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Almost equal number of Hindus and Muslims arrested in child marriage crackdown, says Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

Amid the uproar over the contentious crackdown against child marriages in Assam, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Saram, Wednesday, claimed that his regime ensured that almost an equal number of Hindus and Muslims were arrested in last month’s clampdown to fears that the action was not deemed communal in nature.

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Amid the uproar over the contentious crackdown against child marriages in Assam, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Saram, Wednesday, claimed that his regime ensured that almost an equal number of Hindus and Muslims were arrested in last month’s clampdown to fears that the action was not deemed communal in nature.

Speaking during his reply to a discussion on Vote of Thanks on the Governor’s speech in Assam Assembly’s Budget session, Sarma fired shots at the Opposition saying “I got some of our people pickup up too because you all feel bad”, while also revealing that the ratio of arrests of Muslims to Hindus since the February 3 crackdown is 55:45.

The chief minister said that such crackdowns will be repeated every six months to ensure that child marriage is eradicated in the state by 2026.

Taking more shots at the opposition, Sarma said that “some people are weeping for criminals” for not feeling the pain and anguish of 11-year-old girls who are forced into marriages and impregnated.

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CM Sarma claimed that according to the data provided by NFHS 5 (National Family Health Survey), child marriages are mostly prevalent in Muslim-majority districts Dhubri and South Salmara and not in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia (Hindu-majority areas).

Sarma claimed that since opposition puts communal shades on his every decision, he asked the Dibrugarh Superintendent of Police “to pick up a few from there as well.”

He said the NFHS 5 data is corroborated by the NFHS 4 data which was collected during the Congress rule in the state, and like its successor, shows that the highest of underage marriages and childbirths are prevalent in lower Assam districts which has a higher Muslim population.

The Himanta Biswa Sarma led BJP regime’s decision to prosecute child marriages under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 (PCMA) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO), has sparked a row in the northeastern state.

Opposition parties, led by the Congress have accused Sarma’s government of “terrorizing minorities” by slapping POCSO on those accused of marrying underage girls. Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia had said slapping of POCSO and rape cases on child marriage accused have created disturbances in the society with many old people getting arrested.

In a query by Independent MLA Akhil Gogoi, the Sarma informed the assembly that 4,111 incidents of child marriage took place in the state from April 2021 to February 2023.

He said that a total of 4,670 cases have been registered against 7,142 accused, adding that 3,483 persons have been arrested, of which 1,182 are in jail, 2,253 have got bail and notices have been issued to 48 others.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays foundation stone for redevelopment of 553 railway stations at a cost of Rs 19000 crore

These redevelopment projects are spread across 27 states and union territories which were inaugurated at a cost of Rs 19000 crore. The Prime Minister’s Office emphasised that these stations will serve as City Centres seamlessly integrating both sides of the cities. These train stations will have modern passenger amenities such as roof plazas, landscaping, intermodal connectivity, improved facades, kids’ play areas, kiosks and food courts.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a series of railway infrastructure projects valued at over Rs 41,000 crore on Monday under the Amrit Bharat Station Scheme. PM Modi also laid down foundation stones for redevelopment of 553 railway stations. These redevelopment projects are spread across 27 states and union territories which were inaugurated at a cost of Rs 19000 crore.

The Prime Minister’s Office emphasised that these stations will serve as City Centres seamlessly integrating both sides of the cities. These train stations will have modern passenger amenities such as roof plazas, landscaping, intermodal connectivity, improved facades, kids’ play areas, kiosks and food courts.

These city centres have been envisioned to be environment friendly and accessible to differently-abled individuals. Their design will draw inspiration from local culture, heritage and architecture, as stated in a press release. The Indian Railways is known as the world’s busiest and oldest railway systems which serves a staggering 3.52 billion passengers and transports 1512 MT of freight in 2023.

The Railway network is known as the lifeline of India and operates over 13,000 trains daily, connecting 7,325 stations across the nation. According to the Amrit Bharat scheme aims at redeveloping 1309 stations nationwide. The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone for the redevelopment of 508 railway stations on Auguast 6 last year.

The primary objective of the scheme is to enhance station facilities with  modern infrastructure, including roof plazas and city centres, fostering a more convenient and comfortable experience for passengers. With a substantial allocation of over Rs 24,470 crore by the government, the initiative underscores a commitment to bolstering India’s transportation infrastructure.

