CHITWAN: At least two persons lost their lives and 29 others sustained injuries when a tourist-bus hit a truck at Sauraha of Chitwan district, on Friday, police said.
Two Nepali tourists were killed in the accident. However, police are yet to ascertain their identities.
According to Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Ek Narayan Koirala at DPO, Chitwan, 21 Chinese nationals and eight Nepalis sustained injuries in the accident today.
Injured persons are undergoing treatment at Chitwan-based various health facilities. Among the injured persons, few are said to be in a critical condition, DSP Koirala shared.
An ill-fated bus (Ba 1 Pa 783) heading to Sauraha from Kathmandu hit a truck (Lu 2 Kha 3305) moving in the same direction and rammed onto a roadside house before killing two and injuring 28 others this afternoon.
Two persons who were sitting inside the house also sustained minor injuries. However, they were released from the hospital after receiving treatment today itself, police informed.
Police suspected that the accident might have occurred due to slippery condition of the road due incessant rainfall in the area.
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KATHMANDU: League leader Machhindra Club slumped to 2-0 defeat against Himalayan Sherpa Club (HSC) and suffered a major blow in their title hope of the ongoing Qatar Airways Martyr’s Memorial ‘A” Division league, on Friday.
With this defeat, Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) dislodged Machhindra Club from top to the second position in the 14-teams table with superior goal difference although TAC has a game in hand.
Machhindra Club conceded a suicide-goal as early in the first minute at the ANFA Complex ground after the match was moved away from the waterlogged pitch at Dasarath Stadium today.
MC’s Peter Segun deflected HSC’s Vinod Gurung strike into own net before HSC doubled their lead in the 19th minute of the first half. Bijaya Shrestha headed in after Niraj Basnet supplied a delightful ball inside a penalty area via a free-kick.
MC poured men forward in search of goals to muster a point but to no avail.
After a hard-fought victory, relegation battling HSC moved its self out of danger zone to tenth position in the league.
POKHARA: The world’s shortest man, Khagendra Thapa Magar, who stood just over 22 inches (56 centimetres) has died, on Friday.
Thapa, who was recognised by the Guinness World Records as the world’s shortest man, breathed his last while undergoing treatment at Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Pokhara-based Manipal Teaching Hospital this afternoon.
Doctors involved in Thapa’s treatment said he died due to pneumonia. It has been learnt that Thapa suffered from a chronic respiratory ailment due to his height and body’s weight.
Thapa, who was born in Dhulubaskot-6 in Baglung district, was officially recorded as the world’s shortest man in the Guinness World Records on October 14, 2010. He has been given the registration number–154894.
DHADING: Two persons have been arrested in possession of a huge cache of banned pharmaceutical drugs from Gajuri of Dhading district, on Friday, police said.
Police intercepted a bus (Na 6 Kha 1760) heading to Lamjung from Kathmandu at Gajuribazaar along Prithvi highway and arrested Hemanta Gurung, 19, of Bandipur Municipality-1 and Sandeep Pariyar, 18, of Bhanu Municipality-1 in Tanahun district.
Police recovered a huge cache of illegal drugs–Spasmo and Tramadol– wrapped with clothes hidden inside their bags while carrying out routine security check in the area today.
A police team led by Police Inspector Bhoj Raj Pandey at the Area Police Office, Gajuri, arrested the duo and presented them before the court today itself. They have been remanded to custody for further investigation.
KATHMANDU: Traffic lights have been brought into operation at eight various crossroads of the Kathmandu Valley.
The traffic lights which had stopped working for long have been brought into operation in the coordination of the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD) and the Department of Roads.
Chief of MTPD, Senior Superintendent of Police Bhim Prasad Dhakal said the traffic lights have been brought into operation at Putalisadak, Padmodayamod, Singha Durbar, Old Baneshwor, New Baneshwor, Teenkune, Gaushala and Mahapal of Lalitpur.
According to him, the traffic lights would also be operated at Mitrapark, Kalimati, Tankeshwor, Paropakar and Pulchowk in after a few days.
