The Statesman – Punjab Police arrests ‘one of the biggest drug smugglers of India’ from Haryana

Rana was wanted in a narcotics haul case in which the Customs department last year had seized 532 kg of heroin worth Rs 2,700 crore in rock salt consignments at the Integrated Check Post at Attari in Amritsar.

New Delhi – India, 09 May 2020. The Punjab Police arrested a drug smuggler from Haryana’s Sirsa, who was wanted in a 532 kg heroin seizure case, police said on Saturday.

“The wanted smuggler Ranjeet Singh Rana was arrested from a hideout in Sirsa,” Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.

DGP Dinkar Gupta took to Twitter and said, “Following up further on arrests of Hizbul operatives in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, the Punjab Police juggernaut moved further to arrest Ranjeet of Amritsar, one of the biggest drug smugglers of India from Sirsa today.

Cheeta was wanted in 532 kg heroin haul from Attari in June 2019.”

“Ranjeet Rana & his brother Gagandeep@Bhola arrested from Begu village in Sirsa, Haryana. Ranjit Rana@Cheeta, suspected to have smuggled in heroin & other drugs from Pakistan, camouflaged in as many as 6 rock salt consignments through ICP Amritsar between 2018-2019,” Gupta said in another tweet.

Rana was wanted in a narcotics haul case in which the Customs department last year had seized 532 kg of heroin worth Rs 2,700 crore in rock salt consignments at the Integrated Check Post at Attari in Amritsar.

He was the kingpin of the narcotics haul and was arrested following the recent arrest of Hizbul Mujahideen terror operatives in Amritsar.

In today’s Punjab Police’s operation along with Ranjeet Rana, his brother was also arrested in Haryana.

Punjab Police arrests ‘one of the biggest drug smugglers of India’ from Haryana

The Tribune – Controversy arises as Punjab buses bound for Nanded had picked non-pilgrims on the way

In a video, Akali leader Prem Singh Chandumajra says he had talked to Sharad Pawar to facilitate the movement of these Punjabis stuck at various places in Maharashtra to the shrine on these buses.

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 09 May 2020. The Punjabi buses on their way to Nanded in Maharashtra in order to bring back the pilgrims had also ferried the Punjabis stuck in various parts of the state en route to Takht Hazur Sahib against their original schedule, which has led to a controversy.

These people, along with the pilgrims, then travelled back to Punjab.

In a video being circulated on social media, senior Akali leader Prem Singh Chandumajra says he had talked to NCP chief Sharad Pawar to facilitate the movement of Punjabis to the shrine on these buses that were in any case going there.

Chandumajra is heard saying that the drivers picked up the Punjabis from different locations en route to the shrine. The buses were originally supposed to reach the shrine straight with no midway stopovers.

Challenging the Shiromani Akali Dal to come clean on Chandumajra’s statement, Punjab Cooperatives Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said the pilgrims had been blamed for no fault of theirs. “Who made the non-pilgrims join the pilgrims before proceeding to Punjab? The Akalis have some explaining to do,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government has blamed the Maharashtra administration for the increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the state owing to the pilgrims returning from Nanded.

Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said though the state government is testing all those returning from the shrine for coronavirus, it was the Maharashtra government’s duty to strictly implement the central government guidelines for containing the spread of coronavirus.

Gent/Gentbrugge – Van de Gentbrugsebrug naar de Dampoort / Gentbrugge to Korenmarkt

Van de Gentbrugsebrug naar de Dampoort
25 March 2020

Bus 3 to Gentbrugge Braemkasteel

Nieuwhof – Bus 3 – 34 – 35 – 36

Dampoort – Platform 13 – Bus 3

Where to sit in the bus, keep 1.5 meter distance

Gentbrugge to Korenmarkt
26 March 2020

Bin day !

Along the railway line to Dampoort

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Firstpost – Coronavirus Lockdown: ‘No dignity in living like this, it is humiliating’, migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh on why they want to leave Mumbai

“If I have to die, I would rather be near my parents when I die. I don’t want to die here.”

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 08 May 2020. Those were the words of Ramodar, an 18-year-old boy in Mumbai, desperate to go back home in Uttar Pradesh and see his parents. He worked as a carpenter in the financial capital of India. But the past 45 days under lockdown have been tantalisingly cruel for him.

