Latest news

Everyone Can Go": Top Court On Entry Of Women In Sabarimala Temple Activist Swami Agnivesh Attacked Allegedly By BJP Workers In Jharkhand PM Modi's 'Bail-Gaadi' Dig At Congress On Shashi Thaoor's Day In Court On Jammu And Kashmir, Rajnath Singh Says Peace Through "Honest" Governance In Delhi Family Deaths, Diary Notes Reveal One Man's Delusions 11 Bodies, 11 Pipes: Cops Probe Chilling Details Of Delhi "Death House" "Andhra Student Raped, Assault Filmed; Man With Video Demands 10 Lakhs "Siddaramaiah Says No Doubt About Stability Of Congress-JDS Government "Nothing Above 'Family' For Congress," Says PM Modi On Emergency Four Dead In 24 Hours As Heavy Rain Pounds Mumbai; Traffic, Trains Hit BJP's Dilip Ghosh Comes Up With 'Encounter' Threat For Trinamool Leaders Mehbooba Mufti Resigns As BJP Exits Jammu and Kashmir Alliance: 10 Facts Manish Sisodia, On Hunger Strike At Lt Governor's, Hospitalised: 10 Facts BJP, Used To Controlling Political Arena, Has Bihar Allies Acting Out After Rahul Gandhi's Peace-Keeping, Karnataka Finally Gets 25 Ministers Bengaluru Ola Driver Allegedly Molests Passenger, Forces Her To Strip For Photos Army Called After More Violence In Shillong, Curfew Imposed In Many Areas Sita Was Test-Tube Baby, Declares Yogi Adityanath's Deputy Kairana Shows 2019 May Not Be A Modi-Wave Election Election Commission Has Become The Mistress": Sena Attacks BJP Again "Find Me A Place," Says Akhilesh Yadav, On Order To Exit Lucknow Bungalow Sunanda Pushkar's Social Media Texts Treated As Dying Declaration: Police Kidnappers Disguised As Students In Lodge As They Kept Bihar Teen Captive Jinnah Portrait Row: Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor Meets Rajnath Singh CPI(M), BJP tie up to counter Trinamool in Nadia ahead of Bengal panchayat polls 6 Teens Run Over By Train In UP; They Were Walking On Track, Say Locals Delhi CS assault case: Bail plea of AAP MLAs Amanatullah Khan, Prakash Jarwal nixed Schoolgirl On Way To Exam Beheaded Outside Madhya Pradesh School, Stalker Suspect Two Army jawans martyred, 4 injured in Jammu Fidayeen attack on Military Station Protests At Kolkata School Over Sexual Assault On Class 2 Girl By Teacher BJP Developing Northeast India, Tripura Backward Due To Left: PM Modi 3 States Get Contempt Notice From Supreme Court On Cow Vigilantism Violence Again Erupts In Uttar Pradesh's Kasganj, Buses, Shops Set On Fire PM felicitates bravery award winners, says their brave acts serve as inspiration for others Read: Full Text Of PM Narendra Modi's Statement In Press Conference With Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu Mumbai Chopper Crash Live Updates: 4 Bodies Recovered, Search And Rescue Operations Continue Democracy At Stake, Things Not In Order: 4 Supreme Court Judges - 10 Points New Team To Look Into 186 Anti-Sikh Riots Cases, Says Supreme Court BSP Leader Mukhtar Ansari Suffers Heart Attack In UP Jail, Hospitalised PM Modi Reaches Out To Manmohan Singh, With A Warm Handshake No Benefit To People From Hiked Oil Prices: Congress PM In House As Congress Shouts "Apologise To Dr Sahab(Manmohan Singh) Gujarat Election 2017: 397 'Crorepati' Candidates In Poll Fray, Congress' Pankaj Patel Richest Congress Taking 2G Judgement As A Badge Of Honour, Says Arun Jaitley" PM In House As Congress Shouts "Apologise To Dr Sahab(Manmohan Singh) Gujarat Election 2017: 397 'Crorepati' Candidates In Poll Fray, Congress' Pankaj Patel Richest Licence Of Delhi's Max Hospital That Declared Newborn Dead Suspended Gujarat Election 2017: On 'Safe' BJP Seat, CM Vijay Rupani To Face Stiff Challenge From Congress' Indranil Rajyaguru Hardik Patel's Show of Strength 30 km Away From PM Modi Rally In Gujarat Hafiz Saeed Files Petition In UN Seeking Removal Of His Name From Terror List Request Congress Not To Mock My Poor Origins,' Says PM Narendra Modi In Scathing Attack Ram Temple-Babri Masjid Case: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Meets Muslim Leaders In Lucknow BJP Leader Shiv Kumar, Security Guard Shot Dead In Greater Noida Will Help Arvind Kejriwal To Prevent Smog Crisis In 2018, Says Haryana In Gujarat, Team Of 40 'Chhupa Rustams' Informing Rahul Gandhi Decisions Those Who Were In World Bank Now Question Ranking: PM Narendra Modi Slams Opposition In Gujarat Election, Why The Role And Influence Of ASHA Workers Matters President Ram Nath Kovind And Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu Pay Tributes To Sardar Patel

Everyone Can Go": Top Court On Entry Of Women In Sabarimala Temple
NEW DELHI:MMNN:18 July 2018
NEW DELHI: The right of a woman to pray is a constitutional right and does not depend on laws, the Supreme Court said today while hearing a bunch of petitions that challenge the traditional ban on the entry of women between 10 and 50 years of age in the famous Sabarimala temple. "Every woman is also the creation of God and why should there be discrimination against them in employment or worship," said Justice DY Chandrachud, who was part of the five-judge constitutional bench that was hearing the case. In October last year, the top court referred the issue to a Constitution bench, framing five "significant" questions. The chief is these is whether the traditional ban amounts to discrimination against women and violates their fundamental rights under the Constitution. The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, also has Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, and Indu Malhotra. Today, state minister K Surendran said women should be allowed to offer prayers at the Sabarimala Temple, voicing the longstanding stance of the state's ruling CPM.



Activist Swami Agnivesh Attacked Allegedly By BJP Workers In Jharkhand
NEW DELHI:MMNN:17 July 2018
JHARKHAND: Social Activist Swami Agnivesh was punched, kicked and pushed to the ground allegedly by BJP Yuva Morcha workers in Jharkhand today. The alleged BJP workers had shown black flags and raised slogans against him. The activist had offered a dialogue, but got abuses in return. Chief Minister Raghubar Das has asked the police to thoroughly investigate the incident. Swami Agnivesh, was attending an event in Pakur, about 365 km from state capital Ranchi. He was flanked by tribals who were holding bows and arrows. He was attacked by a mob as soon as he came out of his hotel. The alleged BJP workers were chanting "Jai Sri Ram" as they thrashed the 80-year-old activist. "I am against any sort of violence. I am known as a peace-loving person. I don't know why I was attacked," Swami Agnivesh told NDTV. The BJP has condemned the attack, but in the same line added that we shouldn't see the attack in isolation and we have to consider Swami Agnivesh's "track record". "There is no place for violence in democracy. But Swami Agnivesh should have organised for his security," P Shahdeo, Jharkhand BJP spokesperson, said. Swami Agnivesh said he had informed the administration about his arrival. But there were no policemen around even after the protesters had gathered outside his hotel. Local reporters said BJP youth wing's workers were protesting his visit, but he was completely taken aback when he was attacked, he said. "I had offered to hold a dialogue with them. But nobody came to speak to me. I was going to a sammelan (seminar) with my tribal friends when they launched an attack. They were carrying black flags and without any warning pounced on me. They punched, kicked and dragged me on the ground. They also used cuss words," Swami Agnivesh told The activist likened the attack to mob lynchings that have been reported in several states in the past one year. In all the cases, the blood-hungry mobs had consumed rumours on social media, especially WhatsApp, about cow smuggling and presence of child kidnappers in their area. "I pleaded with them with folded hands... But they didn't think it was necessary to tell me why they were raining blows on me. They just went on and on," Swami Agnivesh said. Swami Agnivesh was rushed to hospital where doctors are running tests on him. He says that the stone that missed his head landed on his ribs and he is in immense pain. The attack appears to be pre-meditated, police said. They have detained 20 men and are sifting though the CCTV footage before making further arrests.



PM Modi's 'Bail-Gaadi' Dig At Congress On Shashi Thaoor's Day In Court
NEW DELHI:MMNN:7 July 2018
JAIPUR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today tore into the Congress, calling the party a "bail-gaadi" and said several of its senior leaders were out on bail. The dig, a play on the Hindi word for a bullock cart, appeared to be aimed at Congress leaders like Shashi Tharoor who received protection from arrest in a case into his wife's death today. "Several leaders who are called stalwarts of the Congress and former ministers are out on bail these days," PM Modi said at a public rally in Jaipur where he pitched for the BJP's re-election in Rajasthan state polls due by the end of the year. He presented the Congress in stark contrast to the BJP, saying "We have no tolerance towards corruption. All our efforts are aimed at building a new India." Besides Mr Tharoor, who's anticipatory bail was converted to a regular bail by a court in Delhi today in the Sunanda Pushkar case, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi too are out on bail in the National Herald case of cheating and misappropriation. PM Modi said people were well aware of the "intentions" of the Congress party and criticised it for "questioning the capabilities of the army" - an apparent reference to the surgical strike on terrorist launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in 2016. "It is unfortunate that political opponents also committed a sin by raising questions on the capabilities of the army. This has never happened before and the people will not forgive those who are doing this kind of politics," he said. Saying that BJP had the singular agenda of development, he said, "Never forget what the previous government left in Rajasthan." The Prime Minister inaugurated several infrastructure projects said to be worth over Rs. 2,100 crore in the state today. PM Modi's visit is said to be a precursor to the BJP's official campaign for the Rajasthan assembly election slated to take place later this year.



On Jammu And Kashmir, Rajnath Singh Says Peace Through "Honest" Governance
NEW DELHI:MMNN:5 July 2018
SRINAGAR: On his first visit to Jammu and Kashmir after the imposition of Governor's rule, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today that peace and stability could be brought to the state through an honest, effective and efficient administration. Mr Singh also reviewed the security situation in the state at a high-level meeting attended by Governor NN Vohra, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and top civil and police officials in Srinagar. "The dream of a developed and prosperous Jammu and Kashmir will be realised when there is peace and normalcy in the state. It is our firm resolve to bring peace, stability and prosperity through an honest, effective and efficient administration for the problems facing the state," a statement quoted him as saying. Discussing the way forward for the state, Mr Singh said development and good governance had remained elusive for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the central government was committed to taking all possible measures to bring accountability and transparency in the system. "With a renewed focus on good governance and development, the Centre is looking forward to kindle new aspirations and hopes amongst the people of the state," he said. The home minister said the solution to problems lies in empowerment of the people and strengthening the institutions of local self-government. Jammu and Kashmir was placed under governor's rule on June 20 after the BJP withdrew support to alliance partner PDP, prompting Mehbooba Mufti to resign as chief minister.



In Delhi Family Deaths, Diary Notes Reveal One Man's Delusions
NEW DELHI:MMNN:3 July 2018
Investigations into the mysterious death of 11 of a family in Delhi are now focused on notes found in the house, which point at one man's hallucinations and delusions of an impending apocalypse. On Sunday, 77-year-old Narayan Devi, her children and grandchildren were found dead. She was on her bed while 10 others, including two 15-year-old boys, were hanging from a wire grid in the hallway of their home in Burari, north Delhi. None of the family members, including Narayan Devi, showed any signs of struggle and all died from hanging, confirms the autopsy. The police say Narayan Devi's youngest son Lalit Chundawa, 45, drove the "mass suicide" and jotted down the notes that included "instructions". He began writing these notes in 2015. He had reportedly taken a vow of silence a few years ago but had recently started talking again, about "visits" from his dead father. One of his notes appeared to predict doomsday and advised the family that they would be saved. The entry read: "Antim samay mein, aakhri ichha ki purti ke waqt, aasman hilegi dharti kaanpegi, us waqt tum ghabrana mat, mantra ka jaap badha dena, mein aakar utar loonga aur ko bhi utarne mein madad karunga (in your last hours, while your last wish is fulfilled, the skies will open up and the earth will shake, don't panic but start chanting the mantra louder. I will come to save you, I will bring you down and help with the others too)." The police say this was what Lalit believed advice from his father who had died 10 years ago. Lalit Chundawa allegedly told the family that he received this message from his father and everyone should follow it. The family was very superstitious and apparently believed that the end of the world was coming. According to relatives and friends, Lalit Chundawa communicated mostly by scribbling notes, even with customers who came to his grocery shop. Lalit Chundawa's sister Sujata, who lives in Panipat, wept over the unspeakable tragedy and said: "I can't believe that they committed suicide. Everyone was so happy. Someone has killed my family and the police have to find them." For more Delhi news, click here



11 Bodies, 11 Pipes: Cops Probe Chilling Details Of Delhi "Death House"
NEW DELHI:MMNN:2 July 2018
As the police investigate the events leading to the death of 11 of a family in Delhi, strange and chilling details are being examined closely. One of them is 11 pipes protruding from one wall of the house, all set close together. What has baffled investigators is that there was no water outlet on that side of the house in north Delhi's Burari in which the Bhatias lived until they were found hanging on Sunday morning. Only one, 77-year-old Narayan Devi, was found on the floor, with signs of strangling. The 10 others, including Narayan Devi's daughter Pratibha, 57, sons Bhavnesh, 50, and Lalit Bhatia, 45, and their families, were found hanging from a net attached to the ceiling. Bhavnesh's wife Savita, 48, and their three children Meenu, 23, Neetu, 25, and 15-year-old Dhruv, and Lalit Bhatia's wife Tina, 42, and their 15-year-old son Shivam were also hanging. Also found hanging was Pratibha's daughter Priyanka, 33, who was engaged last month and was, from all accounts, excited about her wedding later this year. Most of the bodies were four blindfolded, the mouths taped and hands tied behind the back. Handwritten notes and a diary found at the site indicate that the deaths were planned and that the family followed so-called instructions for "mass salvation", say the police. As for the mysterious pipes, they face an empty plot and are apparently not outlets for water. Four of the pipes point straight while four are bent. One pipe is a little away from the others. The police are investigating the significance of the pipes, but there are already murmurs of a spiritual link. Narayan Devi had one more son and daughter who lived away and are said to be in shock. The Bhatias had a grocery store and lived in an apartment on the first floor. They were in no financial trouble, as far as friends and relatives knew. One account suggest they became deeply religious after an accident that left Lalit Bhatia mute.



"Andhra Student Raped, Assault Filmed; Man With Video Demands 10 Lakhs
NEW DELHI:MMNN:30 Jun 2018
A 22-year-old engineering student from Andhra Pradesh has accused her seniors of raping her, filming the act and using it to blackmail her. In her complaint to the police, she said that two of her seniors took her to a birthday party in February last year, where they spiked her drink and raped her. As they had filmed the act, they blackmailed her and continued to assault her, police said. Both the software engineers passed out of the college this year. The police have charged them with gang-rape, and also under the IT Act for filming the act and using it to blackmail her. All the three accused have been arrested, the police said, adding they will be sent to judicial custody. The woman told the police that she had approached the management of her college in Agiripalli in Krishna district, but the officials did not inform the police. Instead they asked the men to delete the video and apologise to the girl, she alleged. The college management said they took prompt action. They didn't report the matter to the police to protect the identity of the girl and the future of the students, an official explained. However, after the purported mutual understanding negotiated by the college, the accused, Vamshi and Siva Reddy, in their early 20s, shared the video with their classmates and contacts, which translated into more trouble for the woman. Two months ago, the girl was threatened by a third student, Praveen, who had a copy of the video. He allegedly demanded Rs. 10 lakh and sexual favours from her. The girl then approached the police and filed a complaint. Praveen was arrested, the other students will soon be arrested, police said



"Siddaramaiah Says No Doubt About Stability Of Congress-JDS Government
NEW DELHI:MMNN:29 Jun 2018
BENGALURU: Former chief minister Siddaramaiah has said he was not unhappy about the ruling Congress-JDS coalition in Karnataka as was being projected, and there was no doubt about the stability of the government. Breaking his silence on the controversy over video leaks that purportedly showed his remarks on the fresh budget and longevity of the government, Mr Siddaramaiah termed video-graphing of a casual talk and making it public as "unethical". "What I have said, in what context I have said you do not know. Whoever it is, recording my casual talk with someone and making it public without knowing the context... Is it not unethical," he questioned when asked about the videos. Speaking to reporters after meeting Congress representatives in the drafting committee of the common minimum programme and Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, he said: "You too don't know in what context I have spoken, nobody knows. So I don't have anything to do with it." "We have formed a coalition government to keep away the communal BJP out of power. The coalition government will be stable; there is no doubt in that. It will be stable," Mr Siddaramaiah, who heads the co-ordination committee of the two parties, added. A video showing Mr Siddaramaiah purportedly expressing doubts about the longevity of the JDS-Congress government surfaced on Tuesday, adding to the strains of the coalition. Another video surfaced on Sunday, purportedly showing him expressing his displeasure to Congress legislators over presentation of a fresh budget. "Who told you that I'm unhappy," he said in response to a question about speculation he was unhappy with the coalition government. Mr Siddaramaiah returned to Bengaluru last night after undergoing treatment for 12 days at a nature cure hospital in Dharmasthala. The videos were said to be recorded there without his knowledge. Divergent views have been aired in public by some Congress and JDS leaders on several issues, including presentation of the budget. Mr Siddaramaiah, who had held the finance portfolio in the previous government, recently said there was no need for a fresh budget and insisted that a supplementary budget would do. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, who holds the finance portfolio now, is scheduled to present the budget on July 5.



"Nothing Above 'Family' For Congress," Says PM Modi On Emergency
NEW DELHI:MMNN:26 Jun 2018
MUMBAI: A BJP function to observe "Black Day" - the imposition of 1975 Emergency - was marked by a full-scale attack on the Congress, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi ripped into the party, saying for them, "nothing, no one and no constitution comes above the Family". Speaking at a party function in Mumbai, the Prime Minister said remembering Emergency is meant "not just to criticise Congress for the sin of attacking the constitution, but to create awareness about its dangers". The Congress government led by Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency in 1975, during which fundamental rights were severely restricted, curbs were imposed on the media and several opposition leaders were jailed. The BJP has been observing the day as "Black Day". The announcement of the Emergency was made on June 25, days after the Allahabad High Court found Indira Gandhi guilty of electoral malpractices and disbarred her as a parliamentarian for six years. The Congress, the Prime Minister hinted, is walking the same line. "When a notice was served to the 'family', such was the arrogance, such was the ego, that even the Chief Justice of India was not spared... an impeachment motion was taken against him in Parliament," PM Modi said, pointing to the Congress effort to bring an impeachment motion against Dipak Misra. Throughout history, whenever the Congress, especially the family feels their power is about to go, they start spreading all sorts of lies, the Prime Minister said. Under the party, even institutions like the judiciary and Election Commission are not safe, he said. "After god, people of this country have faith in the judiciary. But the Congress plays on this, creates insecurity and doubt in the minds of people," he said, adding when the Congress "faced the reality of going from 400 to 40" seats in elections, they cast doubt on the Election Commission, He accused the party of "spreading lies" about fear and intolerance in the country. "They keep saying that Jan Sangh and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh would kill the Muslims... nowadays they keep saying the RSS will kill Dalits... all for creating a fear psychosis among the citizens... We are a big nation with a massive population, and such fear psychosis does have an impact on the people," he said. "They say only they (Congress) can fix the problem... It is all a big lie." PM Modi said it was important for the young people to be aware of what happened. "The youth of today enjoy freedom, they do not understand what it is to live without freedom. Hence they probably do not feel the pain and the anger of Emergency... Only a man who is thirsty understands the value of water," he said



Four Dead In 24 Hours As Heavy Rain Pounds Mumbai; Traffic, Trains Hit
NEW DELHI:MMNN:25 Jun 2018
Heavy rain in Mumbai since last night slowed down traffic and delayed trains, hitting thousands of school and office-goers on a Monday morning. Four people have died in Mumbai and adjoining areas since yesterday. Civic officials have placed pumps on stand-by as many low-lying areas in the city reported water-logging. A huge part of a compound wall of a residential complex in Antop Hill in south Mumbai's Wadala collapsed, taking along 15 parked cars. Dramatic pictures showed five other cars covered in debris. The civic body and the fire department have vacated an entire wing of the Lloyds Estate which houses many bankers. No casualties have been reported. Among the three people who died in Mumbai was a 15-year-old who died after falling into an open pit in the suburb of Malad. A 13-year-old was killed in Thane in a wall collapse. Two people died yesterday after a tree was uprooted near Azad Maidan in south Mumbai's Dhobi Talao. The heavy downpour led to water-logging in subways in Andheri, Khar and Malad suburbs, affecting traffic, Mumbai Police said. A container broke down on a bridge on the Eastern Express Highway, leading to traffic to slow down during morning rush hour Mumbai received 231.4 mm rain in the last 24 hours, a Met department official said. "So much rainfall is categorised as extremely heavy showers," IMD Mumbai Director Ajay Kumar told news agency PTI. "Expect showers to be as intense today as well," private weather forecaster Skymet said. Many Twitter users shared pictures of water-logging and traffic, with #MumbaiRains remaining the top trend on Twitter this morning. Mumbai Police tweeted with a dash of humour, "The showers are heavy but so is our 'bandobast' on the streets to 'be there' for Mumbaikars. We are #AlwaysUpForDuty to help you reach your destination with a little care & caution from you during your journey #RoadSafety #MumbaiRains."



BJP's Dilip Ghosh Comes Up With 'Encounter' Threat For Trinamool Leaders
NEW DELHI:MMNN:20 Jun 2018
KOLKATA: Dilip Ghosh, the BJP's Bengal chief, has waded into another controversy. This time, Mr Ghosh, who has been prepping for party boss Amit Shah's visit to West Bengal next week, declared that those leaders ruling the roost today would soon either be in jail or killed in encounters. "Every bullet will be made to count," Mr Ghosh said in north Bengal's Jalpaiguri 600 km from state capital Kolkata on Tuesday, according to a video of his speech. The BJP leader was leading a protest against the district administration who the party alleges was acting on directions of ruling Trinamool Congress government led by Mamata Banerjee. Turning to the Trinamool Congress leaders, he said leaders who indulged in hooliganism to do as they please in Bengal "will soon either be in jail or straight away there will be an encounter" "Remember Gabbar Singh's dialogue... How many bullets are in this gun," he said, a reference to the arch-villain of Bollywood blockbuster "Sholay" before he kills his three associates who let him down. "The bullets will be counted and given.... And corpses will be counted too," Mr Ghosh went on. Mr Ghosh left no room for imagination who were on his list. He even named the Trinamool's Birbhum district president Anubrata Mondal, referring to him by his nickname that Mamata Banerjee frequently uses: Keshto. A fortnight ago, Trinamool lawmaker Abhishek Banerjee was severely panned for threatening to make Purulia district opposition free. A day after he said it, a youth was found hanging in Purulia with anti BJP messages scrawled on his shirt. Mr Ghosh's speech was a message to his political rivals that BJP workers, who are allegedly targeted by Trinamool Congress, would retaliate to violence with violence. "There is a limit to our tolerance," he said, pledging retributive action against alleged strong-arm tactics of Trinamool leaders. The local police has filed a case against Mr Ghosh and three others for the speech and the Trinamool Congress has condemned what it calls is a hate speech. This isn't the first time that Mr Ghosh has landed himself in a row for shooting off his mouth. In the past, he has also threatened beheading for those shouting anti-national or pro-Pakistan slogans. Ahead of this year's panchayat elections, he had claimed that the fight for the local body elections would not end at polling stations but would reach crematoriums. He had once also said the BJP could drag Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee by her hair and throw her out for opposing the 2016 notes ban but later apologised.



Mehbooba Mufti Resigns As BJP Exits Jammu and Kashmir Alliance: 10 Facts
NEW DELHI:MMNN:19 Jun 2018
NEW DELHI: The signs were there for months, but Jammu and Kashmir's ruling coalition crashed today as the BJP yanked support from Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's People's Democratic Party (PDP), leaving the state facing Governor's Rule. "It had become untenable to continue with the PDP government in Kashmir," said senior BJP leader Ram Madhav, referring to reasons like deteriorating security and "discrimination" in parts of the state like Jammu and Ladakh. Mehbooba Mufti resigned not long after.
Here are the top 10 updates on the BJP-PDP alliance crash:
-1The PDP-BJP coalition, which was wobbly from the start, flat-lined just days after the central government decided not to extend the Ramzan ceasefire on anti-terror operations. The peace initiative was Mehbooba Mufti's idea.
-2The rift between the parties widened after the rape of an eight-year-old in Kathua. State BJP leaders were seen to support the men accused of kidnapping, gang-raping and killing the child from a Muslim tribal community. Two BJP lawmakers even participated in a rally to demand justice for the arrested men, all Hindus.
-3"Taking feedback from all institutions, the centre and the party was of the view that it is time the BJP withdrew from state government," Ram Madhav said.
-4Defending the decision to pull out support two years before time, the BJP leader said: "Fundamental rights of citizens including right to life and free speech are in danger."
-5A day before Eid, senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead along with two security guards in Srinagar. The same day, a soldier was kidnapped on his way home for Eid and killed.
-6"After the killing of Shujaat, there was no question of not continuing anti-terror operations," said Ram Madhav. In a series of tweets on Sunday, Union home minister Rajnath Singh announced that security forces had been directed to resume operations, indicating that the Ramzan ceasefire would not be extended.
-7The BJP has 25 lawmakers and the PDP has 28 in the 89-member state assembly, both far short of the majority mark of 45.
-8The Congress, which has 12 members, said there is no question of an alliance with the PDP.
-9The other major party in the state is the National Conference, with 15 seats. Its chief and former chief minister Omar Abdullah posted on Twitter: "And so it has come to pass..."
-10Since the two parties came to power in 2015, there had been a series of disputes - over PDP's promises of talks with separatists, the proposal to remove AFSPA or the Armed Forces' Special Powers Act that gives sweeping powers to the army in insurgency-hit areas, and the rollout of the government's flagship Goods and Services Tax.



Manish Sisodia, On Hunger Strike At Lt Governor's, Hospitalised: 10 Facts
NEW DELHI:MMNN:18 Jun 2018
NEW DELHI: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's sit-in protest at the house of Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has been strongly censured by the Delhi High Court, which pointed out that a "strike" cannot be held at anyone's house and questioned who authorized it. AAP said it would respond. "This protest was the last possible option. We tried every democratic method before this," said senior party leader Sanjay Singh. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who was on a hunger strike, has been hospitalized, Mr Kejriwal tweeted. Health Minister Satyendar Jain was also shifted to hospital last evening. Mr Kejriwal has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "give a green signal to IAS officers to end their strike".
Here are the top 10 facts in this big story:
-1"This can't be called a strike. You can't go inside someone's office or house and hold a strike there," the Delhi High Court said today in response to a petition.
-2Two other petitions have been filed - one filed by BJP Leader of Opposition in assembly Vijender Gupta and another against what Mr Kejriwal's government calls a "strike" by IAS officers. The court said the IAS association will be party to the cases, all of which will be heard on Friday.
-3Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was taken to hospital after his ketone levels shot up. "Manish Sisodia's ketone level reaches 7.4. Yesterday it was 6.4. ideally it should be zero. 2+ level is considered to be danger zone. Team of doctors reaching LG house to see him," read a retweet from Mr Kejriwal.
-4Yesterday, a group of Indian Administrative Service officers held a rare press briefing to deny that they were on strike, cited concerns about their security and said they have been "targeted and victimised" for political gains. Soon after, Mr Kejriwal reached out with a message, promising them security and seeking full cooperation.
-5Thousands of Aam Aadmi Party supporters attempted to hold a march to the Prime Minister's Office yesterday, but they were stopped midway by the police, who said they did not seek permission for a protest. AAP claimed 45,000 people had turned up for the protest march.
-6Senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury has lent support to Mr Kejriwal, saying federalism is being undermined. In a series of tweets, he said the BJP, using offices of Governors and LGs, sought to "destabilise non-BJP democratically elected state govts". A number of CPM cadres took part in yesterday's protest.
-7Mr Kejriwal -- who started his protest on Monday evening -- says till Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal asks bureaucrats to change their approach, he will not leave the waiting room of the Lieutenant Governor's house-cum-office in Delhi. Three of his ministers - Manish Sisodia, Gopal Rai and Satyendar Jain - who accompanied him, also went into protest mode.
-8After Satyendar Jain's hospitalisation, Mr Kejriwal tweeted: "Last nite, Satinder Jain's ketone levels increased n he complained of headache, bodyache, difficulty in breathing n difficulty in passing urine. So, he had to be shifted to hospital. Now, he is doing well. It is 6th day of Mansh's fast. He is doing well," Arvind Kejriwal tweeted this morning.
-9Mr Kejriwal's protest has been supported by most opposition parties - the key exception is the Congress, which is at loggerheads with AAP in Delhi. BJP ally Shiv Sena also sent messages of support.
-10Pawan Verma, spokesperson of BJP ally Janata Dal United, tweeted, "@ArvindKejriwal Those urging officers to non-cooperate against the elected government of the day, may reap immediate political benefit, but will destroy the very foundations of our Republic in the long run. What can happen against one elected govt can happen against another too!"



BJP, Used To Controlling Political Arena, Has Bihar Allies Acting Out
NEW DELHI:MMNN:11 Jun 2018
It may not be a multi-car pile-up (yet), but the hazard lights are on now for the BJP's coalition in Bihar where three of three partners of the national party are convinced that they're getting a raw deal. Exhibit A: Upendra Kushwaha, union minister, who heads the RSLP regional party and refused to attend a "unity dinner" hosted by the BJP in Patna last week, though he did find the time to fly into the Bihar capital just hours later, brutally making the point that his absence at the dinner was deliberate. "Amit Shah was not there either," he said defiantly, referring to the fact that the BJP chief, currently meeting other hurt allies, did not add Bihar to his make-good spree. Mr Kushwaha formed his own regional party five years years ago after splitting from the outfit headed by one-time mentor Nitish Kumar, who last year upended all political calculations by fleeing from a league of opposition leaders to join Prime Minister Narendra Modi's national coalition. As part of the switchover, he now runs Bihar with the BJP and not earlier partners Congress and Lalu Yadav, with whom he jointly contested the state election in 2015. Mr Kushwaha feels he is constantly sidelined by the BJP chief for Mr Kumar. So last week, a top leader from his party said it should be him, and not the Chief Minister, who is made the face of the alliance's campaign in Bihar in next year's national election. The Kushwaha caste, the leader reasoned, forms 10 per cent of Bihar's population; Mr Kumar's Kurmi caste, on the other hand, adds up to just 4 per cent Mr Kumar's party has also offered its take on the campaign, suggesting that it should be the Chief Minister and not the Prime Minister in whose name the election is contested. This is a tough sell: in the last national election, Mr Kumar's party, the JDU, won just two of Bihar's 40 parliamentary seats. The BJP and its then allies won 31, gamely riding the Modi wave. If Mr Kushwaha believes that it is Mr Kumar who gets all the attention in Bihar from the BJP, he may be misguided. Aides close to the Chief Minister point out that at last week's dinner, meant to portray a united front, Mr Shah was not present; instead, Mr Kumar had to make do with state-level BJP leaders as his hosts. The dinner ended without Mr Kumar offering a comment to the media waiting outside as he drove away. Not exactly good vibes. As Exhibit B of Sulking Allies, the Chief Minister has to contend with the fact that since he signed up with the BJP, he has got precious little to show for it. He has lost two crucial elections -- recently, he appeared to suggest that's because Muslims are turning on him -- and his main demand, that of special financial assistance from Bihar, has gone unheeded. Mr Kumar sough Rs. 7,600 crore from the centre for Bihar; despite being on the PM's team now, he was sanctioned Rs. 1,200; privately, even BJP leaders admit they thought that Mr Kumar would get more after his crossover. "Kite-flying," is how the Chief Minister dismissed the political natter about his angst with the BJP. Elaborating at a press conference today, he said, "There's no problem with seat-sharing, everyone's working smoothly." The attempt to take the edge off comes as top advisers like KC Tyagi have been activated into publicly expounding on the need for Mr Kumar to get top billing over Mr Modi in the 2019 campaign. Pawan Varma, another aide routinely critical of the BJP, who was alienated from the Chief Minister months ago, is now back in the inner circle. Signs, all these, of the usual on record "all-is-well" versus off-camera hostility. Next up is Ram Vilas Paswan. Exhibit C joined the PM's coalition ahead of the general election in 2014 and won six of Bihar's 40 seats. Sources say he's now concerned that the BJP will ask his party to contest fewer than that next year in order to allocate a larger share to the Chief Minister. Mr Paswan, a union minister and veteran Dalit leader, is also worried that so far, the centre has not chosen to circumvent the Supreme Court order that changed a special law which punishes discrimination against Dalits. In March, the top court banned the immediate arrest of those accused of persecuting Dalits and said prior approval of officials is required along with some inquiry before arrests are made. The centre has asked the court to reconsider its verdict, but has not issued an executive order that would restore the original law. Violent protests by Dalits led to at least seven people being killed. Mr Paswan and other leaders of backward castes have said the Supreme Court has weakened a law meant to protect the weakest sections of society. Mr Kushwaha and Mr Paswan have said recently that their collaboration with the BJP is not placed vertiginously. Earlier this year, a retinue of meetings -- five in a matter of two months -- between Mr Paswan and the Chief Minister incited talk of them exploring how to effectively gang up against the BJP in an attempt to hold their own. 0 COMMENTSBoth are worried about BJP leaders in Bihar being linked to communal riots in March since they draw heavily from Muslim support. It's unlikely that the acting up by any the BJP's allies will amount to much more than a play for what each ally sees as his deserved share of parliamentary seats. But for the BJP, which has become unaccustomed to electoral defeats, recent setbacks in by-elections in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar mean allowing allies to blow off steam -and perhaps even giving them something in return.



After Rahul Gandhi's Peace-Keeping, Karnataka Finally Gets 25 Ministers
NEW DELHI:MMNN:6 Jun 2018
BENGALURU: Two weeks after HD Kumaraswamy took oath as Karnataka Chief Minister, 25 ministers were sworn in today after ally Congress settled on its choice of ministers. The man behind the turmoil was DK Shivakumar - the Congress's biggest crisis manager at a time when the party was trying to prevent defections following a hung verdict in state polls. Mr Shivakumar, 56, wanted to be Deputy Chief Minister but sources say after a one-on-one meeting with Congress president Rahul Gandhi, he agreed to the job of minister with two portfolios. He is likely to take charge of the irrigation ministry, with medical education as the second portfolio. Chief Minister Kumaraswamy and his party Janata Dal Secular were dead against a second Deputy Chief Minister after G Parameshwara of the Congress. Mr Shivakumar, a seven-time lawmaker, belongs to the powerful Vokkaliga caste like Mr Kumaraswamy. Mr Shivakumar was told that it would be difficult to accommodate two Vokkaligas at the top without making other sections unhappy. But he reportedly didn't give up hope until last evening, after Rahul Gandhi persuaded him to drop his demand. It may not end the bickering. Sources say some in the party are upset that he has been offered not one but two ministries. For now, the Congress has picked 15 cabinet ministers. Eventually, it will have 22 ministers in the 33-member cabinet. The meaty portfolios of finance, excise and transport will go to the JD(S). Even Mr Shivakumar's power portfolio in the previous Congress government has gone to the JD(S). The Congress gets home, industries and revenue among other portfolios. Both parties fought for the important finance ministry, but before any escalation, Rahul Gandhi reportedly advised Congress leaders to give in. As part of the understanding between the partners - who have learnt bitter lessons from their past partnership that ended with Mr Kumaraswamy joining hands with the BJP - a coordination committee will be set up with former chief minister Siddaramaiah as its chief. For the Congress, which failed to win the Karnataka election, it has been a tough balancing act driven by the bigger considerations - the 2019 national election and a strong, stable alliance to beat the BJP in Karnataka. The two parties have announced that they will contest the 2019 polls together in Karnataka. How the JDS-Congress came to rule Karnataka has been a huge confidence booster for opposition parties who turned Mr Kumaraswamy's oath ceremony into a show of unity against the BJP.



Bengaluru Ola Driver Allegedly Molests Passenger, Forces Her To Strip For Photos
NEW DELHI:MMNN:5 Jun 2018
A 26-year-old woman in Bengaluru was held captive in an Ola cab and allegedly molested by the driver who also forced her to strip for photos. The woman, an architect, was on her way to the airport in the early hours of Friday June 1 when the cab driver allegedly took a detour claiming it was a faster route. She was alone in the cab, and wanted to catch an early flight to Mumbai. The woman has told the police that the driver stopped the car at a deserted spot and assaulted her. He allegedly threatened to call more men and have her gang-raped. The driver allegedly forced the woman to strip, after trying to choke her. He took photos and allegedly shared them on WhatsApp. "Based on a mail from the woman, we have registered an FIR. We appreciate the lady for immediately informing the police, bravely," said senior Bengaluru police officer Seemant Kumar Singh. The driver, Arun V, was arrested within three hours. "We have also issued a notice to Ola Cabs as to why the police verification of this driver was not done," Mr Singh added. "We have zero tolerance for such incidents and the driver has been blacklisted from the platform as an immediate action upon receiving the complaint. Safety of customers is our top priority and we are extending our full support to the police authorities in their investigation," Ola said in a statement.