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MELBOURNE: Gary Lineker’s celebrated quote that soccer is a simple game that “the Germans always win” might well be adapted to tennis and the inescapable dominance of Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open.
For a tournament that has been thrown into some doubt by bushfire smoke in the leadup, a record-extending eighth Grand Slam title for the defending champion Serbian would hardly be a breath of fresh air for many fans at Melbourne Park.
Some might prefer the romance of a Roger Federer triumph in the twilight of his career or for one of the younger generation finally to break through and end the stranglehold of the ‘Big Three’, who have divided the last 12 Grand Slam titles between them.
Djokovic is unlikely to care a jot for those sentiments, and if the bookmakers are to be believed, is set to crush them ruthlessly.
The 32-year-old may never feel the affections of the crowd savoured by Federer and Spaniard Rafa Nadal but his record of 16 Grand Slam titles is proof that tennis is no popularity contest.
That was never more clear than in last year’s final when he routed Nadal 6-3 6-2 6-3 with a devastating display that left the Mallorcan and the Rod Laver Arena terraces stunned.
For Djokovic, Melbourne Park is more than just a tennis centre parked on the banks of a murky river.
Over the years, it has become something of a temple for the Serb who has spoken of feeling touched by the “divine” when in full flight on the blue hardcourts.
Across the river are Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens, where Djokovic climbs a favourite fig tree and communes with nature in peace.
Djokovic has generally kept his buildups quiet before easing into his work at the Australian Open but he has been front and centre in the new season, leading Serbia to victory over Spain in the inaugural ATP Cup final on Sunday.
His inspired 6-2 7-6(4) win over world number one Nadal was a snapshot of the pair’s recent rivalry as he coolly produced all the answers when tested by the all-action Spaniard.
If the tournament progresses according to seedings, the pair will again face off in the final.
Nadal, the reigning French and U.S. Open champion, would have his work cut out plotting the downfall of a rival he has not beaten on a hardcourt for nearly seven years.
The 33-year-old claimed his sole Australian Open trophy in 2009, back in the days when he wore pirate shorts and had long hair.
Yet arriving in rude physical health, he may have his best chance of a second.
That would see him match Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles and fire up the debate about who is “greatest” of all time.
Yet even at 38, six-times champion Federer may have a say on that.
The world number three Swiss has not lost to Nadal on a hard court since the semi-finals of the 2014 Australian Open and would surprise few if he extended the streak in Melbourne.
Federer may find more challenging obstacles earlier in the draw from hungry, young talents unburdened by the psychological weight of years of ‘Big Three’ beat-downs.
Among them, fiery Russian Daniil Medvedev will be keen to take the next step after pushing Nadal to the wall in the U.S. Open final.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, who won the season-ending ATP Finals, will be another to watch at Melbourne Park where the city’s big Greek community will be right behind him.
The 21-year-old set the tournament alight with a run to last year’s semi-finals which included a brilliant fourth-round upset of his idol Federer.
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BERLIN: Bundesliga’s tightest title race in years resumes this week following the winter break with champions Bayern Munich planning their comeback after a shaky first half to their campaign.
The Bavarians, in third place four points behind leaders RB Leipzig, take on former coach Juergen Klinsmann’s Hertha Berlin on Sunday with several players still nursing injuries, including winger Serge Gnabry, Niklas Suele and Javi Martinez.
There is some good news for interim Bayern coach Hansi Flick, who took over from Nico Kovac in November, as Robert Lewandowski, the league’s top scorer, returned to training this week after minor surgery late last year.
But Flick has openly demanded reinforcements during the winter transfer window if his team are to continue delivering the goods in three competitions.
Among his wishes are a winger and a defender.
“We all have high goals and we need to form the basis to reach those high goals,” Flick had said during their training camp in Qatar earlier this month.
“We have to see that maybe during the winter period we can regulate a few things.” So far Bayern have made no move on the transfer market.
They finished 2019 strongly, with 11 goals in their last three league games to climb back up to third but they will need to pick up where they left off with Klinsmann eager to give his former club a run for their money.
