The Bharatiya Janata Party in Assam may placate one of five MPs denied ticket for the just concluded Lok Sabha elections with a nomination for the Rajya Sabha.Two of Assam’s seven Rajya Sabha seats will be vacanted after the six-year tenure of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Santiuse Kujur – both of Congress – ends on June 14. Dr. Singh has been a constant from Assam since 1991.The 126 members of the Assam Assembly are scheduled to elect members to the two seats on June 7. Assam Finance and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said the BJP has finalised the nomination for one seat while the other could be given to a candidate of regional ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).“Kamakhya Prasad Tassa may be a candidate,” he told The Hindu, indicating the party still has plans for the Adivasi leader. Mr. Tassa, the BJP parliamentarian representing the Jorhat constituency, was not given a ticket this time. The BJP fielded State Power Minister Tapan Kumar Gogoi, who won the seat.Along with Mr. Tassa, the party replaced four other MPs – veterans Rajen Gohain (Nowgong), Bijoya Chakravarty (Gauhati) and Ramen Deka (Mangaldoi), and Ram Prasad Sarmah (Tezpur).There had been speculations that the BJP could ignore the AGP if the latter failed to win any of the three Lok Sabha seats it had contested. The AGP won none, but the BJP has “chosen to honour” its friendship by virtually assuring a Rajya Sabha seat for the regional party.AGP president and Agriculture Minister Atul Bora said that his party would field former MP Birendra Prasad Baishya in one of the two seats falling vacant.
A Kashmiri youth studying in an aeronautical engineering college was tied to an electric pole and allegedly beaten up by a mob in Neemrana town of Rajasthan’s Alwar district on Wednesday night. The mob claimed that the youth, dressed in a woman’s clothes, was looking suspicious.The youth, identified as Mir Faiz, 25, belonging to Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla district, has lodged a complaint with the police for assault by the mob. Though the police have launched an investigation in the matter, they were also checking the youth’s credentials.Based on Mr. Faiz’s complaint, a First Information Report under Sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 143 (unlawful assembly), 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 505 (intent to cause hurt) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of Indian Penal Code was registered at Neemrana police station.Intelligence agencies Bhiwadi Superintendent of Police Amandeep Singh Kapoor told The Hindu on Thursday that the police were scrutinising the Kashmiri student’s mobile phone, laptop and social media accounts and had searched his rented accommodation. He said the intelligence agencies were also inquiring into the matter and would independently interrogate the youth.‘Took his for ATM thief’Mr. Kapoor said the mob grew suspicious of Mr. Faiz’s movements as he was attired in a woman’s clothes while coming out of an ATM kiosk. “The people who overpowered him probably thought that he was trying to hack the ATM machine,” he said.No person has been arrested so far on the complaint lodged by the student and nothing suspicious found from the latter, according to police sources. Mr. Faiz is a final-year student of BTech (Aeronautical Engineering).
A woman here has alleged that a BSP leader whom she accused of rape has sent out threats from prison that she would “meet the same fate” as the Unnao rape victim.The former student of a Varanasi college had in May lodged an FIR against Atul Rai, who is in jail and yet to take oath as a BSP MP after being elected from Ghosi constituency in the last Lok Sabha election.In a video clip which recently surfaced on social media, the woman is heard saying that she, her family members and a witness are being continuously threatened. Her phones are being tapped and a fake case has been registered against the witness, she has alleged.The woman has claimed in the video that she is being threatened by Mr. Rai that when he will come out of jail she will meet the same fate as the Unnao rape victim. The Unnao victim is in hospital after meeting with an accident, allegedly at the behest of expelled BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar against whom she had lodged a rape case. Additional SP Sanjay Yadav said the police have taken note of the video and are investigating the matter.
After pondering for months whether it should contest the Assembly polls, and going silent for days in the wake of party chief Raj Thackeray’s questioning by the Enforcement Directorate, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) finally seems to have decided to enter the fray.At a meeting called by Mr. Thackeray on Friday, party workers from Mumbai demanded that the MNS contest the polls, unlike the general elections. The MNS did not field any candidates in the Lok Sabha elections, but Mr. Thackeray campaigned across the State against the Bharatiya Janata Party. According to party sources, the MNS is likely to contest more than 40 seats in the Assembly polls. “Cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nasik and Aurangabad are on our radar, but we will be targeting rural parts as well,” said one MNS leader. When asked if the party will form an alliance with the Congress or Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), he said no such decision has been taken.MNS general secretary Anil Shidore said Mr. Thackeray is taking constituency-wise views from local leaders. “We are not in a hurry. Let the Election Commission announce the poll dates. We will open our cards at the right time. We are not aiming only at the 2019 Assembly polls; the Mumbai civic polls and the 2024 Assembly polls are also on our mind. We will take a decision best suited for the party and its future growth,” he told The Hindu. Mr Thackeray had been at the forefront of anti-EVM protests in the State and had even united opposition leaders to demand paper ballots for the polls. He fell silent, however, after the ED called him for an inquiry in the ongoing investigation of Kohinoor mill case. His opposition to EVMs had given rise to suspicion that the party may boycott the Assembly polls. “We are meeting again on Saturday. If we contest, we will put in all our strength and even if we decide not to contest, our strategy will be different,” Mr. Shidore said.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration has opened channels of communication with 32 detained political prisoners of the regional parties, but put riders on their release. Meanwhile, two leaders, Jammu and Kashmir People Democratic Front’s Hakeem Yaseen and Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Mohammad Ashraf Mir, were released on Monday, indicating a move to release the leaders in a phased manner.In the past 10 days, a Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM)-level officer visited senior leaders of the National Conference (NC), the PDP, the Peoples Conference (PC) and the J&K Peoples Movement (J&KPM) more than three times and discussed ways and means to ensure their release.Reject conditionThe officer, sources said, “insisted on abiding by the administration’s suggestion to sign bonds in lieu of their release.”Senior officials confirmed to The Hindu that NC’s top leader Ali Muhammad Sagar, a former legislator and minister; PDP’s Naeem Akhar, a former legislator and minister; PC chief Sajad Lone, a former legislator and minister, and J&K PM chief Shah Faesal, an IAS topper who quit his job join politics earlier this year, “have repeatedly refused to sign a bond for their release.”Mr. Sagar and Mr. Akhtar, sources said, told the government point man that such bonds were aimed at “curtailing the rightful political space of regional players, discredit the local leadership in front of the eyes of the locals and were being publicised later only to add to the political vacuum post August 5.”All these leaders were detained and taken into preventive detention on August 5 under Section 107, Section 109 and Section 117 of the Cr.PC. The bonds, which the leaders were being asked to sign, reads: “He/she will not make any comment or issue statement or make public speeches or participate in the public assembly related to recent events…for a period of one year from the date of signature of the bond.”Some headwayThe move by the authorities to release NC leader Mubarak Gul for a night on Saturday on parole to meet his ailing sister has failed to break the ice with the regional leaders, “who have put up a joint front inside the sub-jail of MLA Hostel in Srinagar.” However, sources said Mr. Lone’s plea to meet his mother was turned down by the authorities. Meanwhile, Mr. Yaseen and Mr. Mir’s release is a signal that the officials negotiating have been able to make some headway. A close relative of a senior NC leader said the government is not following legal procedure related to preventive detentions. “To prolong detentions under Section 107, a preventive custody, these are supposed to be proven with witnesses and evidences, which has not taken place in most of these cases,” he said. However, officials insisted that such bonds were “a legal requirement to secure releases in such cases.”