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Nation at a Glance

Blind protesters face police muscle

Bhubaneswar: Six visually-challenged youths, staging a hungerstrike to demand recruitment as teaching assistant, got a taste of police brutality on Friday.

Lata Mandal, a 25-year-old member of the Orissa Association of the Blind, was hit on her head by a policeman. Her condition is stated to be serious, reports our correspondent.

Frustrated with the empty assurances and callous attitude of the government, 35-year-old Panchanan Nayak had vowed to immolate himself today near Lower PMG Square when the police arrived and tried to evict the protesters from the spot.

As a melee ensued, a police official allegedly snatched a white walking stick from a protester and then hit Mandal on her head. When she began to vomit, she was rushed to Capital Hospital. Others like Nayak, Narayan Tripathy, Jogeswar Das, Krushna Pradhan and Hemanta Pradhan, too, bore the brunt. The injured have been admitted to hospital. A police official said some of his colleagues were also injured in the “clash”.

The youths have been on hungerstrike since December 10, demanding reservation for appointment as siksha sahayaks (teaching assistants) in government schools. According to the People with Disability Act, 1995, 3 per cent of jobs in the government sector should be reserved for those with hearing, visual and speech disability.

Meteor debris rush continues

Kendrapara (PTI): Three months after a meteor shot across the sky in Orissa’s coastal belt, fragments of its debris are still being recovered in Kendrapara district.

Four pieces, picked up by locals who had preserved them out of curiosity, have been recovered by panchayat representatives in Mahakalapada block, official sources said. The fragments when put together weigh 3 kg and are with panchayat officials now. Sarpanch Gagan Bihari Pradhan has been instructed to keep the fragments in safe custody and hand them over to the district administration.

The district administration had warned residents not to keep the meteorite pieces in their possession as they fell in the national treasure category. Private possession of such material would amount to penal offence, the administration warned.

So far, 10 fragments have been found from villages and paddy fields, the sources said.

Faint tremor in Nagpur

Nagpur (PTI): A tremor of mild intensity, measuring 3.1 on the Richter scale, was felt in the city in the early hours of Saturday.

The Met office said the quake had its epicentre in Akola district.

The tremor came a day after an earthquake killed thousands in Iran.

Crocodile census

Kendrapara (PTI): Entry of tourists into Bhitarkanika National Park in Orissa has been banned for a week from January 8 for the annual census of endangered salt-water crocodiles in the sanctuary. Wildlife researchers, however, will be allowed to enter during the period, the divisional forest officer of Rajnagar (mangrove) forest division said.

Privilege breach

Bangalore (PTI): The president of a housing co-operative society facing charges of breach of privilege of the Karnataka legislature, staged a walkout during the hearing of the privileges committee. B. Krishna Bhat had been summoned before it on two issues. One was the alleged defamation of House members by filing a PIL saying that elected representatives planned a foreign jaunt at the cost of the state exchequer. Bhat had also filed a memo with regard to a letter he wrote to the legislative council chairman asking him not to permit a debate on the formation of a residential layout by his society, which was pending before some courts.

Jeweller looted

Hyderabad (PTI): Armed robbers looted a jewellery shop and an e-seva centre in the city and escaped with property worth over Rs 1 crore. The city jewellers’ association has called a bandh to protest against inadequate police security.

Children set on fire

Nawada (PTI): A woman allegedly committed suicide after setting her two-year-old daughter and three-year-old son on fire at a village in the district on Friday night. Police said Sunita Devi probably took the extreme step following a family feud. The husband, Tanik Sao, is missing.

Tick

A study by a team of American and Indian researchers to test a new organic repellant to keep elephants away from crops has been conducted in a Kerala village. The study in Wayanad district used ketones released by bull elephants during mating season.

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