The former Germany coach took over at Hertha Berlin in November and has pledged to turn the club’s fortunes around.
“I have played in cities like London and Milan where the club’s importance is extremely high. Berlin deserves that as well,” Klinsmann said.
Whether he will be sitting on the bench, however, is still unclear as he races to get his coaching licence up to date after having spent most of the past decade working and living in the United States.
Leaders RB Leipzig, top on 37 points, kick off 2020 at home against Union Berlin. Striker Timo Werner, who with 18 league goals is one behind Lewandowski, has one eye on the title.
“On a national level it would be nice to win the Cup (after reaching the final last year)… but if I had to chose then winning the league title is the ultimate,” Werner said.
Borussia Dortmund’s title hopes have been dented by an inconsistent first phase that has seen them drop seven points behind Leipzig into fourth place, and Saturday’s trip to Augsburg could prove to be a tricky start to their year.
Augsburg has won three of their last four league games to climb out of trouble and into 10th place.
Second-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach, on 35 points, will provisionally go top of the table if they beat Schalke 04 on Friday.
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PORT ELIZABETH: Ben Stokes rushed to his century and Ollie Pope moved within sight of a maiden test ton as England reached 335 for four wickets at lunch on day two of the third test against South Africa on Friday.
With South Africa digesting the news that top bowler Kagiso Rabada had been hit with a one-match ban that would rule him out of the fourth and final test, England turned the screw at St George’s Park.
Stokes was 108 not out and Pope unbeaten on 75 as England significantly picked up the run rate, adding 111 runs to their overnight score.
Stokes’ ninth test ton puts England in a commanding position as they look to take the lead in the four-match series, which is level at 1-1.
The England pair came out, after rain delayed the start of play by 45 minutes, with clear intent and quickly moved past 50 runs each as the skies over Port Elizabeth began to clear.
Stokes, who was on 38 overnight, reached 50 off 102 balls with Pope then following to the same milestone in 93 balls.
Stokes then accelerated to his century, taking only another 72 balls for his second 50, bringing up three figures with a characteristic cover drive.
In the process he passed 4,000 runs and became only the seventh test cricketer to reach that figure and take 100 wickets, achieving the milestone in fewer tests than England great Ian Botham.
Pope, who turned 22 earlier this month, survived a scare when he was given out lbw the ball after Stokes took a single to get his century. He successfully reviewed, however, denying South African debutant Dane Paterson a maiden test wicket.
South Africa’s bowlers continued to toil on a flat wicket, but looked deflated after Rabada’s one-test suspension was confirmed just after Friday’s play began. He will miss the last match in Johannesburg in a major blow to the hosts.
Rabada was given another demerit point for robustly celebrating the wicket of England captain Joe Root on Thursday by running down the pitch, going down on his haunches, clenching his fists and roaring into the ground.
The bowler, who has accumulated four demerit points in a 24-month period, was also fined 15% of his match fee by the International Cricket Council.
Rapper Eminem once again dropped a surprise album, releasing “Music to Be Murdered By” on Friday — along with a video that calls for changes to gun laws.
The follow-up to 2018’s “Kamikaze” — also released without warning — was announced on Twitter just after midnight.
The Detroit rapper’s new music video for “Darkness,” one of the album’s 20 tracks, depicts a shooting at a concert. The lyrics and storyline of the video specifically allude to the 2017 mass shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. It closes with audio and video footage of news broadcasts from other recent mass shooting around the U.S. and an appeal to register to vote.
“When will this end? When enough people care,” reads the text at the end of the video. “Register to vote at vote.gov. Make your voice heard and help change gun laws in America.”
A link to the music video on Eminem’s website encourages viewers to contact or visit several gun violence prevention organizations, including Everytown for Gun Safety and Sandy Hook Promise.
The cover art features blood spatter and a bearded Eminem clad in a suit and fedora and holding a shovel. An alternate cover features the same splatter, with a now hatless Eminem holding both a hatchet and a gun to his head in an homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 album of the same name: “Inspired by the master, Uncle Alfred!” Eminem tweeted.