Army Called After More Violence In Shillong, Curfew Imposed In Many Areas
NEW DELHI:MMNN:4 Jun 2018
The Army has been called in to conduct flag march in parts of Shillong which have been witnessing violence for the last four days. The home ministry has sent in 11 companies of para-military forces to help the police maintain law and order in the Meghalaya capital. Fresh violence broke out in the city last night, prompting the police to use tear gas shells to control a mob. The unrest, which started on Thursday as two groups clashed in the city's Punjabi Line area, has now snowballed into a tribal versus non-tribal issue.



Sita Was Test-Tube Baby, Declares Yogi Adityanath's Deputy
NEW DELHI:MMNN:1 Jun 2018
LUCKNOW: A minister in Uttar Pradesh has shared his radical views on ancient India's gifts to modern science, adding to the stream of such comments derided by many as outrageous. Lord Ram's wife Sita is an example of a test-tube baby, UP's Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma has suggested. "When Sita was born there must have been something like a test-tube baby. (Her father King) Janak ploughed the land and a baby came out of an earthen pot, she became Sita. This means technology similar to a test-tube baby must have existed," Dinesh Sharma says in a video that became a rage on social media on Friday. He was apparently speaking at an event on Wednesday to mark "Hindi journalism day". At the same function, the minister shared another gem and said journalism "started during the Mahabharata". Dinesh Sharma said the character Sanjaya, who described the epic war of Kurukshetra to king Dhritarashtra was providing a sort of "live telecast". 5 COMMENTSHe also believed that "our google" started in ancient India, with the mythological character "Narad Muni" who was known to be an informer. "He could reach anywhere and transfer a message from one place to another by saying 'Narayana' three times," said the minister'. In April, Tripura chief minister Biplab Deb had embarrassed the BJP when he declared that internet originated from ancient India. He had also used the example of Sanjay, the narrator, saying he was able to describe the events on the battlefield because of internet and technology.



Kairana Shows 2019 May Not Be A Modi-Wave Election
NEW DELHI:MMNN:31 May 2018
The victory of the opposition in the Kairana by-polls has sent out an unambiguous message after the Gorakhpur and Phulpur wins of the Samajwadi Party alliance - a united opposition will trounce the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, the country's swing state with 80 parliamentary seats. The BJP had won the Kairana parliamentary seat by a margin of 2.4 lakh in 2014. Kairana was the epicentre of the infamous "Hindu exodus" theory floated by the BJP that, many believed, was aimed at tried and tested polarisation of voters. The BJP had pulled out all the stops, desperate to ensure that the opposition did not have the impetus to unite - the win in Kairana will provide that. Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the fig leaf of an expressway launch to campaign next door to Kairana, taking out a road-show and defying convention that prime ministers never campaign for by-polls. Nothing worked for the BJP. Not Yogi Adityanath's invocation of "Jinnah", which was countered successfully by Jayant Chowdhary of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), who said, "Ganna (sugarcane) mattered in the sugar belt of Western UP, not Jinnah." The BJP had a bad day at the office across the country with only Palghar in Maharashtra saving it the blushes. The signal sent by Palghar was that it was the index of opposition unity which defeats the BJP. Even Palghar, where Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis campaigned like a man possessed, the BJP's margin of victory came down to 20,000 from 2,30,000. After UP, Maharashtra sends the second largest contingent of MPs to the Lok Sabha - 48 - so the signal again to the Congress and Sharad Pawar's NCP is to unite. Interestingly, the Shiv Sena, which has broken off its 20-year-old "alliance" with the BJP, is also in play to ally with the BJP's opposition in Maharashtra. Sharad Pawar, considered the wily old fox of Indian politics, has checked the temperature and stopped his tacit alliance with the BJP, hopes to work out a similar "quiet understanding" with Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray. They have had three quiet meetings already, over Chinese food - a common passion. Mr Pawar is keeping senior Congress leader and trusted aide Ahmed Patel in the loop on his ventures with the Sena. So who are the real winners and losers in election season? Tejashwi Yadav in Bihar as the Jokihat victory has added to his stature. Jayant Chowdhary and Ajit Singh, his father, re-embraced by the Jats of Kairana at a time the party had no legislator anywhere. The RLD will now be a junior partner in the planned mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) between Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party. BJP leaders had ridiculed the regional heavyweights as "an alliance of snake and mongoose". But, the UP voters clearly like the story that "Bua (Mayawati) and Bhatija (Akhilesh)" are telling. The Congress will now have no choice but to hitch its wagon to the mahagathbandhan as a junior partner, with neither Mayawati nor Akhilesh exactly desperate to have the grand old party on board. The Congress and BSP will now ally for certain for the Madhya Pradesh polls. The BJP is not expecting great results from the elections later this year in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where it is in power. Sources say that the Congress has already roped in a small regional party and the deal with Mayawati is done and dusted. The by-poll results across 10 states underline that regional parties and opposition math pose a huge challenge to the BJP. The Congress must internalise this reality, with barely 12 months to go for the general elections as its chalks out its alliances with regional players. Congress president Rahul Gandhi must now act as a catalyst and lynchpin for the united opposition, and for the time being, forget any prime ministerial dreams. The BJP is hoping to capitalise on Modi-versus-the-rest as one man takes on the disparate group of parties - what the BJP calls a "corrupt khichri" - but as the incumbent, PM Modi can't really seem to convince the voters, as recent results reveal. A key takeaway from UP is that the incessant demonisation of Muslims - which started with the 2013 riots in Muzzaffarnagar in western UP - is clearly producing diminishing returns. The lower caste consolidation in UP is also a reaction to the unapologetic "Thakur raj" run by Yogi Adityanath and the scary "freedom of encounters" apparently given to the UP Police. Kairana was a huge psychological mood-changer for both the opposition and the BJP. The opposition will now look to script unity across the country. The fence-sitters on the opposition may now want to consolidate against the threat from the BJP, which under Amit Shah has treated allies roughly, eaten into their space and given no quarter. Says a senior leader from the Congress - "imagine how radioactive the BJP is that even its oldest ally Sena balks at working with it". Amit Shah, with his gargantuan electoral appetite and arrogance in dealing with NDA allies, seems to have lost his strategic objective of keeping the opposition divided as he wants to win everywhere. The BJP will now have to eat humble pie if it wants to keep its remaining flock together. But it seems in no mood to, as Nitish Kumar - the Bihar Chief Minister who switched loyalties - is finding out the hard way after being marginalised and publicly snubbed by the BJP. Clearly, 2019 will not be a Modi-wave election as most of the promises made by candidate Narendra Modi remain unfulfilled. As predicted by union minister Nitin Gadkari, "achhe din (good times)" has become a millstone around the BJP's neck as to the voter, they seem elusive. The slogan has been virtually banned by the BJP and PM Modi has stopped using it since the BJP's Bihar defeat in 2015. Without a wave, real issues of agrarian distress, the unravelling effects of demonetisation, the huge job crisis, rising fuel prices and other bread-and-butter issues of "bijli pani sadak" (electricity, water, roads) will matter to the voters again. The BJP has already started using a pliable CBI against the opposition, registering cases and hoping to get leaders such as Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav to play ball. But in an existential crisis, these threats no longer have the same urgency. A senior leader says, "Enough is enough. I prefer to go to the voters and get results from them rather than this daily arm-twisting by the agencies." The opposition will have to hold onto the same spirit for a while and work out the tricky issues of sharing space and staying united while chalking out a story to tell the voters. Negative narratives don't really work. A senior BJP leader quips, "All the future PMs will trip over themselves. Their only agenda is survival." He is right, but survival is a need that cannot be underestimated. The opposition will have to prove it and work out a formula of unity. The BJP is now the real pole of politics, yet it finds itself floundering. With the party still claiming the biggest war-chest, the agencies and the charisma of PM Modi, don't underestimate Amit Shah just yet. But the BJP now has a real fight on its hands for 2019. It will not be a walkover. The beneficiary will be Indian voters, who like to keep politicians fighting and don't want to be taken for granted. It will be a rejuvenated united opposition against a BJP fighting its biggest fight



Election Commission Has Become The Mistress": Sena Attacks BJP Again
NEW DELHI:MMNN:30 May 2018
MUMBAI: In an attack on the Election Commission or EC over complaints of malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPAT machines in bypolls, the Shiv Sena today dubbed the poll panel, democracy and elections as "mistress" of those in power. The Sena alleged that its ally, the BJP which it said has an "autocratic mindset", has corrupted the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to serve its own purpose. It warned that people's loss of faith in the election process was "dangerous" for democracy. "Our country can no longer be called the largest democracy in the world. EVMs have spoilt the democracy. Those in power at present have made democracy their mistress with their autocratic mindset," an editorial in Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' said. "The BJP has corrupted EVMs, and made them into a machinery that can be used for its own purpose. Elections and the Election Commission have become the mistress," it alleged. Referring to complaints of technical snags in EVMs and VVPAT machines in Maharashtra's Bhandara-Gondia and Palghar Lok Sabha bypolls, it said while each vote counts and can be a deciding factor, thousands of people got "bored" waiting in queues and returned without voting after the machines malfunctioned. "The present Election Commission and its machinery have become like slaves of the government. Hence, they are not ready to take complaints of distribution of alcohol and money, the autocracy of government and threatening statements," it charged. The publication also mocked EC for blaming the hot weather for malfunctioning of EVMs. "The temperature keeps fluctuating. However, we never heard of the prime minister's flight engines having stopped working due to hot weather or computers of the BJP's social media cell malfunctioning due to hostile weather," it quipped and asked "why did EVMs stop functioning then?" Since the last several years, EVMs were procured from (PSU) BHEL or from the Election Commission of India. This time, the machines were procured from a private company in Surat, the Sena pointed out, adding that this raises doubts. "People not trusting the election process is dangerous for democracy," it opined. There is a discontent among people against the BJP, yet the party is winning elections and instances of EVMs malfunctioning only gives an impetus to the belief that there is a "setting" of EVMs that ensures the party wins, the Marathi daily alleged. "There was a time when the BJP opposed these machines. Now, the whole country is opposing it, the BJP is supporting it. The whole world has rejected EVMs, then why is the government supporting it?" it sought to know. The EC yesterday announced re-poll in 73 polling stations in Uttar Pradesh's Kairana, 49 polling stations in Maharashtra's Bhandara-Gondia and one polling station in Nagaland, after the voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines developed snags during the bypolls held on Monday. No re-polling was ordered in the Palghar (ST) Lok Sabha constituency.



"Find Me A Place," Says Akhilesh Yadav, On Order To Exit Lucknow Bungalow
NEW DELHI:MMNN:29 May 2018
LUCKNOW: Akhilesh Yadav, who has pleaded "homelessness" in the Supreme Court to try and hold on to a government allotted bungalow for two more years, challenged the media to "find him a place". The Samajwadi Party chief and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav have both moved the Supreme Court against an order that asks former chief ministers to vacate their official bungalows, and asked for two-year's time. As he addressed reporters on the bypolls yesterday in Uttar Pradesh, which were clouded by allegations of malfunctioning Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), Akhilesh Yadav had a ready retort for reporters questioning him about his reluctance to move out. "We are ready to vacate but we need more time, both netaji (Mulayam Singh) and I don't have any place to live in Lucknow. If you can find a place for us let us know," the former chief minister snapped. In his petition before the Supreme Court, Mulayam Singh asks for time citing his age and ill-health. Akhilesh Yadav lists security and his children's education as reasons why he should be allowed to hang on to the bungalow he was entitled to as chief minister. Another former chief minister, Mayawati, has "turned" her vast five-acre, 10-bedroom bungalow in Lucknow into a "memorial" for her mentor Kanshi Ram, the founder of her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). A few days ago, a new board was put up outside her bungalow that reads: "Shri Kanshi Ramji Yaadgaar Vishram Sthal". The UP government served notice to Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav and four other former chief ministers about 10 days ago, asking them to vacate their official homes in 15 days as ordered by the Supreme Court. The top court has cancelled changes to the law that enabled former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh to live in official homes for life, saying that these were "based on irrelevant and legally unacceptable considerations, unsupported by any constitutional sanctity."



Sunanda Pushkar's Social Media Texts Treated As Dying Declaration: Police
NEW DELHI:MMNN:28 May 2018
Sunanda Pushkar emailed her husband, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, that she had "lost her will to live", the Delhi police said in court, after submitting a 3000-page chargesheet that accuses Mr Tharoor of abetting her suicide. Her mail and messages on social media have been taken as a "dying declaration", the police told the court. "I have no desire to live...all I pray for is death," Sunanda Pushkar wrote in the email to her husband on January 8, nine days before she was found dead in her suite at a luxury hotel in Delhi. The police told the court that 27 tablets of Alprax were found in her room and it is not clear how many she had. Her death, the court was told, was due to poisoning. The charge-sheet quotes a special investigation team as stating that Shashi Tharoor " as a husband ignored Sunanda when she was sliding or slipping into depression and she had Alprax." They had frequent fights, it says. The entire chargesheet is, however, yet to be made public. The case till now was being heard in a court that's meant to hear cases against parliamentarians and legislators, but now will be heard in a special court on Saturday. If the court admits the police charge of social media messages being avoided as part of dying declaration, it may be the first time such an instance is seen in a criminal investigation. The 51-year-old was found dead in her hotel bed on January 17, days after a public spat with her husband who she suspected was having an affair with a Pakistani journalist. "He ignored her calls," the special team found, and that he used to disconnect her calls in the days before her death. Sunanda Pushkar used social media to reach him, but those messages were also ignored, says the charge-sheet. 0 COMMENTS"Though injury marks were not serious but they are consistent with claims that the couple fought,"the charge-sheet says. They had a public row at the Kochi airport and on the plane to Delhi, the police said. She confided in her friends, who reportedly told the Special Investigation Team. The public prosecutor said all the statements have been video recorded.



Kidnappers Disguised As Students In Lodge As They Kept Bihar Teen Captive
NEW DELHI:MMNN:10 May 2018
PATNA: An abducted boy was rescued and five of his abductors were arrested on Thursday morning Patna the police said. Sunny Kumar, a Class 9 student was abducted in Saran district two days ago and the abductors had demanded a ransom of Rs. 60 lakh for his release from his father, a contractor, and threatened to kill the boy if the amount was not paid soon. Patna Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj said a joint police team of Patna and Saran rescued Sunny. "Police raided a lodge in Bahadurpur locality, rescued the boy, arrested five abductors and seized arms," said Maharaj. According to the police officials, the abductors had kept Sunny in a room of a lodge. Sunny was kidnapped when he was returning home after school. The abductors were living in the lodge disguised as students. Earlier this week a minor girl, a Class 3 student of a private school, was abducted in broad daylight by criminals in Purnea district. The abducted girl was the daughter of a businessman. However, the police rescued the girl within six hours and arrested the abductors. 0 COMMENTSOver a dozen cases of abduction have been reported in the state in 2018. In January, a 16-year-old boy, son of a property dealer, was kidnapped for ransom and was later found murdered.



Jinnah Portrait Row: Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor Meets Rajnath Singh
NEW DELHI:MMNN:9 May 2018
NEW DELHI: Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor today met Home Minister Rajnath Singh to discuss issues concerning the premier academic institution, engulfed in controversy over a portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah on its premises, an official said. Rajnath Singh assured Mr Mansoor of all help from the central government in restoring normalcy in the university, the official privy to the meeting told news agency PTI. Mr Mansoor later told reporters that the meeting was fixed long ago and had nothing to do with the current controversy. "I have requested the home minister to send Central government officials for the recruitment of students in central services like the engineering service," he said. The vice chancellor said the portrait of the Pakistan founder had been hanging in the Aligarh Muslim University students' union office since 1938 and it was a non-issue. BJP MP Satish Gautam had written a letter to Mr Mansoor objecting to the portrait, triggering a row that led to two youths being arrested in connection with incidents of violence and exams being postponed to May 12. The vice chancellor had yesterday told students on a sit-in over the issue to get back to their studies. In an open letter, he urged them "not to fall into the trap of certain forces which are bent upon destroying the image of our alma mater and are playing with your bright future". The university has formed a 16-member coordination committee of senior faculty members to talk with the protesting students. 0 COMMENTSSeveral Aligarh Muslim University students are on an indefinite 'dharna' after a clash with the police on May 2 when they were demanding action against right-wing protesters who had entered the campus, shouting slogans. They are asking for a judicial probe into the "police inaction" and the manner in which the row erupted after the BJP MP objected to the portrait.



CPI(M), BJP tie up to counter Trinamool in Nadia ahead of Bengal panchayat polls
NEW DELHI:MMNN:8 May 2018
Arch-rivals BJP and the CPI(M) have joined hands in Nadia district to defeat the Trinamool Congress in the upcoming panchayat polls in West Bengal. Describing it as a “formal seat sharing adjustment”, a district level CPI(M) leader said that the party had to opt for seat adjustment in many seats as several villagers wanted a one-to-one fight against the TMC. The CPI(M), which follows an ideology opposite to that of the BJP, has described the saffron party as a “divisive force”. The BJP’s north Nadia district unit president termed the development as an “isolated incident”. The bonhomie first came to light in the last week of April when both the parties organised a joint protest rally in Karimpur-Ranaghat area of Nadia district against the alleged violence of the TMC during the panchayat poll process. Cadre of both parties carried their respective flags during the protest programme. CPI(M) Nadia district secretary and state committee member Sumit De agreed that there have been adjustments at the grassroot levels in many seats as several villagers were in favour of a one-to-one fight. It has nothing to do with the party’s policy, he added. “Yes, there have been adjustments at the grassroot level. In many seats as the villagers had wanted one-to-one fight, we had to respect it and act accordingly. But it is not that there have been several rounds of discussions between parties and it is a formal seat sharing adjustment,” De told PTI. Senior CPI(M) leader and state committee member Rama Biswas, who was present at the joint rally of the BJP and CPI(M), admitted that a rally had been taken out by villagers against the violence of the TMC. West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh too admitted that supporters of the BJP and the CPI(M) were present at the rally “I have received information that we had called a rally against the violence of the TMC. CPI(M) workers also came and joined our protest rally as they too were attacked,” Ghosh told PTI. A senior state BJP leader who did not wish to be named, said in areas where the BJP could not field a candidate “it has given enough hints to the voters and party cadres to counter the TMC which has unleashed violence”. Agreeing that such “isolated incidents” had taken place, the BJP north Nadia district president Mahadeb Sarkar told PTI, “In some seats where we could not field candidates, our workers at the grassroot level have extended support to independent candidates”. “In most cases, these independent candidates are actually CPI(M) workers”, he said. In several gram panchayat seats of Nadia-Karimpur area, BJP candidates were asked to withdraw their nominations so that the CPI(M) could fight against the TMC and vice-versa, a district BJP leader said. In those seats, the party (either CPI(M) or BJP) which has not fielded any candidate is campaigning for the other one to defeat the TMC, the BJP leader of Nadia’s Karimpur area, who did not wish to be named, said. CPI(M) central committee leader Sujan Chakraborty said few “isolated incidents” should not to used to judge the CPI(M)’s political line against BJP. “We are the only party in India which has the most clear approach against BJP and its communal policies. We are not like the TMC which is not serious about fighting BJP. Our policies should not be judged based on isolated incidents. In panchayat poll such isolated incidents do happen. You will find it in other parties also”, Chakraborty said. The TMC claimed that the political development in Nadia only proves that the BJP and the CPI(M) are having a “tacit understanding in Bengal”. “We are not surprised at this development as we were aware of such developments in various districts. Only the TMC is serious about fighting the BJP and its anti-people policies,” TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said. According to West Bengal SEC (State Election Commission) sources, of the 48,650 seats in 3,358 gram panchayats, 16,814 were uncontested and of the 9,217 seats in 341 panchayat samitis, 3,059 were uncontested. In the 20 zilla parishads, 203 of the 825 seats were uncontested, they said.



6 Teens Run Over By Train In UP; They Were Walking On Track, Say Locals
NEW DELHI:MMNN:26 February 2018
Six teenagers died instantly and another is battling for his life after a speeding train hit them, in Hapur on Sunday night. Eyewitnesses claim the boys were apparently, casually, walking across the track when the train hit them at Sadikpura in Pilkhuwa. Seven boys between 14 and 16 years of age were daily wage labourers and worked as painters and helpers. All seven of them, who were friends, were supposed to take a train from Ghaziabad for a painting contract in Hyderabad. But they missed their train and returned to Pilakhua a little after midnight.. Six of them, Vijay, Akash, Rahul, Sameer, Arif and Salim died on the spot as the train hit them while another boy who has not yet been identified is battling for his life in the ICU. All of them had ear phones and were listening to music, say locals. 2 COMMENTS After the incident local residents blocked the railway track in protest, they claim the area is poorly lit at night and there is continuous movement of people who reportedly take a shortcut by crossing the train tracks. Residents claim there is no warning when trains arrive and even the elderly and children on their way to school often cross the tracks at that spot. A large contingent of police force has been sent to tackle the situation in Sadikpura. The superintendent of police Hemant Kutiyal and the District Magistrate Krishna Karunesh have rushed to the spot after tension erupted in the area.



Delhi CS assault case: Bail plea of AAP MLAs Amanatullah Khan, Prakash Jarwal nixed
NEW DELHI:MMNN:24 February 2018
Metropolitan Magistrate Shefali Barnala Tondon on Friday dismissed the bail application of Aam Aadmi Party MLAs Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal, who were arrested on the allegation of assaulting Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash. It was alleged that the two AAP lawmakers assaulted Mr Prakash at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence on Monday night. Mr Prakash had filed a complaint that he was beaten up by the two AAP MLA when he was sitting on a sofa during the course of a meeting. He said he was flanked by Amanatullah Khan and the other AAP MLA during the Monday night meeting and without provocation the two legislators “started hitting and assaulting” him “with blows on head and temple”. He further alleged that the assault was “premeditated” and a “conspiracy” of all those present. A case was registered at the Civil Lines Police Station after the complaint filed by the Chief Secretary. Police had registered an FIR on the charge of criminal conspiracy and other provisions defined under Indian Penal Code. Amanatullah Khan, who surrendered before the police, had alleged that the Chief Secretary was acting at the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party and “the incident was a pretext to dismiss the AAP government”. He further submitted that there was no proof that Mr Prakash was beaten up. Jarwal was also arrested in connection with the case.



Schoolgirl On Way To Exam Beheaded Outside Madhya Pradesh School, Stalker Suspect
NEW DELHI:MMNN:23 February 2018
BHOPAL: A Class 11 student on her way to an exam was beheaded right outside her school in Madhya Pradesh, allegedly by a stalker. The girl was attacked on Thursday afternoon with a sword at a village in Anuppur, around 540 km from state capital Bhopal. The student was about to enter her school for a biology practical exam around 12.30 pm. According to the police, no one but a teacher saw the attack. The teacher reportedly saw a man rushing towards the girl from behind and striking her thrice with a sword. The man then dropped the sword and ran away. The school is a little out of town and there weren't too many people around. The 63-year-old teacher who witnessed the crime says she could not see clearly as she wasn't wearing her glasses and was at some distance from the spot. The school called the police, who took away the body and the sword. COMMENTSThe police questioned a suspect based on her family's information, but the investigation turned on its head when the police received news of another death. A young man was found hanging near the girl's village. The gruesome killing in a public place in broad daylight has left the town horrified and afraid.



Two Army jawans martyred, 4 injured in Jammu Fidayeen attack on Military Station
NEW DELHI:MMNN:10 February 2018
Jammu and Kashmir Government on Saturday said that two Army personnel were martyred while four others, including a girl, were injured in the ongoing Fidayeen attack on Sunjwan Military Station here on city outskirts. Minister for Revenue and Parliamentary Affairs Abdul Rehman Veeri said in the Legislative Assembly that at about 0410 hrs, a group of Fidayeens attacked Sunjwan Military Station (36 Brigade) resulting in death of one Subedar (JCO) Madan Lal Chowdhary and Subedar Mohammad Ashraf Mir. Four others, including a civilian, were injured in the incident and have been shifted to GMC Jammu for treatment. The Minister informed the House that the whole area has been cordoned off by the Army and the security forces and operation is underway as militants have taken refuge in JCO quarters in the area.



Protests At Kolkata School Over Sexual Assault On Class 2 Girl By Teacher
NEW DELHI:MMNN:9 February 2018
KOLKATA: A large number of parents protested outside a convent school in Kolkata this morning after learning that a Class 2 student had been allegedly sexually assaulted by a dance teacher for nearly a year. Policemen were called in to control the crowd and one officer was also hurt. The teacher has been arrested. According to the police, the Class 2 student suffered repeated assault in school. She was warned against telling her family by the teacher, who allegedly threatened to bury her alive. The horror surfaced after she stopped going to school recently. Yesterday, the little girl confided in her mother, after which her parents went to the school and demanded the teacher's arrest. Several parents gathered outside the school today and demanded tough action against the school's principal and administrators, accusing them of negligence. One of the protesting parents alleged that the school had tried to downplay the allegations. "It was then we decided to stage a protest outside the school," he said. 1 COMMENTSThe school has denied the attack. Parents alleged that the school had not installed CCTV cameras despite outrage and protests last year over the sexual assault of a student by two teachers at another private school in Kolkata.



BJP Developing Northeast India, Tripura Backward Due To Left: PM Modi
NEW DELHI:MMNN:8 February 2018
SONAMURA, TRIPURA: Saying his government was working to develop northeast India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that Tripura was lagging behind the rest of the country due to 25 years of "misrule" by the Left. "The BJP government at the Centre is working with all sincerity for all round progress of northeast India. But Tripura lagged behind due to misrule of Left parties for the past 25 years," the prime minister said at an election rally in Tripura's Sonamura, which is located around 50 km south-west of Agartala. He said that the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had set up the Development of North Eastern Region Ministry to develop the region. His government also gave top priority to develop the infrastructure of the region and to improve the lives of the people. Prime Minister Modi also said that the Rs. 1,300 crore National Bamboo Mission had been launched to utilise the huge bamboo resources in the northeast. Chief Minister Manik Sarkar's Dhanpur Assembly constituency falls in the Sonamura Sub-Division. Giving the slogan "Cholo Paltai" (Go for Change), the Prime Minister urged the people to vote the BJP to power to transform Tripura. "Voting for BJP's lotus symbol will be a punishment for the Left Front government in the February 18 Assembly elections as during its 25 years of misrule people did not get anything, poverty went up and backwardness widened." Criticizing Mr Sarkar, Prime Minister Modi said: "under his (Sarkar's) white kurta there is a dark side. His government cheated people by giving poor wages when the people of other parts of the country got higher wages and the government employees got higher salaries. "In the past 25 years, the Left parties hypnotized the people. People could not understand how backward they are. Now the time has come to change the future of the state and the fortune of the people." PM Modi went on to say: "Out of every Rs. 100 spent in Tripura, the central government is giving Rs. 80. The Manik Sarkar government is unable to spend Central money properly. The Left government is also looting the money of the poor." "If the Left government is allowed to govern (further), there will be no development in the state." COMMENTSThe Prime Minister said that if the BJP took power in the state, corruption will end. "People are committing suicide in Tripura. Youths are not getting jobs... The time has come to throw out the Left.



3 States Get Contempt Notice From Supreme Court On Cow Vigilantism
NEW DELHI:MMNN:29 January 2018
NEW DELHI: Three states -- Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh -- have received contempt notice from the Supreme Court for allegedly failing to prevent incidents of cow vigilantism despite an order last year to do so. The states will have to reply to the notice by September 3. The notice from the Supreme Court came following a petition by Tushar Gandhi, who has been pursuing the matter since last year. It was in response to his petition that the top court, on September 6, had asked 26 states to maintain law and order and prevent violence by cow vigilantes. The states had been asked to depute nodal officers and highway patrol and keep the court oinformed about their progress. The top court also asked the Centre -- which had pleaded that law and order was a state subject -- whether under the Constitution, it had the responsibility to ask states to crack down on cow vigilantism. Days later, on September 26, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra further underscored that compliance reports should be filed. "Nobody can wash off their hands (from their duty). We will give directions to all the states," the court said. The first incident of cow vigilantism was reported from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh in 2015, in which an elderly man, Mohammad Akhlaq, was beaten to death after allegations that he had killed a cow. 2 COMMENTSIn July last year, four Dalit men were stripped, tied to a car and flogged in Gujarat. In Alwar, a 55-year-old dairy owner, Pehlu Khan, was beaten to death on suspicion of cattle smuggling. The video footage of Pehlu Khan being yanked by the neck, thrown to the ground and kicked by cow vigilantes had sparked nationwide outrage. As reports of similar incidents from other states piled up, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers condemned cow vigilantism. "I have seen that some people are into crimes all night and wear the garb of gau rakshaks in the day," PM Modi had said



Violence Again Erupts In Uttar Pradesh's Kasganj, Buses, Shops Set On Fire
NEW DELHI:MMNN:27 January 2018
LUCKNOW: Fresh violence erupted in western Uttar Pradesh on Saturday when groups of people went on a rampage in the state's Kasganj town after the cremation of a young man killed yesterday. One group burnt down a few shops in the town's main market, others vandalised shops at an intersection a short distance away and burnt down two buses. Chandan Gupta, 22, had died in clashes in the town 170 km from national capital Delhi that broke out during a "Tiranga bike rally" by activists of the RSS-backed students' group ABVP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Another person injured in the clashes, Naushad, is admitted to hospital. According to reports, both had bullet injuries. After the violence on Saturday, the Kasganj police went on an overdrive to make arrests for yesterday's riot. RP Singh, the Kasganj district magistrate said 49 people have been arrested for yesterday's violence, according to news agency ANI, Also, the district's borders have been sealed and restrictions prohibiting assembling of a large group of people imposed. A short video clip of yesterday's bike rally that has emerged shows hundreds of young men, many of them holding the National Flag and saffron flag, standing on the streets in one of the streets of the town. This is where they had been reportedly told by local residents from another community to take a different route In the background, some voices can be heard saying that they would not change their route. Someone else raises the slogan that everyone would have to say Vande Mataram if they want to stay in India. 1 COMMENTSThe violence started soon after; it started with hurling stones with each other and ended with gunshots being fired. In between, motorcycles were set on fire, stones thrown at passing vehicles and a place of worship set on fire. Saturday morning's vandalism is seen as a revenge for Chandan Gupta's death and this attack. There were images of groups of young men, holding bricks in hand, on the streets heading towards their target till they ran into the police who pushed them back



PM felicitates bravery award winners, says their brave acts serve as inspiration for others
NEW DELHI:MMNN:25 January 2018
NEW DELHI: Felicitating 18 children from across the country with Bravery awards for their acts of valour, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the acts by them serve as an inspiration for others across the country. ‘Today , when we remember the acts done by these children, the people for whom they have given their life, it is very heart touching. For the others, the acts of bravery by these children serve as a source of inspiration,’the PM said after felicitating the children.At the same time, the PM said, the honour bestowed on these children adds to their responsibility. ‘These children have shown their bravery and people have noticed and appreciated their acts. It also gives an added responsibilty to these children to prove themselves at each and every step. I wish that this award serves as an opportunity for these kids so that they can grow further and do more tougher jobs easily in future,’the PM said. Eighteen children from across the country have been selected for the National Bravery Award 2018 .These include Nazia – Uttar Pradesh, Karanbeer Singh – Punjab, Netravati M Chavan (Posthumous) – Karnataka, Betshwajohn Peinlang – Meghalaya, Sebastian Vincent – Kerala, Laxmi Yadav – Chhattisgarh, Mansha N – Nagaland, N Shaungpan Konyak – Nagaland, Yoknai – Nagaland, Chingai Wangsa – Nagaland, Samridhi Sharma – Gujarat, Zonunthuanga – Mizoram, Pankaj Somwal – Uttarakhand, Nadaf Ejaj Abdul Rauf – Maharashtra, Lokrakpam Rajeshwari Chanu (posthumous) – Manipur, F Lalchhandama – Mizoram (posthumous), Pankaj Mahant – Odisha and Mamata Dalai – Odisha, While three of these were honoured posthumously, eight of these brave kids are from northeastern states. Among these 18 children is 6-year-old Mamata Dalai from Odisha, who fought a five-feet crocodile to save her elder sister’s jaws. Mamata, who hails from the Kendrapara district of Odisha, has won the Bapu Gaidhani award. Karanbeer Singh, 16, from Punjab saved the lives of 15 children after their school bus fell into a drain in Amritsar. Fourteen-year-old Netravati M Chavan from Karnataka lost her life while trying to save two young boys from drowning. 17-year-old F Lalchhandama from Mizoram and 15-year-old Loukrakpam Rajeshwori Chanu from Manipur will also be awarded posthumously. Fifteen others honoured will be participating in the Republic Day Parade on January 26 in the national capital. The selection was made by a high-powered committee comprising representatives of various ministries, departments, NGOs as well as office bearers of ICCW. The awards carry a medal, a certificate and a cash prize.



Read: Full Text Of PM Narendra Modi's Statement In Press Conference With Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu
NEW DELHI:MMNN:15 January 2018
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PM Narendra Modi today held delegation-level talks and delivered a joint statement. Later in the day, Mr Netanyahu will call on President Ram Nath Kovind. Mr Netanyahu will end the day with the India-Israel Business Summit. Following is the full text of PM Narendra Modi's statement: Your Excellency Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Members of the media, It is a great pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on his first ever visit to India. Your visit, Prime Minister, is a long-anticipated moment in the journey of friendship between India and Israel. Your visit is also a fitting climax to the comemoration of 25 years of diplomatic relations between India and Israel. As our first honoured guest in 2018, your visit marks a special beginning to our New Year calendar. It comes at an especially auspicious time as people all over India are rejoicing the arrival of spring, renewal, hope and harvest. The festivals of Lohri, Bihu, Makar Sankranti, and Pongal celebrate the splendour of India's diversity and unity. Friends, Last year in July, I carried the greetings and friendship of 1.25 billion Indians during my momentous journey to Israel. In return, I was overwhelmed by the generous affection and warmth of the Israeli people, led by my friend, Bibi. In that visit, Prime Minister Netanyahu and I promised each other and our people to build a strategic partnership: of hope and trust and progress of diverse and cutting-edge cooperation, and of joint endeavours and shared successes. Such a promise flows as much from the natural affinity and friendship that have linked us for centuries as it does from the compelling win-win case for engagement in almost all spheres. And it is a measure of our shared ambition and commitment that six short months after that visit; your extraordinary visit is taking place to India. Today and yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu and I reviewed the progress in our relations and renewed our conversation on the possibilities and the opportunities that beckon us and need to be seized. Our discussions were wide-ranging and intensive. They were marked by the desire to do more. Prime Minister, I have a reputation of being impatient in getting results. If I may let out an open secret, I know that so are you. Last year in Tel Aviv, you had expressed the intent to cut down bureaucratic red tape with a machete and forge ahead with speed. Prime Minister, I am happy to tell you that in India, we are well on our way to doing just that. We have imparted our shared impatience to the implementation of our earlier decisions. The results are already visible on the ground. Our discussions today were marked by convergence to accelerate our engagement and to scale up our partnership. We will pursue this in three ways: - First, we will strengthen the existing pillars of cooperation in areas that touch the lives of our peoples. These are agriculture, science and technology, and security. We exchanged views on scaling up the Centers of Excellence that have been a main-stay of agricultural cooperation by bringing in advanced Israeli practices and technology. In defence, I have invited Israeli companies to take advantage of the liberalised FDI regime to make more in India with our companies. - Second, We are venturing into less explored areas of cooperation, such as oil and gas, cyber security, films, and start-ups. You will find this reflected in the agreements that were just exchanged. Several of these areas are indicative of our desire to diversify and broad-base engagement. - And third, We are committed to facilitating the flow of people and ideas between our geographies. It requires policy facilitation, infrastructure and connectivity links and fostering constituencies of support beyond Government. We are working with Israel to make it easier for our people to work and visit each other's countries, including for longer work duration. To bring people closer on both sides, an Indian Cultural Center will soon open in Israel. We have also decided to start an annual exchange of bilateral visits by 100 young people from science-related educational streams. Friends, Thriving two-way trade and investment is an integral part of our vision for a strong partnership. Prime Minister Netanyahu and I agreed on the need to do more in this direction. After the meeting in Tel Aviv last year, we will interact for the second time with our CEOs under the bilateral Forum. I welcome the large business component that Prime Minister Netanyahu has brought along with him. Prime Minister Netanyahu and I also exchanged perspectives on the regional and global situation. We reviewed our cooperation as a factor for stability and peace in our regions and the world. Friends, Yesterday, as his first stop after touching Indian soil, Prime Minister Netanyahu joined me at the re-named Teen Murti Haifa Chowk to pay homage to the memory of the brave Indian soldiers who laid down their lives a century ago in the Battle of Haifa in Israel. We are both countries that have never forgotten our history and our heroes. And we deeply appreciate this gesture by Prime Minister Netanyahu. As we look to the future of this exciting partnership with Israel, I am filled with hope and optimism. In Prime Minister Netanyahu, I have a counter-part who is equally committed to taking the India-Israel relationship to soaring new heights. Finally, I am delighted to have the chance to be with you, Prime Minister, in my home state, Gujarat, day after. There, we will have another opportunity to see the fulfillment of the promise, which our mutual cooperation holds in diverse areas such as agriculture, technology, and innovation. COMMENTSI wish Prime Minister Netanyahu, Mrs. Netanyahu and the delegation a memorable stay in India



Mumbai Chopper Crash Live Updates: 4 Bodies Recovered, Search And Rescue Operations Continue
NEW DELHI:MMNN:13 January 2018
NEW DELHI: A Pawan Hans helicopter crashed off the Mumbai coast with seven people on board, including two pilots. The helicopter lost contact with the air traffic control today shortly after take-off from Juhu Aerodrome at 10:20 AM this morning. The chopper, Dauphin N3 with registration number VT PWA, last contacted the Air Traffic Control at 10:35 AM when it was about 30 nautical miles off the Mumbai coast. Among those on board were officials from the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation or ONGC who were headed for the Offshore Development Area in the north fields of Mumbai High. The Indian Coast guard has launched a search operation for the helicopter. Choppers and Immediate Support Vessels or ISVs have been deployed



Democracy At Stake, Things Not In Order: 4 Supreme Court Judges - 10 Points
NEW DELHI:MMNN:12 January 2018
NEW DELHI: Democracy in India is at stake, said four senior Supreme Court judges today as they went public with complaints against the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra. The "rebel" judges - the four most-senior at the top court after the Chief Justice - said that "things are not in order" with what they described as "the administration of the Supreme Court". An independent judiciary is essential for a functioning democracy, they said. Asked if they believed the Chief Justice should be impeached, they said, "Let the nation decide."
Here are the 10 latest developments in this big story:
1-The judges have blown the lid off a growing rift with Chief Justice Dipak Misra at their news conference, the first of its kind ever held by sitting judges of the top court. "The four of us are convinced that unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country," Justice J Chelameswar said on the lawns of his residence. He is the second most-senior judge of the Supreme Court.
2-The judges said that their concerns include cases of "far-reaching consequences" being allocated without transparency. They made available a letter written by them to the Chief Justice two months ago, alleging "selective assignment of cases to preferred judges" and that "sensitive cases were being allotted to junior judges".
3-Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurien Joseph said repeated attempts to alert the Chief Justice to their concerns - including a meeting with him this morning - had failed to make any progress which is why they decided to voice their complaints publicly.
4-When asked if their complaints include the case of the death of a CBI judge, BH Loya, "yes" said Justice Gogoi. He however declined to elaborate.
5-Judge Loya was hearing a case that accused BJP president Amit Shah of murder when he died in Nagpur in December 2014. His family has alleged that his death was unnatural and came after he was offered 100 crores as a bribe to rule in favour of the BJP leader. Medical records show Judge Loya died of a cardiac arrest. Within weeks of his death, Amit Shah was acquitted.
6-The Supreme Court has been asked to order an independent inquiry into Judge Loya's death. This morning, the case was assigned to a bench that does not include the four senior judges who held today's press conference.
7-The Chief Justice in December was backed by four other top judges in asserting that he is the "master of the roster" and is alone authorized to allocate cases. The four judges who met the press today said that the rules make him "only the first amongst the equals, nothing more or nothing less."
8-The public confrontation today comes amid growing calls for the judiciary to show more transparency including in how judges are selected for promotion and assignment to the High Courts and the Supreme Court.
9-The Law Ministry says that the explosive trading of charges today is being seen as "an internal matter of the judiciary" on the administration of the Supreme Court and the government sees no reason for it to intervene.
10-In December, the Chief Justice was accused by some lawyers of inappropriately involving himself in hearing a case that alleges judicial corruption even though he was involved in earlier hearings of a linked matter - about whether bribes were paid by a medical college to reverse its blacklisting by the government.



