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Kolkata, Jun 15 :  Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Saturday that the West Bengal government had not invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) even after five days of strike by the junior doctors and appealed to them to immediately rejoin service.

"We have the laws, but we do not want to use them.... We are not going to take any stringent action against any of the agitating junior doctors and hamper their career," she said at a news conference after the agitating doctors did not turn up for a meeting at 5 pm.

Under the ESMA, employees in a long list of "essential services" like post, railway, airport and port operations are prohibited from going on strike.

Banerjee cited instances of steps taken against doctors in similar situation by other states, adding that the West Bengal government had not taken any tough action against them as she does not want to hamper their careers.

The chief minister said the state government had accepted all the demands of the doctors and was ready to accept more, but she added that they must resume work.

"On Friday, I waited for the junior doctors for five hours. And today, I cancelled all my programmes for them. You must show some respect to the constitutional body," she said.

On the mass resignation of the doctors across the state, Banerjee said it was not legally tenable.

"If the junior doctors think I am incapable, they can always talk to the governor or the chief secretary... or the commissioner of police," she said.

The agitating doctors had earlier turned down an invite for a closed-door meeting with Banerjee at the state secretariat on Saturday, and instead asked her to visit the NRS Medical College and Hospital for an open discussion to resolve the impasse.                              [Agencies]


Bhubaneswar, Jun 15 :   India lived up to their billing and thrashed South Africa 5-1 in the summit clash to win the FIH Series Finals hockey tournament here Saturday.

Coming into the tournament as overwhelming favourites, world no. 5 India played like champions and remained unbeaten throughout the tournament.

Dragflickers Varun Kumar (2nd and 49th minutes) and Harmanpreet Singh (11th and 25th) scored a brace each, while Vivek Sagar Prasad (35th) was the other goal scorer for India.

South Africa's lone goal was scored by Richard Pautz in the 53rd minute.

India and South Africa have already qualified for the final round of the Olympic qualifiers before Saturday's summit clash. 

Earlier in the day, Asian Games champion Japan defeated USA 4-2 to finish third in the competition.

The top two finishers of this tournament make it to the final round of the Olympic qualifiers to be held later this year. 

Going by world rankings, the Indians were expected to control the proceedings and they exactly did that from the word go.

India secured their first penalty corner as early as in the second minute and Varun made no mistake in converting the opportunity into goal.

In the 11th minute, India got another penalty corner and this time Harmanpreet slammed home to make the scoreline 2-0 in favour of the hosts.

Seconds before the end of the first quarter, South Africa got a rare opportunity but Nqobile Ntuli's reverse hit was kept away by Krishan Bahadur Pathak in front of the Indian goal.

Five minutes from half time, India were awarded a penalty stroke when Birendra Lakra was stick-checked inside South Africa's 'D' by Jethro Eustice and Harmanpreet made no mistake to make the scoreline 3-0.

The flow of the match continued in the same vein after the change of ends with India dominating the proceedings.

Five minutes into the third quarter, India extended their lead when Vivek Sagar Prasad scored from close range after being set up by Simranjeet Singh.

India secured their third penalty corner in the 41st minute but this time Amit Rohidas' try was saved by the South African goalkeeper.

India kept up the pressure and earned their fourth penalty corner in the 49th minute and Varun scored from a variation to make the scoreline 5-0 in the home team's favour.

South Africa finally had something to cheer about when they secured back-to-back penalty corners in the 53rd minute and from the second chance, Pautz deflected in Eustice's flick to reduce the margin to 5-1.

Four minutes from the final hooter, India secured two more penalty corners but failed to utilise the opportunities.

South Africa too got a last chance to pull another goal back in the form of their third penalty corner but to no effect. 

India's chief coach Graham Reid was relatively satisfied with his wards performances and said the just-concluded tournament was a good outing in terms of preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.

"I think what I am pleased with is the last two matches, where it really counted. We played well. Yesterday was very good, today was good in parts. We can learn from things," he said after the victory.

"Good to practice in the heat with back-to-back matches. That's the kind of heat we will face in Tokyo." 

Reid also pointed out the positives he has derived from this tournament. 

"I never put an upper limit on something. We should always get better. From the point of PC conversion, all our flickers did well in this event. The great thing is we are creating opportunities. Next phase is to ensure we convert those percentages," he said. 