“Music to Be Murdered By” is Eminem’s 11th studio album, according to his website.
Among many collaborators, the album features Ed Sheeran, Skylar Grey, Anderson .Paak and Juice WRLD, the 21-year-old rapper who died in December.
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- Khamenei’s first Friday prayer sermon in eight years
- Iran under pressure over plane disaster, nuclear work
- Sermon follows US, Iran tit-for-tat military strikes
DUBAI: The Revolutionary Guards can take their fight beyond Iran’s borders, the supreme leader said on Friday, responding to the US killing of a top general and to unrest at home over the accidental downing of an airliner.
In his first Friday prayers sermon in eight years, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also told thousands of Iranians who chanted “Death to America” that European states could not be trusted after they launched a nuclear agreement dispute mechanism.
The measure could lead to UN sanctions being reimposed.
“Resistance must continue until the region is completely freed from the enemy’s tyranny,” Khamenei said, in a reference to the United States that renewed his call for US troops to leave neighbouring Iraq and the wider Middle East.
Washington’s withdrawal in 2018 from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers and the reimposition of US sanctions has triggered an escalation in tensions over several months that briefly led to open conflict in January.
US President Donald Trump ordered the killing in a drone strike on Jan 3 of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, a unit of the Revolutionary Guards responsible for expanding Iran’s influence abroad. He built up regional militias that Washington has blamed for attacks on US forces.
Iran responded with missile strikes on US targets in Iraq on Jan 8, injuring although not killing US troops.
“The fact that Iran has the power to give such a slap to a world power shows the hand of God,” said Khamenei, in a reference to the strikes, adding that the killing of Soleimani showed Washington’s “terrorist nature”.
“The Quds Force is a humanitarian organisation with human values that protects people across the region,” Khamenei said. “They are fighters without borders.”
In the tense aftermath of Iran’s missile strikes on U.S. targets, when Iranian forces expected US reprisals, the Guards’ air defences shot down a Ukrainian airliner in error.
It took days to admit the mistake, a delay that sparked protests across Iran that sometimes met a violent crackdown.
Trump sent tweets in Farsi and English to support the demonstrators, drawing a sharp response from Khamenei.
“These American clowns who lie and say they are with the Iranian people should see who the Iranian people are,” he said on Friday.
Khamenei called for national unity and said Iran’s “enemies”, a term usually used to refer to the United States and its allies, had tried to use the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 to shift attention from the killing of Soleimani.
Khamenei described the crash as a tragedy and called for steps to ensure there was no repeat.
The funeral of Soleimani, long portrayed as a national hero but seen by the West as a ruthless adversary, had brought huge numbers of Iranian mourners to the streets.
But scenes of mourning for Soleimani were followed by four days of protests over the plane disaster, when demonstrators chanted “Death to Khamenei” and “Clerics get lost”.
To quell the demonstrations, riot police were sent onto the streets in force, lining up outside universities that were a focus for the protests. Video footage online showed protesters were beaten and also recorded gunshots and blood on the streets.
Iran’s police denied firing at protesters and said officers had been ordered to show restraint.
Two months ago, the authorities launched a bloody crackdown on protests that erupted over fuel price hikes, which have hurt ordinary Iranians already feeling the squeeze of US sanctions
Washington reimposed sanctions after it withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear pact with world powers. Since then, Tehran has scaled back on its commitments to the deal, including saying it would stop observing limits on uranium enrichment.
Britain, France and Germany have subsequently launched a dispute mechanism in the deal, which starts a diplomatic process that could lead to the reimposition of UN sanctions.
“These European countries cannot be trusted. Even their negotiations with Iran are full of deceit,” Khamenei said.
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- PM offers resignation after embarrassing recording circulates
- In comments to Reuters PM hints that he might not step down
- Says reforms, IMF programme not affected by his move
KIEV: Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk submitted his resignation on Friday after an audio recording suggested he had criticised the president, but then appeared to suggest that he might stay in his job.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy would consider the resignation letter later on Friday, the president’s office said.