New Team To Look Into 186 Anti-Sikh Riots Cases, Says Supreme Court
NEW DELHI:MMNN:10 January 2018
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe 186 cases relating to the anti-Sikh riots in 1984. This comes after a supervisory panel appointed by the court submitted a report that 186 cases were closed without a probe. Last year, the top court had formed a body comprising two of its former judges -- Justices JM Panchal and KSP Radhakrishnan -- to look into 293 cases. S Gurlad Singh Kahlon, a member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, had moved court demanding that a special probe team be set up. He had argued that neither has the probe been completed by an earlier probe team in any of these cases, nor any chargesheet filed. COMMENTSAn SIT was formed by the Narendra Modi government in 2015 after a special committee appointed by the centre recommended such a move to examine anti-Sikh riots case pending since 1984. The team was headed by IPS officer Pramod Asthana and had ex-district judge Rakesh Kapoor and additional DCP Kumar Gyanesh as its members. As per today's court order, a retired high court judge, one serving and one retired IPS officer will be on the new probe team. The court will name the members tomorrow



BSP Leader Mukhtar Ansari Suffers Heart Attack In UP Jail, Hospitalised
NEW DELHI:MMNN:9 January 2018
LUCKNOW: Jailed BSP MLA Mukhtar Ansari, who was lodged in Banda jail in connection with various criminal cases against him, today suffered a heart attack and was rushed to the district hospital in Banda. "I have talked to the SSP, Banda, and he told me about it (heart attack). I have sought a report from both the SP and the DM, Banda. The legislator will be provided the best treatment," Principal Secretary Home Arvind Kumar said. About reports in a section of media that Mukhtar Ansari's wife too suffered a heart attack, Mr Kumar said he cannot confirm it immediately. "I can confirm it only after I get a report from there," he said, adding that directives have been issued to provide best possible treatment to the legislator. COMMENTSThe gangster-turned-legislator Mukhtar Ansari from Mau constituency had been in various jails in the state since 2015 under various sections of the IPC.



PM Modi Reaches Out To Manmohan Singh, With A Warm Handshake
NEW DELHI:MMNN:5 January 2018
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his predecessor Manmohan Singh greeted each other and shook hands in the Rajya Sabha after the winter session of parliament ended on Friday. The show of cordiality comes weeks after PM Modi, in the middle of an acrid campaign for the Gujarat election last month, appeared to insinuate that Manmohan Singh had conspired with Pakistan to attempt the BJP's defeat in the state. The Congress, aided by other opposition parties, had blocked parliament for days to demand that PM Modi apologise to the former prime minister for the insinuation. "I am deeply hurt by the falsehood being spread, everyone knows my track record," Dr Manmohan had said in the video statement. PM Modi didn't apologise but the ruling party bought peace in parliament by a statement from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that the Prime Minister did not question, nor meant to question Dr Manmohan Singh's commitment to the country. As soon as Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu adjourned the House sine die on Friday, PM Modi walked over to the opposition benches and reached out to the former prime minister as well, warmly shaking hands with Dr Manmohan Singh and speaking with him for a bit. There was no word on what they spoke about. But later, parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar asserted that the session had gone off much better than what many people had expected. COMMENTSThe Lok Sabha did work for almost twice as much as the Rajya Sabha in terms of the number of bills passed. But the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling BJP is in a minority, did pass 9 bills, just a little short of the 13 passed by the Lok Sabha. "This is the first time this is happening," Mr Kumar said. PM Modi also shook hands with some other senior leaders too including Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien and veteran Congress leader Karan Singh, whose tenure ends before parliament reconvenes for the Budget session



No Benefit To People From Hiked Oil Prices: Congress
NEW DELHI:MMNN:4 January 2018
NEW DELHI: The Congress today accused the government of not passing on to consumers the benefits of revenue it has earned by hiking excise duty on oil products, saying it garnered over Rs. 5.5 lakh crore and should tell the people what it has done with the money. Party leader Mallikarjun Kharge raised the issue in the Lok Sabha, noting that the price of crude was USD 110 per barrel in March 2014, two months before the BJP came to power, which had come down to USD 40 in June 2016. It was USD 60 yesterday, he said. He said petrol and diesel prices were not reduced in line with the falling price and instead, excise duty on diesel was hiked by 386 per cent and on petrol by 126 per cent. "You have earned Rs. 1.62 lakh crore annually and Rs. 5.50 lakh crore in total so far. No benefit has reached the people so far, while the extra revenue has gone to public exchequer," Mr Kharge said during the Zero Hour. He claimed that the government has instead reduced the benefits of welfare schemes, including those meant for Dalits. "You should tell the people under which scheme this money has been used," he demanded of the government



After Many Rejections, AAP Finds Nominees For Rajya Sabha
NEW DELHI:MMNN:3 January 2018
The Aam Aadmi Party today nominated Sanjay Singh, Sushil Gupta and N D Gupta as its Rajya Sabha nominees. While Mr Singh has been associated with the party since its inception, Sushil Gupta is a Delhi-based businessman and ND Gupta a chartered accountant. The decision was taken at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's residence in a meeting attended by around 56 party lawmakers. The party's highest decision making body, the Political Affairs Committee or PAC, met soon after and formally approved the decision. "Sushil Gupta has made big contributions in the education and health sectors in Delhi and Haryana. He provides free education to 15,000 children. Narayan Das Gupta is the former president of the ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountant of India)," Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said. Kumar Vishwas, who was angling for a Rajya Sabha slot, did not attend the PAC meeting although he is a member of the committee. Elections to three Rajya Sabha seats from Delhi would be held on January 16. The AAP, which enjoys a brute majority in the 70-member Delhi Assembly, is set to win all three seats.



Parliament Being On And Off Not Good For Country: Venkaiah Naidu"
NEW DELHI:MMNN:22 December 2017
NEW DELHI: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu today made his displeasure known about frequent adjournments during the ongoing session of Parliament, saying the House being "on and off" these days is not good for the country. Today, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day as the Congress insisted on resolving the impasse over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks against Manmohan Singh. The virtual stalling of the Rajya Sabha proceedings due to the Congress protests over PM Modi's remarks against his predecessor denied cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar his maiden attempt to speak in the House yesterday. "Parliament is in session... these days, it is on and off. It is not a good thing for the country," said Mr Naidu, who is also the ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The constant endeavour, Mr Naidu said, is to make India the global economic leader by adopting a holistic approach towards inclusive economic growth, highlighting that progress must be made to achieve double-digit economic growth at the earliest. He was speaking at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the International Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre (IECC) and the Integrated Transit Corridor Development Project here. Referring to various territorial invasions in the past, the vice president said: "This country with its over 10,000-year-old civilisation has no record of attacking any country at any time because we want to live in harmony with all." "Before the invasion, 27 per cent of world GDP was from India alone. So, let us all remember that, and we must all work towards making further progress in crossing 7.5 per cent to double digit at the earliest," he added. Observing that the world economy is slowing, Mr Naidu said: "Even our powerful neighbour (in an apparent reference to China) has gone a little negative. The only economy which is moving forward is India, thanks to the reforms and thanks to the leadership of the country as well as contribution made by people in various sectors." He outlined a series of reforms such as GST, Digital India, liberalisation of foreign direct investment regime and Start Up India that have significantly improved domestic business and investment climate, which have led to huge investment inflows. Development and good governance should be the focus of everybody, including the public sector and the government, the vice president stressed. Pointing to the lack of "proper convention centres" in a country as large as India, Mr Naidu said world-class infrastructure in terms of international convention facilities is very essential to promote trade and commerce and "a growing economy like ours needs high quality venues to host events". Calling on stakeholders for speedy completion of the IECC, he said, "I hope that this project will be completed at the earliest. I would like to see that before the deadline (September 2019). The deadline that you have set for yourself should not be confined to a headline one day." He observed that such a complex was long overdue in Delhi without adding to the congestion and the IECC project will be a landmark state-of-the-art structure. He also spoke of the need for such convention centres in other cities of the country, including Smart Cities and state capitals. On the proposed decongestion plan around Pragati Maidan's redevelopment, the Vice-President asserted that the traffic interventions being implemented will not just significantly improve access to the new complex, but also benefit the public



Congress Taking 2G Judgement As A Badge Of Honour, Says Arun Jaitley"
NEW DELHI:MMNN:21 December 2017
NEW DELHI: After a Delhi court today acquitted all the 17 accused in the 2G spectrum case, including former telecom minister A Raja and DMK leader M Kanimozhi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley pointed out that the Supreme Court had in 2012 held that the 2G policy of the Congress-led government was "corrupt and dishonest" and cancelled all 122 licences handed by Mr Raja. A judge today said no evidence had been found against the accused. "I have no hesitation in holding that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove the charges and all the accused are acquitted of the charges," said the judge. Congress leaders, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, say the verdict proves that the charges of massive corruption against the UPA government were unfounded. Mr Jaitley scoffed that the Congress was taking today's ruling as a "badge of honour" that the 2G policy of the UPA government was honest policy. "That this was a corrupt, dishonest policy was upheld by the Supreme Court in February 2012. Each and every case of spectrum allocation was quashed by the Supreme Court as unfair and arbitrary." Mr Jaitley said a first-come-first-serve policy, with a "huge amount of arbitrariness" was followed by the UPA, intended at serving only a selective few. "The first come first served policy was converted to the first pay first served policy and a chosen few were informed about the change of policy...the favourites had their bank drafts prepared," he said. "On the basis of all this, in February 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the challenge and cancelled the policy of first come first served and the government was directed to have a fresh policy through auction," he added. Ripping into the Congress for interpreting todays acquittal as a "certificate", the Finance Minister question: "From this entire scam, who is liable? I am sure investigating agencies will have a close look at it and decide... The fact that this was a corrupt policy intended to promote corruption and there was a loss goes by the Supreme Court verdict and subsequent auctions." While cancelling all licences issued by Mr Raja, the Supreme Court had said that the licences had been allotted in "an unconstitutional and arbitrary manner." At the time, the Congress-led government had called it an indictment of the previous BJP government's legacy of allotting licenses on a first-come-first -served basis



PM In House As Congress Shouts "Apologise To Dr Sahab(Manmohan Singh)
NEW DELHI:MMNN:20 December 2017
NEW DELHI: The curtailed winter session of parliament lost yet another day as the opposition pressed for an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his allegations that his predecessor, Dr Manmohan Singh, had colluded with Pakistani officials to influence the Gujarat elections. The Lok Sabha -- where the Prime Minister was present today for the Question Hour -- was adjourned temporarily, the Rajya Sabha for the rest of the day, as slogan-shouting members of the opposition refused to relent. Senior Congress leaders later said they would prefer an explanation. "When did we ask for an apology? We want a clarification from the PM. Let him say he had given this allegation to win the Gujarat election and withdraw the statement," said Ghulam Nabi Azad. "We want nothing less than a discussion and an explanation why such remarks were made," added Mallikarjun Kharge. The government has made it clear that there will be no apology or explanation. Prime Minister was present at the Lok Sabha since today's Question Hour was on his office. But no work was conducted. As the Question Hour started, the members assembled in the Well of the House, shouting "Dr sahab se maafi maango" (apologise to Dr Manmohan Singh). Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the proceedings of the House till noon. In Rajya Sabha, chairman Venkaiah Naidu's repeated appeals for calm went unheeded. "This is not the way. Nobody is going to give apology. Nothing happened in the House. The statement was not made here," Mr Naidu was heard saying amid the uproar. PM Modi's accusation, made at a pre-election rally in Gujarat last week, has triggered a huge controversy. Dr Singh has made an unusually sharp rebuttal, accusing the Prime Minister of trying to win "political points" through "canards" and demanding that he apologise to the nation. That demand is being hotly pursued by the Congress in parliament. Little was done over the three days since the shortened Winter Session started. Yesterday, Mr Naidu said he had met senior leaders from both sides to try and address the problem. He said he also met Dr Singh. There was an agreement that a joint committee will be formed to find a solution. "PM Modi must either apologise to Manmohan Singh-ji or give a valid proof why he accused him in that speech. He can't carry out such calumny... Our protest will continue till we get what we want," Congress leader Rajiv Shukla later said.



Gujarat Election 2017: 397 'Crorepati' Candidates In Poll Fray, Congress' Pankaj Patel Richest
NEW DELHI:MMNN:9 December 2017
AHMEDABAD: Ahead of the Gujarat Election 2017, an interesting figure has come out from the analysis of election affidavits. Two NGOs have found that of the 1,828 candidates who have filed nominations this time, as many as 397 are crorepati candidates. The report also found that 1,098 nominees have passed class 12 or below. The report by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Gujarat Election Watch (GEW) also showed that there are only 118 women candidates in the poll fray this time. The Gujarat Election 2017 is a high-stake political contest where two leading parties the BJP and the Congress are battling against each other. The BJP has been in power from the last 22 years in Gujarat and the Congress aspires to break the ruling party's winning spree by wooing the voters from the Patidar community. While 198 out of the total 977 candidates of the first phase have declared assets worth more than Rs. 1 crore, 199 nominees out of the total 851 of second phase have emerged as 'crorepati' as per the analysis of their affidavits conducted by the NGOs. The report said that 131 of these 397 'crorepati' candidates have declared assets worth over Rs. 5 crore, while 124 others have shown movable and immovable assets in the range of Rs. 2 crore to Rs. 5 crore. While the ruling BJP has given tickets to 142 'crorepati' candidates, the opposition Congress has fielded 127 such nominees. The NCP has given tickets to 17 crorepati candidates, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded 13 such candidates and the BSP to five. The report said that 56 independent candidates also fall under this category. The remaining 'crorepati' candidates belong to lesser known parties or outfits. Congress candidate for Daskroi seat, Pankaj Patel has emerged as the richest candidate with declared assets worth Rs. 231.93 crore, it said. He is followed by another Congress nominee Indranil Rajyaguru of Rajkot-West seat who has declared assets worth Rs. 141.22 crore. Mr Rajyaguru is followed by BJP candidate for Botad seat Saurabh Patel, who is former Gujarat finance minister, and has declared assets worth Rs. 123.78 crore, the report said. BJP candidate and prominent businessman Dhanjibhai Patel of Wadhwan seat is in the fourth place with declared assets of Rs. 113.47 crore. Contrasting to these figures, six independent candidates have declared that they have 'zero' movable or immovable assets. As many as 13 candidates have declared that their annual income is more than Rs. 1 crore, based on the last Income Tax returns filed by them, the report stated. At educational front, the report said that as many as 1,098 nominees have either passed only 5th, 8th, 10th or 12th class. 119 candidates mentioned that they were only literate, while 23 others declared that they were illiterate. According to the report, of the 1,828 candidates, 118 were women. 658 candidates were in the age group of 25 and 40 years, 889 between ages of 41 and 60, while 193 of them were between 61 and 80. Voting for the first phase of the polls began this morning, while polling for the second phase will be held on December 14. Counting of votes for both the phases will be held on December 18.



Licence Of Delhi's Max Hospital That Declared Newborn Dead Suspended
NEW DELHI:MMNN:8 December 2017
The licence of an upscale Delhi hospital that found itself in the middle of a huge backlash after it incorrectly declared a newborn dead was suspended today. Max Hospital in Shalimar Bagh cannot take new patients for now, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said. "The negligence in the newborn death case was unacceptable," he said. On Wednesday, the baby boy found alive after being declared dead along with his still-born twin and handed over to his parents in a plastic bag last month by Max Hospital died after nearly a week of treatment. The twins were being taken for burial when a movement in one of the packages shocked the family. When the wrapping was opened, the baby boy was found breathing and squirming. The baby was taken to another hospital and placed on life support. A three-member panel asked by the Delhi government to investigate the shocking mistake has found Max Hospital guilty of not following rules while dealing with newborns. The panel reports that the hospital failed to carry out ECG tracings to check if the child was alive. Electrocardiogram tracing or ECG tracing helps evaluate heartbeats. Mr Jain said the hospital can continue the treatment of patients who were currently admitted but cannot admit new patients. Patients in the hospital can shift to a different hospital if they wish, he added. Mr Jain said last month they had issued a notice to Max Hospital Shalimar Bagh for problems in the treatment of poor patients as mandated by law. Max Hospital, facing anger and protests, had earlier sacked the two doctors in charge of the twins' case - AP Mehta and Vishal Gupta. Survival in extreme pre-term births is rare, Max Healthcare said in a statement today, expressing grief over the baby's death. The other twin, a girl, was declared still-born after birth. The well-known private hospital had told the parents that the other baby needed critical medical care and had to be kept in an incubator. "The hospital said for three days, it will cost Rs. 1 lakh each and after that, it would cost Rs. 50,000 each day, and he had to be kept for three months," a relative said. But when the parents were debating the costs, they were told that the infant had died



Gujarat Election 2017: On 'Safe' BJP Seat, CM Vijay Rupani To Face Stiff Challenge From Congress' Indranil Rajyaguru
NEW DELHI:MMNN:7 December 2017
RAJKOT: Gujarat's Rajkot-West seat has traditionally been a BJP fortress and considered safe for the ruling party, which has been representing it since 1985. This time, however, the elections in this constituency could get exciting with Chief Minister Vijay Rupani facing a challenger in Congress' Indranil Rajyaguru, the sitting MLA from Rajkot-East and the richest candidate in Gujarat election. Mr Rajguru -- who has declared assets of Rs. 141 crore, in comparison to the Chief Minister's 7.4 crore -- left his Rajkot East seat to contest against the chief minister. "I have money and I can help people," said the legislator, whom the locals have dubbed "dhankuber" -- roughly an equivalent of King Midas. Vajubhai Vala, incumbent Governor of Karnataka, had won the seat seven times for the BJP - from 1985 to 2012. Mr Vala vacated the seat for Narendra Modi in 2002 after the latter was then nominated as the chief minister. Later, when Mr Modi moved to Maninagar constituency, Mr Vala continued his undefeated run till 2012. After Mr Vala was shifted to Karnataka, Vijay Rupani won the bypoll from the seat in 2014. To rework the caste combination in party's favour, the Congress has fielded Mr Rajyaguru. Mr Rupani has to surmount the angry Patidars and the trading community, which is smarting under the impact of demonetisation and rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Rajkot West is the largest constituency in the Saurashtra region. Out of 3.15 lakh voters in the constituency which goes to poll on December 9, the number of Kadva and Leuva Patidars is the highest at 62,000, followed by Brahmins, Lohana and Jain communities. Dubbed "CM seat" by many, Rajkot West has given Gujarat three chief ministers - Keshubhai Patel, Vijay Rupani and Narendra Modi, who went on to become the Prime Minister. PM Modi had contested his first elections from this seat in 2001. The Congress is trying to direct the anger among Patidars who are angry over lack of reservation in education and government jobs. The quota agitation and Hardik Patel joining hands with Congress may dent the BJP's base among the Patidars, who till now were considered as the foundation of the BJP's support base in Gujarat. Mr Rajyaguru believes that he has won the "initial battle" against Mr Rupani by keeping him busy in the constituency since the poll schedule was announced. "I wanted to keep the chief minister busy in Rajkot-West constituency and morally I have won the initial battle as the chief minister has to visit his constituency more than once in a week," Mr Rajyaguru was quoted as saying. Mr Rupani, however, remains unfazed and is confident of his victory. "I will win the seat easily,"Mr Rupani had told PTI in an interview recently, citing the work done by him in his constituency, especially bringing the Narmada river water to Rajkot. "As the CM, he has done well and because of his tireless efforts, Rajkot could get the Narmada water in less than five years of the project announced by then chief minister Narendra Modiji," BJP's Saurashtra and Kutch spokesperson Raju Dhruv said. The 182-member Gujarat Assembly will go to the polls in two phases -- on December 9 and 14 -- and the counting of votes will be taken up on December 18.



Hardik Patel's Show of Strength 30 km Away From PM Modi Rally In Gujarat
NEW DELHI:MMNN:29 November 2017
MORBI, GUJARAT: Hardik Patel has tweeted photos to show the kind of crowd he mobilised at a public rally today in Morbi, about 30 km away from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was campaigning in the same district in the heart of Gujarat's Saurashtra for next month's assembly elections. "This crowd of thousands at a public meeting to discuss reservation and farmers' issues in Morbi district is encouraging," tweeted the 24-year-old, who led the massive Patel agitation for reservation against PM Modi's party, the BJP. Hardik Patel strategically timed his Morbi tour to coincide with the Prime Minister's rally. A comparison of the audiences the two rallies drew was expected after reports of a sub-par turnout for the Prime Minister's public meetings in Saurashtra on Monday. Morbi, a town famous for ceramic tiles and seen as an influencer for surrounding areas, has voted for the BJP for two decades. But it also has a significant Patel population and was one of the epicentres of the community's agitation for reservation in government jobs and colleges in 2015. Hardik Patel, who was jailed for sedition during the agitation and was exiled on court orders from Gujarat for six months, is too young to contest elections. But he has vowed to ensure the BJP's defeat, accusing the party of betraying the Patels, loyal to it for years, by not including them among castes that benefit from affirmative action. He is asking his community to vote for the Congress in the assembly elections after assessing as satisfactory, the party's formula for reservation for Patels if it comes to power. PM Modi told a capacity crowd today that "in good times and bad, we have stood with Morbi," which he said was not true of the Congress. Morbi, he said, was typical of the Gujarat model that he is credited with developing when he was the state's Chief Minister. Indira Gandhi of the Congress, the PM said, "held a handkerchief to her nose against a foul smell when she came to Morbi." Morbi district has three of Gujarat's 182 assembly seats. In 2012, when then Chief Minister Modi led his party to yet another victory in Gujarat, the BJP had won two seats in Morbi and the Congress one. But in panchayat or rural body elections held in 2015, the Congress won most seats in worry for the BJP. Morbi is filled with small traders who have traditionally not just voted for the BJP, but have also funded the party. Congress vice president Rahul Ganhdi has been urging the traders to punish the BJP for a chaotic roll-out of new national tax GST, which he has alleged has brought small businesses to their knees. Rahul Gandhi too is in Saurashtra today and will address three rallies. PM Modi is addressing three in Saurashtra and one in south Gujarat.



Hafiz Saeed Files Petition In UN Seeking Removal Of His Name From Terror List
NEW DELHI:MMNN:28 November 2017
LAHORE: Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed has filed a petition in the UN seeking removal of his name from the list of designated terrorists on the ground that none of the allegations against him - either related to terrorism or otherwise - has been proved in the Pakistani courts. The banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) head, who carries a USD 10 million American bounty on his head for terror activities, walked free on Friday after the Pakistan government decided against detaining him further in any other case. He was under house arrest since January this year. Lahore-based law firm - Mirza and Mirza Law Associates - has filed the petition on behalf of Saeed in the UN. Supreme Court Advocate Navid Rasul Mirza, the owner of this law firm, told PTI today that his law firm had recently filed the petition in the UN. "My law firm has filed the petition on Hafiz Saeed's behalf at the UN seeking removal of his name from its list of designated terrorists. My son Haider Rasul who is director of this firm is looking after this case," he said. Saeed, who is accused of having masterminded the November 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, was placed on the terrorism black list by the United Nations under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008. To a question about any progress in the case so far, Mr Mirza said: "We have just filed the petition." Mr Mirza was Additional Advocate General of Punjab Government (1993-1996) and Prosecutor General for the National Accountability Bureau, a government anti-graft body (2000-03). This is the first time that Saeed has hired a law firm other than that of his permanent counsel Advocate AK Dogar. "In Pakistan, all cases of the JuD chief are being handled by Dogar. This firm to pursue his case in the UN has been hired in consultation with Dogar," a Jamaat-ud-Dawah office-bearer told PTI. The office-bearer said Saeed has decided to challenge the UN's decision on the basis of different court decisions since 2009 in which no allegation - either related to terrorism or otherwise - has been proved in the Pakistani courts. He said the UN's decision to place Saeed's name on the list of terrorists had caused harm to his reputation as it appeared that this had been done on international pressure. "We have enough ground to fight our case in the UN. The UN should take up our petition and remove Hafiz Saeed's name from the designated terrorists list," he said. LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi was also placed on the terrorism black list along with Saeed. According to the UNSC's sanctions committee, the LeT leaders were "subject to the assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo," set out in Security Council resolution 1822. The UNSC website says: "Saeed is proscribed for being associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba and Al-Qaeda for participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts of activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf or in support of both entities." India has repeatedly asked Pakistan to re-investigate the Mumbai terror attack case and also demanded trial of Saeed and Lakhvi in the light of evidence it had provided to Islamabad. A Lahore High Court's Judicial Review Board last week unanimously ordered Saeed's release after the Punjab government failed to provide any evidence related to terrorism or otherwise before it. After his release, Saeed said the US, on India's request, pressured Pakistan to detain him. "I was detained on the pressure of the US on the Pakistani government. The US did so on the request of India," he claimed. India had expressed outrage over the decision of the judicial board to release Saeed, calling it an attempt by Pakistan to mainstream proscribed terrorists and a reflection of its continuing support to non-state actors. The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the banned LeT which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai terror attack in 2008. Saeed was put under house arrest after the Mumbai attack in November 2008 but he was freed by a court in 2009. Nine of the Mumbai attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was caught and executed after a trial.



Request Congress Not To Mock My Poor Origins,' Says PM Narendra Modi In Scathing Attack
NEW DELHI:MMNN:27 November 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has requested the Congress "not to mock my poor origins," extending his scathing attack on the opposition party and its leader Rahul Gandhi from one rally in Gujarat to another, as he begins a campaign blitz his home state, which votes early next month for a new government. "The Congress dislikes me because of my poor origins. Can a party stoop so low? Yes, a person belonging to a poor family has become PM. They do not fail to hide their contempt for this fact. Yes, I sold tea but I did not sell the nation," PM Modi said in Rajkot, adding, "I request the Congress not to mock the poor and my poor origins." The PM's comments referred to the latest controversy the Congress landed itself in last week, when the party's youth wing mocked the Prime Minister as a "chai-wala" in a meme it later deleted, but not quickly enough. The BJP has since resurrected its "chai" campaign strategy that it had successfully deployed ahead of the 2014 general election, highlighting the Prime Minister's childhood when he sold tea at railway stations to stress that he is a self-made leader in contrast to the Gandhis' dynastic control of the Congress. The chai campaign was constructed as a result of Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar infamously deriding Mr Modi as a tea-seller who could never become Prime Minister The BJP has said the repeated attacks on the PM over his humble origins exemplify the Congress' elitist mindset and that an enraged public will punish it by ensuring the BJP sweeps the Gujarat election. Gujarat, the Prime Minster, said at his first rally in Bhuj today, will not forgive the Congress for making "baseless allegations against the son of the soil," as he pitched the election as a battle between "vikas(development)" and "vanshwaad (dynasty)," in an attack on Rahul Gandhi, who is set to take over from his mother Sonia Gandhi as Congress president before Gujarat votes. "When Keshubhai Patel, a son of Saurashtra became the CM the Congress tried everything to dislodge him. They repeated the same disruptive tactic with Anandiben Patel, a daughter of the Patel Community. Congress has defamed Gujarat always," the Prime Minister said, also accusing the opposition party of learning from the Aam Aadmi Party "whose style is to keep abusing and running away. I thought the Congress, being an older party would not indulge in such politics but they have also taken this short cut in the past two months and only hurled abuses and lies



Ram Temple-Babri Masjid Case: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Meets Muslim Leaders In Lucknow
NEW DELHI:MMNN:17 November 2017
LUCKNOW: All issues can be resolved through dialogue, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said in Lucknow today after meeting Muslim leaders as part of his efforts to mediate a solution to the protracted Ram temple-Babri Masjid dispute. Ravi Shankar, who was in Ayodhya yesterday and met various leaders across the religious spectrum, said he respected the courts but they cannot connect hearts. "Even after 100 years, the judgements of courts will remain but if we find a solution through our hearts it will be recognised through the ages," Ravi Shankar told reporters after meeting the rector of the Farangi Mahal Islamic Centre of India, Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangimahli, and other community leaders. Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangimahli is also a senior member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board or AIMPLB. "We accept that it is a little late for such efforts but we want that the issue should be resolved soon," Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said. "I am confident we will achieve something big for the country through this," he added. According to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a new message of brotherhood needs to be taken forward. Asked if his efforts are aimed at a settlement before the court decision on the issue or even after that, he said, "We are not leaving any possibility... we are not working on an agenda but trying to find a way." The Art of Living founder asked for time and said there was no hurry, religious heads would come together and talk. Giving his take on the talks, Maulana Farangimahli said differences will be removed if leaders of both sides sit together and talk regularly. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar yesterday met Dinendra Das of the Nirmohi Akhara as well as Muslim intellectuals in Ayodhya and Faizabad. His efforts to mediate have found favour only with a section of both communities with major parties, including the AIMPLB and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, expressing their reservations. A day before visiting Ayodhya, he had met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow and said he wanted "unity and amity.






BJP Leader Shiv Kumar, Security Guard Shot Dead In Greater Noida
NEW DELHI:MMNN:16 November 2017
A BJP leader and his security guard were shot dead by attackers in bikes in Greater Noida near Delhi this evening. Shiv Kumar was in his Toyota Fortuner car when the bikers reportedly drove up and fired shots at the car in the Bisrakh area. The BJP leader died instantly. Apart from a security guard who was also killed, there were two more in the car



Will Help Arvind Kejriwal To Prevent Smog Crisis In 2018, Says Haryana
NEW DELHI:MMNN:15 November 2017
One down, another to go. Haryana has pledged its assistance to Delhi in fighting the toxic smog that has covered the city for over a week, leading doctors to declare a public health crisis. Punjab, the other state whose actions impact the filthy air, has so far ignored Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's entreaty for a meeting to discuss possible solutions. Mr Kejriwal met this morning with his counterpart from Haryana, ML Khattar, who is from the BJP, to toss around ideas on how to protect Delhi in the future from the sort of filthy air that has left residents complaining of headaches, watering eyes and dizziness, and forced the shutdown of all schools last week. The two leaders said in a statement "We agreed upon the need for action on many measures aimed at predicting its re-occurrence in the winter of 2018." The levels of poisonous airborne particles, known as PM 2.5, have been off the charts in Delhi, often crossing 500. How dangerous is that? The upper limit of "good" quality air is 50. "We accept that pollution in Delhi is a concern for the whole country...it is the national capital," acknowledged Mr Khattar who has recently accused Mr Kejriwal of trying to "politicize" the issue to distract from his own government's failures in preventing the toxic smog. The Chief Ministers said they have "jointly identified action points" and are committed to "quick action on a number of fronts." The crisis is a combination of vehicular exhaust, dust from construction sites, and stubble-burning in the agrarian states of Punjab and Haryana which border Delhi. Every year, at this time, farmers set the remnants of their harvested crop on fire to prep their fields for the sowing of the winter crop. The fires send smoke streaming into Delhi Mr Kejriwal flew to Chandigarh to meet with Mr Khattar after the latter refused to make time for him during a two-day trip to Delhi at the start of the week. The Delhi leader asked to meet while in Chandigarh with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who is from the Congress, but was brusquely refused. Captain Singh said a consult would be pointless as the issue of stopping farm fires needs to be resolved by either the centre or the Supreme Court, which is hearing petitions that ask for its intervention in the fight against Delhi's pollution. Farmers are a substantial vote group and no party wants to risk angering them by enforcing a ban on crop burning. Mr Kejriwal has said he understands and accepts that farmers must be given financial aid if they are ordered to stop farm fires for more environment-friendly options.



In Gujarat, Team Of 40 'Chhupa Rustams' Informing Rahul Gandhi Decisions
NEW DELHI:MMNN:6 November 2017
As Rahul Gandhi moves through Gujarat, visiting temples, addressing small neighbourhood gathering and much larger rallies, taking the occasional selfie with a young fan who climbed to the top of his mini-van for a selfie, there's a far more media-shy contingent that's assessing what voters want. You can call them by different names - in Hindi, we refer to them as 'Chhupa Rustom' - but it's crucial that they remain anonymous, unrecognizable," said one of these secret agents. "They source information, then give this information to a boss who is one level above them, and that rung conveys the material to Rahul Gandhi," he said, agreeing to be filmed but in silhouette so that his identity is concealed. The secrecy is not unwarranted, said more than one of these Chhupa Rustoms that we spoke to. On reconnaissance missions, they gauge public mood to help shape what narrative the campaign should follow; more crucially, they try to evaluate which candidates the Congress should shortlist for the 182 seats in Gujarat that will be decided when the state votes next month. As Rahul Gandhi attempts to drive a wedge Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his home state, which has been governed by the BJP for 22 years, his decision to use a secret council of advisors is based on recent experience in Goa and Punjab where the Congress leader's official aides were supplemented by another similar secret council that helped determine candidates. The Congress won the most seats in both states. The "intel agency"of the Congress works like this, explained the source who is part of it. "Rahul Gandhi handpicks the top tier which then chooses the foot soldiers who conduct low-profile surveys of voters and party workers to identify which candidates are likely to be winning acts. He said that senior Congress leaders - like Gujarat president Bharatsinh Solanki and Ashok Gehlot - are "partially in the know" about the role of the Chhupa Rustoms. If there were full disclosure, he said, "they will drive us out...they will finish us in the womb before we do something. But they are not able to that means they have a message". "Any information can only help the party," said Mr Solanki to NDTV, "they are secret stars to allow them to collect unbiased facts." Whether he's fully in on the secret was unclear - he was unable to explain the exact count of "secret agents" but said they have been brought in "from Maharashtra, from Rajasthan, so it's hard to track details." Sources said there are about 40 Chhupa Rustoms deployed in Gujarat, some of whom are covering upto 14 constituencies. Candidates must be formalised by the 20th of this month, but so far, no names have been released by the Congress, which is why there's a voluptuous crowd of aspirants, CVs in hand, at the party office in Ahmedabad. Earlier, in a power play typical of the Congress' centralized leadership, they would have to travel to Delhi, said contenders. Now, a screening committee of four aides to Rahul Gandhi interview them. Its' not clear how much the committee is influenced by the Chhupa Rustoms; its members didn't want to talk to NDTV. But an aspirant, Chamanji Thakor, who has twice been elected as a law-maker, told NDTV that "the party conducts a survey...who does it is a secret...but we are told it is carried out on the instructions of Rahul Gandhi. It is a top secret affair." Congress sources who work closely with its Vice President said that for years, Mr Gandhi has been trying to create a team of young leaders across India whose motivation is not to run for office themselves but to help the party identify and promote deserving talent and candidates. For all the effort that the Congress is putting into determining its candidates, equally crucial will be its strategy in deciding how to handle those it rejects. As Shankersinh Vaghela proved before quitting the party, it's easy to move disgruntled Congressman towards the BJP -at least six Congress law-makers switched teams at that point, in total 43 stayed loyal. Perhaps the secret ops should focus on uncovering other likely defectors, say some Congress sources wrly.