“I would get my hopes up of going home every time the deadline of the lockdown came close,” he said. “And every time the lockdown got extended. I want to see my parents. I don’t know anything else.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi first announced a three-week nationwide lockdown on 25 March to contain the spread of coronavirus. It has since been extended thrice. On 1 May, when the government prolonged the lockdown further to 17 May, Ramodar lost patience. “I have not earned anything for two months,” he said.

“My parents have sent some money so I do not go hungry. But they are not millionaires. They are farmers working hard for every rupee. I cannot continue to take money from them. I feel guilty.”

Living in one of the slums of Bandra, Ramodar packed his belongings on Thursday morning and set off on foot. Except he was not alone. Hundreds of such migrant workers in Mumbai walked in the blistering heat along the eastern express highway with their belongings on their head.

They wore a mask to protect themselves from the coronavirus. But the mask could not conceal their frustration, desperation, and helplessness.

“If the state is not going to arrange any transport, we will walk back home,” said the determined Ramodar.

On 29 April, the Ministry of Home Affairs had issued an order allowing the movement of migrant labourers stuck away from home.

In order to get back home, the migrant workers in Mumbai are supposed to collect a form from the local police station, fill it up with their details and destination state. The initial order also demanded the workers get a health certificate stating they do not have influenza-like symptoms.

But when that led to further chaos, the state government said the workers would instead be screened before the journey. Once they submit their details, they are supposed to wait for the call from the police station.

But the workers have no faith in the government’s plan. “I stood in queue until 2 in the morning, just to submit my form to the police station,” said Ramodar. “There is no assurance when we would be able to board the train home. I do not trust anyone. We are poor people. Nobody listens to us.”

The workers he walked with vehemently nodded in agreement. “We could walk, we could hitchhike. We will see what happens,” they said.

However, Ramodar’s home is in the district of Basti in Uttar Pradesh, which is 1,500 kilometres from Mumbai. A simple search on Google Maps shows it would take him more than 300 hours to reach on foot. In other words, if he walked without a minute’s break, it would take him 13 days to see his parents.

But after just over three hours of walking, Ramodar and hundreds of others were stopped at Vikhroli checkpost. The police told them they are not allowed to pass, and that they should wait for the call from their local police station. But the workers were in no mood to listen.

“We sometimes get food, sometimes we do not,” Anup Kumar, another resident from Uttar Pradesh, tried telling the police. “We have to depend on charity for survival. We have no money. Please let us go.”

Kumar turned towards me and said, “Can you explain them the condition we are in? There is no dignity in living like this. It is humiliating.”

I asked Kumar what he planned to do in his village, for he migrated to Mumbai because there is lack of work back home in the first place. “I will farm, or work as a labourer in somebody’s farm,” he said.

“I know farm work is also reducing. But I do not want to think about that right now. At least I won’t have to depend on somebody else for food in my village. We would cultivate our crops and consume them. We will manage. I will be around my people.”

The workers said they might consider coming back to Mumbai later. But certainly not for a while. “Is it not obvious to want to be with family during a disaster?” asked Ramodar. “Even if I got two meals a day, I would still want to go back. Why do I have to explain or justify my wish to see my parents?”

The exasperated workforce made their agonising case to the overworked police force. The police, though, had to follow orders. The workers sat down on the pavement, determined to carry on. A nearby flyover provided a bit of shade.

One of the policemen took out his lathi and planted it on the calf of one of the workers. The others started scrambling to avoid being beaten up.

I took out my mobile phone to shoot the proceedings. The police, realising a reporter is on the spot, restrained themselves from beating the migrant workers up. Two of the hostile police officers walked up to me and asked me to delete the photos and videos.

When I refused, they mellowed down. “How are five of us supposed to control a crowd of 500? We don’t get any joy in doing this,” a policeman said. “They are not listening to us. You tell them to go back. They might listen to you. This happened yesterday as well.”

