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Ashok Lavasa pulls out of poll panel meetings on model code

Seeks inclusion of his dissent notes; CEC says it is an ‘avoidable controversy’

Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa has reportedly recused himself from meetings on issues concerning the model code of conduct, pending his demand for including dissenting opinions in the final orders.

In a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, Mr. Lavasa is learnt to have said his various notes on the need for transparency in the recording and disclosure of all decisions, including the minority view, had gone unheeded, “forcing me to withdraw from participating in the deliberations on the complaints”.

While not denying news reports that Mr. Lavasa had written such a letter, Mr. Arora on Saturday termed them an “unsavoury and avoidable controversy”.

Mr. Lavasa did not offer any comments, saying he was “not speaking to anyone on this issue”.

Asked whether he had recused himself from any meeting on the model code complaints, Mr. Arora told The Hindu that no meetings had been held lately.

Mr. Lavasa had given dissent notes in at least four cases, in which the Election Commission did not find any violation in the speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah by a majority of 2:1.

Militant who killed jawan shot dead in J&K

Hizbul man was also involved in other attacks

Fierce gunfight: A house was damaged in the exchange of fire at Panzgam in Pulwama district on Saturday. NISSAR AHMAD THE HINDU

Four militants, including the one involved in the abduction and killing of jawan Aurangzeb last year, were killed in twin operations in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday.

The police said the militants, identified as Showkat Dar from Pulwama’s Panzgam, Irfan War from Baramulla’s Sopore and Muzaffar Sheikh from Pulwama’s Tahab, were surrounded in a midnight operation at Pulwama’s Panzgam.

They were later killed in a fierce gunfight that lasted for several hours. A residential building was damaged in the operation. The police said they were affiliated to the Hizbul Mujahideen.

“Dar has a long history of planning and executing a series of attacks. He was part of a group involved in the killing of Army jawan Aurangzeb and policeman Aqib Ahmad Wagay last year,” the police said.

Dar had been active for around four years.

A group of militants kidnapped and killed Aurangzeb on June 14 last year. The soldier from Rajouri was abducted from Pulwama’s Kalampora. His body was recovered from Gusoo village.

Answer to violence is ahimsa: Priyanka on Rajiv convicts’ pardon

Congress general secretary separates reaction at a political level and as the late PM’s daughter

“Personally, I have said I do not believe in violence. The answer to violence does not lie in more violence. I believe the answer to violence is ahimsa,” Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra told The Hindu while referring to a possible amnesty for the seven persons convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

‘Two aspects’

Asked to respond to the Centre’s tough stand against the pardon, Ms. Vadra said on Friday, “There are two aspects to this as far as I’m concerned — one is my own personal journey, and the fact that the person who was assassinated was my father. In that, I have made my views very clear previously. As you know, I met Nalini in jail; meeting Nalini was a revelation to me about many feelings and emotions that I had held onto very strongly.”

Ms. Vadra met Nalini, one of the convicts, in jail in March 2008.

According to Nalini, in an account reported by this newspaper eight years later, Ms. Vadra told her: “My father was a good person. He was very soft. Why did you do this? Whatever was the reason, it could have been resolved with dialogue.” Immediately after, both Nalini and Ms. Vadra broke into tears.

Effort to transport monolith alters river courses in T.N.

The steady rumble of the earth mover competed with the sound of the gushing Thenpennai river. The machine ploughed through the riverbed, scooping out mounds of mud onto a ramp 100 feet long, 25 feet wide and 20 feet high being constructed across the river in Perandapalli village along the Krishnagiri-Hosur stretch of the national highway.

The ramp will allow the passage of a multi-axle truck bearing a 300-tonne, partially-carved stone monolith for a Vishnu sculpture commissioned by the Kondaramaswamy Charitable Trust, a private trust based in Bengaluru. The truck has been on the road since last year.

With no PWD officials in sight, the ramp is blocking the water’s course even as inflow into the river from the upstream Kelavarapalli dam is substantial. Underneath the bund created by the ongoing construction, three pipelines have been laid to regulate water under the National Highways Authority of India bridge.

The Thenpennai, fed by the Kelavarapalli dam, irrigates over five districts.

Carved out of a hillock in Tiruvannamalai district, the stone has been moving at a snail’s pace along narrow State highways across three districts, leaving behind a trail of damage to private and public property. The past seven months have seen a spate of protests over the passage of the monolith.

But, when the vehicle entered the national highway, it went off the radar, until the private trust started to lay ramps on small rivers after the NHAI denied permission for passage over bridges. A representative of the Trust, however, claimed that the NHAI had permitted them to divert the truck over rivers without the PWD’s consent.

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