Those Who Were In World Bank Now Question Ranking: PM Narendra Modi Slams Opposition
NEW DELHI:MMNN:4 November 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today took a swipe at the opposition Congress for questioning the country's improved ranking in the World Bank's ease of doing business report, saying those who had worked with the World Bank previously too were raising questioning India's ranking. Speaking at a session on India's business reforms, PM Modi listed the initiatives and reforms that his government had pushed through "in all sectors" that led to an improvement in the ease of doing business ranking from 142 to 100. "But there are some people who cannot understand this... They don't want to work, but are quick to question those who do," PM Modi said at the conference in the presence of World Bank chief executive officer Kristalina Georgieva. "This is not just an ease of business ranking... it is also an ease of living life," PM Modi said at the Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra, responding to the primary criticism from the Congress camp that there was a wide gap between the improvement in rankings and the plight of small businesses. Leading the opposition attack has been Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi who has accused the government's decision last year to ban high value currency notes followed by the Goods and Services Tax of having devastated businesses. "Ask small traders about ease of doing business," Rahul Gandhi has said, describing the two measures as "twin torpedos" that sunk entrepreneurs into losses. The quantum improvement on this ranking means that life has become easier for the common people, the middle class, he said. "Because most of the parameters selected for this ranking are linked to the day-to-day life of people too," PM Modi said, counting efforts to simplify filing tax returns, train reservations and gas bookings as some areas PM Modi said ease of doing business is "critical for small businesses including small manufacturers" that provides the bulk of employment, makes them more competitive and reduces the cost of doing business. He also attempted to blunt the criticism over GST, telling traders that the government had been listening to their concerns with an open mind and was making amends. He announced that the group of finance ministers appointed to smooth out the rough edges had met and "almost all points" flagged by businesses were being "positively addressed". This ranking takes into account reforms initiated only till May-end and does not reflect the impact of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which was implemented from July 1, he said, confident that India would occupy the pride of place in the ranking when GST and other reforms are also accounted for. World Bank chief Kristalina Georgieva had earlier called India's jump of 30 places in World Bank's ease of doing business ranking as "very rare". "In reforms what pays off is persistence, what we are seeing is extraordinary achievement by India," Ms Georgieva said



In Gujarat Election, Why The Role And Influence Of ASHA Workers Matters
NEW DELHI:MMNN:3 November 2017
VADODARA, GUJARAT: The day before the election for Gujarat was called, the state government announced a 50% raise for ASHA workers in the state, part of an assortment of well-funded schemes introduced quickly to win public favour. Along with the raise, a free sari was promised for the 43,000 women who are trained to provide basic health care in rural areas. ASHA - Accredited Social Health Activists - assist in childbirth, provide first aid, help with vaccinations and educate communities on birth control measures and issues of sanitation as part of the National Rural Health Mission introduced in 2005, which envisaged planting at least one ASHA worker in every village by 2012. For over two years, ASHA workers in Gujarat have been demanding fixed wages, permanent employment with regularized working hours and social security benefits like maternity leave and health insurance. In a state that prides itself on development, prosperity and three terms of Narendra Modi's governance, they say, the basics - education, health, clean drinking water - are far more inadequate here than in states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In a sign of their relevance, Rahul Gandhi met with ASHA workers yesterday during his tour of South Gujarat. "Our numbers are not small. Together, we are a formidable vote bank. So the government had to make a token gesture. But they have not addressed a single demand we made," said Tanuja Makwana, an ASHA worker in the Nadiad district of Central Gujarat. ASHA workers are well aware of their influence in the communities they visit, and of their status as government workers. They are also often from families where men work as farmers or are small traders, groups that have been reeling from the impact of the new national sales tax or GST and demonetization. Tanuja points out that ASHA workers are paid for every assignment and are guaranteed no minimum monthly income. In addition, they have to be available around the clock to travel to remote areas. "Presently, for every delivery we are paid Rs. 300 and an additional Rs. 250 for a week of follow-up visits and writing up the delivery report. But this is only if the woman is a BPL card holder (below poverty line); otherwise, we get nothing. For collecting samples for various tests, we get Rs. 15. Our income depends entirely on the number of cases we handle. So when there are fewer cases, we barely earn anything. So how does a 50% hike and a free sari help us?" she asked while giving an insulin shot to a young diabetic patient who has turned up at her house. Each ASHA worker is meant to handle 1,000 people. Very often, she is required to carry out door-to-door visits to check the spread of malaria or a flu. "We spend several days, walking from home to home in the hot sun and in heavy rain, but we are not paid a single paisa for our effort. They make us work for free," said Tanuja. Now in her early 30s, she says that even if spends nearly every day of the month in the field, she barely makes Rs. 2,500 a month despite nine years of experience. "I should be earning at least Rs. 10,000," she says. "The same work is twice as difficult for ASHAs covering Adivasi dominated districts where the terrain is hostile and the infrastructure is limited", says Meena Rathwa, who is based in Chhota Udaipur in South Gujarat, which has a large tribal population. "Often, the distance between one hamlet and the next is several kilometres. We have to make our own transport arrangements and sometimes spend the night in the village. But we have to pay for all these expenses. The government does not reimburse us." That's one reason why the epicenter of the two-year long protest by the ASHAs has been Vadodara with its proximity to the Adivasi belt of South Gujarat. Their peaceful struggle turned aggressive in recent days with members heckling and chasing senior government officials and national and state law-makers from the area. The conflict escalated when a few women leaders were arrested for allegedly throwing bangles at the motorcade of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he campaigned in Vadodara last month. The ruling BJP has accused the ASHAs of upping the ante at the urging of the Congress before the election. It's a charge they deny. "They are undermining our battle for survival", said Meena. "We are sensitive to their demands and in fact have made announcements recently increasing there wages. As far as the government is concerned, they are satisfied with our response; only a handful could be protesting for reasons best known to them," said Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel. Congress workers allege that it is in the vacuum created by Mr Modi's departure for Delhi that protests have begun to take shape and erupt - among farmers, health care workers, the Patels who want affirmative action policies. The Gujarat government has been reducing its spend on health care; in the last three years, it has fallen from 5.6 percent of the state's budget to barely 5%. Of this, barely a third was allocated to rural healthcare, with the bulk reserved for urban areas. The neglect shows, particularly in villages. The Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of Gujarat, an economic powerhouse, is 35 per 1,000 births; Kerala's is 10. In rural areas of Gujarat, the IMR is 43, nearly double that of urban areas. Similarly, the state registered a Maternal Mortality Rate of 112 per I lakh deliveries as compared to 68 in neighbouring Maharashtra. One reason for these poor figures is an acute shortage of government doctors in Gujarat. More than half the sanctioned posts of 1,500 doctors in primary health centres located in rural areas are vacant. More shockingly, for a state that prides itself on world class infrastructure, the National Rural Health Mission Data for 2015-16 reveals a shortfall of 12 district and 5 sub-district hospitals, 36 community health centres, 113 primary and 20 sub- primary health centres. For its public health schemes to start taking effect, the salaries of frontline workers like ASHAs and anganwadi workers, who staff women and child care centres in rural areas, has to be improved. Earlier this year, about 1.5 lakh anganwadi workers in Gujarat went on a 3-day strike demanding Rs. 4,000 a month. An anganwadi worker is paid Rs. 3,000 in Gujarat making it the 14th lowest-paying state, while states like Haryana and Tamil Nadu pay them between Rs. 8,000 - 10,000 a month. These issues don't decide a voter's preference of party or candidate. But ASHAs and others like them hope to raise awareness of how their low wages create a cycle of negligence



President Ram Nath Kovind And Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu Pay Tributes To Sardar Patel
NEW DELHI:MMNN:31 October 2017
NEW DELHI: President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu today paid tributes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 142nd birth anniversary. President Kovind remembered Sardar Patel as "India's Man of Iron, of Integrity and of Integration" in the tweet he posted after paying floral tribute at Patel Chowk. Mr Naidu too, paid floral tribute to Sardar Patel, who is credited for the ensuring integration of the nation post Independence. Born on October 31, 1875 in Nadiad, a small village in Gujarat, Sardar Patel became the first Deputy Prime Minister of India. He died on December 15, 1950. Popularly known as the 'Iron Man' of India, Sardar Patel was conferred with the highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna, in 1991 for his services to the nation.



Bring Hadiya Here: Supreme Court To Father In Kerala 'Love Jihad' Case
NEW DELHI:MMNN:30 October 2017
Hadiya is 24 years old, her consent as an adult is "prime" and her version of how and why she married a Muslim man in Kerala last year will be heard on November 27, the Supreme Court today as it examined the landmark "love jihad" case that has become the subject of an investigation by the country's top counter-terror agency. Her testimony next month will be made in open court, judges said today, which means the hearing can be attended by the public. 24-year-old Akhila Ashokan took the name Hadiya after converting to Islam, married a Muslim man she met on an Islamist matrimonial site, and was then taken to court by her father, who alleged that the marriage was a form of recruitment by ISIS that is gaining currency in Kerala. In May, the Kerala High Court annulled Hadiya's marriage and ordered her to return to live with her parents in the Kottayam district. Her husband, Shafin Jehan, has appealed against the annulment as well as the sanction given in August by the Supreme Court to the National Investigating Agency to determine if his marriage is part of an emerging pattern which sees vulnerable Hindu women being lured by Muslim men who are agents of terrorist groups including ISIS. "Get me out of here. Today or tomorrow, I am going to die. I am sure about this. My father is getting angry, I can make out. He pushes me," Hadiya said in a video released last week by an activist who met her family and her in August. Akilha's father, Ashokan KM, has denied his daughter's allegations. The activist Rahul Easwar, says he will submit his recording to the Supreme Court. "While I am a Hindu activist, I believe Hadiya's voice must also be heard," Mr Eashwar told NDTV. The National Investigating Agency or NIA told judges today that it has evidence of nearly 90 "similar cases" of indoctrination and radicalization in Kerala, according to news agency Press Trust of India. The Kerala government earlier this month told the Supreme Court that its police had conducted a "thorough investigation" into Hadiya's conversion and marriage and did not find any merit for the involvement of the NIA.



Ahead Of Rahul Gandhi's Visit, Hardik Patel Sets A Deadline For Congress
NEW DELHI:MMNN:28 October 2017
Hardik Patel, the 24-year-old face of the Patidar community's campaign for reservation that has locked horns with the ruling BJP in Gujarat, seems to be playing hardball with the Congress over his support to the party for the state elections to be held in December. A day after Congress sources indicated that Mr Patel would share the stage with Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi during his visit to Surat on November 3, he tweeted that the party must first come out with a clear stand on the reservation issue. "If the party doesn't not clear its stand on the issue by November 3, it could face the same fate as Amit Shah did during his rally in Surat," tweeted Mr Patel. BJP chief Amit Shah's meeting with leaders of the Patidar community in Surat last month descended into chaos as supporters of Mr Patel went on a rampage, chanting his name and vandalizing the furniture. Though the Congress party has openly expressed its support to the Patidar leader in the past, it is yet to make its stand clear on a separate reservation quota for the community. A separate quota for the Patels in government jobs and colleges could take the reservation percentage beyond the 50 per cent currently allowed by a Supreme Court ruling. The Congress party has still to react to Mr Patel's threat. Mr Patel has been indirectly expressing his backhanded support to the Congress party, making announcements at recently rally like: "If you have to bring down a maha chor (mega thief) it doesn't matter if a chor (thief) is helped". The BJP on its part has been alleging that Mr Patel was nothing but a B-Team of the Congress. A CCTV clip leaked by the Gujarat Police had shown how despite vehemently denying to do so, Mr Patel did apparently meet Rahul Gandhi in a city five star hotel. Both Mr Patel and the Congress have denied any such meeting



Hizbul Chief Syed Salahuddin's Son, Who Is Government Employee, Arrested
NEW DELHI:MMNN:24 October 2017
Syed Shahid Yousuf, the son of terror group Hizbul Mujahideen's chief Syed Salahuddin, has been arrested in Jammu and Kashmir by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a 2011 terror funding case. Yousuf, 42, works in the state government as a village agriculture assistant and has a family home in Budgam. "He was summoned for questioning to Delhi on Tuesday after initial rounds his role was conclusively established in the case and so we arrested him," NIA spokesperson Alok Mittal told NDTV. The case involves funding through hawala channels by terrorists based in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. According to the top anti-terror agency, Yousuf was in touch with Saudi Arabia-based Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Aijaz Ahmad Bhat and had received money to fund secessionist and terror activities in the Kashmir Valley. Sources say Yousuf accepted money transferred through Western Union by Aijaz, who is on the run, and investigators have documents from Saudi Arabia and India confirming the transfers. The money allegedly meant to fund the Hizbul Mujahideen's terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir, was sent in four instalments to Yousuf between 2011 and 2014. The NIA also has call records of multiple conversations between Aijaz and Yousuf. "We have all the documents on money transfers as well as call details. It is on the basis of this irrefutable evidence that we have gone ahead with Yusuf's arrest," said a senior officer. Four accused in the case are in Delhi's Tihar jail while two are missing. The case had been dormant after the four arrests. The NIA revived the investigations recently and questioned Yousuf a few days ago. Yesterday, the central government announced a new interlocutor, former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma, for a "sustained dialogue" with all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir. Yousuf's arrest is a clear sign that the centre does not plan to go slow on its crackdown on separatist leaders. Syed Salahuddin was in June declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US Department of State.



Centre To Start New Dialogue In Jammu And Kashmir Led By Ex-Intel Chief
NEW DELHI:MMNN:23 October 2017
NEW DELHI: Dineshwar Sharma, a former intelligence bureau chief has been appointed by the NDA government as its interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir, Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced on Monday, declaring that the retired officer would have "complete freedom" to talk to all groups and individuals" including Kashmiri separatists. "There is no bar on him to talk to one group and not another... We want to understand aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir," the minister said. This is the first concrete attempt by the NDA government in three years to reach out to Kashmiris and comes after a particularly-focussed offensive by security agencies anchored from Delhi to crack down on foreign funding for separatists. In Srinagar, police and army teams have taken out dozens of local commanders of terrorist groups active in the Kashmir Valley. It also addresses recurring criticism of the central government's approach in handling the problems in Kashmir from the prism of security operations without a matching political outreach. At the government's meetings with political parties, the Union Home Minister said, there had been suggestions that the government from across the political spectrum that there should be dialogue. In 2010, the Manmohan Singh government too had appointed a group of three interlocutors led by eminent journalist Dilip Padgaonkar who had given their final report in two years. But most of their recommendations were not accepted. Asked if the government really needed another report, the Home Minister didn't refer to the initiative by the UPA but underlined that the Modi government's policy and intentions were clear: "To understand aspirations of Jammu and Kashmir and the problems that people are facing, how they can be resolved and the challenges". He also explained the government's decision to go for the intelligence chief as its interlocutor, saying the centre wanted someone who did not have any political affiliations as he would be most-suited to reach out all individuals and organisations concerned



Taj Mahal A Hindu Temple Called Tejo Mahal: BJP Lawmaker Vinay Katiyar
NEW DELHI:MMNN:18 October 2017
LUCKNOW: The Taj Mahal is originally a Hindu temple and should be renamed as "Tejo Mahal", BJP parliamentarian Vinay Katiyar has said, asserting that a temple was destroyed to build the world-renowned marble monument. "Taj Mahal is a Hindu temple. There are many symbols of Hindu gods and goddesses in Taj. It was known as Tejo Mahal and water used to drip from its ceiling but that was removed from there,"Mr Katiyar, a Rajya Sabha member, today said. The BJP leader went on to buttress his theory on the 17th century mausoleum and said Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath "should go into the Taj Mahal and should see the Hindu signs inside it". "If this was only a grave then why are so many rooms built here? There is no need to demolish any structure anywhere. Its name should be changed to Tejo Mahal...The British did not demolish our structures but the Mughals did,"Mr Katiyar said. His remarks add another facet to the controversy over the Mughal-built monument, which was recently left out of an Uttar Pradesh government tourism brochure. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will travel to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal next week for damage control after a legislator of the BJP, Sangeet Som, supported the shocking omission in the tourism booklet and described the Taj Mahal as "blot on Indian culture", a monument built by traitors and a symbol of slavery. Sangeet Som, one of the politician accused of inciting riots in 2013 in Muzaffarnagar, also said Mughal history should be erased. Yogi Adityanath, who had months ago commented that the Taj did not represent Indian culture, said yesterday that the monument was built by the blood and sweat of Indian workers and "it does not matter who built it



RSS worker attacked, bombs hurled at BJP office in Kannur district
NEW DELHI:MMNN:11 October 2017
A 36-year-old RSS activist was injured in an attack, while bombs were hurled at BJP office in separate incidents of violence in the district, the police said on Wednesday. The activist KM Suresh, an auto driver by profession, was injured in the knee when some unidentified persons attacked him at Thalassery Tuesday evening. He has been admitted to a hospital here and his condition is stated to be serious, they said. A case has been registered against unknown assailants, police said, adding, they suspect it to be a fallout of political rivalry. Police had recovered some swords, knives and iron rods near the BJP district committee office here Tuesday. In the other incident, police said bombs were hurled at the BJP party office at Patyam around 12.30 am today but no one was injured. Some furniture was damaged in the attack, police said. A complaint has been received from BJP area committee president K Ajeesh and a case has been registered, they said. The incidents come two days after a hartal was observed at Panur in the district on October 9 by CPI (M) to protest the crude bomb attack on its workers allegedly by RSS men. As many as 14 persons, including four police personnel, were injured in the attack on Sunday during a procession taken out by CPI(M) activists at Kaivellikal. The BJP had on October 3 launched its ‘Jana Raksha Yatra’ from Kannur to highlight “Left’s atrocities” in the state. Addressing the Delhi leg of the yatra’ on Sunday, BJP chief Amit Shah had slammed Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, alleging that the maximum killings of BJP and RSS workers have taken place in the latter’s home district of Kannur.



Huge 2014 Defeat Knocked Sense Into Us, Admits Rahul Gandhi
NEW DELHI:MMNN:10 October 2017
NEW DELHI: On his campaign tour in Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi explained today that a humiliating defeat at the hands of the BJP in the 2014 national election helped him "a lot". The brief concession stood out as Mr Gandhi took generous digs at the ruling party and the Jay Shah controversy on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home turf. "The BJP helped me a lot. They have really helped me. We lost 2014 but the defeat could not have helped us more. Itni buri tarah haraya ki pit pitkar humein akal aagayi (They beat us so badly in 2014 that it drilled sense into us)," the Congress Vice President said, expressing "gratitude" to the BJP for his party's virtual wipeout after 10 years in power. "They helped me a lot by by pitai karke, gaali deke, maar maarke (they beat me, abused me, thrashed me). They opened my eyes." Ahead of polls in Gujarat later this year, Mr Gandhi is touring the BJP's strongest citadels in the state where the Congress has been out of power for nearly 20 years. Speaking before a gathering of students last evening, he referred to the allegations reported in the Wire website, that BJP president Amit Shah's son Jay Shah's fortunes rose 16,000 times after the BJP came to power -- from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 80 crores. "Have you heard of start-up India? The most successful is Jay Shah's start up... it's a very interesting story," Mr Gandhi said, going on to sum it up for his audience. Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said: "The chowkidaar of India is quiet, he doesn't like to comment on these things." In Mr Gandhi's sharp and pointed attacks, his party men see signs of the new, more savvy and confident leader set to take over as Congress president. Not long ago, on a visit to an American university, the 47-year-old had conceded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a "better communicator" than him. Participating in a Q&A session at the University of California, Berkeley, last month, he said, "I am an Opposition leader, but Mr Modi is also my Prime Minister. He has certain skills; he's a very good communicator, probably much better than me.



In Godhra Train Blaze, Alleged Mastermind And 62 Others Acquitted Again
NEW DELHI:MMNN:9 October 2017
The Gujarat High Court has decided a set of appeals challenging convictions and acquittals in the case of the burning of the Sabarmati Express in Godhra in 2002, which triggered massive communal riots across the state of Gujarat in which more than 1,000 people were killed. A total of 94 people, all Muslims, had stood trial on charges of murder and conspiracy. In 2011, a court acquitted 63 of them. The High Court today has refused to change that verdict. Those acquitted include Maulvi Umarji, accused of being the mastermind behind the fire. 31 people were convicted of murder, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy. The death sentence for 11 of them has today been changed to life imprisonment. The others remain sentenced to life in jail. In February 2002, 59 people, most of them 'kar sevaks', Hindu devotees returning from Ayodhya, died after a coach of the Sabarmati Express was set on fire at the Godhra station, around 130 km from Ahmedabad. The Muslims who were tried have always denied setting the train ablaze on February 27, 2002. The train was returning with passengers from the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya that had been demolished by lakhs of right-wing workers and volunteers in 1992. The special court, in 2011, in Gujarat ruled that the accused had conspired to torch the train.



How Judges Are Appointed By Supreme Court To Be Made Public
NEW DELHI:MMNN:6 October 2017
NEW DELHI: How judges are appointed or transferred will be open to the public, the Supreme Court has decided, for the sake of transparency. The Supreme Court collegium - a panel of senior most judges that decides on appointments and transfers - has decided that all its recommendations will be put up on the top court's website. The collegium system of judges appointing judges has been strongly criticized by the government, which has often called for transparency and accountability in judicial transfers and appointments. Many eminent jurists have also said that how judges are appointed needs reform because the process lacks transparency. In 2015, parliament cleared a National Judicial Appointments Commission which would include the Law Minister and two eminent persons selected by a separate panel including the Chief Justice, the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition. But the new procedure was cancelled by the Supreme Court, which felt the government would have too great a say in deciding judges and the independence of the judiciary would be eroded.



Amit Shah Skips Kerala In Abrupt Sked Change, Meets PM Modi, Arun Jaitley In Delhi
NEW DELHI:MMNN:5 October 2017
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: BJP chief Amit Shah today skipped a visit to Kerala, opting out of a walk through Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's village as part of the party's 15-day yatra in the state. He flew instead to Delhi from Mangalore this morning for a key meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Mr Jaitley has just returned from an official visit to Bangladesh. Sources said the leaders are expected to discuss the economy and also possibly the Gujarat assembly elections due later this year. PM Modi had in a speech yesterday refuted criticism of the government's handling of the economy and promised steps to reverse the current economic slowdown. He also promised to identify and remove hurdles faced by small traders after the launch of the new national tax GST. Amit Shah's abrupt change of plans meant that state BJP leaders led thousands of party workers through Pinarayi village, roads to which were lined with BJP flags and posters to welcome the BJP chief. The party had said earlier that he would walk nine km and address a public rally today. Senior BJP leaders dismissed speculation that the party chief had decided to skip today's Kerala visit because response to the yatra he launched two days ago has been tepid. There is no question of a poor response, they asserted. In Kerala's Kannur, state BJP chief Kummanem Rajasekheran said Mr Shah's presence was not required as he himself could take the party's fight into Mr Vijayan's home base. Chief Minister Vijayan's party, the CPM, had called for a shutdown of the town, amid massive security, in anticipation of Mr Shah's second visit for the yatra, which aims to highlight what the BJP has called the "murder politics" of the ruling CPM. Party spokespersons confirmed Amit Shah will now only join the BJP yatra when it wraps up in Kerala capital Thirvananthapuram on October 17. The BJP chief had launched the Jan Raksha (protect the people) yatra on Tuesday, with prayers at a Kannur temple and a searing attack on the CPM and the Chief Minister, stating, "More than 84 BJP and RSS workers have been killed in Kannur district alone. I want to ask Pinarayi Vijayan...Who has killed them? If he does not have answers, then I am saying that the chief minister is responsible for the killings." Mr Vijayan hit back accusing the BJP of "trying to break the secularism of the state," and alleged, "Amit Shah came and became like a wet cracker here." He said the state government will "not be scared away by the weapons and wealth you have collected. Nobody should think that you can scare us away."



Honeypreet, Ram Rahim's Aide, Arrested On The Highway Near Chandigarh
NEW DELHI:MMNN:3 October 2017
Honeypreet Insan, the "adopted daughter" of self-declared guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was arrested today after being hunted for weeks by the police. She was arrested from the highway near Chandigarh by the Haryana police. The 36-year-old had been seen on various media channels since morning, though the police had been unable to track her down. Honeypreet Insan has been charged with sedition and trying to help the Dera Sacha Sauda chief escape after he was sent to jail for rape. She has also been accused of inciting the rioting by mobs of Dera supporters after Ram Rahim was declared guilty on August 25. Thirty-eight people were killed in the violence. She will be produced before a court tomorrow. Hours before her arrest, she told the News 24 channel that she was "devastated and depressed" by the allegations against "Papa" and her. "When Papa went away (was jailed), my world came crashing down," she said. Honeypreet Insan went missing after she accompanied Ram Rahim in a special chopper taking him to a Rohtak jail on August 25. "Have you heard me saying a word where I instigate people? I had gone there (to CBI court in Panchkula) with a hope that my father will return by evening, but when he was held guilty, I went into depression, How could I think about anything else? I was totally devastated," she said. Reacting indignantly to her ex-husband Vishwas Gupta's allegations that her father-daughter relationship with Ram Rahim is fake, she said: "I cannot understand how anyone can point fingers at pious relations that are there between a father and his daughter. What proof do they have? Please don't believe such people." On her vanishing act, Honeypreet said: "Try to understand what my condition was. The woman who used to make patriotic films with her father (Ram Rahim), the woman in whom her father had infused the spirit of patriotism over the years...he goes to jail, which was unthinkable for me. I was completely shaken to hear of sedition charges when I haven't even killed an ant." Honeypreet Insan went on: "I was there with my Papa (Ram Rahim) and discharging my duty as a daughter (on August 25). Every daughter remains with her father, I went with him." She also rubbished the rape charge against Ram Rahim. "We call him 'papa coach'. Crores of women and girls have been empowered by Papaji. You believe two women and not millions others?" Honeypreet, whose real name is Priyanka Taneja, calls herself "Papa's Angel" on social media. She has been by Ram Rahim's side since 2009 and has co-starred with him in five films he made.



Over 50 Dead, 200 Wounded In Las Vegas Shooting, Deadliest In US History
NEW DELHI:MMNN:2 October 2017
A gunman killed at least 50 people and wounded more than 200 others at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday, raining down rapid fire from the 32nd floor of a hotel for several minutes before he was killed by police. The death toll, which police emphasized was preliminary and tentative, would make the attack the deadliest mass shooting in US history, eclipsing last year's massacre of 49 people at an Orlando night club. Thousands of panicked people fled the scene, in some cases trampling one another as law enforcement officers scrambled to locate and kill the gunman. Shocked concertgoers, some with blood on their clothes, wandered the streets after the attack. The suspect was a local Las Vegas man who acted alone and was not believed to be connected to any militant group, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters. The gunman has been identified by the police as Stephen Paddock. The shooter's 62-year-old companion, an Asian-American woman identified as Marilou Danley, has been located, the police added. "We have no idea what his belief system was," Lombardo said. "Right now, we believe he was the sole aggressor and the scene is static." Police had located two cars that belonged to Paddock. They said that rumours of other shootings in the area were false. Las Vegas's casinos, nightclubs and shopping draw some 3.5 million visitors from around the world each year and the area was packed with visitors when the shooting broke out shortly after 10 p.m. (0400 GMT). Witnesses on social media said the shooting broke out on the last night of the three-day Route 91 Harvest festival, a sold-out event attended by thousands and featuring top acts such as Eric Church, Sam Hunt and Jason Aldean. The spokeswoman for the University Medical Center hospital said 14 of the wounded were in a critical condition. All had suffered gunshot wounds, she said. US media, including Fox News, reported that Aldean was performing around 10:45 p.m. local time on Sunday when the rampage began but that he had been bundled safely off stage at the event outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in the Nevada gambling mecca. CNN reported all the artists were safe. Lombardo said the gunfire came from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, where the gunman was killed. The gunman, who was a local man, was killed after police "engaged the suspect," Lombardo told reporters. Police said on Twitter that at this time they did not believe there are any more shooters. Toll May Rise Police warned the death toll may rise. "I don't want to give you an accurate number because I don't have it yet," Lombardo said. At least one police officer was hospitalized with critical injuries, Lombardo said. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city, known primarily for its gambling, shopping and entertainment. Video on the festival's website showed stage set up outside the front of the Mandalay Bay. The hotel is near McCarran International Airport, which said on Twitter it had temporarily halted flights after the shooting. Later, the airport said that some flights had resumed. One Twitter user posted that the casino hotel was on lockdown, while another, citing police scanners, said two gunmen who had shot at a bodyguard and police were on the 32nd floor, although there was no confirmation from police. Video clips posted online showed what sounded like automatic weapons as panicked concertgoers fled, dropped to the ground screaming. Witnesses heard numerous gunshots at the hotel, where police tactical teams were searching for the attacker, according to reports on CNN and in the New York Times. Police have disclosed no information that would suggest a motive for the shooting or revealed the identify of the suspect. Even so, the rampage was reminiscent of a mass shooting at a Paris rock concert in November 2015 that killed 89 people, part of a coordinated attack by Islamist militants that left 130 dead. A witness named Christine told CNN both she and her husband had separately taken shooting victims to two hospitals, the University Medical Center and the Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. "The shots just kept coming," she said. "Everyone was telling us 'run, run as fast as you can'." Off-duty police were believe to be among the victims, the sheriff said. The concert venue was in an outdoor area known as Las Vegas Village, across the Strip from the Mandalay Bay and the Luxor hotels. The United States has seen a series of deadly mass shootings in recent years. Prior to Orlando, the deadliest occurred in April 2007 when a gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech university and in December 2012 a man killed 26 young children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.



PM Modi Meets Deadline For Disclosing Assets, Top Ministers Don't
NEW DELHI:MMNN:22 September 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has disclosed that he has assets worth Rs. 1,00,13,403. He has shared details on a government website in keeping with a rule he introduced after taking office. The PM ordered that all his ministers must, by August 31 ever year, share their assets and liabilities to illustrate transparency and a commitment to fighting systemic corruption. Out of the 92 ministers in PM Modi's cabinet, only 15 have met the August 31 deadline for disclosure. But this year, only 15 of 92 union ministers have met with the deadline. Among those who have defaulted for this year are Piyush Goyal, Smriti Irani, Maneka Gandhi and Ravi Shankar Prasad. So have Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju. It was, in fact, the Home Ministry that was tasked with coordinating with different ministers to collate the statements of their finances. Ministers are required to provide financial details of their immediate family members as well



Terrorist Dawood Ibrahim 'In Talks' With Centre For His Return, Alleges Raj Thackeray
NEW DELHI:MMNN:21 September 2017
Raj Thackeray dropped a bombshell today as he claimed that India's most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim is trying to negotiate his return with the central government as "he wants to spend his last days" in his home country. The Maharashtra politician claimed that the ruling BJP wants to bring the don back to score in elections. Dawood is "very sick and crippled", said the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief at a function to mark his Facebook debut. "He is currently in talks for a 'setting' with the government for this and this could happen," he said, commenting that the BJP government would try to take credit for the gangster's return even though he wants to return to India. "It is he (Dawood) who is keen to return... But, the BJP will claim credit for this to win the next elections," Mr Thackeray predicted. Last week, reacting to reporters' questions on the news that Dawood Ibrahim's properties in the UK have been seized, union minister VK Singh had commented that "things are happening". "We will not talk about Dawood at all. Certain things are happening. We can't let the cat be let out of the bag," Mr Singh, the Minister of State for External Affairs, had told reporters in Kerala. Dawood Ibrahim is the mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts in which 257 were killed. India says there is proof he has been living in Pakistan's Karachi for decades, which has been confirmed by the UN. In more validation of New Delhi's stand that the man it has hunted for over two decades has been sheltered by Pakistan, Britain's list of Financial Sanctions Targets refers to the gangster's three recorded addresses in Karachi.



Dawood's Brother Was Watching KBC, Eating Biryani When Cops Picked Him Up
NEW DELHI:MMNN:19 September 2017
THANE, MAHARASHTRA: When Iqbal Ibrahim Kaskar, the brother of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, was picked up from his home in south Mumbai late on Monday, he was busy watching the "Kaun Banega Crorepati" show and eating biryani, Thane Police Commissioner Parambir Singh said today. Kaskar was picked up from the home of his sister, Haseena Parker, late on Monday by a crack team of the Thane Anti-Extortion Cell (AEC) and later placed under arrest. He will be produced before a court later today. "Iqbal Kaskar demanded four flats and Rs. 30 lakh as ransom from a builder. The names of some other builders and politicians have also emerged during the investigation," Mr Singh told reporters. The police are now examining whether the dreaded Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) can be applied to Iqbal Kaskar and his brother Dawood, believed to be in Pakistan. Mr Singh said that Iqbal Kaskar has been running the extortion racket for quite some time and on Monday night the AEC finally arrested him. The police chief said he has threatened and made extortion calls to several builders in Thane, Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.



Amit Shah Testifies In Riots Case In Which Maya Kodnani Is Accused Of Murder
NEW DELHI:MMNN:18 September 2017
BJP president Amit Shah told a Gujarat court today that he had seen Maya Kodnani, a leader of his party, in the state assembly and then at Ahmedabad's Sola Civil Hospital on the morning of February 28, 2002. Mr Shah appeared as a defence witness in a riot case in which Kodnani is accused of murdering 11 Muslims on that day in Naroda Gam, an Ahmedabad suburb. Ms Kodnani, who is a gynaecologist and was a legislator at that time, has pleaded in court that she was not in Naroda Gam when the rioting happened. She has claimed that she was in the state assembly that day and then went straight to the Sola Civil Hospital, where Amit Shah was present. She had sought that Mr Shah, who was a Gujarat legislator too then, testify to help prove her alibi. "Maya Kodnani was inside the state assembly at 8.30 am," Mr Shah told the court today, adding that he had then left the assembly and reached the hospital at about 9:30 or 9:45 am. He said he met Kodnani while leaving the hospital between 11 and 11.15 am and that they were escorted out together, after which they went their separate ways. Asked by lawyers whether he knew where Maya Kodnani was between the time that he saw her at the assembly and in the hospital, Mr Shah said he did not know. He also said he did not know where she went from the hospital. Witnesses have alleged in court that Maya Kodnani led the rioters who attacked Naroda Gam on February 28, 2002. They have said they saw her in the area between 9.30 and 10 am on that day. The judge had said last week that Amit Shah must appear today either in person or assign a lawyer to respond to Kodnani's claim that she was not present when 11 Muslims were killed during the riots in Naroda Gam. Kodnani had complained that she was unable to reach Mr Shah. Maya Kodnani is one of 79 people facing trial in the case. The Supreme Court had last month asked the Ahmedabad court to conclude trial within four months. Naroda Gam is one of nine major 2002 riots cases investigated by a Special Investigation Team appointed by the Supreme Court. In another case, Maya Kodnani was found guilty of the massacre of nearly 100 Muslims in a neighbourhood called Naroda Patiya, about 10 km from Naroda Gam, on the same day in 2002. She was sentenced to 28 years in jail, but was granted bail in 2014 after pleading that she is very unwell. Kodnani became Gujarat's Minister for Women and Child Development in 2007 and served in that post till her arrest in 2009.



Prime Minister Modi On Bullet Train Critics Then And Now
NEW DELHI:MMNN:14 September 2017
AHMEDABAD: Critics who earlier dismissed the bullet train as "big talk" are now asking what use it is, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi today after inaugurating work on India's first bullet train in collaboration with Japan, whose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe jointly launched the project in Gujarat's Ahmedabad. "When I was in Gujarat and used to speak about the bullet train, they said Modi only talks of bullet trains in India... They kept asking when will he get it. Now that they see I have actually got the Bullet Train to India, they ask why are you getting a Bullet Train?" the Prime Minister said. "It's a new India which has to fly high," PM Modi said. He said the ambitious project would bring pace to development in the country and that no country can grow if they don't dream big. "To grow one needs to expand his dreams and decide his strength to achieve that," the Prime Minister said. The bullet train is not India's priority," said Congress leader Anand Sharma, adding that the strategic partnership between Japan and India is very important and there are more crucial issues to be discussed. "Our prime minister should not limit it to the photo opportunity and theatrics. There are serious issues on the agenda. Prime Minister Modi has misplaced the priority," Mr Sharma said. Sharp criticism also came from the BJP's Maharashtra ally Shiv Sena, which described the new bullet train project as PM Modi's "expensive dream" alleging that it will "loot the nation of Rs. 1,08,000 crore". Among the problems that the Shiv Sena listed in an article in its magazine the Saamna, is that the bullet train will have eight stops in Gujarat and only four in Maharsahtra. And that Maharashtra will "have to shell out Rs. 30,000 crore" for it. It compared the project to those launched by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of the Congress, like the Bhakra-Nangal Dam, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and other schemes, saying, "All those projects were needed by the country. Is the bullet train a project of national importance for which such a huge amount is being spent to cover the 508-km distance at 350-kmph speed?" The bullet train, which is expected to halve the travel time between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, would be a ride for the rich, the Sena alleged, arguing that the money could've been spent to write off loans to distressed farmers. It has also asked why the bullet train project has been speeded up while existing infrastructure for the Railways is yet to be upgraded. The ally has also questioned the timing of the launch, alleging that the bullet train is aimed at giving "something new to the industrialists of Gujarat where elections are coming up shortly." The Congress has asked why Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is being hosted by the Prime Minister in Gujarat and not in national capital Delhi. "We do not want to transgress propriety by commenting on a state visit but it is rather quixotic that the Prime Minister of a country as important as Japan, who is almost India's strategic partner in many respects, is strangely not even being hosted in Delhi," aid Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, and added that he hoped the visit is not being used for "political purposes" in view of the elections in Gujarat.



