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Sidhu takes a U-turn, says went to Pakistan on Imran Khan’s personal invite, not Rahul’s command

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New Delhi: Barely hours after claiming party president Rahul Gandhi sent him to Pakistan, Punjab Minister and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu took a U-turn and denied his statement.

“Get your facts right before you distort them, Rahul Gandhi Ji never asked me to go to Pakistan. The whole world knows I went on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s personal invite,” he tweeted.

Sidhu had attended the groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor in Pakistan on November 28.

 

Earlier, the cricketer-turned-politician sought to clarify his recent visit to the neighbouring country despite Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s objection it the visit. Sidhu claimed that Rahul Gandhi had sent him to Pakistan for the groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on November 28.

“My captain is Rahul Gandhi, he has sent me everywhere. Rahul Gandhi is also the captain of Captain Amarinder Singh (Mere captain Rahul Gandhi hain, unhone toh bheja hai har jagah. Hamare Captain sahab ke bhi Captain Rahul Gandhi ji hain),” Sidhu said.

He had added that the central leadership and atleast 20 Congress leaders had asked him to go to Pakistan. “Atleast 20 Congress leaders asked me to go, Central leadership asked me to go. Punjab Chief Minister is like my father, I told him that I had already promised them (Pakistan) that I will go,” said Sidhu.

Later, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi backed Sidhu and hit out at the Centre for trying to divert people’s attention from the real issues. “It was his private visit (to Pakistan), Congress party has clarified, Sidhu has clarified, Punjab Govt has clarified. This rudderless Govt (Centre) is desperate and trying to divert attention from real issues,” Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.

Pakistan PM Imran Khan had inaugurated the opening ceremony of the facilities on November 28. Kartarpur corridor promises to help Sikh pilgrims from India offer prayers at the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur on the banks of Ravi river in Pakistan.

The issue of Kartarpur Sahib came into focus after Sidhu visited Pakistan in August to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan as the Prime Minister. During his visit, he was seen hugging Pakistan Army chief Bajwa, leading to a massive controversy. At the time, Sidhu had defended himself by saying that the Pakistan Army chief had told him about the opening of a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib, which led to the hug.

Earlier, the Indian government said it will develop and build the corridor from Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to the International Border to facilitate Indian pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur.


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National

Assam hooch tragedy toll goes up to 68, investigation on

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Assam:The death toll in the Assam hooch tragedy has gone up to 68 with 34 deaths being reported from the Jorhat Medical College and an equal number of deaths being reported from the Golaghat Medical College.

The incident took place at the Halmira Tea Estate in Assam’s Golaghat district after the tea estate workers people consumed a locally brewed liquor called ‘sulai’, which is made of jaggery and ethyl alcohol. The Halmira Tea Estate is about 300 km from Guwahati.

The deaths come less than a fortnight after nearly 100 people died of alcohol poisoning from country-made liquor in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

 

A one-person inquiry commission has been set up by Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal to investigate the incident.

The first of the deaths took place around 7pm on Thursday evening, said Ratul Bordoloi, joint director (health) Golaghat. Bordoloi has been monitoring the situation and said that the preliminary cause of the deaths seems to have been alcohol poisoning.

Among the dead were 65-year-old Dhrupadi Oran from whose house the illicit alcohol was bought by the workers at the Halmira Tea Estate. Dhrupadi’s son Sanju Oran, 30, was also among the deceased.

Also among the dead were some people from the neighbouring Jorhat district. The police are trying to find out how and from where they had obtained the liquor.

Initial investigations indicate that Sanju had brought the liquor from outside the tea estate. Deputy superintendent of police, Partha Protim Saikia, said that the liquor seems to have been brewed outside the tea estate and was brought in by Sanju in a jerrycan.

It is suspected that instead of using ethyl alcohol, the brewers used methyl alcohol, which is poisonous to humans. Methyl alcohol is added to the brews to increase its potency, albeit in very small doses.

Sanju’s partner Pompi Oran said that he would often get liquor from the neighbouring village and would sell it. “Some days he would get 5 litres or 10 litres or 15 litres and would sell it,” she said.

Sanju was a temporary worker at the tea estate and was to marry Pompi Oran next month. Sanju and Pompi have two children. Saikia said that Sanju’s death has come as a setback in the investigation, but also said that the police has a lead as to where the alcohol came from and are looking into it.

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Over 100 vehicles gutted in fire during Aero India show

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BENGALURU: A massive fire broke out in the parking area of Yelahanka Air Base during the ongoing Aero India show in Bengaluru on Saturday. Over 100 vehicles were gutted in the blaze, said Air Force Police and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) present at the spot.

Six Air Force fire brigade rushed to the site to douse the blaze and aid rescue efforts. There were no casualties or injuries in the incident.

The fire has been brought under control now.

 

The blaze broke out at Gate 5 of Aero India at around 1 pm. It quickly spread due to dry grass on the ground and set parked vehicles in the adjoining parking lot ablaze. A fuel tank also exploded during the fire.

Immediately after the fire broke out, the ongoing air show was stopped. After some time, authorities asked the general public to move back towards the show area.
The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained.

Billows of thick black smoke were seen engulfing the parking lot during the incident.

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Mob descends on Karachi Bakery in Bengaluru, wants name changed

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Bengaluru: A group of unidentified people held a mob protest outside an outlet of the Hyderabad-based Karachi Bakery in Bengaluru where the staff was forced to cover half of its signboard and also demanded to change its name.

According to reports, this incident took place around 8-8.30 pm at Indiranagar. A group of 20 to 25 men gathered in front of the bakery and started chanting slogans and insisted its name be changed. They also forced the staff to cover the word ‘Karachi’ on the name board.

The staff covered the word ‘Karachi’ and displayed the Indian flag at the cafe. However, no violence was reported.

 

The manager of the Karachi Bakery told The News Minute, “The mob stayed for about half an hour. They demanded us to change the name. The men claimed to know people in the Army. They thought we were from Pakistan. But we have been using this name for the last 53 years. The owners are Hindus; only the name is Karachi Bakery. To satisfy them, we put up the Indian flag.”

This comes in the aftermath of the February 14 Pulwama terror attack, where over 40 CRPF soldiers were martyred in a suicide bomb blast in Jammu and Kashmir. Ever since then, India has worked diplomatic channels to isolate Pakistan. For the first time, the United Nations Security Council has termed a bomb blast in Jammu and Kashmir as an act of terror. China also came on board in the UNSC resolution condemning the attack. Under pressure, Pakistan mildly cracked down on the Jaish-e-Mohammed on Friday.

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