Speculation over Honcharuk’s position has grown this week after a recording of a man discussing Zelenskiy’s purported lack of knowledge of economics was circulated on messaging channels, apparently at a meeting of the prime minister, finance minister and the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) in December.
Zelenskiy is a former comic actor who had no political experience when he swept to power in an election last year on the back of public anger over high-level corruption.
Honcharuk said on Friday the recording had been doctored and was made up of different fragments of what had been said at government meetings.
“Its contents artificially create the impression that my team and I do not respect the president, who is our political leader,” Honcharuk said on social media. He did not say whether it was his voice heard in the recording.
Central bank officials and the finance minister have declined to comment on the recording.
Contacted by Reuters shortly after his announcement and asked whether he indeed intended to step down, Honcharuk said: “Do not jump to conclusions.”
Under Ukraine’s previous president, Honcharuk’s predecessor as prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman, also made threats to resign but ultimately stayed the course until last July’s parliamentary election which Zelenskiy’s party won.
Honcharuk, appointed by lawmakers last August, declined to say whether he was using his resignation letter as a way of testing the president’s confidence in him.
“It doesn’t show the prime minister’s desire to resign, but rather it’s a way for him to fight to stay in his position,” Volodymyr Fesenko, a Kiev-based political analyst.
“MODEL OF OPENNESS AND DECENCY”
Honcharuk announced his resignation in a message on Facebook where he also praised Zelenskiy as “a model of openness and decency”.
“However, in order to remove any doubts about our respect and trust in the President, I wrote a letter of resignation and handed it to the President with the right to submit it to Parliament,” he said.
Honcharuk appeared in parliament later on Friday and reaffirmed his respect for the president, adding that Ukraine must remain united in the face of what he called information attacks and manipulations.
He was given a standing ovation by a number of lawmakers, though some shouted “shame on you”.
Since taking office, Honcharuk has set out an ambitious reform agenda and secured provisional agreement from the IMF for a three-year-loan programme seen as key to maintaining investor confidence and economic stability.
Ukraine’s dollar bonds softened slightly after the news but later recovered.
“Seems likely Zelenskiy will reject it,” said Tim Ash of BlueBay Asset Management about the letter of resignation.
“Question is if Zelenskiy accepts it, would any credible reformer opt to sit in Honcharuk’s place when the said govt session with the NBU was leaked, and Honcharuk was only being honest,” he wrote on Twitter.
Honcharuk’s government managed to secure a $5.5 billion IMF loan programme in December but this is still subject to Ukraine’s performance on reforms and tackling vested interests.
“(The resignation offer) will not affect them,” Honcharuk said in his comments to Reuters on Friday, replying to a question about his government’s reforms and the IMF programme.
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PARIS: Opponents of President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed overhaul of France’s pension system marched in Paris and other French cities Thursday on what is the 43rd day of strike action that has hobbled trains and public transport.
At the call of trade unions, train and metro workers, teachers and others took to the French capital’s streets to demand that the government scrap its pension proposals.
Police were out in force but the march across southern Paris was calm, and the number of protesters was down compared to previous marches. The Interior Ministry put the number of marchers in the capital at 23,000 and 187,000 nationally — compared to a count by unions of 250,000.
Philippe Martinez, the leader of the far-left CGT union, said the det ermination “is just as big” as at the start of the strikes Dec 5
“It’s never too late to make the government cede,” he said.
The unions widely perceived to be most left-wing said they remained unsatisfied despite the government’s decision last week to suspend a central piece of the proposed reform plan, that of raising the retirement age to qualify for a full pension from 62 to 64. They want the government to scrap other changes they fear would force them to work longer for less money.
Legislation incorporating other parts of the government’s pension reform plan is to be presented at a Cabinet meeting next week. After that, there would be a three-month discussion with unions about financing the new pension system, including potential measures to raise taxes or the retirement age.
Macron says the new system, which aims at unifying 42 state-funded pension regimes, will be fairer and more sustainable.
