Assam Congress launches state-wide agitation against BJP’s Petrol Tax Loot

Providing stellar momentum to its state-wide campaign, the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee on Sunday, launched agitations across all districts to protest against the stupendous petrol price hike.

Displaying phenomenal co-ordination, top Congress leaders including former Union Minister and AICC General Secretary Mukul Wasnik, APCC Chief Ripun Bora, Campaign Committee Chairman Pradyut Bordoloi, Manifesto Committee Chairman Gaurav Gogoi, CLP leader Debabrata Saikia, Publicity Committee Chairman Rakibul Hussain and All India Mahila Congress President Sushmita Dev led the protests from different districts across the State.

“The base price of petrol is Rs 33.46 per litre and that of diesel is Rs 31.82 per litre. However, the common man is forced to pay Rs 87 per litre for petrol and Rs 82 per litre for diesel in Assam. The BJP is simply looting the people at the name of taxes,” said Ripun Bora while addressing the protests in Hojai.

“Why is the BJP Govt hiding the knowledge of price control policies for price rise from the public? Why not come out clean and let people know why are decisions being enforced on them?” Bora asked in a Tweet.

Pradyut Bordoloi also took pot-shots at the Sonowal government that increased the price of Petrol and Diesel disproportionately in Assam.

“I would simply like to ask BJP Govt- on what basis does it decide the petroleum prices every day? What is the explanation for subjecting people of Assam to this cruelty,” asked Bordoloi, in his Tweet.

“BJP Govt is mercilessly looting the public with hiked fuel prices- especially during a raging pandemic! On behalf of the people of Assam, I want to ask why this hike in petrol & diesel prices when international crude oil prices are low,” said Gogoi in his Tweet.

“The common man is burdened by price rise, so will the BJP Govt clarify whom it is busy levying tax for? Who is this govt favouring at the expense of making people suffer so much,” asked Debabrata Saikia in a tweet.

“My straightforward question to BJP Govt is- why this apathetic attitude specifically towards Assam & other north east states, where fuel prices are higher compared to other parts of the country! Why this step motherly treatment towards us,” asked Publicity Committee Chairman Rakibul Hussain while addressing the protest.

“The so called 'double engine' BJP Govts are fooling the people of Assam. Reducing Rs 5 on Petrol-Diesel just before elections in Assam is a hoax! Reality is the Modi Govt at the Centre has increased tax to favour their Corporate friends,” said Sushmita Dev, while addressing the protest.

The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee, while expressing their concerns, questioned the incumbent Party as to, why it is not providing relief to consumers and rapidly increasing excise duty, why are facts of BJP’s economic policies in the State, not made transparent to the public?

“First BJP inflicts abject price rise on the people of Assam, then continues to hike fuel prices to deepen the blow- is this remotely worthy of being called governance? Why is BJP torturing the common man so bluntly,” asked Media and Communication Chief Abdul Khaleque in a tweet.

Expressing solidarity with the Congress-led agitations, the common people also raised placards with thematic coherence throughout the state. The people questioned the BJP about its indifference towards the plight of the people, adding to their abject misery under the saffron rule.

Also Read: Rs 125 crore corpus fund to help Meghalaya entrepreneurs: CM

On the cusp of 100th Test, Delhi's 'lambu' stands tall

New Delhi, Feb 21  On the sidelines of a Ranji Trophy game in 2019, Ishant Sharma had called himself "the last flicker in a lamp" while politely making his reluctance known to three scribes, who had approached the self-effacing beanpole for an interaction.

Ishant was then standing at 96 Tests. Nearly 14 months later, during which he missed five Tests due to an injury, Indian cricket's most adorable 'lambu' is shining bright.

He is on course to become only the second Indian fast bowler, after the great Kapil Dev, to complete 100 Tests for the country.

"Arre yaar mera interview karke kya karogey? Main toh bujhta huya diya hoon (Why do you want to interview me? I am like the last flicker in a lamp)," Ishant had said at the Kotla.

In terms of sheer talent and craft, Ishant wouldn't be in the same league as Zaheer Khan, Mohammed Shami or Javagal Srinath but with his longevity, he has proved that "workhorse" isn't exactly an abused word, which is used to sum up the veteran pacer.

"I think I will say this with certainty...," former India wicketkeeper and Ishant's ex-Delhi teammate and coach Vijay Dahiya said.

"Ishant will be the last Indian fast bowler to play 100 Test matches. I don't see anyone playing 100 Tests. With majority of the fast bowlers preserving themselves for IPL and white ball games, it will be increasingly difficult to play 100 Tests for India," Dahiya made a statement.

