Dalit Sikh leader Charanjit Singh Channi to become new CM of Punjab

News Network
September 19, 2021

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Chandigarh, Sept 19: Charanjit Singh Channi - a Dalit Sikh and the outgoing Technical Education Minister - will be the new Chief Minister of Punjab, the Congress said Sunday evening, after Amarinder Singh's resignation yesterday triggered three days of high drama in the poll-bound state.

The choice of Mr Channi as leader of the Congress' state legislature party, and the head of its government, was confirmed by state-in-charge Harish Rawat, who tweeted: "It gives me immense pleasure to announce that Charanjit Singh Channi has been unanimously elected as the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party of Punjab."

News of Mr Channi's appointment came as something of a surprise after sources, just a few hours earlier, appeared to confirm that another outgoing minister - Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa - would be named to the top post.

Mr Randhawa's name, however, was reportedly met with doubts by some party MLAs and the Congress high command - keen to ensure the new Chief Minister has the maximum internal support - quickly switched tack.

"I am happy with high command's decision.... I want to thank all the MLAs who have supported me. Channi is my brother..." Mr Randhawa said soon after Charanjit Channi was announced as Chief Minister.

Months of sniping and hostility between Amarinder Singh and Navjot Sidhu came to a head late Friday after a sudden meeting of Congress MLAs. Sources said around 50 of the party's 80 MLAs wrote to Sonia Gandhi and asked for Mr Singh to be replaced.

A furious Mr Singh then spoke to Mrs Gandhi and told her he had had enough. "I was humiliated three times by Congress leadership..." he said. He wrote to Mrs Gandhi declaring himself "anguished" and to defend his administration's track record.

The Captain also said that though he had resigned, "... for the sake of my country, I'll oppose his (Navjot Sidhu) name for Chief Minister. It's a matter of national security... is an incompetent man... a total disaster..." Of further worry for the Congress, perhaps, was Mr Singh's response to staying with the party; "I can't answer right now."

This morning's meeting of the Congress Legislature Party was postponed after Rajya Sabha MP Ambika Soni - believed to be the party's first choice - declined the offer. Ms Soni said "no" at a late-night meeting with Rahul Gandhi; she stressed on the "ramifications" of a non-Sikh Chief Minister, particularly with an election due.

The Singh-Sidhu feud dates to the 2017 election; Mr Sidhu had hoped to be Deputy Chief Minister but was reportedly denied by Mr Singh. He was instead made a minister but quit two years later. After a sulk he re-emerged, targeting Mr Singh and becoming a hard-to-ignore problem, forcing the party into a mediation attempt that soured after Mr Singh voiced disapproval at Mr Sidhu being made Punjab Congress chief.

The rift escalated sharply in recent weeks and a tenuous truce unravelled after statements by Mr Sidhu's advisers. Last month, four ministers and around 24 MLAs raised fresh complaints against Mr Singh, setting the stage for the weekend's drama.

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News Network
October 20,2021

Lucknow, Oct 20: Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had yet another brush with the Uttar Pradesh police on Wednesday while trying to proceed to Agra to meet the family of a youth from SC community, a sanitation worker, who died in police custody there on Tuesday.

Priyanka was detained at the toll plaza on the entry point of the Lucknow-Agra Expressway after she insisted on going to Agra despite being told by the cops that section 144 had been promulgated there and that her visit could cause law and order problems there.

''They (cops) want me to remain confined to the guest house....it suits the government politically...do I have to take their permission every time I want to go to someplace?....how can my visit to the family which has lost one of its members be a law and order issue?,'' Priyanka told reporters.

''Today is the birth anniversary of Valmiki...the youth (Arun Valmiki) died in police custody.......his family wants justice....I am going to meet his family...why is the UP government scared?,'' the Congress leader said in a tweet later. She also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the teachings of Lord Buddha at Kushinagar but his teachings were not being followed in the state.

According to the sources, Arun Valmiki was taken into custody by the police in Agra on charges of stealing Rs 25 lakh from the Jagadishpura police station in Agra. The police said they recovered some cash from his possession. 