“He (Macron) has always had disdain for us,” said Eric Delaunay, a train driver. “43 days of strikes for railway workers, Metro workers and for some in the private sector and he is deaf to it.”
He said that he and his wife, also a railroad worker, prepared for the strike when money would be tight, packing the freezer and buying 25 kilos (55 pounds) of potatoes.
Macron called this week for “calm and clarity” and promised a better explanation of what the changes will mean for different French workers.
The weeks of strikes and protests have hobbled public transportation and disrupted schools, hospitals, courthouses and even opera houses.
While the number of striking workers has diminished, since Dec 5,, the country’s trains and Paris subways were still disrupted Thursday.
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AGONCILLO: Thousands of residents under orders to evacuate from a town near the Philippine volcano Taal were allowed to briefly visit homes on Friday to rescue their animals and recover some possessions, taking advantage of what appeared to be waning activity.
Daniel Reyes, mayor of the Agoncillo town inside the danger zone of the 311 metre (1,020 feet) volcano, said he allowed around 3,000 residents to check their properties and retrieve animals, clothes and other possessions.
“If I would not let them rescue their animals, their animals would die and together with them their sources of livelihood,” Reyes told Reuters.
A long line of cars, trucks, motorcycle taxis carrying pigs, dogs, television sets, gas stoves and electric fans, were seen leaving Agoncillo, among the towns blanketed in thick layers of volcanic ash.
“Our bodies are fine, but our minds and hearts are in pain”, said resident Peding Dawis, 63, while resting after taking his cows to safer areas.
Dawis said there were 200 more pigs that needed rescuing in his neighbourhood.
“It’s hard to leave our homes and livelihood behind.”
More than 40,000 residents of Agoncillo have abandoned their homes since Taal, one of the Philippines’ most active and deadliest volcanoes, began spewing massive clouds of ash, steam and gas on Sunday, Reyes said.
The majority of residents are now staying with families elsewhere, but the rest are among a total of 66,000 people sheltering in evacuation centres.
SIGNS OF CALM
Taal has shown signs of calm since Thursday and Reyes said he took advantage of this window to allow residents to collect their belongings.
“Based on what I saw outside, I thought I would be doing them more good if I let them return to their homes,” Reyes said. “The help they are getting now is only momentarily”.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said it observed “steady steam emission and infrequent weak explosions” from the volcano‘s main crater, but it continued to record dozens of earthquakes in nearby towns.
The institute said on Friday the danger level posed by the volcano remained at 4 out of a possible 5, meaning “hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days”.
“We do not base the alert level simply on what we see on the surface. We have to try to interpret what is happening below,” Renato Solidum, Phivolcs’ chief, told CNN Philippines.
“There are sometimes waning activity but the activity below is still continuing.”
The impact of the volcano on the $330 billion national economy has been a blip, despite cancelled flights and a day of work lost on Sunday because of a heavy ashfall in the capital Manila, 70 km (45 miles) away.
But for some of the farmers growing pineapples, bananas and coffee nearby it has been a disaster.
Volcanic ash has caused an estimated 3.06 billion pesos ($60.17 million) worth of damage to crops, livestock and fish farms, based on the latest data from the agriculture department.
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BARA: Police have arrested three persons on the charge of sexually assaulting a woman and attempting to rape her in Bara district.
According to Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Govinda Puri of the Area Police Office, Simara, the three accused — Naimudin Ansari, 18, Sesh Jamin Aalam, 25, and Sesh Sami Akhtar, 19, — were arrested for attempting rape on a 21-year-old who was out to graze cattle.
The three youths forcefully took her to a sugarcane field nearby, said DSP Puri quoting the victim. Local Birendra Prasad Chaurasiya, who was working on his farm, helped the woman after hearing some noise.
The incident occurred on Tuesday while a case was filed against them only on Wednesday, following which police personnel were mobilised and the accused were taken into custody, added DSP Puri.
District Court, Bara has remanded them to five days in judicial custody for further investigation.