Ishant's mate for the last 16 years, current Delhi captain Pradeep Sangwan felt that even when Virat Kohli and Ishant attended Delhi's U-17 trials, he looked a class apart.

"He was so tall and that long flowing mane of his, we used to pull his leg and tease him, "dekh le bhai, lamba Shah Rukh aa gaya (watch out brothers, the tall Shah Rukh has come (referring to the actor)," Sangwan said.

"But then even during those U-17 days, he was so tall and generated so much pace, you knew that he was special. And if you see when Virat was leading us at the 2008 U-19 World Cup, Ishant was already a Test player by then and didn't need to play that tournament."

His first 79 Test matches yielded 226 wickets and the last 20 fetched him 76 scalps, which shows how the man from West Delhi's Patel Nagar moulded himself according to the team's needs.

Ishant, as well as the current crop of Indian fast bowling line-up's most memorable three years, started in 2018 in South Africa with the introduction of Jasprit Bumrah in the Test arena.

"MS used him as a defensive bowler who would hold one end up. Ishant was his man to do the job. You know why he has lasted this long: because it's very important to know what your leader wants and deliver accordingly," Dahiya said.

"He wasn't the wicket-taking bowler but kudos to him, he did the job of bowling 20 plus overs a day with elan, which primarily the spinners do in Tests," he added.

It's his hardwork and ability to maintain fitness standards that allows him to bowl those 8 to 9 over spells Test after Test.

"He was bowling those 8 to 9 overs spells at 18 years at a pace of 140 plus. Today he is nearing 33 and he is still bowling those long spells consistently in late 130 kmph and cranking it up to 140 kmph at times," said Sangwan.

First-class cricket has its own set of benefits but there are a few pitfalls, too, and often the example of former England batsman Graeme Hick is cited. Hick played seven years of county cricket before international level and by then, according to experts, the "bad habits of domestic cricket had crept into his system".

"Best part about Ishant was that he escaped that grind of first-class cricket and was fast-tracked pretty early.

"The moment a fast bowler is stuck for three plus years in Ranji Trophy, he can stagnate, compromise for pace and also lack quality from the other end. Ishant didn't have to endure that," said Dahiya, who was also the pacer's senior team coach.

Ishant is probably someone who doesn't feel the need to be funny, interjected Sangwan, narrating an incident during their U-19 days.

"It was Delhi U-19 trials and as you know in DDCA, one approach-wala chap (a typical Delhi term used for back-door entry of boys with influential parents) was thrust upon the sports committee for trials.

"Sunil Dev, who was then the sports secretary, was so angry that he came up to us and told Ishant and myself 'if that fellow scores 20, you two will be out of the team'.

"Ishant was like 'sir, humari kya galti hai ki, isko trials pe bulaya (sir, what is our fault that he has ben called for trials)'."

Dev was unyielding but then, Ishant and Sangwan got him out four or five times and also embarrassed him with a barrage of short balls, which hit him on the ribs. Recalling that story, Sangwan chuckled.

While former Australian pacer Jason Gillespie sorted his wrist position at Sussex, Ishant remains a nightmare for keepers even after playing so many matches. Ask Wriddhiman Saha, who finds Ishant the most difficult to keep as the seam wobbles.

Dahiya, who is known for his self-deprecating humour, hit the parting shot.

"I still tell Ishant that it was his late movement that led to my early retirement as he was young and I was ageing. I tell him tune mere budhaape mein maze le liye (You enjoyed at the expense of my old age). PTI

Also Read: Root apologies to Ali for saying all-rounder ‘chose’ to go home after second Test: Reports

Pakistan violates ceasefire along IB in JK's Kathua

Jammu, Feb 21  Pakistani Rangers opened fire at forward posts and villages along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district, officials said on Sunday.

The firing from across the border targeting Border Outpost Bobiya area of Hiranagar sector started around 10:25 pm on Saturday ,drawing strong retaliation from the Border Security Force (BSF), the officials said.

They said the cross-border firing between the two sides continued till 4:30 am but there was no report of any damage on the Indian side.

The latest ceasefire violation by Pakistan broke several days of lull in the cross-border firing in the sector and forced the border residents to spend the night in underground bunkers, the officials said. PTI

Also Read: U’khand glacier burst: Two more bodies recovered from Tapovan site

U'khand glacier burst: Two more bodies recovered from Tapovan site

Gopeshwar (U'khand), Feb 21 Two more bodies were recovered from the flood ravaged Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project site, taking the death toll in the calamity in Uttarakhand to 67 even as search operations continued there for the 15th day on Sunday.

Three bodies had been recovered from the desilting tank near the Tapovan project barrage by Saturday evening while two more were extricated late at night, district administration officials said.

