THURSDAY BIDEN CALLS FOR THREE-MONTH SUSPENSION OF FUEL TAX 23 US President Joe Biden has also called on states to suspend their own gas taxes or provide similar relief, the White House said JUNE, 2022 CONSUMERS TO SAVE 3.6% AT THE PUMP epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard FLOODS KASHMIR UNDER WATER, NH CLOSED Incessant rains in the last few days have flooded many low-lying areas of Valley A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS PAGE 8 NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 The federal tax on gas is 18.4 cents-a-gallon, while it is 24.4 cents on diesel. In his speech to Congress on Wednesday, Biden will suggest suspending fuel tax till September, the White House said. If the benefits are fully passed on to consumers, it will translate into 3.6% saving at the pump. Biden also called on energy firms to accept lower profit margins to raise oil production MOVE TO SALVAGE PREZ’S LOW RATINGS White House had been considering a gas tax holiday for months, but held off till now over concerns how Congress will take it. The latest move comes at a time when Biden’s ratings have taken a battering as inflation soared to its highest level since the 1980s and the national average gas price has reached $5 per gallon Shinde rejects Uddhav’s CMship offer Pawar tries to play peacemaker; chief minister issues emotional appeal to the rebels; vacates official residence Rebels ‘elect’ him Sena legislative party leader S U D H I R S U R YA W A N S H I @ Mumbai 1,000 dead in deadly Af quake 1,500 people have been injured and many villages destroyed in the deadliest earthquake in Afghanistan in more than two decades The 6.1-magnitude quake struck around 1.30 am local time, catching many in sleep Its epicentre was in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan, not very far from the Pak border Tremors were felt in Pakistan and India as well The toll may rise as many people are still trapped beneath the debris and rescue works are hampered by a lack of machinery Experts blame poor building quality and high population density for the high toll | P9 When such a big incident happens in any country, there’s a need for help from other nations. It is very difficult for us to be able to respond to this incident Sharafuddin Muslim, dy minister, disaster management WITH the Uddhav Thackerayled government in Maharashtra wobbling following a massive revolt in the Shiv Sena, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday tried to save it by suggesting rebel leader Eknath Shinde be made the new chief minister to contain the haemorrhage, but the latter promptly rejected the offer. With the writing on the wall, Uddhav vacated Varsha, his official residence in south Mumbai, and left for his family’s Matoshree bungalow in Bandra. Pawar, the chief architect of the three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi, called on Uddhav along with Supriya Sule and housing minister Jitendra Ahwad and proposed that the chief ministership be offered to Shinde while Uddhav stays as party president. His logic was the CM post is part of Shiv Sena’s quota and must stay that way . But Shinde, whose rebel group has numerical majority among lawmakers in the Shiv Sena, rejected the offer, saying his action was in the larger interests of the party, adding there will be compromise with the Hindutva ideology . Earlier in the day, Uddhav made an emotional webcast appeal saying he was ready to resign as both CM and party head CBI books Wadhawan bros in `34,615 cr fraud E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ New Delhi THE CBI has registered a case against Dewan Housing Finance Corporation promoters Kapil Wadhawan, Dheeraj Wadhawan and others for defrauding a consortium of 17 banks to the tune of `34,615 crore, making it the biggest banking fraud probed by the agency. Following registration of the case on June 20, the CBI on Wednesday carried out coordinated searches on 12 properties of the accused in Mumbai. “Searches were conducted at 12 locations in Mumbai at the premises of accused, which led to recovery of incriminating documents,” the CBI said. The CBI action follows a complaint from the Union Bank of India, leader of the 17-member consortium which had extended credit facilities to the tune of `42,871 crore between 2010 and 2018. The complaint alleged that the Wadhawan brothers and DFL director Sudhakar Shetty along with other accused entered into a criminal conspiracy to cheat the banks. The FIR also names Amaryllis Realtors LLP Gulmarg Realtors , LLP, Skylark Buildcon, Darshan Developers, Sigtia Constructions, Creator Builders, Township Developers, Shishir Realty, Sunblink Real Estate and other unknown persons including public servants. The accused allegedly cheated the consortium by siphoning off loans after creating Bandra Books DHFL maintained as many as 1,81,664 ghost retail loan accounts having liability of over `14,000 cr, which were kept in a parallel set of accounts database known as ‘Bandra Books’, officials said shell companies. The audit of DHFL account books showed the company allegedly committed financial irregularities, diverted funds, fabricated books, round tripped funds to “create assets for Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan” using public money Both are in judicial custody . in connection with previous fraud cases. CM Uddhav Thackeray after vacating his official residence on Wednesday | PTI if the rebels meet him face to face and ask him to do so. But after the speech, Sena leader Sanjay Raut tweeted that they will fight till the last moment. Uddhav admitted that during the pandemic and due to his