Can't Let Cat Out Of Bag': On Dawood Ibrahim, Minister VK Singh's Hint
NEW DELHI:MMNN:13 September 2017
NEW DELHI: Amid reports that the properties of India's most wanted Dawood Ibrahim have been seized by the UK government, union minister VK Singh commented today that "things are happening" but added: "We can't let the cat out of the bag". Reports say Dawood's properties worth nearly seven billion dollars have been seized by the British government. "We will not talk about Dawood at all. Certain things are happening. We can't let the cat be let out of the bag," Mr Singh told reporters in Kerala. Dawood, the mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts in which nearly 260 were killed, appears on UK's latest list of Financial Sanctions Targets. He has been based in Pakistan's Karachi for years. He is listed as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council's ISIS and al-Qaida Sanctions Committee. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to the UK in 2015, had reportedly handed over a dossier on the terrorist and gangster to his then British counterpart David Cameron. According to the British media, Dawood owns a hotel and other residential properties in the country. Known to be one of the richest gangsters in the world, Dawood allegedly has business interests in more than a dozen countries spread over Europe, Africa and South Asia.



Cabinet Nod Soon For Rs. 75,000 Scholarship For Bright Students: HRD Minister Javadekar
NEW DELHI:MMNN:12 September 2017
NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet will soon give its nod to Rs. 75,000 monthly scholarship scheme for bright students in higher education institutes to arrest brain drain and encourage innovation, Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar today said. The scholarship, the minister said, is meant for bright sparks at institutes like IITs and universities where required infrastructure is being provided under the Vishwajeet project and Uchchatar Avishkar Yojana. "We are also starting PM Scholarship. I have already signed the Cabinet note. That is under circulations. It will come to the Cabinet very soon," Mr Javadekar said after inaugurating 'Sumant Sinha ReNew Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Energy and Environment' at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) here. The minister further said the scholarship will be for the best of the best brains who innovate. "It will be Rs. 75,000 per month scholarship, which would be given to 1,000 students (in higher education institutes and universities). Rs. 75,000 per month (per head) is not a small thing. This is happening first time in India. I want to stop the brain drain," Mr Javadekar asserted. The minister expressed hope that this will further push Make in India and help retain talent in the country. He expressed confidence that the proportion of girl students in IITs will increase to 20 per cent by 2022, from the current 8 per cent. About other initiatives, he said: "We have already started three major things on the Vishwajeet project through other agencies. The Higher Education Financing Agency is already operational. With Rs. 2,000 crore budget support, we are leveraging.... can improve debt market creating Rs. 20,000 crore or USD 3 billion. We want to push research in the higher education system." The rationale behind the CoE is to establish a world-class research and development facility to develop cutting-edge renewable energy solutions. It is expected to foster exchange of ideas among the industry, the academia and policy makers from across the world to promote faster adoption of renewable energy. Besides, it looks to offer research and internship opportunities for undergraduate, postgraduate and Ph.D students in the industry. Developing research reports on renewable energy policy also forms part of the mandate. The CoE is carrying out research in three broad fields - integration of large scale solar rooftop capacity with the electricity distribution network using battery storage technology, strengthening of the transmission grid to accommodate flow of renewable energy and development of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Chairman and CEO, ReNew Power, Sumant Sinha told reporters that the CoE would also take up more research projects in addition to the three in-hand projects. Professor V Ramagopal Rao, Director, IIT Delhi, said: "The CoE will bring together knowledge and research on clean energy, facilitate clean energy investments, and help deploy clean energy technology solutions to establish India as a rising leader in the world of renewable energy."



Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Objects To UGC Letter On Viewing PM's Speech
NEW DELHI:MMNN:9 September 2017
KOLKATA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will deliver a special address to the nation on Monday to mark the centenary celebration of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya and 125 years of Swami Vivekananda's address at the Chicago World Parliament of Religions. The theme of the event is Young India, New India - A Resurgent Nation: From Sankalp to Siddhi. The speech will be broadcast from the Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi at 10:30 am, and the University Grants Commission or UGC, the apex body for hundreds of varsities across the country, wants all students to listen to the address. The UGC has written to all vice chancellors saying they must "provide an opportunity and facility to teachers and students to view the PM's address", which UGC chairman VS Kaushal says, "could be life changing." But the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal is not amused. "This is a clear attempt to saffronise education. They are taking decisions on their own without consulting us," West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said, hours after he was made aware of the letter Friday. Mr Chatterjee also objected to the clubbing together of Deen Dayal Upadhyay, a politician and head of BJP's fountainhead - Bharatiya Jan Sangh - and Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk and philosopher seeking to raise interfaith awareness. Just last month, ahead of August 15, the Mamata Banerjee government had attacked PM Modi for sending out instructions on how to observe Independence Day in schools



Gauri Lankesh Dealt With Naxals, Why Did She Not Have Security, Asks BJP
NEW DELHI:MMNN:8 September 2017
NEW DELHI: Did the Karnataka government know of Gauri Lankesh's work to rehabilitate Naxals, and if it did, why was she not provided adequate security, union minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad asked today, also attacking Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for declaring RSS ideology guilty without an investigation having even begun into the journalist's murder. Mr Prasad said the BJP condemned Gauri Lankesh's "dastardly killing", but also attacked what he called the "hypocrisy" of liberals. "Why is it that all my liberal friends who speak so eloquently and so strongly against the killing of a journalist, perfectly so entitled to, or even maoists and naxalites, maintain a conspicuous silence when so many RSS workers are killed in Karnataka or BJP workers in Kerala?" the minister said. He asked the Congress government in Karnataka to "honestly investigate, without politics" the murders of BJP and RSS workers in the state. Rahul Gandhi, he said, had made "prejudiced and malafide" comments soon after Gauri Lankesh was shot dead at her Bengaluru home. "Even before the I of investigation could start, great leader Rahul Gandhi who always speaks without any homework, publicly alleged that the RSS and the right wing ideology is responsible... In the light of this unilateral, malafide comment, should we expect a fair investigation by the SIT of a Congress-led government (sic)? Rahul Gandhi had tweeted after Gauri Lankesh was murdered, "Anybody who speaks against the RSS/BJP is attacked & even killed. They want to impose only one ideology which is against the nature of India." Ms Lankesh, a fierce advocate of secularism and a frequent critic of right-wing ideology, was shot dead at pointblank range as she was entering her home after returning from work on Tuesday night. She worked extensively to rehabilitate Maoists as part of her Communal Harmony Forum Her family has said they believe there was no personal motive behind Ms Lankesh's murder and that she was "killed for her views." A day after her death her brother Indrajit Lankesh said Gauri Lankesh had got hate messages from Naxals. Asked yesterday if he suspected that Naxals could be behind her sister's death, he told NDTV, "It might be, it might not be. It might be the right wing extremists or it might be the Maoists because of the background." But Gauri Lankeshs sister Kavitha said she did not see a Naxal link. "I think basically...I would like to say right-wing activism because her own ideology was dead against them. I don't know, I don't know, it is not personal I know. It is basically killing a thought. They wanted to kill a thought, kill a movement. I don't want to pinpoint right now,"



Hotels-for-land scam: Lalu Yadav to appear before CBI on Sept 11, Tejashwi on Sep 12
NEW DELHI:MMNN:7 September 2017
The CBI on Thursday issued fresh summons to Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad and his son Tejashwi in connection with irregularities in awarding the maintenance contract for two IRCTC hotels to a private firm during the former’s tenure as the railway minister. The RJD leader has been asked to appear for questioning at the agency headquarter on September 11 and Tejashwi the next day, agency officials said It is alleged that Yadav as railway minister had handed over the maintenance of two Railways hotels-- BNR Ranchi and BNR Puri-- to Sujata Hotel, a company owned by Vinay and Vijay Kochhar, after receiving a bribe in the form of three acres of prime plot of land through a benami company. The FIR alleged that Yadav, as a railway minister, abused his official position for extending undue favours to Kochhars and acquired the “high-value premium land” through a benami company Delight. It alleged that Yadav, “dishonestly and fraudulently”, managed the award of leasing out BNRs at Ranchi and Puri to the company of Kochhars in quid pro quo transactions. Reacting to the CBI summon, RJD spokesperson Shakti Singh Yadav that the government was adopting different yardstick in dealing with Prasad and those guilty of swindling public money in the Rs 1,300 crore Srijan government fund transfer scandal in Bihar. He questioned why the Central government did not show the same alacrity in acting against the accused in the Srijan scam. He said there was no point raising brouhaha over a CBI notice to Prasad. The CBI has registered the case against Lalu Yadav, wife Rabri Devi, son Tejashwi, and Sarla Gupta, the wife of former union minister Prem Chand Gupta. Others named as accused in the FIR include Vijay Kochhar, Vinay Kochhar, both directors of Sujata Hotels and owner of Chanakya Hotel; Delight marketing company, now known as Lara Projects and the then Managing Director P K Goel.



India Signs 11 Agreements With Myanmar To Bolster Ties
NEW DELHI:MMNN:6 September 2017
NAYPYIDAW: India and Myanmar today signed 11 agreements in a range of sectors, including one on maritime security cooperation, to further strengthen their multifaceted partnership. The MoUs were signed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. India and Myanmar signed an MoU to strengthen maritime security cooperation. The two sides also signed an agreement for sharing white shipping information to improve data sharing on non-classified merchant navy ships or cargo ships. The 11 MoUs also include one between the Election Commission and Union Election of Myanmar, the national level electoral commission of Myanmar. An MoU was also signed to organise cultural exchange programme for the period 2017-2020, according to a statement issued by Ministry of External Affairs. The two countries also signed agreements on cooperation between Myanmar Press Council and Press Council of India, extension of agreement on the establishment of India-Myanmar Centre for Enhancement of IT skill. They also signed agreements to cooperate in 'Medical Products Regulation' and in the field of health and medicine. An MoU on enhancing the cooperation on upgradation of the women's police training centre at Yamethin in Myanmar was also inked. Prime Minister Modi arrived in Myanmar on the second leg of his two-nation trip during which he travelled to southeastern Chinese city Xiamen where he attended the annual BRICS summit and held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders. This is PM Modi's first bilateral visit to Myanmar. He had visited the country in 2014 to attend the ASEAN-India Summit. Myanmar is one of India's strategic neighbours and shares a 1,640-km-long border with a number of northeastern states.


PM Modi To Pick New Team In Cabinet Rejig Tomorrow: 10 Points
NEW DELHI:MMNN:2 September 2017
NEW DELHI: More than 10 new ministers will be inducted into Prime Minister Narendra Modi's council of ministers will be sworn in tomorrow morning at 10 am in a big cabinet revamp. Sources says in short while from now the new minsters will start receiving phone calls and they have to be in Delhi by this evening. Since late Thursday night, at least eight ministers, including Uma Bharti, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Sanjeev Balyan, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Kalraj Mishra and Bandaru Dattareya have resigned and sources say that more resignations are expected to make way for new faces.
Here are 10 updates in the story:
1- A new Defence Minister is expected to be appointed as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who took on the extra job after Manohar Parrikar shifted to Goa as Chief Minister, will retain the Finance Ministry and shed off defence portfolio, sources said; he currently handles both key departments.
2- Rail minister Suresh Prabhu is expected to get a new assignment, possibly defence, while his junior minister Manoj Sinha could be elevated in the ministry. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad too could get a new ministry.
3- The new team will also have at least two members from the BJP's new partner in Bihar, Nitish Kumar's the Janata Dal United. Ram Chandra Prasad Singh and Santosh Kushwaha are tipped to be ministers.
4- The cabinet reshaping - the third in as many years - has been due for months now, especially in the scenario of vacancies and shifting alliances. Evictions from the cabinet are based only on performance after a review, the sources said, with PM Modi clear he wants ministers who perform and work hard.
5- A performance review of ministers and their rating was reportedly submitted to PM Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, and it was the reference point when decisions were taken on changes to the cabinet.
6- Sadananda Gowda, who was demoted from Law to Statistics and Programme Implementation in the last reshuffle, and who has not been among the best performers, is unlikely to lose his place in the cabinet because of elections in his state Karnataka next year. Two more BJP leaders from Karnataka could become ministers as the BJP tries to wrest the state back from the Congress. Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh could be asked to go, sources said, though he denied any knowledge of an imminent exit.
7- Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti did not deny that she has quit when asked, only saying, "I haven't heard that question, will not hear it and will not answer." Sources said though her ministry's performance on the gigantic Clean Ganga project, was found sub-par but she is likely to be retained in the cabinet.
8- The move is expected to fill key cabinet vacancies and also bring into the council of ministers, leaders from states where elections will be held soon. Bhupendra Yadav, who is the BJP's man in-charge of Gujarat, is among those likely to be made a minister. BJP chief Amit Shah has set a target of winning 150 of the 182 seats in assembly elections due in the state by the end of the year and an A-list central team led by Mr Jaitley will shape election strategy.
9- Prahlad Singh Patel, who is from Madhya Pradesh, another state where elections will be held next year, could also be made a minister. The name of BJP Rajya Sabha member from Maharashtra Vinay Sahasrabuddhe who is a party idealogue is doing the rounds as a possible new minister. As is that of Satyapal Singh, former police commissioner of Mumbai who defeated Uttar Pradesh politician Ajit Singh in his bastion Baghpat in the 2014 national election.
10-



'Rabba (God), What's My Fault?' Ram Rahim Kept Saying In Jail
NEW DELHI:MMNN:1 September 2017
NEW DELHI: When he was taken to a jail in Haryana's Rohtak following his conviction for rape, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the self-appointed spiritual leader, kept muttering - "Rabba (God), mera kya kasoor hai (what is my fault)?" Another prisoner, who is now out on bail, has also said that the Dera Sacha Sauda chief refused to eat proper meals and couldn't sleep the entire night on the first day. "The five days I was in the jail, he didn't eat anything. We just had milk, tea, biscuits," said Swadesh Kirad, who was also at the Sunaria jail. Swadesh Kirad said when two days later, a judge sentenced him to 20 years in prison for raping two followers, Ram Rahim kneeled down and shouted - "Hang me, I don't want to live anymore." He also sat on the floor and wept loudly, refusing to leave the courtroom until he was led out by commandos. Swadesh Kiran said the flashy and controversial Baba would have been attacked by fellow prisoners had he not been kept separately. "Prisoners were angry due to the violence that caused so many deaths. Had he not been kept separately, they would've attacked him." Over 30 people died and nearly 200 wounded in violence by Dera followers after Ram Rahim was declared guilty by a court in Panchkula. He was later flown by a special government chopper to the Rohtak jail. His "adopted daughter" Honeypreet Insan accompanied him. "He couldn't sleep the entire night. Also, there was no VIP treatment to #RamRahimSingh in jail, treated like every prisoner," Swadesh Kirad insisted



Gurmeet Ram Rahim sentencing LIVE: Dera chief gets 10-year jail term for rape, two vehicles set on fire in Sirsa
NEW DELHI:MMNN:28 Aug 2017
Self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was on Monday sentenced to 10 years in jail in a rape case. The court slapped a fine of Rs 65,000 on the Dera Sacha Sauda chief. Authorities are on high alert in Punjab and Haryana, as his followers went on the rampage that left 38 dead after his conviction of Friday. Ahead of the Monday’s court proceedings, the two states ordered schools and colleges shut, suspended mobile services, stepped up security and threw a five-tier cordon around a Rohtak jail, where a judge handed out punishment to the Dera chief for raping two disciples 15 years ago. This (sentence) must be accepted by the people and peace must prevail, ANI quotes Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh as saying. “There is total normalcy, our forces are on their toes. Will not let any untoward incident happen Meanwhile, Dera chairperson Vipassana Insaan appealed for peace amid reports that two vehicles have been set on fire in Sirsa, the headquarters of the sect. The 50-year-old Dera Sacha Sauda leader was on Friday found guilty in the 15-year-old case. Within minutes of the verdict, his followers ran riot and clashed with security forces, leaving 38 people dead and 250 injured. While 32 people were killed in Panchkula, where the case was heard, six died in Sirsa, the headquarters of the sect. The medical examination of Ram Rahim Singh is being done. After this, he will be given a jail uniform and will be allotted a cell in jail. Three ambulances are seen entering the jail premises. Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh sentenced to 10 years in jail for rape. Reports of arson from Sirsa’s Phulkan village, located within 1 km radius of Dera headquarters, say sources. Two vehicles reportedly set on fire by dera followers Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh holds security review meeting with DGP, chief secretary and other senior officials Back in Delhi, an official said there were no Metro rail diversions or restrictions. “...these are just rumors to propagate false stories,” ANI quoted Delhi Police PRO Madhur Verma saying. “Delhi Police have made proper arrangements and deployment. Additional forces have been mobilised.” The deployment of undercover policemen to guard sensitive locations across the national capital is among a slew of measures devised at a high-level police meeting to protect the city on Monday. Miscreants had set on fire two train coaches at Anand Vihar railway terminal, torched a few buses in parts of west and east Delhi and pelted stones at least in 12 locations across the city after Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s conviction
Tough talk and assurance
Ahead of the sentencing, the deputy commissioner of Rohtak has said that those creating trouble should expect bullets if they defy warnings. “We will not allow anyone to create any sort of trouble in Rohtak. Anyone breaking law or indulging in acts of violence or arson will himself be responsible for his fate. Anyone creating trouble will be given a warning first and if he still pays no heed, then he will have to face the bullet,” Atul Kumar told reporters in Rohtak, where the army has been kept on standby. Kumar also said people do not have any reason to be afraid as stringent security measures have been taken and the situation in the district was “completely under control”.
Lockdown and high alert
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court judge Jagdeep Singh, who had on Friday held the Dera chief guilty of rape and criminal intimidation of two female disciples in 2002, will be flown to Rohtak for announcing the sentence. The district jail premises, about 10 km from Rohtak town, has been completely cordoned off by security forces, including para-military forces and Haryana Police. The Army has been kept on stand-by. No movement of people, other than those authorised, will be allowed within a distance of 10km from the prison premises. “We are fully prepared for any situation. The army has been kept on stand-by,” Haryana director general of police (DGP) BS Sandhu said. Rohtak range Inspector General (IG) Navdeep Singh Virk said that 28 companies of para-military forces, along with Haryana Police, have been deployed in Rohtak. Security forces were on high alert again on Monday in Haryana and Punjab as both states braced for the sentencing. Curfew was reimposed in Haryana’s Sirsa town, where the sect’s headquarters are located, on Sunday. The curfew will continue on Monday. The sect has lakhs of followers mainly in Punjab and Haryana



High Court Slams Haryana CM For Alleged 'Political Patronage' To Dera Chief
NEW DELHI:MMNN:26 Aug 2017
CHANDIGARH: Criticising Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar for allegedly "protecting and extending political patronage" to self-styled godman and rape convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today told the state government to file a case against those who instigated the large-scale violence in parts of Haryana, Punjab and New Delhi. The high court told the state to verify a newspaper report on alleged instigation by leaders of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, and file a police complaint against the instigators "if the reporter stood by his report". A high court bench of Justices SS Saron, Surya Kant and Avneesh Jhingan, in its resumed hearing, asked the state about its plans to sanitise the Dera Sacha Sauda at Sirsa town, some 260 kilometres from Chandigarh, where hundreds of followers are reportedly still inside. Getting tough, the judges criticised Haryana Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma for recently granting Rs. 51 lakh to the sect. The judges told the Deputy Commissioners of Punjab and Haryana to provide a list of the sect's properties and not to sell or transfer the assets, besides seeking a report on the violence. A Central Bureau of Investigation court in Haryana's Panchkula town, adjoining Chandigarh, yesterday held Ram Rahim guilty of raping two women followers in 2002, sparking violent protest by his followers. The security forces opened fire to control the mob. Thirty-one people, 29 of them in Panchkula, died while 250 others were injured.



DMK Urges Tamil Nadu Governor To Ask Chief Minister Palaniswami To Prove Majority
NEW DELHI:MMNN:25 Aug 2017
CHENNAI: The DMK today urged Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao to immediately direct Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami to prove his majority in the Assembly in the wake of revolt by 19 AIADMK MLAs, saying any delay could lead to "horse trading". DMK working president and leader of the opposition in assembly MK Stalin, who had earlier this week written to the Governor seeking a floor test, dubbed the Palaniswami regime as a "minority government". In a statement released in Chennai, he also questioned assembly Speaker P Dhanapal's action in issuing notices to the 19 MLAs yesterday on a memorandum by the Government Chief Whip seeking their disqualification for alleged anti-party activities. Mr Stalin said had earlier written to the Governor urging him to immediately ask Mr Palaniswami to prove majority in the assembly. Mr Rao should have immediately convened the assembly to ascertain the government's present strength after the MLAs loyal to sidelined AIADMK deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran met him and sought Palaniswami's removal on Tuesday, he said. Mr Stalin said the Governor should ensure that Mr Palaniswami does not continue in power by "creating a constitutional crisis and misusing anti-defection law Referring to the Speaker's action, Mr Stalin said the notices had been issued in connection with an episode that did not happen in the assembly. While the Speaker had not acted against present Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerslvam-led faction for voting against the government in the February 18 trust vote as the then rebel faction, he had issued notices to the 19 MLAs from Dhinakaran camp now, the DMK leader said. "It is clear the Speaker has done so to save Palaniswami's minority government. During such times, every day's delay by the Governor in directing a confidence vote will pave the way for horse trading and other political manoeuvres," he alleged. Mr Stalin's remarks come even as the 19 MLAs remained in a resort in Puducherry and have dismissed the disqualification demand as a "planned drama" and "intimidation" tactics. The Dhinakaran camp MLAs raised the banner of revolt a day after the AIADMK factions led by Mr Palaniswami and former chief minister O Panneerselvam merged on August 21.



Triple Talaq Verdict: Muslim Personal Law Board AIMPLB To Plan Future Action At Bhopal Mee
NEW DELHI:MMNN:22 Aug 2017
LUCKNOW: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board or AIMPLB will chalk out its future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court's verdict on triple talaq in its working committee meeting slated on September 10 in Bhopal, an official of the body said. The meeting was convened earlier and its agenda was issued yesterday, member of the Board's working committee Zafaryab Jilani said. "The working committee meeting in Bhopal on September 10 will take a decision on the future course of action on today's Supreme Court verdict after studying it in detail," he said. Besides, other issues will also be taken up in the meeting with the verdict being the most prominent one, said Mr Jilani, who is also a senior counsel. He said that the hearing on the Babri mosque case is also on the agenda of the Bhopal meeting. When asked to comment on today's verdict on Triple Talaq, Mr Jilani said it will not be appropriate to comment on the Supreme Court's decision without studying it in detail



Lt Col Purohit, first Army officer arrested for terrorism, claims innocence
NEW DELHI:MMNN:21 Aug 2017
When Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit was arrested in late 2008, it shocked the country. He was the first Army officer to be arrested on charges of terrorism, accused of being a conspirator in the Malegaon blast. Here are key facts about Purohit, who was given bail on Monday. At around 9.30 pm on September 29, 2008, a bomb kept on a motorcycle exploded near Hamidia Masjid in Malegaon, a communally sensitive textile town in Nasik district of north Maharashtra. Six persons were killed and 101 injured in the blast that was probed initially by the Maharashtra Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and then, taken over by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2011. Purohit, 45, was a member of Abhinav Bharat, a trust formed to promote Hindu values but allegedly was a front to carry out attacks against Muslims. He collected funds to buy arms and explosives for the trust and organised meetings where the Malegaon attack was planned, investigators allege. “Purohit was also accused of floating an organisation by the name of Abhinav Bharat in year 2007 with the intention to propagate a separate Hindu Rashtra with their own constitution with the intent to threaten unity, ­integrity and security of India,” says the NIA’s chargesheet in the Malegaon case . The NIA says Purohit hid his association with Abhinav Bharat, but he claims he was gathering intelligence and his senior officers were aware of his work. “I have said everything before the (Army’s) court of inquiry. I have infiltrated Abhinav Bharat. I can only say that I have done my job properly and kept my bosses in the loop. Everything is in the Army records,” Purohit told Outlook magazine in an interview in July 2012. “Having a particular ideology does not make me a terrorist or anti-national,” said Purohit when he was asked in the interview about allegations that Abhinav Bharat was involved in the Malegaon blast. According to the NIA, Purohit held meetings in Faridabad on January 25 and 26, 2008, where the formation of a Hindu Rashtra was discussed. Purohit allegedly read the constitution of Abhinav Bharat and discussed the formation of a “Central Hindu government in exile in Israel and Thailand. An NDTV profileof Purohit in March 2011 notes Purohit was commissioned into the Maratha Light Infantry after passing out of the Officers’ Training Academy at Chennai. He was serving in Jammu and Kashmir when he fell ill and was medically downgraded. He was then shifted to Military Intelligence. The same NDTV report says Purohit was posted at Deolali in Maharashtra when he allegedly came in contact with Ramesh Upadhyay, a retired Major, and a founder of Abhinav Bharat. Upadhyay too is accused in the Malegaon case.



Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) passes resolution to join NDA
NEW DELHI:MMNN:19 Aug 2017
The Janata Dal (United) on Saturday passed a resolution to join the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) during the party’s national executive meeting chaired by leader and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. The political move that makes the ruling party in Bihar officially an ally of the NDA at the Centre comes weeks after Nitish broke ties with the Grand Alliance parties - Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal - in the state and re-formed the government in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Earlier in the day, JD(U) leader KC Tyagi said that senior leader Sharad Yadav has every right to put forward his points of disagreement with the alliance, but he shouldn’t attend Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s programme as it will break their trust. “Sharad Yadav is invited for the JD(U) national executive meet and he can sort out differences, but he shouldn’t attend Lalu Yadav’s programme. We will lose our faith in him, if he does so. He is one of the founders of the party, therefore, he can put forward his views in the meeting,” Tyagi told the media here. He added that although Sharad Yadav does not agree with party’s decisions, there is no rift in the party. Meanwhile, ahead of the national executive committee meeting of the JD(U), the two factions of the party - one led by Nitish Kumar and the other by former party president Sharad Yadav - put up striking publicity material in Patna, leading up to a poster war in the city. Incidentally, both factions claim to be the “real JD(U)”. The poster put up by Sharad Yadav’s faction showcased him with “Jan Adalat ka Faisla - Mahagathbandhan jari hai (decision of the people’s court - the grand alliance continues)” written on it. The other has Nitish with party leaders - state JD(U) chief Basistha Narayan Singh, RCP Singh and others. “Nitish Kumar hi zindabad (hail only Nitish Kumar),” said the poster. Sharad Yadav was sacked as JD(U)’s Rajya Sabha leader when he made his chagrin against Nitish Kumar snapping ties with the Lalu Yadav-led RJD and forging an alliance with the BJP, to form the next government in Bihar, quite evident. Yadav also asserted that Nitish’s flip-flop, as far as his views on the BJP were concerned, was an insult to the 2015 mandate of the people given to the “Mahagathbandhan” and that he was still a part of the grand alliance in the state. In the aftermath, the Nitish-led JD(U) even suspended 21 party leaders for participating in Yadav’s recent three-day Jan Samwad Yatra, wherein he interacted with the people of the state, indicative of a widening rift in the party. Lalu Yadav had also come out in support of Sharad Yadav, leading up to the Nitish faction, reportedly, warning the latter that if he attended the August 27 “Desh Bachao, BJP Bhagao” rally of the former, he would be sacked from the party. Sharad Yadav will hold a parallel convention in the state under the title ‘Jan Adalat’ later on Saturday.



Not Seeking Power, Positions For Children: Narayana Murthy Responds
NEW DELHI:MMNN:18 Aug 2017
NEW DELHI: Infosys founder Narayana Murthy, singled out by the board of the software giant for the abrupt resignation of CEO Vishal Sikka, today said he is "anguished" by the allegations and is not seeking money, position for children or power." The 70-year-old reiterated that his chief concern has been "the deteriorating standard of corporate governance". Mr Sikka quit Infosys three years after he became the first non-founder to be named the CEO of Infosys. His resignation comes after a protracted clash with Mr Murthy and other founders over his own pay as well as severance packages provided to top executives. The board has promoted Chief Operating Officer U.B. Pravin Rao as the interim CEO till a replacement is named. A recent letter by Mr Murthy which allegedly attacked the integrity of the board was named by the company in its statement on Mr Sikka's exit. "Murthy's continuous assault, including his latest letter, is the primary reason for the resignation of Sikka despite strong Board support," said the IT major in a statement after it accepted Mr Sikka's resignation and appointed him as Vice-Chairman till the new Chief Executive is appointed by March 31, 2018. "Murthy's letter contains factual inaccuracies, already disproved rumours, and statements extracted out of context from his conversations with Board members," asserted the company. Mr Sikka has blamed "unrelenting, baseless/malicious and increasingly personal attacks" for his decision.



Uttar Pradesh Police Detain Akhilesh Yadav On Way To Attend Protest Rally
NEW DELHI:MMNN:17 Aug 2017
UNNAO: Akhilesh Yadav was today detained by the police in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao district when he was on his way to Auraiya to attend a protest rally. The Samajwadi Party or SP president, who was later released and allowed to go to Lucknow, attacked the Yogi Adityanath government in the state alleging that it was misusing state machinery. The former chief minister was stopped near an under-construction toll plaza in the Hasanganj police station area on the Lucknow-Agra expressway and taken to the agriculture research centre in Dhaurhara from where he was allowed to return to Lucknow, Circle Officer Dhirendra Kumar Singh said. "I was going to Auriaya to meet my party workers who were subjected to barbaric police action. The state government wants to win the zila panchayat post by misusing official machinery. My workers did not do anything wrong in Auraiya," Mr Yadav said. "This dictatorial attitude with the help of police will not be tolerated. The BJP is only doing politics over cow," he added. On a question about the tragic death of several children in a state-run hospital in Gorakhpur, he said it was a result of the government's failure. Yesterday, the police had detained some senior SP leaders after workers allegedly turned violent at not being allowed to accompany their candidate for the zila panchayat chairperson's post to the nomination room in the Auraiya collectorate.



Supreme Court stays HC order that put on hold lookout circular against Karti Chidambaram
NEW DELHI:MMNN:14 Aug 2017
The Supreme Court stayed on Monday the Madras high court order that had put on hold the lookout circular issued by the Centre against Karti Chidambaram, son of former minister P Chidambaram, and others in connection with an alleged corruption case. A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and D Y Chandrachud also issued notice to Karti Chidambaram and others on an appeal filed by the Centre challenging the high court’s order staying the look out circular. The bench, during the hearing, repeatedly observed that Karti had not joined the investigation in the case and, moreover, he has not sought grant of anticipatory bail in the matter. The bench, meanwhile, asked the high court to decide the petition seeking quashing of the FIR lodged by the CBI. The case is related to alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds when Karti’s father was the Union finance minister in 2007. The CBI had claimed that the FDI proposal of the media house was “fallacious”, but Chidambaram had cleared it. The FIR dated May 15 was registered before the special CBI judge in Delhi. It was followed by searches at the residences and offices of Karti and his friends on May 16.



Parliament Live: Rajya Sabha resumes after adjourning again over MPs protesting BJP
NEW DELHI:MMNN:9 Aug 2017
Parliament began its Wednesday session with a commemorative discussion on the 75th anniversary of the Quit India Movement in Lok Sabha. Prime Minister Narendra Modi echoed Mahatma Gandhi’s “Karenge ya marenge” (do or die) slogan, saying India needs to tackle its challenges of poverty, lack of education and malnutrition. Congress president Sonia Gandhi recalled the Quit India Movement struggle and added that secularism and free speech are in danger today. The lower house was expected to introduce the National Sports University Bill, while it will also consider the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property (Amendment) Bill, the State Banks (Repeal and Amendment) Bill and the Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill. The Rajya Sabha is expected to take up for consideration the Indian Institutes of Management Bill. MPs still argue about which to take first – opposition’s currency issue or the NDA’s Banking Ordinance. Few MPs ask to not pass the Banking Ordinance without discussion



‘Sultanate gone, but we behave like sultans’: Jairam Ramesh admits Congress in deep crisis
NEW DELHI:MMNN:8 Aug 2017
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said it was wrong for the Congress party to think that anti-incumbency will work automatically against the Modi-led government in the states being ruled by the BJP in the elections The Congress is facing an “existential crisis”, senior party leader Jairam Ramesh on Monday said, pitching for “a collective effort” by party leaders to “overcome” the challenges it faced from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. Ramesh also said that business as usual approach will not work against Modi and Shah and advocated for a flexibility in approach to make Congress relevant. “Yes, the Congress party is facing a very serious crisis,” Ramesh told PTI in an interview. He said the Congress had faced “electoral crisis” from 1996 to 2004 when it was out of power. The party had also faced “electoral crisis” in 1977 when it lost the elections held soon after the emergency. “But today, I would say that the Congress is facing an existential crisis. It is not an electoral crisis. The party really is in deep crisis,” he said, when asked whether the threat of “poaching” of MLAs posed by the BJP in Gujarat had forced the party to transport its MLAs to Karnataka to ensure party leader Ahmed Patel’s victory in the Rajya Sabha polls. He, however, justified the Gujarat Congress’s decision to send 44 of its MLAs to a resort in party-ruled Karnataka on July 29 to fend off the alleged “poaching” attempts by BJP, saying the saffron party had also “transported” MLAs in the past. He said it was wrong for the Congress party to think that anti-incumbency will work automatically against the Modi-led government in the states being ruled by the BJP in the elections. “We have to understand we are up against Mr Modi, Mr Shah. And they think differently, they act differently, and if we are not flexible in our approach, we will become irrelevant, frankly,” the Congress leader said. He said the Congress party must also recognise that India has changed. “Old slogans don’t work, old formulas don’t work, old mantras don’t work. India has changed, the Congress party has to change,” he said. The former union minister hoped that party vice-president Rahul Gandhi would end the uncertainty over his taking over as the Congress president to make the party ready for crucial electoral battles in key states in 2018 and the Lok Sabha polls scheduled a year later. “I think in all probability, Rahul Gandhi will take charge (as Congress president) before the end of 2017,” he said. The senior leader lamented that he had been proved wrong in the past about his prediction about Rahul’s assuming charge of the top party job. “I thought it will happen in 2015, it didn’t happen. I thought it will happen in 2016, it didn’t happen. So I am the wrong person to ask this question. I feel that it may happen before the end of 2017,” Ramesh said. He said he had “no” indication about appointment of Rahul Gandhi as Congress president. “I have only expectation. That’s all. In 2018 and 2019 you will be busy with elections. State elections, national elections...and this type of thing ...uncertainty is not good,” and urged the Gandhi scion to “finish it off.” Asked if there is anyone in the Congress party to give a strong challenge to Modi in 2019 elections, Ramesh said, “I have always maintained that it is the collective strength of the Congress that will overcome Mr Modi not some individual magic wand”. “It has to be a collective effort,” he said. Ramesh took a potshots at party leaders who still behave as if the party is still in power. “The sultanate has gone, but we behave as if we are sultans still. We have to completely redo the way of thinking, the way of acting, the way of projecting, the way of communicating. “I think there is a lot of goodwill for the Congress, a lot of support for the Congress but people want to see a new Congress. They don’t want to see old mantras, old slogans. We must recognise this is a big challenge. Huge challenge for us,” he said. He said Nitish Kumar’s return to the Indian fold was a big setback for anti-BJP coalition in the country, describing it as a “completely betrayal of the mandate” given to the Mahagathbandhan by the people of Bihar. Ramesh, who shares a personal rapport with Kumar, said, “personally, I was aghast, astonished, deeply disappointed, but we have to move on and we don’t have time.” Ramesh, representing Karnataka in the Rajya Sabha, expressed hope that the “revival” of Congress will happen in Karnataka next year as it had happened 40 years ago in 1978 in Chikmagalur Lok Sabha seat in the state which gave political rebirth to Indira Gandhi who faced defeat in Rae Bareli in the elections held after the Emergency.



Dialogue and debate, Asia’s oldest traditions, needed to resolve conflicts: Modi
NEW DELHI:MMNN:5 Aug 2017
PM Narendra Modi said the ancient Indian concept of “Tarka Shastra” (debate) is founded on dialogue and debate as the model for exchange of views and avoidance of conflict Dialogue is the only way to cut through deep-rooted religious stereotypes and prejudices that divide communities across the world and sow seeds of conflict between nations and societies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday. “As the inter-connected and inter-dependent world of 21st century battles a number of global challenges, from terrorism to climate change, I am confident that the solutions will be found through Asia’s oldest traditions of dialogue and debate,” he said. Modi said he is a “product of the ancient Indian tradition that firmly believes in dialogue on difficult issues.” He stated this in a video message to the 2nd edition of ‘Samvad- Global Initiative on Conflict Avoidance and Environment Consciousness’ being held in Yangon. The prime minister said the ancient Indian concept of “Tarka Shastra” (debate) is founded on dialogue and debate as the model for exchange of views and avoidance of conflict It is only natural that the search for answers be led by the humanity’s longest traditions of thought, rooted in various religions, civilizations, and multiple streams of spirituality, he said. Giving examples of Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Lord Buddha and Bhakta Prahlada, he said the purpose of each of their actions was to uphold ‘dharma’ (duty), which has sustained Indians from ancient to modern times. Talking about the environment, he said man must relate to nature and revere it and not merely consider it a resource to be exploited. If man does not nurture nature, then nature reacts in the form of climate change, he said. Environmental laws and regulations, while essential in any modern society, afford only an inferior protection to nature, he added, calling for “harmonious environmental consciousness.



