Children, women among 90 dead, over 300 injured in stampede at Ramadan charity event

News Network
April 20, 2023

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Sanaa, Apr 20: Nearly 90 people were killed and hundreds of others injured in a deadly stampede that broke out in Yemen's capital during a charity distribution in the holy month of Ramadan. 

The latest tragedy to strike the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country came days ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

At least "85 were killed and more than 322 were injured" after the stampede in the Bab al-Yemen district of Sanaa, a Huthi security official said.

"Women and children were among the dead," he told AFP on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press.

A second health official confirmed the toll.

An AFP correspondent in the Huthi-controlled capital said the incident took place inside a school where aid was being distributed.

Security forces deployed heavily around the area as people flocked to the scene hoping to locate relatives but they were barred from accessing the site.

The dead and injured have been moved to nearby hospitals and those responsible for the distribution were taken into custody, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the rebel's Saba news agency.

Authorities have called for an investigation.

The Huthi's interior ministry did not provide an exact toll but said "dozens of people were killed due to a stampede during a random distribution of sums of money by some merchants".

Videos circulating on social media showed bodies lying on the ground inside a large complex as people clamoured around them.

Civil war broke out in Yemen in 2014, when Iran-backed Huthi rebels seized Sanaa, prompting a Saudi-led coalition to intervene the following year to prop up the internationally recognised government.

Fighting has eased dramatically since a six-month, UN-brokered truce last year, even after it expired in October.

But the war unleashed what the United Nations describes as one of the world's worst humanitarian tragedies.

More than two-thirds of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the UN, including government employees in Huthi-controlled areas who haven't been paid civil servant salaries in years.

Over 21.7 million people -- two-thirds of the country -- need humanitarian assistance this year, according to the UN.

The stampede tragedy dims the cheer of a massive prisoner exchange between the country's warring parties that saw nearly 900 detainees freed over the weekend.

On Monday, more than 100 other prisoners of war were flown from Saudi Arabia to Yemen.

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News Network
June 28,2024

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The Karnataka Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which filed a chargesheet against former CM and BJP veteran BS Yediyurappa and three others, has claimed that Yediyurappa not just sexually assaulted minor at his house but also tried to cover it up by giving cash. 

In the chargesheet, three of Yediyurappa’s aides have been charged for destruction of evidence and trying to cover up the case on his behalf. 

The charges have been filed under IPC Sections 354A (sexual harassment), 204 (destruction of document or electronic record to prevent its production as evidence), 214 (offering gift or restoration of property in consideration of screening offender) and Section 8 (sexual assault) of the POCSO Act.

Bengaluru Police had registered an FIR against the 81-year-old BJP leader on March 15 under the law based on a complaint from a woman who accused him of sexually assaulting her 17-year-old daughter. The girl had allegedly gone to meet the leader along with her mother at his home in February this year, seeking his help to speed up a probe into a past rape case. Her mother, who had made the complaint against Yediyurappa, died of lung cancer last month.

The government later transferred the case to the CID. A Bengaluru court had issued a non-bailable warrant for the leader’s arrest earlier this month, but the Karnataka High Court halted his arrest.

With the case back in the news last month, the BJP had sharply retaliated at the renewed interest, insinuating that the Congress government was doing this to divert attention from its loss in the recent general elections in the state. Yediyurappa had denied the charges, saying “people would teach a lesson to those indulging in conspiracies against me.”

750-page chargesheet

The 750-page chargesheet filed by the CID explains the minor girl’s ordeal.  The investigators found that on February 2, 2024, at around 11.15 am, the survivor, along with her 54-year-old mother, the complainant who died on May 26, visited Yediyurappa, 81, at his residence in Dollar’s Colony, Bengaluru seeking help in a previous case of sexual assault and other matters. While Yediyurappa was speaking with the mother, he was holding the survivor’s right wrist with his left hand.

Yediyurappa then called the minor inside a meeting room next to the hall and locked the door. He then asked the survivor, if she remembered the face of the person who had sexually assaulted her earlier. After the survivor replied twice that she did, Yediyurappa asked her what her age was then and proceeded to sexually assault her, the investigations found.

The survivor, startled, pushed the former CM’s hand, moved away and asked him to open the door. Yediyurappa put some cash in the hand of the survivor from his pocket and exited the room. He told the survivor’s mother that he couldn’t help them, gave her some money from his pocket and sent them away, the investigations revealed.

On February 20, after the survivor’s mother uploaded a video related to the crime on her Facebook account. Arun Y M, accused No.2, at the behest of Yediyurappa, along with Rudresh M and G Mariswamy, accused No.3 and 4, initiated contact with the survivor and her mother.

Rudresh and Mariswamy, along with another person listed as the witness, went to the survivor’s house and ferried her and her mother to Yediyurappa’s residence in their car. Investigations found that the three accused then coerced the survivor’s mother into taking down the video from her Facebook account and deleted the video from her iPhone’s gallery.