spinal surgery he could not in, teract with party lawmakers earlier, but was now meeting them. He lauded Pawar and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, with whose party the Sena is in an alliance, saying they were very cooperative and kind. “I am ready to resign as the CM. Our rebelling MLAs should choose a CM from amongst themselves. The CM should be from Shiv Sena... Why speak from Surat and Guwahati, please come to Mumbai and talk to me. If you do not want to meet me, at least call and con- RAJINDER NAGAR BYPOLL TODAY Fate of the candidates of ruling AAP and opposition BJP to be sealed by voters of the constiutency today | P4 JAB-O-METER TAKE YOUR SHOT June 21 10,50,571 doses June 22 30,20,119 doses TOTAL DOSES: 112,91,49,871 NATIONWIDE JUNE 21 JUNE 22 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths DELHI Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 9,923 12,249 7,293 9,862 17 13 JUNE 21 JUNE 22 1,383 1,162 01 928 1,466 03 H A R P R E E T B A J W A @ Chandigarh AFTER the murder of Sidhu Moosewala, many Punjab politicians and businessmen have been complaining of getting extortion calls from men claiming to have links with the Lawrence Bishnoi gang, which was behind the singer’s killing. One new name accusing the Bishnoi gang of making extortion calls is former deputy chief minister O P Soni. Sources said that Soni received a threat call on his personal number. The caller claimed he was a member of the Bishnoi gang and demanded extortion money failing which the politi, cal leader was threatened of dire consequences. Soni registered a case and provided the numbers from which he had received the WhatsApp calls. He has also sought police protection for his whole family . A few days ago, former Ajnala MLA Amarpal Singh Bony had also reportedly received an extortion call. He also got calls on WhatsApp and the caller introduced himself as a member of the Bishnoi gang. The police have increased Boney’s security . Not only politicians, businessmen and traders have also allegedly received threat calls. A few days back, some traders of Mansa received extortion calls from persons claiming to be linked to Bishnoi. A trader said amounts ranging from `70,000 to `5 lakh were demanded from them. Seven people from Jagraon, including a plywood trader, have also lodged complaints with the police that they have received threat calls from a person claiming to be aide of Goldy Brar, a Canada-based member of the Bishnoi gang. Most of the calls are being made using phone numbers from abroad. Droupadi Murmu’s spiritual calling at Mt Abu R A J E S H A S N A N I @ Jaipur File photo of Droupadi Murmu (C) at the Brahma Kumari HQ in Rajasthan in Odisha. When one of her sons, Laxman, died in an accident in 2009, she went into depression. That was when she went to the Brahma Kumari headquarters to learn Raja Yoga meditation from the sis- EXPRESS READ Netas, bizmen in Punjab receive extortion calls BRAHMA KUMARIS A wave of excitement swept across the normally sedate Brahma Kumari spiritual fraternity after learning that Droupadi Murmu was set to be the country’s new President. For, Murmu has been a follower and a regular visitor of the Prajapita Brahma Kumari Spiritual University at Mount Abu in Rajasthan. The meditation technique she learnt from them helped her overcome grave personal tragedies in her life. The former Jharkhand governor had unfortunately lost both her sons and husband within a span of just five years. Murmu’s life has been full of struggles, hail as she does from the Santhal tribal community vey your thoughts,” he said. Rebutting Shinde’s charge on compromising with Hindutva, Uddhav said: “Aditya Thackeray recently went to Ayodhya with Shinde. Hindutva is part of Shiv Sena. I may be the first Maharashtra CM who spoke on Hindutva in the state Assembly . I am not a person who will stick with the CM’s chair. I have already written the resignation letter,” said Uddhav adding that he would not like anyone voting from his party against him in the floor test. Uddhav said he was pained that his own people were saying he should not be the CM. He claimed he was not worried about the numbers. “Numbers are not important, people are,” he said trying to tug at the rebels’ heartstrings. GANGSTER ACT POLL ters there, informed the executive secretary of the institute, B K Mrityunjay . He said Murmu was able to somehow come out of the shock, but then in 2013, her second son, too, died in an acci- dhav government as corrupt, pointing to the serious allegaA day after the Shiv Sena sacked tions against jailed Aghadi rebel leader Eknath Shinde as leaders Anil Deshmukh and Nathe head of the party in the Ma- wab Malik, both belonging to harashtra Assembly, his loyal- Sharad pawar-led NCP. “The ists appointed him as the par- Congress and the NCP are usty’s legislative party leader and ing their office and power to unnamed a new party whip. dermine the base and foundaAfter shifting the 34 tion our Shiv Sena rebel MLAs to Guwa- Four more in cadre,” the resolution hati from Surat overalleged. Guwahati night, Shinde sought “The Sena is a party Another to consolidate his powith strong ideology chartered plane sition, as the party and was formed for with four Sena brass in Mumbai fighting for the rights MLAs arrived in called a legislative the Marathi manoos. Guwahati on party meeting and Since the last two-andWednesday to threatened to invoke a-half years, our party the anti-defection law. join the rebel Shiv and its leadership Sena legislators Shinde’s group apcompromised on its pointed Bharat Goga- who reached the principles. Severing city earlier, wale as the new party the alliance