Bihar game of thrones: Nitish Kumar’s journey from Modi-baiter to BJP ally
NEW DELHI:MMNN:27 July 2017
Nitish Kumar has been a pivotal figure in Bihar politics even before he became the chief minister for the first time in 2000, a short term that lasted merely barely a week in a hung assembly. Since then, he has been in charge for many years, growing in stature and even being seen as the opposition’s challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019. But four years after challenging Modi, political compulsions forced Nitish to take the support of the same BJP to stay in power. A timeline of Nitish Kumar’s political journey... 1994 February: Internal revolt in ruling Janata Dal in Bihar. Nitish Kumar joins the faction opposed to then chief minister Lalu Prasad. “We seek our rightful share, not charity, a government that ignores our interests cannot be allowed to remain in power,” he says. June: Nitish quits Janata Dal and floats Samta Party with George Fernandes. 2000 March 3: Nitish becomes chief minister for the first time after assembly elections throw up a hung house. But he lasts only till March 10, barely a week 2003 October 30: Janata Dal, led by Sharad Yadav, merges with Samta Party, forming Janata Dal (United). 2005 November 24: CM Nitish’s begins second term that lasts till November 24, 2010. Ahead of taking charge, Nitish says: “People are anxious for a change and would throw Lalu out forever…” 2010 November 26: Returns to power for third term. 2013 June 16: Breaks alliance with BJP after BJP names Narendra Modi as the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He says defiantly, “We decided not to compromise on our basic principles and whatever happens I am not worried about the consequences.” 2014 May 17: Resigns as CM a day after the Modi-led NDA wins a landslide victory in the Lok Sabha elections. The NDA bags 31 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar and Nitish’s JD (U) manages just two. “I take moral responsibility for the defeat…I should,” he says. May 20: Nitish annoints colleague Jitan Ram Manjhi as Bihar CM. Nitish and Manjhi fall apart after 276 days. 2015 June 5: Nitish Kumar named CM candidate of the JD (U)-led grand alliance (GA) that includes RJD and Congress November 8: Nitish-led alliance wins 178 out of 243 assembly seats, forms government. 2016 January 21: First signs of trouble in GA with RJD national vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh blaming Nitish for law and order situation in Bihar September 10: Former Siwan MP and controversial RJD politician Shahabuddin released from jail. He praises Lalu Prasad and terms Nitish a “chief minister of circumstances”. September 11: Nitish hits back at Shahabuddin, saying people of Bihar know whom they have pledged support to. “Everybody knows what (the) mandate of the people of Bihar is. Should I go by the people’s mandate or pay attention to what someone is saying?” September 29: Nitish praises surgical strike by army across LoC November 9: A day after demonetisation, Nitish and Lalu differ on Modi’s step. Nitish calls it as a move to wipe out black money, while the RJD chief calls it a “fraud” 2017 January 5: Prime minister Narendra Modi shares stage with Nitish Kumar in Patna. Modi praises Nitish on total prohibition and says it will inspire others May 26: Nitish skips lunch hosted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to discuss joint Opposition candidate for presidential post May 27: Nitish attends lunch hosted by Modi in honour of visiting Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth. Nitish also holds private meeting with PM. June 21: Nitish pledges support to former Bihar governor, Ram Nath Kovind, NDA’s candidate for president’s poll. July 7: CBI raids 12 locations related to Lalu Prasad in connection with the alleged land-for-hotel scam. His son and deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, wife Rabri Devi and business associates named in FIR. July 8: Residence and properties of Lalu’s daughter Misa Bharti in New Delhi raided. July 10: RJD rules out Tejashwi’s resignation July 11: Nitish breaks silence, tells Tejashwi to reply “fact-wise” in public. He says : “I shall not compromise with my principles. I am firm on my resolve of zero tolerance against corruption.” July 15: Tejashwi skips an official function in Patna chaired by Nitish. His nameplate on the dias is first covered with a cloth and later removed. July 18: Tejashwi meets Nitish after Cabinet meeting to explain his stand on the CBI charges. July 26: Lalu reiterates Tejashwi will not resign, says Nitish has not asked him to quit. Nitish meets governor after JD(U) legislature party meeting, submits resignation. BJP extends support to Nitish for forming next government. July 27: Nitish sworn in as chief minister. “Whatever decision we have taken will be in the interest of Bihar and of its people. It will ensure development and justice. It will also ensure progress. This is a collective decision. I ensure that our commitment is towards the people of Bihar,” he says after taking oath.



PM Modi’s ‘largesse’ for Gujarat floods outrages ‘ignored’ Assam
NEW DELHI:MMNN:26 July 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aerial survey of flood-affected areas in his home state Gujarat on Tuesday and the announcement of Rs 500 crore as relief haven’t gone down well in Assam. Many in Assam, where floods wreaked havoc in 29 of the state’s 32 districts this month and claimed 77 lives till date, have vented ire on social media accusing the Centre of neglect. The state government has estimated that the total damage caused by the recent floods is nearly Rs 2,939 crore. The Centre is yet to announce any interim flood-relief package for Assam. “Over 70 died in Assam flood. Modi sends junior minister (Kiren) Rijiju. Flood in Gujarat. Modi flies himself. Why two separate standards?” questioned journalist Atanu Bhuyan on Twitter. While Modi conducted an aerial survey of two flood-ravaged districts in Gujarat, a seven-member central team led by Union home ministry joint secretary VS Sekhar arrived in Guwahati to assess the situation. “Forget the announcement of an aid package, the PM didn’t even consider visiting Assam himself or sending a senior minister. It clearly shows Centre’s biased attitude to our state,” farmers activist Akhil Gogoi told media on Wednesday. Nearly 1.32 lakh people were displaced by the floods and had to seek shelter in 363 relief camps. Over 15,700 flood affected people were evacuated by rescue teams in 21 districts. Flood waters have receded in many areas due to clear skies in the past week, but 9 districts still remained inundated and 4,716 people continue to take shelter in relief camps in five districts. While the state government claims adequate relief was provided to all flood affected, there are accusations of laxity in rescue and relief efforts. Ministers of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government were heckled by affected residents at several places for their late response. The so-called step-motherly attitude of Centre towards Assam has given fodder to opposition parties in the state as well. “Assam floods claimed 76 lives, Narendra Modi never visited and his government has not released adequate funds,” former Congress chief minister Tarun Gogoi tweeted on Tuesday President of the opposition All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) Badruddin Ajmal also requested the PM to “spare some time for the people of Assam” and visit the state. Many on social media connected Modi’s decision to visit Gujarat instead of Assam with the upcoming assembly polls in the western state. “Floods killed many in BJP ruled Gujarat and Assam. Where will Modi go, announce relief for? The state going to elections, where else,” Rajnath Kashmiri tweeted.



Iraq says has ‘no substantial information’ on whether 39 Indians abducted in Mosul are dead or alive
NEW DELHI:MMNN:24 July 2017
Iraqi foreign minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari has said his government has “no substantial information” on the 39 Indians kidnapped by the Islamic State in Mosul in June 2014. The Iraqi government has “no substantial information” on the fate of the 39 Indians who were taken hostage by the Islamic State terror group in Mosul in 2014, foreign minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said on Monday. “We have no substantial evidence that they (the Indians) were killed or they are still alive, so we cannot give anything in that regard,” al-Jaafari, who is an official visit to India, told reporters here. The Iraqi government, he said while speaking through an interpreter, was as concerned about the fate of the 39 Indians as the Indian government and their families. Al-Jaafari said the Iraq government will continue with its efforts to trace the men, all construction workers, who were kidnapped by militants more than three years ago. Ahead of al-Jaafari’s arrival in New Delhi, the Iraqi embassy had said “search operations are on and there is high-level coordination between Iraqi and Indian authorities to locate” the Indian nationals. The matter of the kidnapped Indians is believed to have figured in al-Jaafari’s talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj. On July 16, Swaraj had told reporters that information gathered by minister of state VK Singh during a recent visit to Iraq suggested the 39 Indians were possibly being held in Badush prison, located a short distance from Mosul. She said she was hopeful of getting more information when al-Jaafari visited New Delhi. However, the Hindustan Times reported on Saturday that the Badush prison is a desolate and abandoned structure that has been unoccupied for weeks, if not months. Harjit Masih, the sole Indian who managed to escape from the group of 40 men kidnapped in Mosul, has told several media outlets the others were gunned down in the desert near Badush on June 15, 2014. His account has been rejected by the government.



Railways food unfit for eating: 5 things CAG said about edibles served on trains
NEW DELHI:MMNN:22 July 2017
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has hit out at Indian Railways for serving food “unfit for human consumption” such as recycled, contaminated and expired items and unauthorised water brands. In a joint inspection conducted in collaboration with officials of Indian Railways at 74 stations and 80 trains between July and October 2016, the country’s top audit body observed grave deficiencies in the food hygiene standards.
Here are five things the CAG said about the substandard food served to train passengers:,
1. An iron nail was found in a plate of cutlets offered to a passenger on the Lucknow- Anand Vihar double decker in 2016. 2.Fungal growth was found around petha (sweets) served to passengers. 3.Cockroaches, rats, insects and dust was noticed in pantry cars of the premier Duronto trains. 4.Around 100 unsold parathas were found in the base kitchen of the North Central Railways for reuse and recycling, while uncovered food items were found on the floor at the Chapra station in Bihar 5.Buckets of drinking water and beverages were found in the vestibule near the toilet area in the Paschim Express.



President-elect Ram Nath Kovind’s vote share lowest since 1974: EC data
NEW DELHI:MMNN:21 July 2017
Ram Nath Kovind, the ruling NDA coalition’s candidate, may have won the presidential election comfortably, but his vote share is the lowest since 1974, figures reveal. Kovind received 2,930 votes with a value of 7,02,044, while his rival Meira Kumar, the joint opposition candidate, secured 1,844 votes with a value of 3,67,314. This comes to a vote share of 65.65% for the President-elect. However, the victory margin is the lowest since the 1974 presidential poll. According to Election Commission data, Kovind’s immediate predecessor Pranab Mukherjee (2012) secured 69.31% votes while Pratibha Patil (2007) got 65.82% of the total votes, marginally higher than the share secured by Kovind. KR Narayanan (1997) and APJ Abdul Kalam (2002) bagged 94.97% and 89.57% respectively, the highest victory percentages since 1974. Only Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, in 1977, was elected unopposed to the top constitutional post. Gyani Zail Singh (1982) got 72.73% votes, while R Venkatraman (1987) bagged 72.28%. Shankar Dayal Sharma (1992) got 65.87%. Besides Narayanan, only two presidents -- Rajendra Prasad (98.99%) in 1957, and Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan (98.24%) in 1962 -- secured over 90% of the votes.



Presidential election results: Ram Nath Kovind’s village all prepared for celebrations
NEW DELHI:MMNN:20 July 2017
Villagers are glued to TV sets and radios so that they begin celebrations the moment news flashes the NDA presidential candidate’s victory Paraunkh and Jhinjhak in Kanpur Dehat district are all set to celebrate as the village and the town are confident that Ram Nath Kovind will become the next President of India shortly. Villagers are glued to TV sets and radios so that they begin celebrations the moment news flashes the NDA presidential candidate’s victory. (Live result updates) Paraunk, Kovind’s village, comes under Derapur tehsil, 110 kms from Kanpur. Paraunkh has a population of nearly 9,000. Jhinjhak is a very small town (a kasbah) where Kovind’s brother Pyarelal lives. Kovind’s another brother, late Shivbalak, also lived there. Shivbalak was the one who educated Kovind. Shivbalak’s widow, Vidyawati, is fasting in Jhinjhak since Wednesday wishing Kovind’s victory. People will play ‘Holi’ during the day and celebrate ‘Diwali’ at night. In Paraunkh, villagers have called a ‘Bhangra band’ with dhols (percussion instrument) for the Holi and dance that they would do once Kovind is declared President. There’s a Pathri Devi temple in Paraunkh, where puja and rituals have been going on since the day Kovind’s candidature was announced. At the Jhinjhak house of Pyarelal (Kovind’s brother), a marquee has been put up to host all those who will come in to congratulate. Sweets will be distributed among them. Kovind had visited Paraunkh village in July 2016, when he became the governor of Bihar. He had converted his village house into ‘community hall’ for his village people. Late Maikulal, the father of Kovind, ran a small general store in the village and was known as a religious person. It is through his religious bent of mind that he first came in touch with RSS, in which Kovind later became a member.



165 people arrested in sedition cases in last 3 years: govt
NEW DELHI:MMNN:19 July 2017
The data for 2016 excludes Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal because figures were not available from these two states. As many as 165 people were arrested on the charge of sedition in the last three years across the country, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Wednesday. Citing data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Minister of State for Home Gangaram Ahir said that 58 people were arrested in 47 such cases registered in 2014. “73 people were arrested in 30 cases registered in 2015 and 34 people arrested in 28 cases registered in 2016 under the offence of Sedition (Section 124A of IPC),” he said. The 2016 figure excludes Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal as data from the two states were not available. Ahir said the names those arrested and the current status of cases were not recorded in the NCRB data. The data related to 2017 are being collected by the NCRB



CBI raids 23 premises in Bengal, Jharkhand in graft case against Income Tax commissioner
NEW DELHI:MMNN:12 July 2017
The CBI on Wednesday conducted raids at 23 locations in West Bengal and Jharkhand in connection with a corruption case registered against the principal commissioner of Income Tax and others, an official said. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took the step against principal commissioner Tapas Kumar Dutta, posted in Ranchi, and three of his colleagues following allegations of criminal conspiracy. They were accused of favouring private persons and companies in the matter of taxes and for taking illegal gratification. “It is alleged that Dutta and three other Income Tax officials conspired with six private persons, including a chartered accountant, and some unidentified persons,” the official added. The CBI raids took place at 18 residential and office premises of the accused in Kolkata and five places in Ranchi in Jharkhand, a CBI official said. The CBI officers questioned Dutta at the IT office in Ranchi. Sources in the know of things said the raids were related to hawala transactions.



‘The firing did not last for more than 20 seconds’: Amarnath Yatra survivors recount deadly attack
:MMNN:11 July 2017
It didn’t take much time for the terrorists to create the mayhem in south Kashmir’s Anantnag on Monday night when seven pilgrims were killed and several others injured while returning from the Amarnath cave shrine. Survivors of the terrorist attack said had it not been for the driver of the bus they were travelling in, many more would have lost their lives. Recounting the attack, the survivors said they did not realise what was happening as many were sleeping and the gunmen fired indiscriminately in the dark. “The firing did not last for more than 20 seconds. And, we could not see who was firing as it was dark outside,” said Amit Kumar, a Rajasthan resident who works as a cook for the pilgrims from Gujarat. “People just rolled on the bus floor one over another,” he said. The bus carrying over 50 pilgrims mostly from Gujarat and Maharashtra was attacked around 8.20pm near Batengoo area on Monday. Police said the terrorists initially attacked a bullet proof bunker in the area and later a check post near Khanabal. “Phataphat marne lage goli, andhere mein kuch samaj nahi aaya (They started firing indiscriminately. We could not fathom anything in the dark),’’ Baghimani Thakur, another traveller from Palgad Maharastra, added. Kumar said he survived the attack as he was sitting in the back seat. “The people sitting near the driver’s cabin bore the brunt but the driver survived,” he said. He added the bus driver Saleem’s presence of mind saved many lives as he did not stop the vehicle even amid the hail of bullets. “Malik (the owner of the bus) told the driver Saleem: ‘Bhai, just rush the bus. Don’t stop’. And the driver just drove the bus at full speed and only stopped when we reached an army camp,” he said. A policeman from Anantnag, who was keeping a watch over two of the injured at the Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in Srinagar, also corroborated Kumar’s account. He said the bus stopped in Khanabal Chowk and the injured were immediately taken to the army hospital. “After basic treatment at the army hospital, the injured were taken to the district hospital in Anantnag after which the seriously wounded were rushed to Srinagar hospitals,” he said. Prakash Wadani, another survivor, said that the pilgrims had planned to visit Vaishno Devi Shrine in Katra the next day. Kumar said that they left their hotel in Srinagar at 5:30pm and as fate would have it, the bus had a flat tyre. “It took an hour for us to replace the tyre and that caused the delay,” he said. Daksha, a pilgrim from Dahnu in Maharashtra, said the passengers spent the time chatting on the roadside while the tyre was being changed “unaware of what lay in store for them minutes later’’. All the survivors and injured were airlifted to Delhi on Tuesday morning. Only two of the injured - Pushpa and Lalita – are being treated at the state’s tertiary care hospital Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in Srinagar. Kumar is looking after them at the hospital. Pushpa was hit on her right hip and is recuperating in the emergency ward and Lalita, doctors said, was in the intensive care unit. Police have blamed Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba of the attack, however, the militant outfit denied the charges and its spokesperson Abdullah Ghaznavi called it a “highly reprehensible act’’ and blamed “Indian agencies’’ for the attack. “Islam doesn’t allow violence against any faith. We strongly condemn such acts,’’ a LeT statement said. Police insisted that the bus came under fire and was not the “actual target of the militants’’. A senior police officer, who did not want to be named, refused to call the incident a security lapse saying “the bus had flouted all norms’’. “The Amarnath yatris escorted by security cross the Banihal tunnel around 2pm, on Monday the yatris had crossed the area by 1pm. The highway is secured but high security can’t be 24 hours. We don’t allow any movement of yatris or tourists in the area after 5pm,’’ he added. “Technically, they were tourists and not yatris so we could not stop them,’’ the officer said. Police have said the bus was a private vehicle and not registered with the Amarnath Shrine Board. The passengers had completed the darshan on July 8 and stayed back in Srinagar for sight seeing. Over 2.20 lakh pilgrims paid obeisance at the Amarnath cave shrine - situated at a height of 3,880 metres in south Kashmir Himalayas - during an unrest in 2016 after Hizbul Mujahideen Burhan Wani’s killing in July last year. The number was lowest since 2003. This year the numbers have already crossed 1.5 lakh. The state government has not stopped the pilgrimage and a fresh batch of more than 3000 pilgrims left Jammu for base camps in Kashmir on Tuesday.



Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping ‘did not have a bilateral meeting’ at G20 summit in Germany: China
NEW DELHI:MMNN:10 July 2017
Technically, China is correct but the fact is the Indian side didn’t claim the two leaders held a bilateral meeting, which is usually a structured and previously agreed engagement. China on Monday appeared to play down a brief conversation Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping had on the sidelines of the recent G20 summit, saying the two “did not have a bilateral meeting”. Technically, China is correct but the fact is the Indian side didn’t claim the two leaders held a bilateral meeting, which is usually a structured and previously agreed engagement. “I can tell you there was no bilateral meet between President Xi and PM Modi in Germany,” foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a regular media briefing when asked about the meeting. The brief conversation the two leaders had during an informal gathering of BRICS leaders on the margins of the G20 summit in Hamburg on July 7 made headlines. It came at a time when the two countries were locked in a tense standoff along India’s northeastern frontier. China’s denial of something that didn’t happen is being seen as yet another attempt by Beijing to make its displeasure over the Doklam row known. “According to my information, the two leaders did not hold any bilateral meeting (on the sidelines of the G20 summit),” Geng said, adding Xi presided over the informal meeting of the BRICS leaders that was attended by Modi and others. While repeatedly denying the bilateral meeting, Geng also didn’t mention the conversation the two leaders had. External affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay had on July 7 tweeted a photo of the two leaders smiling and shaking hands. He said Modi and Xi had a “conversation on a range of issues”. The border standoff link was not hard to draw, as Geng again said the withdrawal of Indian troops from the Donglang, as Chinese refer to the region, was the precondition for a resolution of the military impasse. To a question about Indian media reports that the soldiers were prepared for the long haul in Doklam, Geng said if those were true, it revealed India’s true intentions. “If they (the reports) are true, they are only prove that the Indian trespass was organised and elaborate….and the intention was to damage the status quo at the (Sikkim) boundary,” Geng said. “So, how can diplomatic solutions happen under such circumstances? We have said that the Indian troops withdrawal is the pre-condition (for a resolution),” he said. China has accused Indian soldiers of trespass and preventing its soldiers from building a road in Doklam, which is close to the Sikkim border on India’s northeast, and is claimed by Bhutan. The Doklam region is located at the narrow but strategically important tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan, with the three countries barely separated by mountains and passes. Chinese-state media has also said that India planned the trespass to coincide with Modi’s meeting with US President Donald Trump to convey to the US that New Delhi was ready to check China’s rise. Modi met Trump on June 26, 10 days after the standoff started.



Govt, BJP have no role in CBI raids on Lalu Prasad Yadav and family: Venkaiah Naidu
NEW DELHI:MMNN:7 Jul 2017
The government and the BJP have no role in the CBI raids against Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family, Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Friday. The information and broadcasting minister said the Central Bureau of Investigation was doing its duty and acting in accordance with the mandate given to it by law. “What is political vendetta? Where is BJP in this? I am not able to understand. Do you mean to say that anybody against whom any charge is there, it should not be inquired into at all?” Naidu asked. “CBI is doing its duty and it is allowed to do so. Earlier it was not allowed... after our government came there is no interference and that is why CBI is free and acting as per the mandate given to it...,” he told reporters. The raids against the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and his family started at 7 am today and were conducted at 12 locations in Patna, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar and Gurugram after the investigating agency registered a corruption case. It is alleged that Yadav as railway minister handed over the maintenance of two railway hotels to a company after receiving a bribe in the form of prime land of three acres through a benami company.



After Amit Shah meet row, Goa Cong leader seeks nod to host his wedding at airport
NEW DELHI:MMNN:6 Jul 2017
Goa Congress general secretary Janardhan Bhandari has written to AAI for permission to host his wedding reception on Dabolim airport premises in September. Barely days after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah's meeting at Goa's Dabolim international airport triggered a row, a state Congress leader has written to the Airports Authority of India to be allowed to use the premises as his wedding venue. In his letter, also marked to Dabolim airport director BC Negi, on Thursday, Goa Congress general secretary Janardhan Bhandari said he should be granted permission to host the wedding at the airport on the lines of Shah’s meeting on July 1, which was attended by more than 2,000 people. Bhandari wrote he would adhere to all rules and regulations, including ban on photography, during his wedding and not allow guests to bring cars to airport premises. His letter states, “I am very pleased to inform you that I have been engaged recently and planning to get married soon. Since my guests will be coming from various states and landing at Dabolim airport and as such I cannot afford to make arrangements for the stay and travel of so many guests. “It would be nice if you could permit me to use your airport for my wedding reception in September 2017. I will fix the date as per the availability of the airport as per your convenience.” Shah’s meeting at the airport, which is operated from an Indian naval base, triggered allegations of violation of rules and regulations by the BJP, including putting a defence ministry installation at risk. While the airport director claimed no permission was given for the meeting, the BJP said it was an unplanned event and people came on their own to greet Shah. Congress national secretary Girish Chodankar said Shah’s meeting was illegal and demanded an FIR be registered. City based lawyer-activist Aires Rodrigues has complained in writing against Shah’s meeting to secretary of Civil Aviation, Goa Chief Secretary, and Director General of Police. No action has been initiated so far.



PM Modi’s Israeli flag-themed attire catches attention
NEW DELHI:MMNN:5 Jul 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent choice of apparel that grabbed eyeballs was what he wore on the first day of his three-day visit in Israel. The Prime Minister alighted from Air India One at Tel Aviv, in an immaculate white bandhgala. Also quite noticeable was the blue pocket square. Significantly, blue and white are the colours of the Israeli flag; and white is PM Modi’s preferred colour for solemn occasions, such as the visit to Yad Vashem on Tuesday, where he added to his look a traditional Himachali cap. He is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel. Terming it to be a historic visit, PM Modi tweeted, “Hello Israel! Today I begin a special & historic visit with the aim of further strengthening the relations between India and Israel.” His Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu donned a blue-and-white suit with a red tie, as he welcomed PM Modi at Tel Aviv airport.



UP govt to ‘probe’ welfare grant sanctioned to NGO run by Akhilesh Yadav’s sister-in-law
NEW DELHI:MMNN:4 Jul 2017
Aparna Yadav’s NGO Jeev Ashraya reportedly received 86% of the funds sanctioned by the previous government for organisations working for cow welfare in the state Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in Uttar Pradesh is planning to initiate a probe into the grant sanctioned by the previous Samajwadi Party-led dispensation to an NGO run by former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s sister-in-law Aparna Yadav. An indication to this regard was given by state’s dairy development minister Lakshmi Narayan Chaudhary while addressing a programme at Sahibabad industrial area on Monday. Nearly 86% of the grant sanctioned by the previous government for organisations working for cow welfare in the state went to Aparna Yadav’s Jeev Ashraya, an RTI reply has revealed recently. Aparna is the wife of Prateek Yadav, the step-brother of Akhilesh Yadav. Her NGO runs a gaushala, Kanha Upvan, at Amausi on the outskirt of Lucknow, which Adityanath visited in March, days after taking over as chief minister. He also lauded the facilities provided to bovines there. To a query by activist Nutan Thakur, the UP Gau Sewa Aayog replied that during the tenure of the previous government, it sanctioned Rs 9.66 crore, of which Rs 8.35 crore (86.4%) went to Jeev Ashraya. During 2017-18, till now, Rs1.05 crore has been given to various gaushalas. But Jeev Ashraya was not one of the recipients. “During the Samajwadi Party regime, criminals and mafias were given political protection. In this case, the former CM sanctioned 86% funds meant for organisations working for cow welfare to only one NGO being run by his sister-in-law,” Chaudhary said. “The issue cannot be taken lightly as it indicates an organised loot of public money,” he said, hinting the government is contemplating to probe the charges of nepotism. The development comes at a time when several projects launched by the Akhilesh government are under scanner. “There have been reports of misappropriation of Waqf properties. We have referred the probe to the CBI,” Chaudhary said. Talking to a news agency, Aparna Yadav denied getting any undue favour, there was nothing wrong if works of an active NGO were recognised by the government. “If an organisation is doing good work, it should get 100 per cent funds,” she said. “There are approximately 462 ‘gau shalas’ (cow shelters) in UP and of them Jeev Ashray is the most active. Anyone can go there and check,” she said. Stating that the RTI should not be used to “terrorise” people, Aparna said she would give a befitting reply to the people who were trying to malign her image.



EC can extend voting rights to NRIs in 3 months if govt gives go-ahead
NEW DELHI:MMNN:3 Jul 2017
The decision to allow over 10 million NRIs — of whom 24,348 are registered with the EC — to vote through a postal ballot will offer expatriates a chance to participate in the country’s electoral process without having to be physically present. The Election Commission has informed the Centre that it can pull off the process of introducing voting rights for non-resident Indians (NRI) within three months of the law being introduced. The decision to allow over 10 million NRIs — of whom 24,348 are registered with the EC — to vote through a postal ballot will offer expatriates a chance to participate in the country’s electoral process without having to be physically present at the polling stations. If it comes to fruition, NRIs from states such as Kerala, Punjab and Telangana -- which have large populations of NRIs -- will stand to be benefit. Chief election commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi, who demits office on July 5, told HT that the poll panel is ready to implement the one-way postal ballot system for allowing NRIs to vote, if the government gives the go-ahead. The one-way postal ballot system involves sending e-ballot papers to the voters, which are retuned by post after the voters have marked their choice. The system was introduced for armed forces personnel and service voters in October last year. “Voting rights to NRIs is a long term vision and is under evaluation,” Zaidi told HT. He said the commission has proposed a one-way e-postal ballot system for NRIs, but is awaiting for word from the law ministry. “We have written to the Law ministry, we are ready and have been saying it, we only need a law. It will be on the similar lines as the one-way postal ballot that was started for the service personnel. The moment we have the law we will be ready to implement it within three-months” he said. The Centre has told the Supreme Court, where petitions have been filed to allow NRI voters to participate in the electoral exercise, that it is willing to accept the poll panel’s recommendation to allow NRIs to vote through e-postal ballots or proxy voting. “We have proved that the technology works,” Zaidi said. The proposal can only be implemented after Parliament amends the Representation of the People Act and the Conduct of Election Rules. The CEC said the proposal to allow voting rights for domestic migrants, is also pending. “A committee report (on the issue) has also been given, the government has to take a call,” the CEC said. After amendments were made to the RP Act to make provisions for NRIs, the EC undertook an awareness campaign last year to familiarise expatriates with their voting rights.



Patna GPO completes 100 years, special stamp likely
NEW DELHI:MMNN:1 Jul 2017
Though officials have planned to commemorate the centenary year of the GPO on July 1, the celebration will continue for a whole year with a number of events and activities The General Post Office (GPO), Patna, completed 100 years of its existence on July 1. The Patna GPO, which earlier housed Bankipore post office, is built in the British Gothic architectural style. It is among the four buildings that came up during the pre-Independence era in the state around the same time. The other three are Patna high court, Patna museum and the old secretariat. Though officials have planned to commemorate the centenary year of the GPO on July 1, coinciding with the launch of first day cover on the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the celebration will continue for a whole year with a number of events and activities, which might include release of a special postal stamp as well. Post master general, Bihar circle, Anil Kumar, said Bihar had showed the way in terms of development of postal services in the country. Besides the grand structure with 1.93 lakh square feet built-up area, Patna happens to be the first postal unit in the world to have evolved a prepaid system for postal services,” he said. In 1774, Patna had come out with a copper ticket with a face value of one anna and half anna. “Copper tickets are now rare and available barely at four or five locations in the world, including the National Museum, New Delhi, Postal Museum, London, and in a private collection of a Jabalpur resident,” said Kumar. The Department of Posts (DoP) had issued a commemorative stamp on copper tickets in 1980. The ticket had ‘Azimabad Ekanni’ imprinted on the obverse and ‘Patna Post One Anna’ on the reverse. In those days, Patna was known as Azimabad. Some of the noted philatelists claimed that the ticket was introduced as a prepaid arrangement to do away with the growing loss of revenue due to the return of undelivered letters, as the persons addressed refused to accept them. “Charges for delivery were decided by the distance, known as stages, at that time,” added Kumar. The work on the GPO building, on sprawling 22 acres, began after Bihar was carved out of Bengal. The construction cost was around Rs 2.69 lakh and it was formally opened in 1917. It used to handle both postal and telecom operations then. The building underwent renovation in 2000 at the cost Rs 1.25 crore, which saw five gardens, including one having medicinal herbs, being added to its landscape. At a time when information technology services underwent a sea change, the GPO is still delivering around 25,000-30,000 accountable articles, including those of speed post, parcels, registered and insured letters, every day with 96 postmen. Daily transaction of ordinary letters is estimated to be around 30,000-40,000. Besides, the GPO operates more than 12 lakh accounts of its savings bank equipped with core banking solutions (CBS).



Pilgrim dies as landslide hits Vaishno Devi track
NEW DELHI:MMNN:30 Jun 2017
One pilgrim died and five others were injured after a landslide hit between Himkoti and Adhkuwari enroute the cave shrine on Friday morning. “A woman has died and five others have been injured. One of them is critical,” SSP (Reasi) Tahir Sajjad Bhat told Hindustan Times. He said the landslide hit at about 11.30am. Bhat said the identities of the victims, who are being brought down to Katra, are yet to be ascertained.



Minister Radha Mohan Singh caught urinating in public, says there was no urinal nearby
NEW DELHI:MMNN:29 Jun 2017
Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh draws criticism with many trolling him saying his act shows Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachch Bharat programme in poor light. An undated picture of Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh urinating in public has put the BJP in a spot as the picture went viral on social media on Thursday. The minister, however, defended himself, saying there was no urinal for long distances on National Highway 28 near Pipara when he wanted to relieve himself. Stating that his intention was not wrong, he said the photograph was of a dhaba (roadside eatery) on the NH. The photograph showed the minister urinating on a wall, believed to be in his home constituency Purvi Champaran (East Champaran), as two security personnel stood guard. Netizens trolled the minister for his act, saying it showed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachch Bharat programme in poor light. The photograph was also shared on RJD’s Twitter handle, with a sarcastic comment, “Amid tight security, the Union minister of agriculture gives the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan a boost, as he inaugurates an irrigation project in a drought-affected state.” State BJP spokesperson, Rajib Ranjan, however, found nothing wrong in the minister’s act. “One cannot suppress nature’s call for long. What do you do if you are travelling long distances and there are no public urinals on the way?” he asked HT, adding “There is absolutely nothing wrong in what the minister did.” He further said the photograph was “six months to one year old” as the minister’s SUV had a red beacon, which the government had banned from May 1. Ranjan came down heavily against the ruling coalition in Bihar for deriving vicarious pleasure in sharing the minister’s photograph. “They are part of the corrupt combination in state,” he said. The party, however, believed that the photograph was taken by an insider who was part of the minister’s cavalcade and subsequently leaked.



Presidential poll: Sonia, Yechury, Pawar accompany Meira Kumar as she files nomination
NEW DELHI:MMNN:28 Jun 2017
New Delhi: Opposition candidate Meira Kumar filed her nomination for the Presidential election on Wednesday, the last date for submitting the papers. Congress President Sonia Gandhi, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and other senior Opposition leaders were present when Kumar handed over the papers to Anoop Mishra, Secretary General of the Lok Sabha, who is the returning officer of this prestigious election. Kumar’s competitor, NDA’s Ram Nath Kovind had filed his nomination last week before Prime Minister Narendra Modi left for his foreign tour.



3 activists of Yogi Adityanath’s Hindu Yuva Vahini arrested on rape charge
NEW DELHI:MMNN:27 Jun 2017
Three activists of the Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV), an organisation floated by Yogi Adityanath, were arrested in Bareilly on charges of gangrape and thrashing a police officer. The incident took place on Monday night following a dispute between one Deepak and Avinash over playing of loud music in Ganeshnagar locality, Superintendent of Police (City), Rohit Singh Sajwan said on Tuesday. Avinash called his friends, who were HYV workers, and barged into Deepak’s house and allegedly misbehaved with the women. Deepak, who later reached with his brother Gaurav, allegedly beat up Avinash and handed him over to the police. When the news spread, HYV regional President Jitendra Sharma and city unit President Pankaj and a number of other HYV activists reached the police station to protest the arrest. BJP city unit chief Umesh Katharia also reached the police station and in presence of police, HVY activists allegedly misbehaved with the BJP leader and allegedly beat up sub-inspector Mayank Arora. The city SP said that two FIRs have been lodged in this connection. One FIR was lodged by Arora against Avinash, Jitendra and Pankaj for allegedly beating him and the other by a woman against the three and another person Anil Saxena for allegedly gangraping her. Avinash, Jitendra and Pankaj have been arrested, police said, adding that a probe is on in the matter.



Five STF jawans wounded in gunbattle with Maoists in Sukma
NEW DELHI:MMNN:24 Jun 2017
The gunfight is underway between a joint team of security forces and Maoists in Chhattisgarh. Five special task force (STF) personnel were on Saturday injured in a fierce gunbattle with Maoists in the dense forests of Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, the police said. The encounter is still going on, they added. The exchange of fire is underway between a joint team of security forces and ultras in the interior forests of Chintagufa police station area, deputy inspector general of police (Dantewada range) Sundarraj P told PTI. “As per the preliminary information, five STF jawans have sustained injuries in the encounter,” he said. The joint team, comprising personnel from STF, district reserve guard (DRG) and CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), was carrying out anti-Maoist operation in Chintagufa area, around 500 km from Raipur, he said. The team members were cordoning off a forest patch in southern part of Chintagufa when they came under fire from a group of Maoists, the IPS officer said. The security forces retaliated, triggering an exchange of fire, he said. The DIG said on getting information about the gunbattle, reinforcement was rushed to the spot and efforts were on to evacuate the injured jawans. Further details were awaited, he added. On April 24, 25 CRPF personnel were killed in a rebel ambush in Burkapal area under Chintagufa police station of limits of Sukma, the worst Maoist-affected district in the state.



Muslim man arrested in Jharkhand for allegedly making anti-Modi remarks in video
NEW DELHI:MMNN:23 Jun 2017
In the video clip Sameer Ansari is seen allegedly heard backing Pakistan cricket team and also voicing his desire to see India humiliated Police arrested a 20-year-old Muslim man on Thursday night in Jharkhand for a viral video clip where he is allegedly heard making derogatory remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India. The clip was shared widely in the state’s Sahibganj region before India’s shock loss to Pakistan in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy last Sunday. In the video clip -- HT has a copy of it -- Sameer Ansari is allegedly heard backing Pakistan but also voicing his desire to see India humiliated. “The video was circulated in many WhatsApp groups. His statements were provocative and against the country, so, we had to arrest him, “said Sahibganj superintendent of police P Murugan. Local residents said Ansari was a student but police refused to confirm.



RJD to question Nitish Kumar’s support for NDA presidential nominee Kovinda
NEW DELHI:MMNN:22 Jun 2017
Nitish Kumar took initiative to form a united opposition, but sidelined them to supported the NDA nominee, RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad said. Questioning Nitish Kumar’s extension of support to Centre’s nominee for President, its ally Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on Thursday said that it was a very good opportunity for the secular front to counter the saffron party but the Bihar Chief Minister’s change of side has put the united opposition’s future in jeopardy. Asserting that it was Nitish who had initiated the whole idea of an united opposition and grand alliance to oppose the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at national level, RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad said that his party will be questioning the JD(U) in this regard. “It was an opportunity for the secular parties to stand united in at the time of Presidential elections. We will be questioning JD(U) for the stand Nitish ji has taken. We would like to ask JD(U) what is their take on the secular party group which was formed to counter the BJP,” Prasad told ANI. “We were very happy when Nitish ji had taken the initiative to form a secular front of united opposition on the national level, but now he sidelined us and supported the BJP’s candidate. Now the ball is in his court, he will have to think that now how will we oppose the BJP?,” he added.