Police said that Arun suddenly fell sick while being in custody and was rushed to the hospital but died there a little later. His family alleged that he was tortured to death by the cops.

Earlier this month also, Priyanka had a clash with the police when she tried to reach Lakhimpur Kheri on the day eight people, including four farmers, were killed during a protest by the farmers against union minister of state for home Ajai Mishra. Mishra's son Ashish was arrested on charges of mowing down four farmers with his SUV.

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News Network
October 19,2021

Lakhimpur Kheri, UP, Oct 19: Four more miscreants, including a prominent BJP leader who was seen inside the SUV that mowed down protesting farmers in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri, were arrested yesterday.

"Accused Sumit Jaiswal, Shishupal, Nandan Singh Bisht and Satya Prakash Tripathi have been arrested by Lakhimpur Kheri Police and SWAT team of Crime branch. Licensed revolver and three bullets were recovered from Satya Prakash Tripathi and seized," a statement released by senior police official Prashant Kumar said.

Local BJP leader Sumit Jaiswal, who was seen in a viral video escaping from the lead SUV in the convoy of vehicles that crushed the farmers, had earlier filed a murder FIR against unnamed farmers, claiming his driver, friend and two BJP workers were beaten to death after their vehicles lost control due to heavy stone pelting and accidentally hit farmers.

In the viral video, Mr Jaiswal was seen running from the Thar SUV that drove into protesters from behind.

Four farmers and a journalist were run over on October 3 by a convoy of three vehicles, one of which belongs to Union Minister of state for home, Ajay Mishra. Mr Mishra's son Ashish was arrested on October 9, five days after he was named in the murder related to the incident on charges which usually merit immediate arrest. The families of farmers who died alleged in their complaint to the police that Ashish was inside the lead SUV that crushed the farmers. His arrest followed 12 hours of police questioning which in turn came after an intervention by the Supreme Court. 

An FIR was lodged at the Tikonia police station on October 3 over the episode. Later, a counter-FIR was lodged at the same police station on the basis of a complaint by Sumit Jaiswal, who has now been arrested.

Sumit Jaiswal had also claimed that the protesters attacked Ashish Mishra's convoy, not the other way round. He also claimed the car was not moving, and it was the protesters that attacked the convoy.

"We were at the programme venue. There was an atmosphere of fear. They were armed with sticks and rocks and they kept attacking us, abusing us," he said. They also shouted "Khalistan Zindabad. They climbed the car," he said.

Ashish Mishra has denied the charge that he was at the crime scene when the murders took place; he has claimed he was in his paternal village (around two km away) and stayed there all day.

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News Network
October 22,2021

Mexico City, Oct 22: Two foreigners, including one from India, were killed and three wounded in a shooting at a restaurant in the Mexican Caribbean resort town of Tulum, authorities said on Thursday.

Authorities said one of the dead women was from Germany and the other from India. The three wounded included two Germans and a tourist from the Netherlands.

The shooting broke out on Wednesday night at a street-side eatery that has some outdoor tables, right off Tulum's main strip.

The fight was between two groups that operate street-level drug sales in the area, the Quintana Roo state prosecutor's office said in a statement. The tourists were apparently dining at the restaurant and may have been caught in the crossfire.

One woman died at the scene and the other in a hospital. One of the aggressors, who was also wounded, was subsequently arrested. There was no immediate word on the condition of the wounded tourists.

Tulum has experienced growing pains moving from laid-back beach retreat to major international destination. It had long been spared the violence seen sporadically in larger Cancun and Playa del Carmen farther up the coast.

But in June, two men were shot to death on the beach in Tulum and a third was wounded.

The administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has pinned its hopes on Tulum, where it has announced plans to build an international airport and a stop for the Maya train, which will run in a loop around the Yucatan peninsula.

But Quintana Roo state, where beach resorts like Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Cancun are located, has been plagued by both violence and corruption.

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