There was only one way the standoff was going to end. And it ended with migrant workers walking back to where they had come from. Dejected, they picked up their belongings and began their arduous return. The only option for them was to wait for the call from their local police station, and board a special train to get back home. The call better come soon. Because the workers are on edge. – Is Uttar Pradesh’s decision to suspend 35 labour laws legal? Experts believe it could be challenged

The list of laws proposed to be suspended contains Centrals laws. Suspending them would require the President’s approval.

On May 6, the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet decided to suspend 35 of the 38 labour laws in the state for three years. It said that this would attract much-needed investment to an economy battered by Covid-19.

Three laws have been exempted from the ordinance: the Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996; the Workmen Compensation Act, 1923, and the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976. Section 5 of the Payment of Wages Act, which relates to timely payment of wages, will also continue to be in force.

This means several key laws will not apply to Uttar Pradesh. These include Central laws such as the Minimum Wages Act, the Payment of Wages Act and the Payment of Bonus Act.

Since labour is on the concurrent list, both the Centre and the states can make laws under this subject. But can a state government completely suspend Central laws?

Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary R K Tiwari told Business Standard that the ordinance will be sent to the Central government for its approval. This means the state is trying to fulfill the mandate under Article 213 of the Constitution.

But experts state that even if the constitutional procedure is followed, it would be embarrassing for the Centre to give its approval given the measures it has adopted to codify and simplify labour laws.

Suspending Central laws

Article 213 (1) of the Constitution has the following provisions:

(a) a Bill containing the same provisions would under this Constitution have required the previous sanction of the President for the introduction thereof into the Legislature; or

(b) he would have deemed it necessary to reserve a Bill containing the same provisions for the consideration of the President; or
(c) an Act of the Legislature of the State containing the same provisions would under this Constitution have been invalid unless, having been reserved for the consideration of the President, it had received the assent of the President.

An ordinance is passed when the state government considers the matter so urgent that it cannot wait for the state Assembly to meet in normal course.

An ordinance has the same effect as a law passed in the legislature. However, all ordinances have to be placed before the Assembly within six months for its consideration.

According to Article 254 (2), any Bill relating to a subject in the concurrent list, which may be repugnant to a Union law, needs the approval of the President for its enforcement. This means that it has to be cleared by the Centre, which would advise the President to give his assent. This applies to an ordinance as well due to Article 213 (1).

Most Central labour laws have provisions that delegate certain powers to the state government. While the states may have the powers to exempt these provisions from enforcement, in matters where the Centre holds the field, the state cannot directly move to make exemptions.

The fact that the Uttar Pradesh government has now sent the ordinance to the Centre for approval suggests that it anticipates a claim of repugnancy as it is probably choosing to suspend entire laws and not just those sections delegated to it.

The text of the ordinance was not available in the public domain till 7 pm on Friday.

Extraordinary situation

With regards to state laws, suspension rather repealing them also seems to be a calculated move as a Central law in force on the particular subject will immediately kick in if Uttar Pradesh abolished the state law entirely.

Under normal circumstances, this should put the Centre in a fix. A state government seeking to suspend a gamut of Central laws at one shot is an extraordinary situation.

However, given that Uttar Pradesh is also ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, it could be assumed that prior consultations would have taken place before the state Cabinet approved this decision.

But even so, experts believe the situation would put the Centre in a tight position if the ordinance is challenged in the courts. According to former Madras High Court judge K Chandru, who is also an expert in labour law, suspension of almost all labour laws would be a serious violation of fundamental rights and the directive principles of state policy in the Constitution.

Chandru said even otherwise, suspending some of the laws runs counter to the recent attempts by the Centre to consolidate and codify these laws.

For example, the Code of Wages, 2019 received presidential assent in August. A Central law, it subsumed four important legislation relating to wages: The Equal Remuneration Act; The Payment of Wages Act; The Payment of Bonus Act; and the Minimum Wages Act

“Once this code was passed, the application of the four laws subsumed ceased to exist in all states,” Justice Chandru said.

However, the four laws continue to function as the Centre is yet to notify the rules for the Code of Wages, despite publishing the draft rules in August last year. “The Centre dragging its feet on the Code of Wages is enabling the UP government to seek suspension of these laws that in the first place should not exist anymore,” he said.

Chandru added the Centre’s approval, if it does come, would only show the desperation of the governments to use the Covid-19 pandemic situation to weaken labour laws.