Rajat Sharma

My Opinion

Menace of potholes needs to be addressed on a war footing

06-12-News at-2100_frame_56151The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed grave concern over the rising number of deaths due to potholes on roads. The apex court has said this is “unacceptable” and “frightening” and the government should come out with a plan to address this problem.

Potholes claim, on an average, 10 lives every day, and in 2017 alone, 3,597 people died due to road accidents caused by potholes. This number is 50 per cent more compared with the number of deaths in 2016.

An SC-appointed committee on road safety has in its report said that a total of 14,936 people lost their lives in the last five years from 2013 to 2017. The Supreme Court observed that municipal corporations, or state governments or National Highway Authority of India or similar bodies are not maintaining the roads in an effective manner resulting in pothole-related deaths. The bench also observed that there was no law relating to compensation for such road accident victims, nor was any criminal action taken against authorities responsible for shoddy maintenance.

Potholes on roads are caused not only due to acts of nature like rain, flood or other calamities. In most of the cases, roads are dug up for laying cables, repairing sewer lines, and are then left unattended. In many other cases, potholes appear on roads soon after monsoon, due to poor quality of road construction. Contractors indulge in outright cheating and there is sheer negligence on part of the officials entrusted with overseeing such work.

Union Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has earned the reputation of a go-getter by getting highways and flyovers built at a fast pace, and we do hope that he would come forward with a concrete plan to address this menace on a war footing.

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Christian Michel’s extradition has struck terror in the hearts of other economic fugitives

akbOn Wednesday, Indian Youth Congress expelled its legal cell head Aljo K. Joseph, who appeared as lawyer for Agusta Westland middleman British national Christian Michel in the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal. When BJP raised this matter, Joseph clarified that though he was a member of Congress party, he had appeared in his personal and professional capacity as a lawyer. Later in the evening, the Indian Youth Congress expelled him from the party membership.

Joseph, being a member of a political party, is not the issue at the moment. The larger issue is that of corruption. Christian Michel and two of his associates have been charged of giving bribes to Indian politicians, bureaucrats and Air Force officials for the purchase of 12 Agusta Westland helicopters. Michel was hiding in the UAE after fleeing India in 2013, when the then Defence Minister cancelled the deal and admitted that bribes had been paid. Michel was under arrest in Dubai since last year, and it goes to the credit of the government and CBI, which made painstaking efforts to extradite him.

Michel, presently in CBI custody, is expected to reveal the extent of bribes paid to politicians and bureaucrats, and this is surely going to stir a hornets’ nest in Delhi’s Lutyens Zone. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already given indication about this in his Rajasthan rally on Wednesday.

Moreover, the extradition of Michel to India has opened up similar possibilities for other economic fugitives like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, who have fled India after taking thousands of crores of rupees worth bank loans. This has certainly struck terror in the hearts of these fugitives and Vijay Mallya has already tweeted that he is willing to “return 100 per cent principal amount” of the bank loans that his group had taken.


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Violence in Bulandshahr could be part of a big conspiracy

akb (006)As eyewitness reports and videos of a mob killing a UP police inspector in Bulandshahr emerged, one thing seems to be clear. The violence that suddenly took place on Monday in Syana was not spontaneous. It seems to be part of a deeper conspiracy.

Bulandshahr is infamous for communal tension and illegal cow slaughter And yet, from Saturday till Monday, more than 10 lakh Muslim devotees took part in a massive congregation called Alami Tablighi Iztema. The local administration did not take this event seriously, and no precautionary steps were taken.

The congregation went on peacefully for two days, and on the last day, 30 to 35 cows were found slaughtered in the fields of Syana. This cannot be taken on face value as coincidence. It seems, there was a conspiracy to ignite communal flareup on a big scale across Bulandshahr district.

Cows were slaughtered in a forest near the fields in order to incite the feelings of Hindus. The conspirators succeeded in igniting tension, but the handful of 20 to 25 policemen posted at Syana police post acted bravely under the leadership of inspector Subodh Kumar Singh.

The local police tried its best to calm down tempers among the local villagers. The situation could have gone out of hand in Bulandshahr and the communal flareup could have spread to other districts of UP. The credit for preventing this goes to Inspecgor Subodh Kumar Singh, who deserves to be called a martyr.

The UP government must give all assistance to the family members of the slain inspector, but it needs to delve into the depth of the matter, and bring those conspirators to justice, who slaughtered cows in order to ignite communal riots.

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How UP police averted a major communal flareup in Bulandshahr

akb (006)On Monday, an angry mob led by cow vigilantes attacked the police outpost in Syana and set fire to it, apart from indulging in widespread arson. They were protesting the slaughter of cattle in a nearby forest, and had staged a violent protest in front of the police outpost by carrying animal carcasses in tractors. A police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh and another youth were killed in the violence that ensued.

The UP police swung into action immediately and deployed Rapid Action Force and Provincial Armed Constabulary to stop the violence from spreading. This was necessary because a big Islamic congregation had been organized in Bulandshahr district from December 1 to 3, in which nearly a million Muslims gathered to offer prayers. The Alami Tablighi Iztema was being attended by Muslims from across the country and also from Gulf countries. Monday was the last day of the congregation.

It should be noted that the three-day congregation passed off peacefully without any incident. In one instance, local Hindus opened up a temple to allow Muslims to offer namaz, as the devotees had spilled over the road blocking traffic. Muslims offered prayers sitting inside a Shiva temple premises. There could be no bigger example of communal amity than this.

The discovery of animal carcasses on the last day of the congregation surely arouses suspicion in the minds of the people. The role of the slain police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh needs to be applauded as he tried his best to assuage the feelings of enraged farmers. He laid down his life while performing his duty, and the UP government has decided to grant Rs 50 lakh assistance to his widow and parents.

Now that a Special Investigation Team has been formed by UP police to find out the miscreants behind this violence, we should hope that the criminals will be brought to justice soon and punished.

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Pakistan’s boast about Imran’s ‘googly’ could be a big embarrassment for Congress in India

AKB4-327x245Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has boasted that Prime Minister Imran Khan, a renowed bowler during his cricketing days, has succeeded in throwing a ‘googly’ at India by deciding to start work on Kartarpur Sahib corridor. Qureshi said, India had been avoiding bilateral meetings with his country, but on the Kartarpur Sahib corridor issue, India had to send two of its ministers to the event.

Clearly, Pakistan is admitting indirectly that it had been using Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu to project its country in good light on the world stage. Sidhu, who praised Prime Minister Imran Khan to the skies at the Kartarpur Sahib event, has stirred another controversy on his return by saying that Congress President Rahul Gandhi and “20 other Congress leaders” asked him to go to Pakistan. “The central leadership of my party asked me to go. Rahul Ji is my captain.”

Sidhu, on realizing the controversy that he had stoked, later retracted his comment and tweeted to say that “Rahul Ji never asked me to go to Pakistan. The whole world knows that I went to Pakistan on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s personal invite.”

Sidhu’s actions and statements have caused lot of embarrassment to the Congress party leadership, and it is time that the party reins its voluble ex-cricketer.

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