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68 dead in blaze after Venezuela jail inmates start fire, steal guard’s gun to escape

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Caracas:A fire allegedly set during an attempted jailbreak from Venezuelan police holding cells killed 68 people , the country’s top prosecutor and an inmates’ rights group said.
The blaze at the detention facility in Carabobo state is the latest in a series of deadly incidents in Venezuela’s overcrowded jails.
“In light of the terrible events that took place in the Carabobo state police headquarters, where 68 people died in a presumed fire, we have appointed four prosecutors… to clarify these dramatic events,” chief prosecutor Tarek William Saab said on Twitter.
Carlos Nieto, head of Una Ventana a la Libertad (A Window on Freedom), said that “some burned to death and others asphyxiated” after setting fire to mattresses and stealing a guard’s gun in an attempt to break out.
The dead included two women thought to have been visiting the jail at the time of the incident, Nieto said.
Rafael Lacava, the governor of Carabobo state, expressed his “consternation” over the events but did not provide a toll.
“A serious and profound investigation has been initiated to find the causes and those responsible for these regrettable events,” he said on Twitter, expressing solidarity with relatives of those who died.
Relatives of those being kept in the detention center tried to force their way into Carabobo state police headquarters. After one officer was injured by a stone, the crowd was dispersed by police firing tear gas.
A video posted on Twitter showed dozens of people demanding information in front of police guarding the site.
“I am a desperate mother. My son has been here a week. They have not given any information,” Dora Blanco told local media.
Venezuela’s prisons suffer from dire overcrowding and a shortage of basic supplies, struggling under the deepening economic crisis that is gripping the once-wealthy oil-producing country.
Because of the lack of space in penitentiaries, convicts are often sent to police holding cells like the ones in Carabobo, meant to be used as temporary pens for suspects facing charges or court hearings, where detainees are supposed to spend a maximum of 48 hours.
Nieto’s association estimated that the temporary detention centres were overfilled by five times their capacity.
“All the police stations in Venezuela are facing similar or worse conditions of overcrowding, lack of food and disease,” he said.
The association said 65 people died last year in the holding cells due to violence, malnutrition or tuberculosis.
Two weeks ago, 58 detainees escaped holding cells on Margarita Island, a favoured tourist spot, when a hole opened up in their facility’s wall. They were all soon recaptured.
In August 2017, a riot left 37 dead and 14 wounded in police cells in the southern state of Amazonas, while an April 2017 clash between rival gangs left 12 dead and 11 injured in the Puente Ayala prison in the eastern city of Barcelona.
A month before that, the remains of 14 people were found in a mass grave in the General Penitentiary of Venezuela, in San Juan de Los Morros in the country’s centre.


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Rahul ‘regrets’ using SC reference in ‘chowkidar chor hai’ remark over Rafale deal

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New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday filed his response to a contempt petition filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Meenakshi Lekhi over his remark on the Rafale deal. Rahul said that he ‘regrets’ using Supreme Court’s reference in ‘chowkidar chor hai’ remark and it was ‘made in the heat of the political campaign.’

SC had last week issued a notice to Rahul Gandhi in connection to the contempt petition and sought an explanation from him.

In his response, the Congress president said that the statement was made in the “heat of political campaigning” but alleged that it has been “used and misused by political opponents.”

 

“I will not attribute any views, observations or findings to the court in political addresses to the media and in public speeches, unless such views, observations or findings are recorded by the Court,” Rahul Gandhi said.

“It is also clear that no court would ever do that (say Chowkidar Chor hai) and hence the unfortunate references (for which I express regret) to the court order and to the political juxtaposition in the same breath in the heat of the political campaigning,” he added.

The Supreme Court will hear the matter .

After the apex court had dismissed preliminary objection raised by the Centre seeking review of the earlier judgment in the Rafale case, the Congress president remarked: “Supreme Court has said chowkidar chor hai in the verdict.”

While making the observations last week, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said: “We make it clear that views, observations, findings attributed to this court in the alleged speeches, remarks made by Gandhi to media/public have been incorrectly attributed to this court. We also make it clear that this court had no occasion to make such observation in as much as it was deciding legal admissibility of certain documents which were objected by the attorney general.”

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Like father, like son: Jaya Prada reacts to Abdullah Azam Khan’s ‘Anarkali’ jibe

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New Delhi: Jaya Prada on Monday lashed out at Abdullah Azam Khan for his remarks from a day earlier in which he described her as ‘Anarkali.’

Abdullah, son of Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan, had – without actually taking Jaya Prada’s name – had suggested that Rampur Lok Sabha constituency will accept both Bajrangbali and Ali but will reject Anarkali. It is believed to be a clear reference to Jaya Prada who is contesting the Lok Sabha election on a BJP ticket from here. (Full report here)

Reacting to the remark, Jaya Prada said that Abdullah has taken the habit of making cheap remarks from his father. “I cannot decide whether to laugh or to cry after listening to his remark. Like father, like son. But I had not expected this from Abdullah. He is an educated man,” she told news agency ANI. “His father says I am Amrapali. He says I am Anarkali. Is that how they see women?”

 

The verbal duel between Jaya Prada on one side and Abdullah and Azam Khan on the other has been bitter, often bordering on derogatory.

Azam Khan, in particular, has had to face massive backlash for reportedly making numerous crass remarks against his former SP colleague who has since joined BJP. The two are direct rivals in the Rampur Lok Sabha constituency which votes in the third phase this Tuesday.

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‘Absolutely a right decision’: Amit Shah defends fielding Sadhvi Pragya

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Kolkata: While addressing a press conference in Kolkata, BJP president Amit Shah said, “The refugees who have come from Bangladesh, be it Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, or Christians, BJP has clearly signalled in its ‘sankalp patra’ that we will give them citizenship.”

“Citizenship Amendment Bill will come first, all refugees will be given citizenship, after that NRC will be made. Refugees shouldn’t worry, only infiltrators should. First the CAB will come then NRC, NRC will not be for just Bengal but for the whole country,” Shah said.

Shah assured that Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will be passed after picture in Rajya Sabha changes by 2020.

 

He said, for India, the 2019 Lok Sabha elections is about taking it to new heights and establishing democracy.

“Democracy has ceased to exist in Bengal, law and order has also failed,” he added.

Speaking on the recent controversial leader Sadhvi Pragya, the BJP president said that she has been given a clean chit after a false case was filed against her.

Sadhvi Pragya, who is out on bail in the Malegaon blast case of 2008, has been fielded by the BJP from Bhopal constituency. “It is absolutely a right decision. The allegations against her are baseless. Nothing against her or Swami Aseemanad have been proved,” Shah said while addressing a media conference here.

On being asked if Prime Minister Modi will also contest from West Bengal, Shah said that as of now there is no such plan.

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