The chief coach, however, said defence is something in which India will need to work extensively in the run up to the final Olympic qualifying event later this year and thereafter as well.

"You expect a lot of pressure in our defence. We have a defensive camp coming up in the first or second week in July. So we have a couple of good coaches coming. I am looking forward to it," he signed off.                                         [Agencies]


Bengaluru, June 15 : The Karnataka BJP Saturday RPT Saturday demanded a CBI probe into the alleged financial fraud perpetrated by an investment firm here, leaving thousands of investors in the lurch.

The owner of city-based IMA Jewels, Mohammed Mansoor Khan, had disappeared few days ago after allegedly threatening to commit suicide while police have formed teams to trace him.

State BJP chief B S Yedyurappa put forth the demand for a probe by the central agency after a group of people belonging to the minority community, most of them investors in IMA Jewels, met him and submitted a petition.

Yeddyurappa assured them that BJP MPs from Karnataka would ensure the central governments intervention and steps to ensure the Enforcement Directorate probe into the case.

"We (BJP) feel that it is our responsibility to ensure that innocents who have lost their money get it back," Yeddyurappa was quoted as saying by BJP in a release.

Only a CBI inquiry can ensure justice to the affected investors, he said, as he held the state government responsible for the "injustice" to the IMA investors.

The BJP leader also promised those who met him that the centre would take all steps to find out the wherebaouts of IMA jewels owner Mohammed Mansoor Khan.

Earlier, speaking to reporters, Yeddyurappa raised questions about Minority welfare minister B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan's alleged links with Mohammed Mansoor Khan.

"While asking him (Mansoor) to come back, Zameer, who is a Minister, has said that government is with you (Mansoor), dont fear- what does this mean? Chief Minister has to answer this," he said.

Hitting back at Yeddyurappa, Zameer Ahmed Khan pointed out that it was he who took initiative after the incident came to light and sought a SIT probe.

"It was not Yeddyurappa. Making speeches sitting somewhere is not enough. We are doing whatever we can.

SIT is probing...," he said.

Nearly 30,000 complaints have so far been received by police in connection with the case, relating to which seven directors of the firm were apprehended on June 12 .

Mohammed Mansoor Khan went absconding after allegedly threatening to commit suicide in an audio clip.

As the audio went viral, panicked investors, most of them Muslims, had swarmed the firm's office at Shivajinagar in thousands, demanding action against the owner and directors.

Khan in an audio clip had purportedly said he was committing suicide as he was fed up with corruption.

He had also alleged the Shivajinagar Congress MLA Roshan Baig took Rs 400 crore from him and was not returning it.

Baig had rubbished the charge, alleging that his political adversaries had orchestrated the "series of events" to tarnish his character.

On June 12, The Karnataka government had formed a 11-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the case.

As reports emerged that Khan had fled to Dubai, the SIT had said they were investigating his whereabouts.

The Enforcement Directorate also filed a case of money laundering in the alleged ponzi scheme.

The agency's zonal office here filed an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), equivalent to an FIR, and has pressed criminal charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), officials had said.                                        [Agencies]


New Delhi, Jun 15 :  The goal of making India a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024 is "challenging, but achievable" with the concerted efforts of states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the fifth meeting of NITI Aayog's Governing Council here Saturday

The meeting is being attended by all chief ministers, except Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal) and K Chandrashekhar Rao (Telangana), and senior union ministers

Modi, according to an official release, stressed that NITI Aayog has a key role to play in fulfilling the mantra of "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, SabkaVishwas"

Recalling the recent general elections as the world's largest democratic exercise, the prime minister said that it is now time for everyone to work for the development of India

He spoke of a collective fight against poverty, unemployment, drought, flood, pollution, corruption and violence

The goal to make India a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024 is challenging but can surely be achieved and stressed that the states should recognise their core competence, and work towards raising GDP targets right from the district level

Amid several parts of the country facing drought-like situation, Modi called for effective steps to tackle it by adopting 'per-drop, more-crop' strategy

He said that the newly created Jal Shakti Ministry will help provide an integrated approach to water and states can also integrate various efforts towards water conservation and management.  [Agencies]