadcaster that Spekkers did not find the bone in a isolated area but at a shed where a search team had brought together all items found from the crash site.

“If it turns out that not all commitments to return human remains have been heeded, we’ll consider discussing the possibility of another mission go and bring back our loved ones,” Van Zijtveld said.

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