with the sources said whip replacing Sunil BJP has had a tremenPrabhu. dous negative impact Shinde claimed he had the on the voters and party cadre at support of 40 Sena MLAs and large,” the resolution read. that the numbers will go up by It added that the party’s leadand by If Shinde can prove he ers were facing tremendous . has 37 of the party MLAs with pressure from their electorate. him, then the breakaway group “We have been subjected to lot will escape the defection law. of criticism for being part of A resolution adopted by the this corrupt government.” SEE ALSO: P8 rebels sought to paint the UdE X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Mumbai dent. And a year later, she lost her husband. “These tragic accidents brought an earthquake in her life, but she held the strings of spirituality so tightly that life got the strength to bear the adversities. She has a deep connection with spirituality and is constantly in touch with the headquarters of our institute,” Mrityunjay said. During an event at the Mt Abu centre, Murmu said, “I come here because brothers and sisters are very dear and I take their positivity and vibrations because the atmosphere here is different.” Many at Mt Abu recall her as saying that “when people change by taking advantage of the value-based education of this institution, then India will P7 rise again”. Demolitions not linked to rioting: UP New Delhi: The UP government has told the Supreme Court that demolitions of illegal structures were carried out by its Kanpur and Prayagraj municipal bodies in accordance with law and were not related to punishing the accused involved in violent protests over remarks on Prophet Mohammad. In its response to a petition filed by Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind alleging that the demolition was targted against Muslim community, the government submitted an affidavit saying none of the affected parties, if any, had approached the top court over the matter. It pointed out that the SC, in a recent matter concerning demolitions in Delhi, noted that only the affected party should come forward. P7 Rahul on Vipassana and party support New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday thanked Congress workers for their support during his questioning in the National Herald case by the ED, saying he derived strength from their support. He said he never felt alone during the marathon questioning in a 12x12 ft room as all those fighting for democracy were with him. He said when the ED officials asked him how come he did not get tired even after sitting for 10-11 hours, Rahul said he told them that he practised Vipassana and that was the reason for his patience. “I did not tell them (the real reason), but I am telling you now, is that I have been working in the Congress since 2004 and all our leaders have such patience,” he said. P7 Defamation suit against Sisodia Guwahati: Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, the wife of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, has filed a `100 crore defamation suit against Delhi’s Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, who had alleged malpractice in giving contracts for PPE at above market rates. Bhuyan Sarma filed the suit at the court of Civil Judge No 1 of Kamrup Metropolitan district on Tuesday and it is likely to come up for hearing on Wednesday, her counsel Padmadhar Nayak said. Citing media reports, Sisodia had alleged that while the Assam government procured PPE kits for `600 each from other companies, Sarma gave urgent supply orders to the firms of his wife and son’s business partners for `990 apiece. P8 JUMBO FEAT Meet the new boss of 44 elephants E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Kochi GURUVARYUR temple’s famous elephant camp, Punnathur Kotta, has got its first woman manager in its 47-year history C R Lejumol, who took . charge on Wednesday, will be responsible for the upkeep of 44 elephants, which were donated by devotees at different periods of time. Born into a family of mahouts, she is no stranger to elephants. On her new role, Lejumol says it is a blessing from Lord Guruvayurappan. “She will have to coordinate the 150 staffers including the mahouts and ensure the wellbeing of elephants,” said temple administrator K P Vinayan. Lejumol’s father Ravindran Nair and father-in-law Sankara Narayanan had retired after years of service as mahouts. Her husband Prasad, too, was a mahout. Lejumol, who joined the Guruvayur Devaswom as a lower division clerk in 1996, was an assistant manager in the works department before taking charge of the Kotta. The Punnathur Kotta was a fort owned by a local ruler, which was purchased by the Devaswom in 1975 to keep temple elephants. The camp is a sprawling green area spread across 10 acres. “It is a great privilege to look after Lord Guruvayurappan’s elephants in such an official capacity. We have 44 elephants here and 150 employees including mahouts. The Devaswom has given contract for the supply of palm leaves, grass and banana stem for the elephants. The quantity of food for each elephant is fixed by veterinarians. Next month, we will have an ayurveda rejuvenation treatment for elephants,” said Lejumol. She said her duty includes ensuring deployment of elephants for daily rituals at the temple. “During festival season, we send around 20 elephants to other temples. When elephants are in masth, we have to give them rest and select other elephants after conducting medical checkup,” she said. Lejumol’s sons Akshay Krishnan and Ananthakrishnan are also thrilled over their mother’s new job.
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