Search operation at the project site has been underway on a war footing basis for a fortnight since it bore the brunt of an avalanche triggered by a glacier burst over Rishi Ganga in Chamoli district on February 7.

The 13.2 mw Rishi Ganga hydel project was totally demolished in the avalanche while the Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project suffered extensive damage.

Recovery of five bodies on Saturday takes the toll in the tragedy to 67 while 137 are still missing.

Chamoli District Magistrate Swati S Bhadauria had asked the NTPC to press into service additional excavators and divert the course of Dhauli Ganga to the other side so that its water does not flow through the barrage into Tapovan tunnel hampering sludge clearing efforts.

River water flowing into the tunnel from the barrage has been a major headache for rescuers at the tunnel making the muck clearing operations even more challenging, Bhadauria said. PTI

Also Read: Three militants, policeman killed in encounters in Kashmir

Rs 125 crore corpus fund to help Meghalaya entrepreneurs: CM

Shillong, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad

K Sangma has said that a corpus fund of Rs 125 crore will be constituted over the next two years to aid the entrepreneurs in the state.

The chief minister said this while addressing the PRIME Entrepreneurship Awards held at the Convention Centre here on Friday.

"A corpus fund of Rs 125 crore will be constituted over the next 2 years as PRIME Fund to aid the efforts of the entrepreneurs of Meghalaya," he said.

"It feels great to see the sector that was left neglected for a long time being given the attention it requires to prosper," the chief minister said, adding that he was happy to witness artisans and entrepreneurs getting the opportunities and the much-needed handholding through the Ateliers Programme and the PRIME Meghalaya initiative.

He said "It is important to package, market the story and present the products of our entrepreneurs and artisans, so we can create value out of their products".

Expressing optimism that through the initiatives of the government the entrepreneurship culture can spread to all different sectors, he said the talented and enterprising people of Meghalaya will be encouraged thoroughly.

He expressed gratefulness to banks for their support and urged them to continue their support to the entrepreneurs of the state.

The chief minister also announced that the state government will introduce the 'Chief Minister's Music Award' on a monthly basis to award musicians of the state.

Meghalaya Basin Management Agency CEO Dr D Vijay Kumar said that the Meghalaya Government through 'PRIME Meghalaya' wants to make entrepreneurship a preferred career choice for young people through the creation of an ecosystem that enables easy availability of credit, technology, skilling, and mentoring support, and access to markets.

"Our mission is to provide systematic and targeted approach through a network of prime hubs that will be a one- stop-shop for the different segments of entrepreneurship in the state", he said, adding that the programme is also reaching out to entrepreneurs in rural areas.

It is important to preserve the unique crafts and traditions of Meghalaya, Kumar said, adding that a tourism store will be set up in Delhi to brand the state.

To give access to credit, the PRIME Fund will provide a kick-start grant of Rs 5 lakh, scale-up innovation loans of up to 25 lakh.

The IIM Calcutta Innovation Park (IIMCIP) is providing incubation support to entrepreneurs including capacity building and training programmes, co-working spaces, funding, and market access and visibility.

IIMCIP CEO Dr Subhrangshu Sanyal praised the commitment of the chief minister.

"CM has set the vision to create the culture of job takers and not job seekers," he said, adding that his institute is happy to witness the passion of the entrepreneurs of the state that even the pandemic could not stop them to continue their work.

"They used their skill sets to develop products such as masks, sanitizers, curtains for hospitals needed during the pandemic", Sanyal said.  PTI

Also Read: Gehlot attacks Modi govt over rising fuel prices

Kareena, Saif welcome baby boy

Mumbai, Feb 21  Bollywood star couple Kareena Kapoor Khan and Saif Ali Khan have become parents to their second child, a baby boy, on Sunday.

Kareena, who was admitted to the Breach Candy Hospital here, gave birth around 9 am.

"She has delivered a baby boy in the morning around 9 am. I'll be visiting them soon," Kareena's father, veteran actor Randhir Kapoor

Kareena and Saif had announced the pregnancy in August, thanking well wishers for their support.

"We are very pleased to announce that we are expecting an addition to our family! Thank you to all our well wishers for all their love and support," they said in a joint statement.

Kareena, 40, delivered their first child, son Taimur Ali Khan on December 20, 2016. The toddler, now four years old, has been an Internet sensation ever since his birth and is followed by the paparazzi round-the-clock.

Back then, soon after the baby boy was named Taimur, people on social media had started questioning the origins of the name.

Saif, 50, tied the knot with Kareena in October 2012 after a five-year courtship.

He was previously married to actor Amrita Singh, with whom he shares actor-daughter Sara Ali Khan (25) and son Ibrahim Ali Khan (19). PTI

Also Read" Critics’ Choice Awards 2021: Winners list unveiled