Police knew about Karnan’s hiding place for 3 days before arresting him
NEW DELHI:MMNN:21 Jun 2017
CS Karnan, who was sentenced to six months imprisonment by the Supreme Court for contempt but was untraceable, was arrested near Coimbatore. A police team searching for Calcutta high court’s former judge CS Karnan knew about his hiding place in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu for three days before moving in to arrest him, the West Bengal police chief said on Wednesday. “We knew about his (Karnan’s) whereabouts three days back. We were tracking phone calls of people close to him and we also have our own sources,” director general of police Raj Kanojia told IANS in Chennai. Kanojia spoke at the Chennai airport before boarding a flight to Kolkata. According to him, this was a unique case he handled in his entire service and “maybe no other police officer will be handling such a case in a long time to come”. “Tracking Karnan was difficult. It was a difficult case,” Kanojia said. Karnan, who was sentenced to six months imprisonment by the Supreme Court for contempt but was untraceable, was arrested on Tuesday near Coimbatore, around 500 km from Chennai. Karnan was eluding arrest for more than a month.



Tripura girl, whose head swelled to over three times its normal size, dies
NEW DELHI:MMNN:20 Jun 2017
Her condition caused her head to swell to a circumference of 94 centimetres (37 inches), putting pressure on her brain and making it impossible for her to sit upright An girl who made international headlines when a rare condition caused her head to swell to more than twice the normal size has died, days before she was to undergo corrective surgery. Roona Begum’s family said she died Sunday at her home in a village in the remote northeast after complaining of breathlessness. “She was otherwise fit and fine. But on Sunday she started having breathing problems and I rang up my husband asking him to come back home,” said Fatima Begum. “He rushed home and gave her water but before we could take her to the hospital she died,” she told AFP. The five-year-old was born with hydrocephalus, a potentially fatal condition that causes cerebrospinal fluid to build up on the brain. Publication of pictures taken by an AFP photographer in the remote state of Tripura prompted a New Delhi hospital to treat her for free in 2013. Her condition caused her head to swell to a circumference of 94 centimetres (37 inches), putting pressure on her brain and making it impossible for her to sit upright. After several round of surgery at the Fortis Hospital, her head circumference shrank to 58 centimetres. Pictures showed the distraught parents sitting next to her body, wrapped in a cream towel as her younger brother looked on.



Ahead of PM Modi’s visit, US lawmakers ask India to rethink price cap on stents
NEW DELHI:MMNN:19 Jun 2017
The Narendra Modi government has in recent years capped prices of hundreds of life-saving drugs to make them more affordable. A group of US lawmakers has backed medical device makers by urging India to reconsider its decision to cap prices of heart stents, raising the issue ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States later this week. In a letter sent to the Indian ambassador to Washington last month, and seen by Reuters, 18 members of Congress said they were “troubled” by the price cap, warning that it could deter firms from launching new medical products in India. Modi’s government has in recent years capped prices of hundreds of life-saving drugs to make them more affordable. And in February, it imposed a 75% price cut for certain heart stents - wire mesh tubes used to treat blocked arteries. The government justified its action by citing “huge unethical markups”. But global medical device makers have protested the new cap, with some saying it would force them to sell below cost. The US lawmakers warned that people would be denied access to the latest medical advances if companies backed away from India’s $5 billion medical-technology market. “The sudden and unprecedented nature of the decision threatens citizens’ access to the newest and most innovative medical technologies and raises strong concerns about the business environment in India,” they said in the May 22 letter, which has not previously been made public. The Indian embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment. The US Department of Commerce is likely to raise the issue with Modi during his visit on June 25-26, according to an industry source aware of the plans. “It’s one of the biggest pain points,” the source said.



Soldier killed, another wounded in Pakistani shelling in Nowshera
NEW DELHI:MMNN:16 Jun 2017
Pakistan has been continuously violating the 2003 ceasefire agreement with India, and the firing and shelling has left the hapless villagers in a precarious situation A soldier was killed and another injured in Pakistani shelling along the Line of Control (LoC) in Nowshera sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district on Friday morning, officials said. The dead soldier was identified as Naik Bakhtawar Singh of 8 Sikh Light Infantry, and a resident of Hajipur village in Punjab’s Hoshiyarpur district. “Pakistan Army opened heavy fire around 4am and the exchange lasted for around 20 minutes. During brief exchanges, two Indian soldiers were injured at Kalsian. One of them died around 5am,” an intelligence official said. Nowshera sub-divisional magistrate Harbans Lal Sharma and Nowshera police station head Kuldip Krishan confirmed that the soldier died around 5am when he was hit by a mortar shell at a forward post in Kalsian area of Nowshera sector. However, the army was yet to issue a statement on it. The identity of the injured soldier has not been ascertained yet.



Another farmer commits suicide in Madhya Pradesh, seventh in 7 days
NEW DELHI:MMNN:15 Jun 2017
Seven deaths have been reported from Madhya Pradesh in seven days as angry farmers have torched vehicles and ransacked property demanding loan waiver and fair price. A farmer killed himself in Madhya Pradesh’s Hoshangabad district on Thursday morning, news agency ANI reported, the seventh such suicide in seven days in a region rocked by violent farmer protests over plummeting crop prices. Narmada Prasad was a resident of Hoshangabad’s Babai village and was being pressurized by local moneylenders, ANI added. The details of his death couldn’t be immediately ascertained.



Opposition’s choice of president likely today; Meira Kumar, Gopal Gandhi in focus
NEW DELHI:MMNN:14 Jun 2017
The move to pick the Opposition’s candidate comes two days after the ruling BJP announced its committee to talk to all parties in an effort to build consensus for a candidate to succeed President Pranab Mukherjee. The opposition will likely name its candidate for the next President of India on Wednesday, with Congress leader Meira Kumar and Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopal Krishna Gandhi among the possible nominees. The meeting of the Opposition’s 10-member selection panel is slated for 4pm. The move to pick the Opposition’s candidate comes two days after the ruling BJP announced its committee to talk to all parties in an effort to build consensus for a candidate to succeed President Pranab Mukherjee, who demits office on July 24. The Opposition panel comprises Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge from the Congress, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, JD(U) veteran Sharad Yadav, NCP leader Praful Patel, Trinamool Congress’ Rajya Sabha floor leader Derek o’Brien, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav, BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra, RJD leader Lalu Prasad and DMK’s RS Bharathi.



Monsoon session of Parliament likely to begin on July 12, say sources
NEW DELHI:MMNN:13 Jun 2017
The monsoon session of Parliament will begin from July 12 and conclude on August 11. The month-long monsoon session of Parliament is likely to commence from July 12. According to one of the proposals before the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA), the session will begin from July 12 and conclude on August 11, according to government sources. The final call on the dates will be taken by the committee, headed by Union home minister Rajnath Singh, after June 20, the sources said. Sources told IANS the session was being convened earlier due to the presidential election in which MPs and MLAs are voters. A session at that time will ensure that all the MPs are in Delhi for the polling. An MP can also vote in his home state where MLAs generally vote.



Doyen of Telugu literature C Narayana Reddy dies in Hyderabad
NEW DELHI:MMNN:12 Jun 2017
Doyen of Telugu literature and Jnanpith awardee Dr C Narayana Reddy passed away in Hyderabad on Monday following a brief illness. Doyen of Telugu literature and Jnanpith awardee Dr C Narayana Reddy died of brief illness in Hyderabad on Monday morning. He was 86. He is survived by four daughters. Reddy complained of chest pain in the morning and was rushed to a private hospital where he breathed his last. Popularly known as Cinare, the noted litterateur was born at Hanumajipet village of Rajanna Sircilla district (which was part of Karimnagar district till recently) of Telangana on July 29, 1931. Though he studied in Urdu medium school, Reddy mastered Telugu literature and joined Osmania University as a Telugu professor. He also served as vice-chancellor of the Telugu University. Known for his excellent rhyming skills, Reddy wrote several books, including composition of poems like Karpoora Vasantha Rayalu and Nagarjuna Saagaramu. His magnum opus Vishwambhara, which was translated into several other Indian languages, fetched him Jnanpith award in 1988. He was honoured with several literary awards like Kala Prapoorna and doctorates by various universities. In 1992, he was honoured with India’s third highest civilian award Padma Bhushan. He was nominated to Rajya Sabha in August 1997. Reddy became more popular among the common people with his lyrics in Telugu films. He had penned more than 3,000 songs for various Telugu films, and all of them were big hits. Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, his Telangana counterpart K Chandrasekhar Rao and several literary personalities and lyricists from Telugu film industry condoled Reddy’s death.



MP CM Shivraj on indefinite fast, says pained to see violence in state
NEW DELHI:MMNN:10 Jun 2017
Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s decision to observe a fast comes in the wake of violence in several parts of the state during the agitation by farmers and the killing of five farmers in Mandsaur in police firing. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Saturday announced the setting up of commission which would assess the input cost of agriculture produce, and said he was pained to see the violence in the state during the farmers’ agitation. Chouhan, who began an indefinite fast on Saturday in his bid to restore peace in the violence-hit state, appealed to the farmers for peace, saying when his door was always open for talks, where was the need for violence. A pandal was erected at BHEL, Dussehra Maidan in state capital Bhopal from where Chouhan will run his government. Chouhan’s decision to observe a fast comes in the wake of violence in several parts of the state during the agitation by farmers and the killing of five farmers in Mandsaur in police firing a few days back. He announced his decision at a press conference on Friday evening. Chouhan was flanked by his ministerial colleagues and BJP leaders. Many party workers too gathered to listen to the chief minister on the occasion. A number of farmers were brought by the party for interacting with the chief minister. Government officials were also present on the occasion. Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Ajay Singh termed the fast as a “Kejriwal drama”, which, he alleged, would involve an expenditure of crores of rupees. He was referring to Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal who had gone on an indefinite fast, promising 24-hour power at half the existing rate and up to 20 kilolitres of free water for all when his party comes to power in the national capital. Congress workers in Indore sat on a dharna and prayed for “wisdom” for the chief minister. Without taking the name of the Congress, Chouhan said he was pained when he heard words like “Thaane me aag laga do” (Set the police station on fire) or “Patthar maro” (Pelt stones). “The Mandsaur incident is the most unfortunate. I was deeply pained. I will get this inquired into as to who were behind the violence and what was their motive. Those who spread violence during the agitation will not be spared,” he warned. Chouhan said it was “unfortunate that children are being given stones in their hands. This is painful. Where do they want to the push the state? Where will the state go with such attitude of people?” he asked. He said that during the violence, more than 100 police personnel sustained injuries. Of them, six were seriously injured. As many as 197 buses and 127 government vehicles were damaged. Chouhan said that since he assumed his office 11 and a half years back, his first and foremost priority has been welfare of farmers. The irrigation area has been increased from 7.5 lakh hectares in 2003 to 40 lakh hectares now, he said. The rate of interest on loan to farmers has been reduced from 18% to zero percent. Further, it was minus 10% because if a farmer took a loan of Rs 1 lakh, he was supposed to return Rs 90,000 only. Chouhan said if facilities to farmers had grown manifold, the bumper crop led to sharp fall in prices. That was why a Rs 1,000-crore price stabilisation fund was created to allow farmers to get adequate return on their produce. Thousands of tonners of onion has been purchased at Rs 8 per kg by the government. From June 10, tur daal would be purchased at Rs 5,500 per quintal whereas the market rate was Rs 3,400-3,500 per quintal. Similarly, moong and urad would be purchased at Rs 5,225 per quintal across the state, he said.



In new Rajasthan textbooks, Veer Savarkar overshadows Gandhi and Nehru
NEW DELHI:MMNN:9 Jun 2017 2017
The class 10 textbook reduces Mahatma Gandhi’s historical significance during India’s freedom struggle to a passing mention while the country’s first prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru is missing from class 8 textbooks. New textbooks for Rajasthan state board schools being taught from this year have an extra dose of nationalism, with Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar pushing to the margins the role of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi. One of the textbooks introduced in the BJP-ruled state even describes the first crop of Congress leaders as mostly moderates who were prosperous, middle-class intellectuals hailing from big cities and having no connection with the masses. The revised textbooks for classes 10, 11 and 12 also bring students up to speed on current “hot topics” such as the Uniform Civil Code, Hindi as the country’s contact language and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign policies, especially with reference to Pakistan. But what is bound to raise more eyebrows is Savarkar getting a big chuck of space, even edging out Jawahar Lal Nehru from the social science textbook of Class 10 and decimating Mahatma Gandhi to a passing reference. Education experts are calling these history “revisions” as Hinduisation of the country’s freedom struggle. Last year, India’s first Prime Minister Nehru was erased from the Class 8 textbook. The government, however, defends the revisions saying that Nehru has been given ample space in the Class 9 textbook. “Every hero can’t be included in every book,” says Vasudev Devnani, state education minister.



Army foils infiltration bid in J-K’s Nowgam, soldier and 3 militants dead
NEW DELHI:MMNN:8 Jun 2017 2017
The infiltration bid took place along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir’s Nowgam sector. A soldier was killed as the army foiled an infiltration bid on Thursday along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Nowgam sector, a spokesperson said. Three militants were also killed during the infiltration bid, the spokesperson said, adding that operations are on in the area. Weapons and warlike stores were recovered from the slain militants. On Wednesday, three militants were gunned down in Machhil sector near the LoC in north Kashmir. Three weapons were recovered from them.



Team India Players Attend Virat Kohli’s Charity Ball And Once Again Absconding Businessman Vijay Mallya Spotted At The Event
NEW DELHI:MMNN:6 Jun 2017 2017
Ahead of Team India’s next encounter against Sri Lanka in Champions Trophy, cricketers took part in Virat Kohli’s charity ball on Monday. Along with the Indian players in attendance was absconding businessman Vijay Mallya. Mallya made his presence felt once again after he was spotted enjoying the India’s match against Pakistan from the VIP stand in Edgbaston on Sunday.



Five Pakistani nationals detained in Rajasthan; being interrogated by intelligence agencies
NEW DELHI:MMNN:5 Jun 2017
Jaipur: Five Pakistani nationals were detained in Barmer district of Rajasthan for violating visa norms.
Khojo Bhil (60), Chandu Bhil (75), his wife Dhai Bai Bhil (70), and two minors — Naresh Bhil (10) and Dharmi Bai (12) — had a visa for Jodhpur but travelled to Barmer. They were detained from Gadra road railway station in the district when they were waiting for a train to Jodhpur on Sunday. Khojo and Naresh came to Jodhpur two years ago and the other three entered India around 20 days back, Station House Officer (SHO) of Gadra road police station Karan Singh said. They were staying at their relatives' house in Barmer for two days. The place where they stayed is restricted for foreigners, the SHO said. They are being interrogated by intelligence agencies. Barmer is among four districts in western Rajasthan which lies along the border with Pakistan.



Infiltration down 45% since surgical strike, Kashmiri youth the future: Rajnath
NEW DELHI:MMNN:3 Jun 2017 2017
Rajnath Singh reaffirmed the Narendra Modi government’s commitment to bringing peace in Kashmir and how the administration had thwarted Islamic State
"There is no dispute within the family. There is no reason for dispute. Whatever, problems are there, they are due to sycophancy and backbiting. Our first priority will be to unite the family", Shivpal said. "If family is united everything will be well. I ask everyone to sit with Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav), who is head of the family. I want him to get due respect and honour as he is the one who made Samajwadi Party. Whatever we are is due to him", he said. On his decision to form the 'Samajwadi Secular Front', which will be headed by Mulayam, Shivpal said that it will bring the party on the "right track". Maintaining that he is still in the party and will only try to strengthen it, Shivpal said, "if Mulayam gets due respect in the party, I am ready for any placement". Shivpal, who has been at odds with nephew and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, however had made it clear that he was forming just a "front" and not a political party. "We will constitute the Samajwadi Secular Front on July 6 to bring the SP on the right track. We will formally announce it at a meeting in Lucknow", Shivpal had said.



Indian cricket team upset before Champions Trophy tie vs Pakistan - This is why
NEW DELHI:MMNN:2 Jun 2017
Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli and coach Anil Kumble had reservations as the practice arena was small in size. The main issue was the run-up for fast bowlers. India will begin their ICC Champions Trophy 2017 campaign against Pakistan in Birmingham on Sunday.
The Indian cricket team was unhappy with the practice facilities at Edgbaston with captain Virat Kohli and coach Anil Kumble making their displeasure known, according to a report on PTI. (ICC CHAMPIONS TROPHY FULL COVERAGE) The report added that both Kohli and Kumble had reservations as the arena was small in size. The main issue was the run-up for fast bowlers.



Backbiting, sycophancy responsible for SP woes: Shivpal Yadav
NEW DELHI:MMNN:1 Jun 2017
LUCKNOW: Sidelined Samajwadi Party leader Shivpal Yadav on Thursday said he was ready for any "placement" in the party provided Mulayam Singh Yadav got "due respect" even as he held "sycophancy" and "backbiting" responsible for the party's woes. Mulayam's brother insisted that all will be well if the family is united.
"There is no dispute within the family. There is no reason for dispute. Whatever, problems are there, they are due to sycophancy and backbiting. Our first priority will be to unite the family", Shivpal said. "If family is united everything will be well. I ask everyone to sit with Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav), who is head of the family. I want him to get due respect and honour as he is the one who made Samajwadi Party. Whatever we are is due to him", he said. On his decision to form the 'Samajwadi Secular Front', which will be headed by Mulayam, Shivpal said that it will bring the party on the "right track". Maintaining that he is still in the party and will only try to strengthen it, Shivpal said, "if Mulayam gets due respect in the party, I am ready for any placement". Shivpal, who has been at odds with nephew and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, however had made it clear that he was forming just a "front" and not a political party. "We will constitute the Samajwadi Secular Front on July 6 to bring the SP on the right track. We will formally announce it at a meeting in Lucknow", Shivpal had said.



Narendra Modi four-nation tour Live: PM meets President of Spain Mariano Rajoy
NEW DELHI:MMNN:31 May 2017
Narendra Modi will hold discussions with his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy on ways to deepen bilateral engagement, including in the high-tech sector
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Madrid in the Spanish capital on Wednesday on the second leg of his six-day, four-nation tour aimed at boosting bilateral economic engagement with them and inviting more investment for India’s transformation. Modi’s visit to Spain is the first visit by an Indian prime minister since 1988. “Hola Espana! Prime Minister Modi arrives in Madrid, first visit by an Indian Prime Minister in nearly three decades, is received by Spanish FM in a special gesture,” said Gopal Baglay, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs in a tweet.



Police may have reached UP highway robbery victims sooner if they called 100
NEW DELHI:MMNN:27 May 2017
Officials say they have the ability to track people based on their mobile connections, and could have saved time looking for family that lost a member to robbers near Yamuna Expressway if they made the 100 call themselves
The UP police say they could have reached the victims of the highway robbery near Greater Noida within minutes if they had called 100 instead of their relatives back home, an official in the department said. A family of eight was attacked by robbers at around 1.30am on Thursday when they were on their way to Bulandshahr from Jewar on a desolate stretch close to the Yamuna Expressway. One of the men in the group was shot dead and the women said they had been raped. The case triggered fresh criticism of law and order in the country’s most populous state. Officials said the victims first called a relative in Jewar, who made the call to police. “A police response vehicle (PRV) located the relative in minutes, but since he had no idea where the victims were, we had to start canvassing the highway,” said additional director general (ADG) Anil Agarwal, in-charge of the UP-100 programme. PRVs, Agarwal explained, are equipped with devices that can relay the approximate location from where an emergency call was made to 100. The call lands at a centre in Lucknow, which gets the approximate location of the caller based on the mobile network towers from where he or she was connected. This information is passed on to screens in the PRVs, which are supposed to reach a victim with 30 minutes in rural areas and 15 in cities, the ADG said. In Thursday’s incident, the victim’s relative in Jewar was far from the crime scene. “The mobile phone of the victims was switched off, making it difficult for the UP-100 team to locate them,” said Agarwal. In the region, each PRV patrols a 30-km area and several were deployed to look for the family. When a team found the victims, the suspects had fled leaving one person dead and the others tied up. UP-100, an integrated emergency service, was launched by the previous government headed by the Samajwadi Party in November. The project began with 1,500 squad cars deployed across the state, managed from a control room in Lucknow that receives all calls made to 100 from within the state. Agarwal said that since its launch, UP-100 teams have rescued and attended to scores of people involved in accidents and crimes on highways. Highways are typically a blind spot for local police in India, and emergency response is complicated by matters of jurisdiction. The UP programme earned praise from the Union government’s Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), which urged governments in other states to replicate the model. During a presentation by police and home department in April, UP’s new chief minister Yogi Adityanath too stressed on the strengthening the UP-100 service.



3 years of Modi govt: Terrorism claims more lives in Kashmir, situation mixed in Northeast
NEW DELHI:MMNN:27 May 2017
As the BJP government completes three years in office this week, IndiaSpend is analysing five of its key electoral promises–on employment, Swachh Bharat, roads, access to electricity and terrorism.
Eight members of a family were travelling to Bulandshahr from Greater Noida’s Jewar when they were waylaid by the gang at about 1.30am. The six looted cash and valuables from the family and then raped the women, the police said, quoting the victims . When the man tried to resist, he was shot dead. “It’s a heinous crime. An FIR has been registered. A man has been murdered. Four women have alleged gang rape. Police teams are working on the case,” said Love Kumar, senior superintendent of Gautam Budh Nagar. “The women are being taken for medical examination. The post-mortem is being done. Two other teams are hunting for the suspects.” Police said the robbers first targeted the wheels of the vehicle, a Maruti Eeco van. “After crossing Sabota village, two tyres got punctured. The driver of the car stopped at 1:30am to check the wheels when six men armed with country-made pistols surrounded the vehicle,” said IG Meerut, Ram Kumar. The suspects snatched jewellery and Rs 47,500 in cash before tying the male passengers up with dupattas and taking the women to a field nearby, police said, quoting the victims. “Several teams have been formed to nab the criminals. We are also seeking help of the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force,” said Kumar. Doctors tending to the victims were set to issue a statement on Thursday. Read | Noida woman, daughter raped near Bulandshahr highway, 15 detained Last July, a mother and her 13-year-old daughter were waylaid and raped by a group of highway robbers also in Bulandshahr. A Noida-based family of five was headed to Shahjahanpur when miscreants attacked them about 1.30 am on the Ghaziabad-Aligarh highway at Dostpur village, near Bulandshahr. The incident sparked a political slugfest ahead of the assembly elections and had brought under focus India’s largest state’s notorious reputation of being unsafe for women. The BJP swept to power two months ago on a promise of tighter law and order. Read | I want to punish attackers with my own hands: Bulandshahr rape victim Uttar Pradesh has the longest network of highways among all states, according to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) data. National Crime Records Bureau’s data for 2014 show the state also accounts for the highest number of highway crimes — 80% of the 84,000 cases of dacoity and thefts on highways across the country were recorded in Uttar Pradesh. “The victim’s family is from Jewar. They were travelling in Eeco car and going to Bulandshahr. The criminals threw something on the tyre and it got punctured. However, the driver of the car didn’t stop and drove for quite a distance and stopped near a hut,” Jewar MLA Thakur Dhirendra Singh said.



President, Union ministers may soon have to give speeches only in Hindi
NEW DELHI:MMNN:18 April 2017
All dignitaries, including the President and Union ministers, may soon start giving speeches in Hindi if a parliamentary panel's recommendations accepted by President Pranab Mukherjee are implemented.
Mukherjee has accepted most of the recommendations made in the ninth report of the Committee of Parliament on Official Language. The report was submitted in 2011.
The panel's recommendation that all dignitaries including the President and ministers, especially those who can read and speak Hindi, may be requested to give their speech/statement in Hindi only, has been accepted, as per an official order.
The President has accepted many other recommendations, including making announcements on civilian flights in Hindi followed by English.
On flights, half the reading material should consist of Hindi newspapers and magazines as "Hindi is grossly neglected by airlines", as per the panel's recommendation, was accepted by the President.
The ministry of civil aviation has been asked to ensure implementation of these recommendations.
Mukherjee has accepted another recommendation of the committee that maximum usage of Hindi should be ensured on all tickets of Air India and Pawan Hans helicopters.
The recommendation favouring 100% availability of training material in bilingual at the Mussoorie-based Lal Bahadur Shashtri National Administrative Academy, the premier institute to train civil servants including those in Indian Administrative Service (IAS), has also been accepted.
The panel had asked the ministry of human resource development to make serious efforts to make Hindi language compulsory in curriculum. "As a first step, Hindi should be made a compulsory subject up to tenth standard in all schools of CBSE and Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan," it had recommended.
"This recommendation is accepted in principle. The Union government should form a policy in consultation with state governments," the order said.
Another recommendation accepted by the President is that universities and higher educational institutes situated in non-Hindi speaking states, where the students are not given an option for Hindi to appear in exams/interviews, must be given an option to answer in Hindi.
In Guwahati on Tuesday, Union minister Venkaiah Naidu urged people to use Hindi daily along with regional languages.
"The Centre is using more and more Hindi in government programmes and policies and we have to make the habit of using the Rashtrabhasha in our day-to-day life, along with the regional languages," Naidu said while presiding over a meeting of the Joint Hindi Advisory Committee.



Average monsoons: Analysts see farm GDP clipping at 3-4 per cent
New Delhi :MMNN:18 April 2017
A normal monsoon season, as projected by the Met department (IMD) could help the agricultural GDP grow by 3-4 per cent this year, a tad lower than last year's, says a report. The IMD today said there would be good distribution of rainfall across the country and it will receive 96 per cent of the long period average. "We believe that the agricultural GDP is most likely to be in range of 3-4 per cent, a tad low compared to 2016-17, if rainfall remains normal," an SBI Research said. It said even in case of deficit rainfalls there are instances where agri-GDP has in fact expanded and smartly grew in slightly more than normal rainfall in 2010 and 2011.
In 2009, despite a 22 per cent decline in rainfalls, agri-GDP expanded by 0.8 per cent. The report said the current year's forecast is majorly important for the farm sector with initial reports pointing fingers at the El Nino which may happen during the later part of the year.
The IMD, however, says weak EL Nino and positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) are currently combining to give a positive monsoon scenario in 2017. The report said an analysis of monsoon forecast (1st and 2nd stage) since 2008 indicates that IMD has only once increased its 2nd stage forecast (in 2014), else the forecast remained same or slightly less than the first.
"With a 38 per cent probability of normal rainfalls, we believe rainfall is most likely to be higher than 96 per cent of LPA," the report said.
Meanwhile, Icra in a report said the timing of rainfall will be crucial as higher rainfall in the early part of the monsoon may support sowing while adequate rainfalls in the second half is important for yields. Its principal economist Aditi Nayar said if rainfall is around 96 per cent, our baseline expectation is that growth of agricultural GVA will moderate from above 4 per cent in fiscal 2017 to 3.6 per cent in fiscal 2018.
Partly due to unfavourable rainfalls and reservoir levels, the GVA for crops contracted by 2.2 per cent in 2016, she pointed out.


Kulbhushan Jadhav's death sentence: Sushma Swaraj warns Pak, Parliament speaks in one voice; top 10 developments
NEW DELHI:MMNN:11 April 2017
A united parliament stood in protest on Tuesday against the death sentence to former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav in Pakistan. Jadhav was sentenced on charges of espionage and destabilising peace in Pakistan. Pakistan's Inter-services public relations office issued a statement confirming the news on Monday. Here is how things unfolded since his sentencing:
1. Kulbhushan Jadhav was tried though Field General Court Martial (FGCM) under section 59 of Pakistan Army Act (PAA) 1952 and Section 3 of official Secret Act of 1923 and awarded death sentence. The charges levelled against him included destabilising peace in Pakistan's Balochistan region and Karachi in Sindh. He was also charged with waging war against Pakistan. The trial was conducted secretly.
2. Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations office issued a press statement announcing his death sentence. The statement named him as Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW)India's external intelligence agency.
3. Hours after the announcement of Jadhav's death sentence, India summoned Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit and a demarche was issued terming the sentence as farcical.
A warning was also issued by the Indian government that if the execution was carried out by the Pakistani government, India would consider it as a premeditated murder.
4. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke in Parliament on Jadhav's sentencing. Swaraj issued a stern warning to Pakistan threatening if they go ahead with the death sentence of Jadhav, it will have consequences. The minister cautioned Pakistan that the execution will have a serious impact on bilateral relations between the two neighbours.
5. Swaraj assured that the government will make sure Jadhav gets the best legal support to fight his case. The minister, replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, said: "Our position is very clear, there is no evidence of wrongdoing by Kulbhushan Jadhav," Swaraj also said that the government would raise the matter at different levels indicating that it may resort to applying diplomatic pressure by raising the matter in the United Nations.
6. Earlier, Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Shashi Tharoor and AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi had raised the issue in parliament demanding a reaction and response from the government. Kharge said: ""If we fail to save Kulbhushan Jadhav, then it will be government's weakness." While Owaisi added that the Pakistani military court was a banana court and the Indian government should use all its clout and influence to bring back Kulbhushan Jadhav. The parliament spoke in a united voice against Pakistani action backing the government to take the sternest measures.
7. Support came from all quarters of the government machinery. Home Minister Rajnath Singh expressed his ministry's support to Kulbhushan Jadhav in his address to Lok Sabha on Tuesday. Rajnath said that the government of India will do all it takes to save the life of Kulbhushan Jadhav.
8. Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif came out in defence of the military court's decision to grant Kulbhushan a death sentence. He said that all laws of the land were followed and that the sentencing was done only after a three-month trial. In November, Pakistani Prime Minister's advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had said that there was insufficient evidence on Jadhav. However, he recently retracted his statement and thereafter his trial resulted in a death sentence.
9. Jadhav was charged with carrying out counter-intelligence and subversive operations in Pakistan. Asif also said in his statement that this sentencing should serve as a warning to all those who were "plotting" against Pakistan. "Those plotting against Pakistan will not be spared," he said.
10. Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested in March 2016 from Mashkel, Balochistan region in Pakistan. After an interrogation of three weeks, a video was released by ISPR where Jadhav was seen giving a confession of being an agent of the R&AW. Indian government denied the validity of the video alleging coercion, tutoring and doctoring of video. According to Indian government, Kulbhushan, 46, is not a serving Navy officer and he left service in 2002. The government states he is a businessman and was in no way related to any government activities.



Work like Hanuman, PM Modi tells BJP MPs for govt achievements
New Delhi :MMNN:11 April 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday expressed satisfaction on a successful budget session, which he said had been "very meaningful and useful", and advised BJP MPs to work like Lord Hanuman to publicise the government's achievements. Addressing Bharatiya Janata Party MPs here, Modi told them not to wait for his instructions before carrying out government work among the people.
"When Lakshman went into coma, Hanumanji went to find a cure without any prodding. Similarly, MPs must go ahead without waiting for instructions.
They need to carry forward the government's work among the masses," a BJP MP who attended the meeting quoted Modi as saying.
Modi's remarks came after he greeted people and MPs on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti. Modi urged the MPs to get inspiration from Hanuman.
"Take inspiration from Hanuman. He never took anything from anyone but he kept giving. You also need to give to people like him," Modi said.
Asking MPs to go their parliamentary constituencies, Modi they too needed to establish their own identity despite banking on him (Modi). Later, talking to reporters, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar said the Prime Minister dubbed the budget session as 'Vijay Prapti Satra' (Winner Session) for the government.
"Modiji said the budget session was very meaningful and useful. It was a 'Vijay Prapti Satra'," Kumar quoted the Prime Minister as saying.
BJP sources said Modi also spoke about the positive mood among people reflected in the sweeping win for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in the just held assembly elections.
"This is a golden opportunity for us to lift the lives of the poor, the deprived. This is the time for doing more development and reforms," Modi said.
He congratulated the MPs for the passage of 21 bills in the Lok Sabha and 14 in the Rajya Sabha including the Goods and Services Tax Bill (GST). The Prime Minister said there was an environment in the country in favour of the BJP and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) it leads.
"This is a golden opportunity to move on the path of development."
Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu also addressed the MPs and hailed Modi for providing the country a tranformative leadership.
Naidu said in just three years, Modi had emerged as the messiah of the poor. Naidu also gave tasks to MPs for the third anniversary celebration of the Modi government. This was the last BJP parliamentary party meeting of the budget session which ends on Wednesday.


Arunachal Pradesh climber Anshu Jamsenpa to scale Mount Everest again
NEW DELHI:MMNN:4 April 2017
After seeking blessings from the 14th Dalai Lama here on Sunday, Anshu Jamsenpa, the woman climber from Arunachal Pradesh who had already summited the Mt Everest thrice, has left for Kathmandu in Nepal to scale the world highest peak again. She reached Kathmandu on Monday and is expected to reach the base camp on Tuesday.
This time, with the blessing and good wishes from the Tibetan spiritual on her side, Anshu during her expedition will attempt to summit the Everest twice-the feat she did within 10 days in May 2011. The mother of two children, Anshu again scaled the Everest on May 18, 2013. If she is successful with her double ascend this time, Anshu will add to her record of climbing Everest five times.
Anshu's public relation manager, Nanda Kirati Dewan said the Dalai Lama blessed the mountaineer and flagged off her double ascend expedition for Mt
Everest during a special audience with the Tibetan spiritual leader here. Dewan quoted Dalai Lama saying to Anshu, "your achievement is the testimony of your hard work, firm determination and a strong belief in yourself" .
Anshu said, "His Holiness is the Living Buddha and getting his blessings in person is one of the most treasured and blessed day of my life. I shall cherish it life long especially the warm hug I got. It will always motivate me and infuse strength to overcome all my struggles of life."
Arunachal Mountaineering and Adventure Sports Association president and Anshu's husband, Tsering Wange offered the Indian tricolor flag to the Dalai Lama, who in turn handed over to Anshu to be unfurled at the summit of Mt Everest.
Dewan said that the entire expedition might take 45 to 60 days, depending upon weather condition.
"As she has left for the base camp on Tuesday, the process of her expedition has already started," Dewan added.



Arvind Kejriwal has failed the test of probity in public life, Ram Jethmalani's offer of help notwithstanding
New Delhi :MMNN:4 April 2017
On the auspicious day of Ram Navami, one nonagenarian Ram has vowed to fight for free for a 'poor' chief minister. It could have been a good Bollywood script. Sadly for Arvind Kejriwal, whose entire career is built around high-octane political theatrics, the reel world is dissolving into real.
Ram Jethmalani's belated offer to represent his 'poor client' Kejriwal pro bono in a 'dharm yudh' against Arun Jaitley could be a post facto attempt at damage control after dirt hit the roof. The move doesn't pass the basic smell test though.
The ace lawyer's personal animosity against Jaitley is well known. He may even make good on his promise and not charge Kejriwal a penny for his services.
However, that doesn't absolve the Delhi chief minister of his moral failings. His robe of rectitude in tatters, Emperor Kejriwal now stands in full frontal glory clothed in garbs of trickery and hypocrisy.
After trying every trick in book to force Delhi taxpayers into picking up the tab for his personal legal bill, attempting to bypass the lieutenant governor in doing so, Kejriwal has now relegated AAP into claiming that Jaitley's defamation case was not against 'Kejriwal the individual' but against an 'idea'.
One hopes Delhi citizens will find it reassuring that they voted for an 'idea' instead of an individual as a chief minister. This at least may explain why AAP felt the need to create a deputy chief minister for a Union territory and put him in chair while the original 'idea' went searching for greener pastures. After stinging electoral reverses in Goa and Punjab, the 'idea' is now back in Delhi, dipping into public funds either to spread his awesomeness through media advertisements or to meet Jethmalani's steep legal fees.


Fishermen protest over killing of colleague, Edappadi Palaniswami writes to PM Modi
NEW DELHI:MMNN:7 March 2017
Hundreds of fishermen on Tuesday staged a demonstration in Rameswaram island to protest the killing of an Indian fisherman allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy, as Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami dashed off a letter seeking the Centre’s intervention. Tamil Nadu opposition parties also condemned the killing and sought action from the Centre.
The 22-year-old Indian fisherman was shot dead yesterday allegedly by Lankan Navy personnel while he was fishing in a mechanised boat at a short distance off Katchatheevu islet.
The protesting fishermen at Thangachimadam in Rameswaram and the bereaved family have refused to accept the body of the fisherman unless a Central Minister visits the island and gives them an assurance that such incidents would not happen again, Rameswaram Fishermen Association President S Emiret said.
Police said during the autopsy, an AK-47 bullet was found lodged in the neck of the deceased.
In a letter to the Centre, Palaniswami said the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India should be summoned forthwith and “the strong feelings of the Government of India and government of Tamil Nadu about the unprovoked firing on fishermen and non-adherence to earlier agreements on this issue should be conveyed in no uncertain terms.”
Lanka resorting to “such inhuman and barbaric tactics” completely belies all the diplomatic efforts that have been undertaken including the understanding reached in several meetings between the two countries, including the recent one at Colombo, Palaniswami said in the letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He said at the ministerial level meeting in Colombo in January, “it was clearly agreed not to use force against bona fide fishermen at sea.”
While the fishermen were fishing in their traditional waters of Palk Bay, at about 9.30 pm (yesterday), “a fleet of four Sri Lankan Naval vessels surrounded the fishing boat and opened unprovoked and indiscriminate fire on the unarmed fishermen,” he said.
“Two fishermen received bullet injuries and while Bridgo died while being brought to the shore, Saran has been admitted in hospital,” he added.
“Even as action is taken on longer term issues like retrieval of Katchatheevu (islet) and on diversification to deep sea fishing, under no circumstances can the present escalation of actions by the Sri Lankan side be ignored or tolerated,” the Chief Minister said.
He urged Modi to intervene “personally in this sensitive livelihood issue of our fishermen and use all means at the command of the government of India to curb the unacceptable aggressive actions of the Sri Lankan Navy in the Palk Bay, and to protect the life, limb and liberty of our innocent fishermen”.
In another statement, Palaniswami condemned the killing and announced a compensation of Rs five lakh for the victim’s family. He also announced Rs one lakh to the other fisherman, who was injured in the attack, and directed that the best medical treatment be offered to him. DMK Working President and Leader of Opposition in state Assembly, M K Stalin, called for diplomatic action by New Delhi on the issue.
“Centre should convey to Sri Lanka, either through consular channels or by summoning its envoy to India, that killing of Indian fishermen cannot be tolerated and that it would face the consequences if such incidents recur,” Stalin said.
Stalin said Lankan Navy’s gunning down of the fisherman Bridgo was in contravention to assurances made in a meeting of fishermen of India and Sri Lanka last year that no force will be used on the Indians and criticised the “inhumane” incident.
“One gets a feeling if there is any meaning in calling Sri Lanka a friendly nation even after this incident,” he said in a statement.
The killing has given rise to apprehension among fishermen of returning alive after venturing into the sea, he added. The DMK leader also demanded that the next of kin of the victim be paid a relief of Rs 25 lakh.