 As part of the scheme, Indian railways is crafting comprehensive Master Plans, integrating urban development around railway stations. This integrated approach signifies a holistic vision aimed at fostering overall urban development which is centred on these pivotal transport hubs.

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Maratha quota protesters set state transport bus on fire in Tirthpuri city

The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has filed a police complaint and all bus services have been suspended in Jalna. MSRTC’s Depot Manager of Ambad Taluka has also lodged a complaint at a local station demanding action against the accused who set the bus on fire.

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Maratha protesters set a state transport bus on fire at Chhatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj Chowk in Tirthpuri city, Ambad taluka while protesting against the state government over Maratha reservation row on Monday. After the incident a curfew has been imposed in the area to maintain law and order situation.

The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has filed a police complaint and all bus services have been suspended in Jalna. MSRTC’s Depot Manager of Ambad Taluka has also lodged a complaint at a local station demanding action against the accused who set the bus on fire.  Jalna collector Srikrushna Panchal said there is a possibility that quota supporters may arrive at Antarwali Sarati village in Ambad Taluka of Jalna, where the activist has been staging a hunger strike and stop him from going to Mumbai.

The curfew order said there is a possibility that traffic on Dhule – Mumbai highway and Tehsils near Ambad may get affected. The collector said government offices, schools, movement on national highways, milk distribution, media and hospitals have been exempted from the order. Maharashtra Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar appealed to Maharashtra reservation activist Manoj Jarange Patil to protest peacefully and stated that he should ensure that nobody is harmed and law and order should be maintained in the area.

He further added everybody knows who has groomed Manoj Jarange, and whose people used to visit Manoj Patil. Maharashtra government ministers used to meet the activists. He said they are reaping what they had sown in the past.

The Maharshtra Legislative assembly (lower house) unanimously passed the Maratha reservation Bill tabled in February, which intended to extend 10% reservation to Marathas above the 50% cap. Maharashtra reservation activist Manoj Jarange Patil had demanded that the NDA government should implement the ‘Sage Soyare’ ordinance notification within 2 days, failing which the majority community in Maharashtra will launch a fresh round of agitation on February 24.

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Farmers take out tractor march near Yamuna Expressway in Uttar Pradesh’s Gautam Budh Nagar

The Noida police had issued an advisory for daily commuters and warned them of traffic jams at many places which also included the Delhi-Noida border. The farmers are planning to carry out the tractor march along the Yamuna Expressway, Luharli Toll Plaza and Mahamaya Flyover and traffic diversions have been imposed by the police at these places.

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Farmers took out a tractor rally near the Yamuna Expressway in Uttar Pradesh’s Gautam Budh Nagar on Monday to protest against the central government for accepting their demands, which included a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP) for crops. Videos showed many tractors being driven on the road. The rally was stopped by the police at the Yamuna Expressway’s entry point.

They were not allowed to carry out their rally on the expressway. The development comes even as farmers have delayed their march to the national capital till February 29 after a decision is made and are staying at the Khanauri and Shambhu points on the Punjab-Haryana border.

The Noida police had issued an advisory for daily commuters and warned them of traffic jams at many places which also included the Delhi-Noida border. The farmers are planning to carry out the tractor march along the Yamuna Expressway, Luharli Toll Plaza and Mahamaya Flyover and traffic diversions have been imposed by the police at these places.

The police have barricaded the Delhi-Noida border and police will conduct checking of vehicles entering Delhi or Noida. Daily commuters have been advised not to use the Yamuna Expressway and to use alternative routes or the metro to avoid inconveniences.

Farmer leader Baldev Singh Sirsa said a farmer named Pritpal Singh was doing Langar seva at the Khannauri on the Punjab-Haryana border when he was allegedly dragged by the policemen from his tractor trolley and was badly beaten. He said Pritpal Singh was admitted to a hospital in Rohtak. But he got shifted to PGIMER at Chandigarh.

Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said Pritpal Singh has suffered multiple injuries and they strongly condemn the action of the police. He said the prime minister should take action against policemen who indulge in such barbaric acts. Former Punjab chief Minister and senior BJP Leader Captain Amarinder Singh condemned the barbaric act of violence against Pritpal Singh.

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