At Yediyurappa’s directions, Rudresh paid the survivor Rs 2 lakh in cash, the investigations revealed. Another conversation recorded by the survivor in her phone, which was not deleted, and the voice samples of Yediyurappa, formed key pieces of the evidence, reported Deccan Herald quoting sources.

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Agencies
June 29,2024

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Bengaluru: Amid raging debate over the possibility of change in Chief Minister and demand for three more deputy chief ministers in Karnataka, state Congress president D K Shivakumar on Saturday asked partymen and leaders to refrain from issuing public statements on the issue and warned of disciplinary action.

Shivakumar, who is also the Deputy Chief Minister urged partymen to "shut their mouth" in the interest of the party, as he also requested seers not to interfere in political matters.

There is growing demand within the state cabinet to have three more deputy chief ministers from Veerashaiva-Lingayat, SC/ST and minority communities. Currently, Shivakumar from the dominant Vokkaliga community is the only Deputy Chief Minister in the Siddaramaiah cabinet.

A Vokkaliga seer Kumara Chandrashekaranatha Swamiji of Vishwa Vokkaliga Mahasamastana Math on Thursday had publicly urged Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to step down and make way for his deputy Shivakumar.

Following this a Veearashaiva-Lingayat seer -- Srisaila Jagadguru Channa Siddharama Panditaradhya Swamiji on Friday said ministers from his community should be considered for the CM's post in case there is a leadership change, while also pitching for them to be given priority in the event of creation of additional Deputy CM posts.

"There is no discussion on any Deputy Chief Minister nor there is any question about the Chief Minister. Swamiji (Vokkaliga seer) out of affection towards me might have spoken about me. That's all. I request -- I don't need anyone's recommendation. For the work we have done, our party high command will decide," Shivakumar said in response to a question whether he had discussed with the high command the demand for more DCMs during the Delhi visit.

Addressing reporters here, he said, "Kharge (AICC President Mallikarjun Kharge), Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and I, in the interest of the party, have decided how to function. So there is no need for any MLA or minister or Swamiji to speak. If they (seers) bless us it's enough."

There is no need for any minister to comment on the CM or Deputy CM issue in public or before the media, Shivakumar said and warned that "if any MLA or anyone from the party raises it, the AICC or I will be forced to issue notice and take disciplinary action. Discipline is important in the party. There is nothing without discipline."

"I know the struggle that has gone to bring the party to this level, there is no need for any of them to speak now."

Responding to a query, the Deputy CM said, "In the interest of the party I'm telling everyone -- if you shut your mouth it will be good for the party."

Asked about seers interfering in politics, he said, "No swamiji had spoken other than now...I request all of them with folded hands, don't interfere in political matters."

A section within the Congress is of the opinion that the statement by the ministers seeking three more Deputy CMs was part of a plan by Siddaramaiah's camp to keep Shivakumar in check, amid talks that he might seek the CM post after two-and-half years of this government's tenure, and to counter his influence both in the government and party.

There is also a feeling that the Vokkaliga seer publicly urging Siddaramaiah to step down and make way for Shivakumar is a counter to the CM from the KPCC president's camp.

There was stiff competition between Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar for the chief minister's post after the declaration of Assembly election results in May last year, and the Congress had managed to convince the latter and made him the Deputy Chief Minister.

There were some reports back then of a compromise having been reached based on a "rotational chief minister formula", according to which Shivakumar will become CM after two-and-half years, but those have not been officially confirmed by the party.

Shivakumar has made no secret of his ambition to become the CM, while Siddaramaiah had sought public support during the Lok Sabha polls so that the Congress wins the maximum number of seats in the state, which would strengthen his position.

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News Network
July 6,2024

Mangaluru: District minister Dinesh Gundu Rao directed the district administration of Dakshina Kannada to conduct an inquiry into the alleged substandard work in the Riverfront project, which is being undertaken by Mangaluru Smart City Limited (MSCL) in the city.

At a Karnataka Development Programme (KDP) meeting on Friday, MLC Ivan D’Souza and Mangaluru City South MLA D Vedavyas Kamath brought the issue of the collapse of a retaining wall constructed by the side of the Nethravati River in Boloor to the minister’s attention.

The minister stated that a detailed report should be submitted within a week. Raising the issue, D’Souza mentioned that despite having access to advanced technologies, MSCL has failed to ensure the quality of work.

He added that people have been blaming the representatives for the lapses of officials. Officials of the MSCL explained that a 740-metre-long retaining wall was constructed by the side of the river, as part of the 2.1km riverfront project. Since soil could not be filled during the work, a portion of the retaining wall, about 12-metres-long, collapsed during the rain. The contractor has been asked to reconstruct the wall, the official said.

In response to a query, an MSCL official stated that two cases pertaining to the riverfront project are pending before the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

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