February 23, 2019

Homeless in wintry northern India shiver in buses, portable cabins

Delhi/India/Politics by

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Buses and portable cabins are doubling up as shelters for the homeless in northern India amidst a cold snap that has killed at least a dozen people, highlighting a critical lack of affordable housing, campaigners said on Tuesday.

Amarinder files nomination papers from Patiala seat

Delhi/India/Politics by

Amarinder Singh (File | PTI)

CHANDIGARH: Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh on Tuesday afternoon filed his nomination papers from the Patiala Assembly constituency to launch the countdown to his last electoral battle.

He was accompanied by wife and Patiala MLA Preneet Kaur and other family members. Amarinder stopped en route to offer prayers and take blessings at the Gurdwara and temple at Burj Baba Ala Singh at the historic Qila Mubarak of his ancestral home, followed by the Kali Mata Mandir, built by his family, as well as Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib.

Amarinder will file his papers from Lambi, the other seat from which he is contesting the Assembly polls, on Wednesday. At Lambi, he is taking chief minister Parkash Singh Badal head-on in what he himself has dubbed as ‘the grandfather of all battles’.

After filing his nomination, Amarinder said he was determined to defeat Badal from Lambi in order to teach a lesson to all future chief ministers misusing their powers for personal and family gains. He trashed AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal’s charge that he was fighting from chief minister Badal’s home turf of Lambi to help him win, and challenged Kejriwal to enter the electoral contest in the same constituency.

Amarinder also ruled out an alliance with any party, asserting that the Congress would sweep the Assembly elections with 2/3rd majority.

Dismissing the charges levelled by Kejriwal, Amarinder said the AAP leader was talking through his head without a rational thought in his mind. “He had said earlier that I should fight Badal and now he says I’m helping the chief minister by contesting against him,” he said.

He ruled out any serious threat to him from former army chief Gen JJ Singh (Retd) (he refused to call him a General, which he said was a fluke caused by his seniority and not the result of merit), whom the Shiromani Akali Dal has pitted against him in Patiala.

After filing the nomination papers, Amarinder kicked off his road show from a flower-decked open jeep, going through the lanes and bylanes of Patiala, while interacting with the huge crowds lined up along both sides of the road.

I-T crack down in Punjab polls, Rs 11 crore seized, black money of over Rs 200 crores detected

Delhi/India/Politics by

Image for representational purpose only.

CHANDIGARH: Since demonetisation, the Investigation Wing of Income Tax (north west region), Punjab, seized a whooping amount to the tune of Rs 11 crore cash, suspected to be part of money laundering related the upcoming Assembly elections in the State. The wing is set to verify the affidavits filed by all the candidates contesting the elections.

Sharing the details, director general (investigations) of Income Tax (north west region) Madhu Mahajan said that some Rs 11 crore has been seized in last one and half months in some 35 cases, but since the code of conduct came into force in Punjab, approximately Rs. 3.28 crore in cash has already been seized by the investigation wing including one major seizure of Rs 3 crores in Kharar.

However, the forces had been keeping a tab on money laundering during elections since a month and half month. The officials have initiated more than 250 inquiries in bank accounts and six prosecutions have been launched as a result of these inquiries. Besides this, seven surveys and two searches have been conducted.

According to sources, black money of over Rs 200 crores has been detected in the last one and half month in the State.

“We have set-up Air Intelligence Units (AIUs) at Ludhiana, Mohali and Amritsar airports with the help of other agencies. These Air Intelligence Units (AIUs) coordinate with the CISF; gather intelligence and intercept unaccounted cash and other valuables being carried by the air route. For smaller airports like Bathinda and Patiala, initiatives have been taken to check such flights and passengers for black money in any form. We were successful as cash was seized in 35 cases and five people were nabbed by the (AIUs),” Madhu Mahajan said.

She said, “After the enforcement code of conduct, the Investigation Wing works under the directions of the Election Commission of India.  Our primary role is to verify election affidavits of candidates who are contesting from various constituencies. The second is to investigate and to seize unaccounted black money.”

“We have also set-up two 24-hours helplines where people have been providing information on black money. The helpline numbers are 1800 180 9699 and 9530703534.  In addition, people can send information even on WhatsApp on the mobile helpline. Rewards will be distributed to the informants as per the existing guidelines of Central Board of Direct Taxes. Till date we have received around 700 complaints on these numbers and of these in 20 per cent of complaints seem to have some credibility,” she said.

She added, “Also officers have been appointed in all the 23 districts and they are actively coordinating with other agencies. Quick Response Teams are also in operation in every district.

Adequate amount of man power, vehicles and infrastructure have been provided to them. The Department is also analysing and monitoring social media as well as collecting information from banks for this purpose.

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