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Big-News

Indonesian military plane crashes in Sumatra, killing at least 30 -
6/30/2015 2:31:07 PM

Military spokesman Fuad Basya said that 12 personnel, including the pilot, had been aboard the C-130 Hercules. The bodies of five of them had been found

An Indonesian military transport plane crashed into a hotel and residential area in the northern Sumatra city of Medan on Tuesday, killing at least 30 people, a national search and rescue agency official said.

"That's the latest information, the number could go up," Hisar Turnip of the Basarnas agency told Reuters.

Military spokesman Fuad Basya said that 12 personnel, including the pilot, had been aboard the C-130 Hercules. The bodies of five of them had been found.

Local television showed a neighbourhood of houses and hotels in flames and black smoke billowing from the area.

According to the Aviation Safety Network, there have been 10 fatal crashes involving Indonesian military or police aircraft over the last decade.

The accidents put under a spotlight the safety record of Indonesia's aviation and its ageing commercial and military aircraft. Basya said the plane that crashed on Tuesday was built in 1964.

An AirAsia plane crashed less than halfway into a two-hour flight from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore on Dec. 28. All 162 people on board the Airbus A320 were killed.

The Hercules transport plane was on its way from an air force base in Medan to the remote Natuna islands and crashed a few minutes after take-off, Basya said. Media said the pilot had asked to return because of technical problems.

"It passed overhead a few times, really low," said Elfrida Efi, a receptionist at the Golden Eleven Hotel.

"There was fire and black smoke. The third time it came by it crashed into the roof of the hotel and exploded straight away," she told Reuters by telephone.

She said the plane also hit a massage parlour, where there are normally several people during the daytime.

Sairi M. Saragih, a public relations official at the nearby Adam Malik Central General Hospital, said 11 bodies had been brought in so far.


Vasundhara Raje turned Dholpur Palace into hotel illegally: Congress -
6/30/2015 2:28:34 PM

Stepping up pressure on Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Congress on Tuesday levelled fresh allegations on her over the ownership of Dholpur City Palace.

Stepping up pressure on Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Congress on Tuesday levelled fresh allegations on her over the ownership of Dholpur City Palace.

Talking to reporters in New Delhi, senior Congress leader and former Union minister Jairam Ramesh said there are clinching evidences that the Dholpur Palace is a government property. Ramesh alleged that Vasundhara's son Dushyant Singh had illegally converted Dholpur Palace into a hotel.

"Documents we release today prove that Dholpur Palace belong to the government of Rajasthan. In 2007 additional district judge of Bharatpur in a case titled - Dushyant vs Hemant Singh - ruled on a compromise between father and  son. He (Dushyant Singh) got a compensation of Rs 2 crore, and that is a scam which needs to be investigated. Until there is a closure of this issue, Congress will keep bringing in disclosures," Ramesh said.

Demanding Vasundhara's immediate resignation, Ramesh said Prime Minister Narendra Modi must break his silence over the issue. Vasundhara has been facing severe Opposition fire ever since reports emerged that she secretly signed documents in support of former IPL czar Lalit Modi's immigration application in UK. While the BJP leadership has rejected demands of her sacking, PM Modi has remained tightlipped over the issue.

The Dholpur Palace, located about 40 km from Agra, originally belonged to the royal family of Hemant Singh, ex-husband of Vasundhara Raje. The Palace is listed as an asset of a firm co-owned by former IPL chief Lalit Modi, Vasundhara Raje and her son, Dushyant Singh.

The Rajasthan BJP has already dismissed Jairam Ramesh's claim that Dholpur Palace was a state property grabbed by Vasundhara Raje. At a media conference on Monday, president of Rajasthan BJP Ashok Parnami displayed documents to show that the Dholpur Palace is listed as being given to the government of India in 1952, was given back to Dholpur royals in 1957 in lieu of other properties and land that were given to the state government by the royal family.

The General Administration department and Home Department of Government of India were involved in this exchange of properties. In an out-of-court settlement with his son Dushyant Singh in 2007, Hemant Singh accepted the Palace as his property being given to his son.


Jayalalithaa wins RK Nagar bypoll, AIADMK gains confidence -
6/30/2015 2:26:40 PM

Cadres broke into a dance and distributed sweets at the party office at Royapettah and outside Jayalalithaa's residence at Poes Garden

Even as the Karnataka government's appeal in the Supreme Court against the high court verdict acquitting her and others in Disproportionate Assets case is staring at her, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa recorded an impressive victory at the RK Nagar by-election the results of which were announced on June 30.

With major political parties deciding to boycott the bypoll, Jayalalithaa's victory was only a foregone conclusion. Nevertheless the victory - a record of sorts - has boosted the morale of the party. Cadres broke into a dance and distributed sweets at the party office at Royapettah and outside Jayalalithaa's residence at Poes Garden. "Amma is a lioness. She won't face defeat. Ever," screamed a cadre.

But  bigger challenges lie ahead. Speculations are rife about Jayalalithaa's ill-health. While there is no official word on whether she is really unwell, observers moot that her decision to contest in Chennai might be linked to her not-so-good health. When a Tamil magazine reported some time ago that she might fly abroad for treatment, the government-instead of filing a defamation case as has been its wont - chose to maintain a stoic silence. "I don't really know how to understand this. It could be that its true. OR that the government has decided to ignore. Anyway the magazine is known for being pro-DMK," says R Mani, a senior journalist based in Chennai.

But what worries the cadres and perhaps even Jayalalithaa more is the appeal of the Karnataka government pending in Supreme Court. "For the moment she is unfazed. But one never knows what would unfold at the Supreme Court. OF course, her political future depends on that", Mani says.

Cadres are hoping that the case would drag till next year when the state would go into general assembly elections. "We will be victorious there too. And there is no challenging amma the next five years. She will win the case after that," says a second-rung AIADMK leader but prefers not to elaborate on that.

The game might just be in her favour now, but Jayalalithaa might have to wait to see if it will continue to be so till the end.

Maharashtra minister Vinod Tawde faces corruption allegation -
6/30/2015 1:04:00 PM

After Pankaja Munde, another Maharashtra minister Vinod Tawde now faces allegations of corruption after the state finance department objected to a Rs 191 crore contract for fire extinguishers in state schools awarded without inviting an e-tender was reported on Tuesday.

After Pankaja Munde, another Maharashtra minister Vinod Tawde now faces allegations of corruption after the state finance department objected to a Rs 191 crore contract for fire extinguishers in state schools awarded without inviting an e-tender was reported on Tuesday.

The contract, cleared by the powerful Education Minister of the state, has been put on hold after the finance department's objection. The contract was given for installing 62,105 fire extinguishers in Zila Parishad schools across Maharashtra.

However, Tawde told reporters on Tuesday that there were no irregularities in the decision. "Not a single rupee has been paid to contractors," the minister said. "We stopped the order immediately after the Finance Department raised objections," he added. 

The Devendra Fadnavis government also dismissed the allegations. "This is an old file. The objections were raised by the finance department and the contract was stopped. I'm amazed why questions are being raised about a deal that was stopped," Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said. BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said, "You cannot taint people just on the basis of allegations. Show proof."

But the opposition was not persuaded. "How did minister Vinod Tawde order 62105 fire extinguishers without tenders? It is absolutely wrong," Aam Aadmi Party's Anjali Damania said. "The BJP MLAs are recovering the election money through such scams," she alleged.

The controversy came days after Maharashtra Minister for Women and Child Welfare Development Pankaja Munde was accused of alleged irregularities in awarding contracts worth Rs 206 crore with the opposition Congress demanding a CBI probe in the matter.

The 35-year-old minister -- daughter of former Union minister Gopinath Munde who died in a road accident in New Delhi last year - is accused of doling out the multi-crore-rupee contracts through multiple Government Resolutions on a single day (February 13) instead of adopting the e-tendering or tender route. Munde arrived in Mumbai from the US on Tuesday morning.

Among the allegations against Munde are irregularities in awarding contracts for workbooks for students, water filters, growth monitoring machines for malnourished kids, medicines and 'chikkis' (sweets cookies with nuts and dry fruits in a jaggery base).


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