4000 medical PG seats added to streamline medical education: PM Modi
New Delhi :MMNN:7 March 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the government has streamlined the medical education field and created 4,000 new post-graduate seats in medical colleges which would resolve the problem of lack of doctors.
"In our country, in the field of health there has always been a complaint that we do not have enough doctors. This is because we do not have a robust system to produce doctors," Modi told a gathering which included medical students at the Surat airport after his arrival.
"If we go to the base of the problem, less number of students can get admission into post-graduate (courses in medical field) due to lack of seats, so only few become professors," he said.
"As there are less (number of) professors, it has become difficult to open new medical colleges. The entire system is entangled in these circles," Modi said.
"But we have streamlined it. We have increased 4,000 post graduate seats in one year. This is a big step in the country," he said.
"Every year 4,000 new post-graduate students (apart from the number of seats already existing) will pass out now who can also become professors. This means they can impart medical education to thousands of students across the country which will solve the issue of shortage of doctors," he said.
"With this we are confident that medical services will be available at village level as well," he added. Modi is on a two-day visit to the state during which he will attend a number of events and meetings.
He will inaugurate a national convention of women sarpanch in Gandhinagar, address an industry meet of OPAL project of ONGC in Dahej and inaugurate a four-lane bridge over Narmada river in Bharuch.


BMC Election 2017: 'Ringmaster' Fadnavis, Uddhav's gamble and how the media interpreted results
NEW DELHI:MMNN:24 Feb. 2017
Results to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election were announced on Thursday, and while Shiv Sena emerged the single largest party with 84 seats, it was the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that surprised everybody, winning 82 seats, a 164 percent increase from its tally of 31 in the 2012 BMC election. And unsurprisingly, newspapers on Friday chose to focus on BJP's resurgence, paying glowing tributes to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, crediting him with the fine showing.
'Behind BJP’s art of winning, there’s craft too', wrote: "This election offered a perfect timing for the BJP to test its mettle in the megalopolis. The gamble worked to an extent that BJP has shown a nearly 300 percent growth. It had three distinct advantages over the Sena. One, the people of Mumbai were tired of the Sena’s childish politics; two, the city has witnessed a huge influx of north Indians which are not sympathetic to Sena and the last is chief minister’s Devendra Fadnavis’s own image."
Fadnavis, calling him the "ringmaster" who tamed the tiger, referring to the Shiv Sena, the self-proclaimed Tiger. "He plunged into the campaign, and pegged it to transparency. In rally after rally, he explained to the people of Mumbai the corruption in BMC in allotment of contracts for roads, garbage transport, and de-silting. Fadnavis seemed to have succeeded in convincing the people of Mumbai that there was a lack of transparency in policy decisions taken by Shiv Sena and all decisions were taken only for the benefit of a few chosen contractors," the report said.
However, the most intriguing sidelight in the entire political over Uddhav Thackeray's future. The Indian Express carried a report analysing the Shiv Sena executive president's future in light of the recent setback. "While Uddhav left no stone unturned in terms of effort — having addressed over 30 rallies in a fortnight — questions have been raised about his political acumen. There had been rumblings in the party over the decision to snap the alliance with the BJP, and many agree that Uddhav has a lot of work to do before he joins the ranks of satraps who dominate in their states," it said.
The election were also the latest in a long list of successive failures the Congress party has had across the country. In the BMC, it went from 52 to 31 seats, a drop of 21 constituencies, making it even more evident that things will only worsen before they get better for a party that ruled the state until two years ago.



US Embassy condemns Indian-origin engineer's killing in Kansas City bar shooting
New Delhi :MMNN:24 Feb. 2017
After an Indian-origin engineer was killed and two others injured in shooting in a bar in Kansas City in the United States on Wednesday night, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi has strongly condemned the tragic incident.
Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who worked at the Garmin headquarters in Olathe area of Kansas, was killed in the shooting on Wednesday night, while another Indian and his colleague Alok Madasani was injured and has been discharged from the local hospital where he was undergoing treatment. Srinivas was a resident of Hyderabad. The other person injured in the shooting has been identified as Ian Grillot.
The gunman -- 51-year-old Adam Purinton -- was arrested on Thursday morning, 5 hours after the incident, and has been charged with murder and attempted murder.
US EMBASSY CONDEMNS ATTACK
The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi has strongly condemned the tragic shooting in Olathe area of Kansas. A release from the embassy said, "We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Kuchibhotla. We share their grief, and wish those injured a speedy recovery. We have reached out to Indian consular officials and promise them full support as they assist the victims. We understand that the alleged shooter is in custody and is expected to be prosecuted for the crime. U.S. Federal authorities are also investigating the case. We have full faith that U.S. legal authorities will bring the case to justice."
MaryKay Carlson, a member of the Senior Foreign Service, said, "We are deeply saddened by this tragic and senseless act. Our deepest sympathies are with the victims and their families. The United States is a nation of immigrants and welcomes people from across the world to visit, work, study and live here. U.S. authorities will investigate the case thoroughly even though we recognise that justice is a small consolation to the families in grief."
ALL ABOUT SRINIVAS
Srinivas, 32, was working as an engineer at Garmin International in Olathe area of Kansas since January 2014. Srinivas graduated in Electrical and Electronics engineering from Jawaharlal Nehru Technical University in Hyderabad during 2001-2005. After completing his B.Tech, Srinivas went to the US for his Masters degree.
Srinivas completed his Masters in Electrical and Electronics engineering from The University Of Texas at El Paso from 2005-2007.
After completing his studies, he stated working as a software engineer with Rockwell Collins and later in January 2014 he joined Garmin International in Olathe as an aviation program engineer and manager. Srinivas' family is inconsolable after learning about his death.
According to a bartender at Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe in Kansas, Adam Purinton used "racial slurs" before he started shooting on Wednesday night as patrons were watching the University of Kansas-TCU basketball game on television.
GoFundMe CAMPAIGN
A GoFundMe campaign (https://www.gofundme.com/srinus-familyrecovery-support) to collect money for Kuchibhotla's family has already raised $250,000, crossing its target of $150,000 in 12 hours.
The donations came from more than 7,000 people, including Americans with a sum total of $$259,807 being raised for Kuchibhotla's family.
The campaign was started by Kuchibhotla's friend Kavipriya Muthuramalingam.
While setting up the campaign, Kavipriya wrote, "Srini was the kindest person you would meet, full of love, care and compassion for everyone. He never uttered a word of hatred, a simple gossip, or a careless comment. He was brilliant, well mannered and simply an outstanding human being. His wife Sunayana and his family are now faced with incredible grief and a multitude of expenses." The donations range from $5 to $100.
INCIDENT A POSSIBLE HATE CRIME: POLICE
Purinton opened fire after allegedly yelling "get out of my country" at the Indians. The local police has called the incident a "possible hate crime".
"It was a tragic and senseless act of violence," Olathe Police Chief Steven Menke told reporters. FBI special agent Eric Jackson said, "We will make sure that the individual involved in this is held accountable for his actions."
Purinton was taken into custody just after midnight on Thursday morning at an Applebee's about 70 miles to the southeast of Olathe in Clinton, Missouri, authorities said. A navy veteran, Purinton later reportedly told a bartender in Clinton, Missouri, where he was hiding that he killed two people from the Middle East.
INDIAN EMBASSY SWINGS INTO ACTION
Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has condoled the death of Srinivas Kuchibhotla.
The Indian Embassy has swung into action and two senior officials of the Indian Consulate in Houston have been sent to Kansas to assist the victims' families.
"Consul Ravindra Joshi and Vice Consul Harpal Singh rushed to Kansas to assist the kin of shooting victims. They are on their way and will reach by evening," the consulate said in a tweet.
The accused has been charged with premeditated first-degree murder and his bond has been set at USD 2 million.
According to Garmin, Kuchibhotla and Madasani worked in the company's aviation systems. "We are saddened that two Garmin associates were involved in last night's (Wednesday night) incident, and we express our condolences to the family and friends of our co-workers involved. Garmin will have grievance counsellors on-site and available for its associates today and tomorrow," Garmin said in a statement.


India's envoy to the UN Syed Akbaruddin warns Pakistan: What you sow will bear fruit, so plant only peace
NEW DELHI:MMNN:20 Dec. 2016
India has renewed its demand for international action against Pakistan-based terrorist groups Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and "their shadowy supporters," and Syed Akbaruddin, India's envoy to the United Nations, today cited a quote from poet Rumi to send to warn Pakistan.
"Every leaf that grows will tell you: What you sow will bear fruit. So, if you have any sense my friend, don't plant anything but peace," Akbaruddin said, quoting the great Persian poet in a Security Council session on the situation in Afghanistan.
The UN envoy's remark was an apparent reference to terrorist groups operating with support from Pakistan in neighbouring Afghanistan. He said that to bring sustainable peace to Afghanistan, groups perpetrating violence in the country must be denied safe havens in its "neighbourhood."
"We need to address, as an imperative, the support that terrorist organisations like the Taliban, Haqqani Network, Daesh, al-Qaeda and its designated affiliates such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed which operate entirely outside the fabric of international law draw from their shadowy supporters outside Afghanistan," Akbaruddin said.
"Experience, as well as academic research, provides ample support for the assertion that conflicts in which foreign assistance is available to shadowy entities that fight legitimate state authorities tend to be more severe and last longer than other types of conflict," he explained.
Akbaruddin pointed out to the Security Council that it's apparent that efforts by nations for rebuilding institutions, infrastructure and networks in Afghanistan are being "undermined, schools are being destroyed, mosques bombarded and religious gatherings targeted".
"It is also evident that those who perpetrate these heinous crimes have survived and thrived only with support and sanctuaries on the outside," he said, in a veiled but strong reference to Pakistan.
Akbaruddin noted with concern that while the international community recommits to standing by the Afghan people each time the UN members discuss the situation in the war-torn country, the number of Afghan civilian and security forces casualties keeps rising.
"While the Taliban sanctions regime remains split for more than five years, the designated terrorist group makes concerted effort to capture and hold territory. Therefore, for numerous Afghan women, men and children there is no respite from the plague of terrorism," he said.
This reference to a "split" could be interpreted as a criticism of China, which has blocked India's efforts to have international sanctions imposed on Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar by a committee that takes action against al-Qaida and its affiliates. Azhar was behind the attack on the Pathankot air force base this year.
As a member of the Security Council, China has also provided cover for Pakistan releasing on bail Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the LeT commander who masterminded the 2008 attack on Mumbai which killed more than 160 people. He was already on the UN list of those facing sanctions as terrorists.
Akbaruddin today emphasised that the international community must introspect about the way it's approaching the situation in Afghanistan and whether there's a need for course correction.
Akbaruddin's comments come just days after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said, in a message addressed directly to Pakistan foreign affairs chief Sartaj Aziz, that while Pakistan's pledge to contribute $500 million for the reconstruction of his war-torn country was "generous," that money could be used to contain extremism.
Ghani went on to say that "without peace, any amount of assistance will not meet the needs of our people."



Income Tax Department Seizes 10 Crores, 6 kg Gold Jewellery In Chennai
New Delhi :MMNN:20 Dec. 2016
The Income Tax department has seized Rs. 10 crore cash and 6 kg gold jewellery as part of its anti-black money crackdown operations in the city.
Officials said the seizure, all in demonetised notes of Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 500, was made after searches were conducted against a trader dealing in imitation jewellery located in Periamet area of the city.
They said that the department sleuths acted against him based on a tip off about stashing of huge currency in scrapped high value notes and the trader was now being questioned about the source of the huge cash haul.
The interception was made in the city as part of taxman's anti-black money probe post demonetisation of the old currencies on November 8.


For Congress, party is above nation but for us the country is supreme: PM Modi tells BJP lawmakers
NEW DELHI:MMNN:16 Dec. 2016
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed BJP MPs at the party’s parliamentary meeting earlier Friday. He spoke in defence of the government’s steps to curb black money in light of the move to demonetise old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes. “Earlier, the opposition would unite against the government over 2G and Coalgate scams, but now it is up against government’s steps to curb black money and corruption,” the prime minister told the BJP MPs in a clear jibe at the Congress. “For Congress, party is above the country but for the BJP the country’s interests are supreme,” the PM conveyed to the lawmakers. “Wanchoo Committee had recommended the demonetisation move in 1971. The country has suffered for its late implementation,” he said.
“I want to thank Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar for supporting us in the demonetisation decision and all others who have welcomed the decision,” the prime minister said. “Iss ladai mein jo bhi saath de rahe hain, unhe saath leke humein aage badhna hai (We have to move forward in this struggle with whoever supports us).” He also told the lawmakers that a digital economy should be a ‘way of life’ and that such an economy would be transparent and effective. The Centre has been pushing hard for a ‘cashless’ economy exhorting people to engage in digital transactions.
The Prime Minister’s silence in Parliament in the aftermath of demonetisation has earned him excessive criticism of the opposition. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also claimed having ‘information’ which would prove PM Modi’s involvement in “personal corruption.” Gandhi also alleged that he was not being allowed to speak in the Lok Sabha as the government feared revelation of the ‘information.’
Leaders of opposition political parties too demanded a discussion on the demonetisation issue and had also asked for a voting clause in the discussion– which was denied by the ruling government. They also met on Friday to discuss the current deadlock in the Parliament. On Thursday, the opposition leaders had also sought a meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee.
The winter session of Parliament is headed for a near-washout amid parliamentary logjam caused by the opposition and treasury benches. While multiple bills had been placed in the Houses for discussion, only two — Income Tax Bill and the Disabilities Bill — were passed.



Lessons from Nirbhaya gang rape continue to elude lawmakers?
New Delhi :MMNN:16 Dec. 2016
On the fourth anniversary of the gang rape of a young woman on a moving bus on December 16, 2012, another case of sexual assault in Delhi came to light on Friday morning.
A 20-year-old woman was raped, allegedly by a car driver who picked her up as she waited near the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in South Delhi on Wednesday night. She was on her way back home in Noida when the incident occurred. While the Delhi Police arrested the man on Thursday, the case once again sparked off a debate – have we learned any lessons since the Nirbhaya gang rape case that pushed for stricter laws for crimes against women?
According to activists who led the protests in 2012, women in the Capital face the same risks today.
“We are still talking about incidents, not the overall climate for women, which is dangerous. There is an attack on women’s autonomy and there is not one elected representative or Chief Minister who has stood up and defended that autonomy,” said Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All-India Progressive Women’s Association.
The inadequacies in public transportation that were exposed by the December 16 case are yet to be addressed properly, she said.
“Political will lacking”
Also highlighting a lack of “political will”, Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research, said the laws had failed to act as deterrents.
“The story repeats itself, the comments repeat. We are stuck in a cycle, which will only be broken with strong political will,” said Dr. Kumari.
The “feeling of impunity persists”, with perpetrators remaining under the impression that they would “get away” with crimes against women, she noted.
Jagmati Sangwan, national general secretary of the All-India Democratic Women’s Association, said not only have crimes against women not gone down since 2012, but the “vulnerability of the deprived sections of society has increased”.
“Through statements made by members of the government and political parties, a message has been sent down to the administrative machinery and law enforcement. The ‘blame the victim’ approach is still there. There is no accountability,” she said.
Terming the Wednesday night incident “unfortunate”, she said much was left to be done to make public transport and public spaces safe.
That being said, the activists all agreed that the movement for social change that the December 16 case sparked is still on today. From protests against sexist rules in university hostels to women reclaiming public spaces at night, efforts to make Delhi safer are on.
“If one thing has changed it is women’s willingness to complain and fight back. Women are increasingly choosing not to be silent. The one positive outcome is that the movement is continuing,” said Ms. Krishnan.


India,Indonesia provide bulwark against radicalism intolerance: President Mukherjee
NEW DELHI:MMNN:13 Dec. 2016
President Pranab Mukherjee has said that India and Indonesia provide a bulwark against radicalism and intolerance.
Welcoming the President of Indonesia to India, the President said India and Indonesia have has age-old bilateral ties. The two countries share a common experience of struggle for freedom from colonial rule.
President Mukherjee yesterday received Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his wife Madame Iriana Widodo at Rashtrapati Bhavan. He also hosted a banquet in their honour.
The President said India welcomes Indonesia's emergence as a vibrant democracy.
"India attaches high importance to Indonesia's success as a pluralistic democracy with an open society based on the shared values of syncretism, tolerance and respect for diversity. India values its cooperation with Indonesia to address these common security concerns and transnational threats. Our proximity as close maritime neighbours indicates that this is a key area where we must work together as partners to achieve for strategic stability and security in the Indo-Pacific and safety and security of sea lanes," he added.
The President said Indonesia is the largest economy in ASEAN and India's number one trade partner in the region.
"Our bilateral trade was about US$16 billion last year. We can try to realise the actual potential of our trade by diversifying our trade basket. India would value Indonesia's active support for strengthening India-ASEAN relations during 2017 when we will be celebrating 15 years of Summit level interaction," he added.
Subsequently, in his banquet speech, President Mukherjee said Indonesia and India helped to write the closing chapters of colonialism and started the Non-Aligned Movement.
"India looks forward to work with Indonesia to achieve the full potential of economic co-operation, maritime and air links and in increasing reciprocal investments. India would be happy to contribute to Indonesia's 'maritime fulcrum vision' of Indonesia Nusantaraand,thereby, also to the security of the Indo-Pacific region. In the multilateral and global context of facing the common challenges of the 21st Century, India and Indonesia, together, are factors of stability for the world," he added.



Indian defence forces to be under 'US scrutiny': CPI(M)
New Delhi :MMNN:13 Dec. 2016
Indian defence forces and defence production would be "open to scrutiny" and "control" by the United States which will make India its "junior ally" following finalisation of the 'Major Defense Partner' designation, CPI(M) has alleged.
Noting that the US has placed the details of 'Major Defense Partner' designation for Senate approval as part of FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the party said the Narendra Modi government "has not even made a statement in Parliament about such a significant deal." "The country can see the US side of the deal by reading the 2017 NDAA, but remains ignorant of the Indian commitment as a 'Major Defense Partner' of the United States," CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, he referred to Paragraph (E) of Section 1292 of 2017 NDAA, "which talks of 'mechanisms to verify the security of defense articles, defense services, and related technology, such as appropriate cyber security and end user monitoring agreements' for items and technologies sold to India. "Paragraph (F) thereafter states that India will align its 'export control and procurement regimes with those of the United States'."
Yechury further said, "Paragraph(I) of Section 1292, 2017 NDAA makes the facts amply clear. It explicitly highlights enhanced 'defense and security cooperation with India in order to advance United States interests in South Asia and greater Indo-Asia-Pacific regions'." "This is, sadly, a commitment by your government to become a junior ally of the US in our own neighbourhood. This represents the final nail in the coffin of India's independent foreign policy," Yechury said in his letter to Modi.
He said, "These are significant concessions made by your government which will make Indian defence forces open to American scrutiny, and Indian defence production under the control of the United States of America." "Serious apprehensions arise about your government compromising India's sovereignty and strategic autonomy," the CPI(M) leader said, quoting the US statement as saying that the 'Major Defense Partner' designation was a status unique to India" and brings "India to a level at par with that of the United States' closest allies and partners".
"This is a significant departure from India's long- standing policy on defence relations and it has been done without taking Parliament into confidence," Yechury said.


First 2014, Then TIME Poll, No Vote On Notes Ban Needed, Says Government: 10 Points
NEW DELHI:MMNN:9 Dec. 2016
Parliament remains gridlocked over how a debate on the government's notes ban should be conducted. This winter session of parliament ends on Friday. The opposition says that Prime Minister Narendra Modi must apologise for and explain his sudden demonetization drive which has left India without cash and villages, cut off from formal banking, struggling to transact. The government, on the other hand, says it is the opposition which must apologise for its serial disruptions, which have left parliament unable to get down to work.
Here are the 10 latest developments in this big story:
The government has reiterated that it will not acquiesce to a debate followed by a vote, as demanded by the opposition. Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's huge win in 2014, recent victories in civic and state elections, and his emerging earlier this week as Time Person of the Year in an online poll establishes the extent of public support for his policies.

"First, you don't let parliament function, then you ask for voting ... It will be embarrassing for you if there is voting. Voting was done in 2014... people have already given their mandate," said Mr Naidu.

Congress leader Vice President Rahul Gandhi offered the opinion that if the government allows a debate on its controversial move, his speech will trigger "an earthquake". Mr Naidu's thoughts: "ket us hope we are not in parliament when the earthquake happens."

The opposition appeared this morning to create some room for a compromise by offering the option of a "no rules debate", with free-wheeling discussion and a less structured format than what is usually employed, with Speaker Sumitra Mahajan empowered to decide on whether a vote is merited.

But once parliament began, the usual angry exchanges between government and opposition members on the demonetisation drive led to disruptions and then the day being declared done or adjourned early.

The government reminded the opposition of President Pranab Mukherjee's rebuke yesterday. "For God's sake, just do your jobs," he said, stressing that protests should be held "in the streets and not parliament."

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley says he is ready to present the government's stand, but the opposition dodges a discussion by resorting to calls for an apology by the PM and a vote.

"The centre is not just sitting around doing nothing," said its top lawyer to the Supreme Court today, assuring that the current shortage of cash would be resolved "in 10-15 days' time".

But a month after the sudden cancellation of 86% of the notes in circulation, banks are still short of new bills to give to customers desperate for cash.

This session of parliament has seen important legislation stalled because of the stand-off over demonetisation. The national Goods and Services Tax or GST appears at risk. The government is keen on introducing GST in April. For that to happen, key proposals have to be cleared now. But the government's sudden move to cancel 500- and 1,000-rupee notes has alienated the opposition, with some parties saying they are rethinking support to India's biggest-ever tax reform.



Manmohan Singh’s warning to Narendra Modi: Is demonetisation already a ‘mammoth tragedy’?
MMNN:9 Dec. 2016
The choice of words of Manmohan Singh, former prime minister and an economist, for his column in The Hindu on demonetisation impact on India’s economy, beginning with the title, Making of a mammoth tragedy, should worry the average Indian. Even if one tend to discount the politics of Singh’s article, the former RBI governor’s warning on an impending economic crisis, that according to him, will mainly hit the poor, is worth paying a great deal of attention by his successor in PMO, Narendra Modi.
Singh begins the piece by lauding Modi’s intention—addressing black money, fake currency problems—but later goes on to say that what he has done to achieve this task will not only work but its ‘unintended consequence’ will harm the poor greatly. Singh said. “All black money is not in cash, only a tiny fraction is. Against this backdrop, the decision by the Prime Minister is bound to have obverse implications by causing grievous injury to the honest Indian who earns his/her wages in cash and a mere rap on the knuckles to the dishonest black money hoarder.” Singh, who had just recently warned about a 2 percent GDP decline following demonetisation, ends his article saying “It is my humble opinion that we as a nation should brace ourselves for a tough period over the coming months, needlessly so.”
Is the former PM overstating the short-term pain caused by the demonetisation calling it ‘a mammoth tragedy’, launching a political attack intended to bulldoze a massive economic reform shouldered by his political rival--something and a missed opportunity for his government? Or is it an important caution from an economist-cum former central banker that should be an eye-opener even to his political enemies and the finance ministry?
It is too early to talk about the actual impact on the economy and its various stakeholders from the artificial cash crunch that is a consequence to PM Modi’s massive currency crackdown that has parallels in India only to the 1978 currency ban by Morarji Desai Government. But, some indications have begun to flow in, which indeed shows things have taken a bad turn for the economy though no one is sure how things will pan out from this point.
Let’s look at the available data so far and try understanding Singh’s caution.
Services/manufacturing
The demonetisation announcement happened on 8 November. The only real numbers that gauge the economic activity in the month of November that is out is the Nikkei India Services Business Activity Index for manufacturing and services sectors. This is an important index economists and central bank track to fathom the trends in these key areas. The services sector PMI sharply fell to 46.7 in November from 54.5 in October—that is the biggest monthly drop since November 2008, just two months after the global financial crisis hit the economy following the US investment bank Lehman Brothers going bust in September. A reading of PMI above 50 typically shows economic growth, while a figure below 50 indicates contraction. "The latest set of gloomy PMI figures for the Indian service sector shows that companies were heavily impacted by the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes ban. Cash shortages resulted in fewer new business intakes, which in turn caused a fall in activity and ended a 16-month sequence of expansion ," said Pollyanna De Lima, Economist at Markit and author of the report.
A decline, though not to this extent, was seen in the manufacturing PMI as well with the index shrinking to 52.3 in November from October’s 22-month high of 54.4. But, the PMI numbers do indicate both manufacturing and services have taken a major hit in November. One needs to wait and watch how things will pan out from here on when more data comes.
November auto sales
Then we have the auto sales numbers, which is a good indicator to know what is happening on the ground. According to PTI report, the vehicle sales across categories registered a decline of 5.48 per cent at 15,63,665 units, from 16,54,407 in November 2015. It is the steepest decline in 43 months when total sales had declined by 7.75 per cent in March 2013.
Two wheelers and commercial vehicles are the segments that are hit most. According to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), passenger vehicle sales last month were at 2,40,979 units, as against 2,36,664 in November last year. Domestic car sales ticked up to 1,73,606 units as against 1,73,111 in November last year while that of commercial vehicles (CVs) was down 11.58 per cent at 45,773 units in November, SIAM said. According to this report, total two-wheeler market sales dropped by five per cent, with market leaders like Hero MotoCorp and Bajaj Auto witnessing major fall. Hero MotoCorp sold 4,79,856 units of two-wheelers in November, marking a fall of around 12.9 percent year-on-year, while Bajaj Auto saw sales dropping by 12 percent in November, and others reported a flat growth.
The RBI cues
The RBI’s approach to the demonetisation impact on the economy is bit perplexing, but the obtrusive caution is hard to ignore. In its latest bi-monthly policy review, the central bank has already cut the FY17 growth forecast to 7.1 percent from 7.6 percent, but not taking into account the full impact of demonetisation shock. “The withdrawal of SBNs could transiently interrupt some part of industrial activity in November-December due to delays in payments of wages and purchases of inputs, although a fuller assessment is awaited,” the RBI said.
The RBI indeed acknowledges that there’ll be ‘short-run disruptions in economic activity in cash-intensive sectors such as retail trade, hotels & restaurants and transportation, and in the unorganised sector’. But the RBI’s larger assumption seems to be that there will be a recovery beyond short –term pain of cash-crunch. “ If the impact is transient as widely expected, growth should rebound strongly.”
But the central bank too only ‘expects’ that the demonetisation effect is ‘transient’ but it is not fully sure on the actual impact. “The outlook for GVA growth for 2016-17 has turned uncertain after the unexpected loss of momentum by 50 basis points in Q2 and the effects of the withdrawal of SBNs (specified bank notes) which are still playing out.” In short, the RBI has no clue at this stage what the demonetisation will do to the economic growth. It primarily attributes the loss of growth momentum in second quarter to the downward revision and to the as yet unclear effects of note ban. This means, if things turn bad, the 7.1 percent growth projection could be revised downwards even further to 6-6.5 percent.
Job loss
There are indications of severe hit to the employments in the informal sector post after the government announced Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes as illegal tender on 8 November. As Singh points out in his Op-ed, “more than 90 per cent of India’s workforce still earn their wages in cash. These consist of hundreds of millions of agriculture workers, construction workers and so on”. The pain and suffering of these segments, which constitute the majority is not quantifiable, but no government can shun the responsibility of massive losses in the country that is a consequence of a “well thought-out”, conscious policy action, which according to RBI governor Urjit Patel, “wasn’t done in haste”. We don’t have reliable figures on job data. But, according to a report in Financial Express, which quotes unnamed industry officials, “As many as 4 lakh people, mostly daily wagers, may have either lost their jobs or shunned work temporarily due to the lack of payment so far, and the number is only going to grow if the cash crunch persists.”
Even the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the labour wing of BJP’s ideological parent, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has raised an alarm about the huge hit on job losses. “"Under the new government, 1 lakh and 35 thousand job opportunities have been created so far but 20 lakh people have lost their jobs," Baij Nath Rai, president of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, told The Telegraph. This is a serious situation indeed in a country where job creation is already a massive challenge. The onus, yet again, falls on the Modi-government here. The big question is how long the pain will last. There is no clarity on this either from the government and the central bank. PM Modi talks about 50-days, his finance minister, Arun Jaitley speaks of two or three quarters and the RBI doesn’t seem to have an answer except assuring the public that there is enough cash out there and things are under “constant review”.
There are no two thoughts on the intentions behind the demonetisation exercise but when ultimately a cost-benefit analysis is done, and if the government finds little luck on recovery on unaccounted cash, the cost of this whole exercise will be enormous, far outweighing the gains that may include more people moving to non-cash transactions. PM Modi’s big task now is to ensure demonetisation doesn’t end up as a tragedy.


Jayalalithaa demise: Three deaths, two suicide attempts in Coimbatore
Coimbatore:MMNN:6 Dec. 2016
Three persons died apparently due to shock and two cases of suicide attempts were reported from the district after the news of Jayalalithaa’s deteriorating health spread last evening, police said today.
In Singanallur, a 65-year-old painter complained of chest pain while watching television news on Jayalalithaa’s health in his house yesterday. However, he died before being taken to the hospital, police said. In another incident, Palaniammal (62) of Thudiyalur, died of shock after watching the TV news in her house yesterday afternoon, they said.
Similarly, a 38-year-old load worker, Raja of Erode, collapsed on the chair, while watching the news channel.
Though his wife called for assistance, the 108 crew of emergency service declared him dead on their arrival, police said.
Meanwhile, one Loganathan attempted suicide by jumping down from a 50-foot tall mobile tower in Kuniamuthur in the early hours.
However, police reached the spot and managed to bring him down, before letting him off with a stern warning.
In second such incident, a 45-year-old AIADMK worker, Ramachandran attempted self-imolation near Annur last night.
With 60 per cent burns, he is being treated at the Government Hospital here, police added.
Jayalalithaa passed away at the Apollo Hospitals in Chennai last night after waging a grim battle for life since her hospitalisation on September 22.



Tributes paid to BR Ambedkar on 60th death anniversary
MMNN:6 Dec. 2016
Rich tributes were on Tuesday paid to the architect of Constitution, B R Ambedkar on his 60th death anniversary, observed as 'Mahaparinirvan Din' by thousands of followers from all over the state who converged at his memorial 'Chaityabhoomi' near Shivaji Park in Dadar.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Education Minister Vinod Tawde were among the leaders who paid homage to Ambedkar at the 'Chaityabhoomi'.
At Mantralaya, the state Secretariat, floral tributes were offered to the late leader. At Vidhan Bhawan, Legislature staff paid tributes to Ambedkar.
The city's public transport wing, BEST undertaking, ran special buses between Dadar and Shivaji Park, an official said, adding food stalls were also being put up to provide free snacks.
The BMC has installed temporary sheds, mobile toilets and six medical stalls at Shivaji Park, Dadar Station, at Rajgriha (Ambedkar's residence) and Kurla Terminus.
Drinking water arrangements were also made at Shivaji Park, the official said.


India hopes to work closely to expand ties with UAE: President Pranab Mukherjee
NEW DELHI:MMNN:2 Dec. 2016
India looks forward to working closely with United Arab Emirates (UAE) to further expand and deepen bilateral ties, President Pranab Mukherjee said today.
Mukherjee stated this while extending his greetings to the government and people of the UAE on the occasion of their National Day.
In a message to Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President said India deeply values its close, friendly and warm relations with the United Arab Emirates, "which are firmly rooted in our age-old trade and cultural links, nourished by people-to-people contacts and regular exchange of high-level visits".
"I look forward to working closely with Your Highness to further expand and deepen our bilateral relations," Mukherjee said.
He said the recent contacts and exchanges at the highest political level have provided a fresh impetus to mutually beneficial ties and elevated them to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
"We are delighted that His Highness the crown prince of Abu Dhabi has agreed to be our chief guest at the Republic Day 2017 celebrations," the President said.



BSF jawan injured in ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops
JAMMU:MMNN:2 Dec. 2016
Pakistani troops on Friday violated the ceasefire by firing on forward posts along the LoC in Rajouri district, leaving a BSF jawan injured.
"At 10am, a BSF constable deployed at a forward location at LoC in Bhimbher Gali sector of Rajouri district sustained an injury due to single round fire (sniper fire) from Pakistan Forward Defence location", a senior BSF officer said on Friday.
The condition of the jawan is stable.
The fresh ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops has taken place after a lull of over one week along the LoC.
Eleven persons including six Army personnel, four BSF jawans and a civilian porter working with Army were injured in Pakistan shelling and firing in Nowshera, Manjakote, Balakote, Mendhar and Gurez sectors on November 23.
A total of 26 people, including 14 security personnel and 12 civilians, have been killed and more than 83 suffered injured in Pakistani shelling and firing along IB and LoC in Jammu after surgical strikes.


Demonetisation: By repeated flip-flops, PM Modi is proving Manmohan Singh right
MMNN:25 Nov. 2016
New notes of Rs. 2,000 were found on two terrorists killed in an encounter in Bandipora in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday.
The police say the terrorists had Rs. 15,000 in cash, including two notes of the new Rs. 2,000, and 160 Rs. 100 notes.
The terrorists were killed in a gunfight with security forces that went on for hours. Both are suspected to be from the Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, the police say.
Images after army searches showed the 2000-rupee notes along with two AK 47 guns.
Banks started dispensing new Rs. 2,000 notes two weeks ago, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi banned 500 and 1,000-rupee notes on November 8 in an attempt to check tax evasion and terror funding. PM Modi said terror attacks, including those facilitated by Pakistan, often involve counterfeit Rs. 500 notes.
Yesterday, four masked and armed men burst into a bank in Kashmir and left with Rs. 13 lakh, largely in the old Rs. 500 and 1,000 notes.
The robbery took place at a branch of the state-run Jammu and Kashmir Bank in Malpora, 100 km from Srinagar.



Note ban: SC fixes hearing on all pleas challenging demonetisation on 2 December
NEW DELHI:MMNN:25 Nov. 2016
The Supreme Court has fixed the hearing on a batch of pleas challenging demonetisation for 2 December, saying it will examine both the inconvenience aspect and constitutional validity of the 8 November notification in one go.
A bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice DY Chandrachud initially said it would first hold a hearing on the inconvenience faced by the public and steps taken to address them and that the hearing on the validity of the note ban could take place later. But the apex court later agreed to hold hearing on both the aspects simultaneously.
The Centre, represented by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, had requested a stay on the proceedings against its 8 November decision to demonetise high denomination currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, before various high courts and other courts apart from the apex court, saying it will create a lot of confusion. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the plea on 17 November, after initially refusing to stay the government's demonetisation notification on 15 November.
The apex court had on 18 November dubbed as a "serious issue" the long queues outside banks and post offices and expressed its reservation on the Centre's plea, even warning the Centre of the possibility of riots, according to a Hindustan Times report.
However, the Supreme Court on Wednesday, 23 November, sought the response of all the petitioners, who challenged the demonetisation move in different high courts and a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur refused the Centre's request to stay the proceedings, saying people may get "immediate relief" from them.
"We don't want to stay it. There are various issues. People may get immediate relief from the high courts," the bench also comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.
The AG on Thursday informed the bench that the situation is "much better" and more than Rs 6 lakh crore has been deposited so far in the banks since the demonetisation move, and that there is a big surge in digital use of money transaction.
He had also said the demonetisation move was aimed at removing the 70 years of "slush money" and the government is monitoring the situation day-by-day and hour-by-hour.
And that the government has set up a committee which will take stock of the ground situation across the country on demonetisation move, after saying that the general rule is that the cash transactions in the market should not be more than four percent of the GDP but it is 12 percent in India.
The bench had questioned the relief measures undertaken by the Centre and asked why it had squeezed the exchange limit to Rs 2,000, to which the AG said that after printing, the currency has to be moved to thousands of centres across the country and ATMs have to be re-calibrated to issue new currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 adding that Rs 100 notes are in circulation.
A day before this crucial hearing, the Centre, had filed an affidavit on demonetisation, and said the decision on which a total secrecy was maintained, would now help in proper implementation of the ambitious 'Jan Dhan Yojana' under which around 22 crore bank accounts for poor people have been opened as reports of unscrupulous elements using these accounts to convert their black money into white surfaced.
Further, demonetisation is seen as a check on the real estate sector where prices get pushed up artificially, reducing the availability of affordable housing for the poor and the middle class. Elaborating on several measures including the "thrust" given for increasing digital payments in the economy through credit and debit cards, internet banking, mobile apps and e-wallets, it said their use has seen a jump of nearly 300 percent in the last 10 days.
In its affidavit, the Centre also gave reasons for maintaining secrecy about the move which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi just after 8 pm on 8 November and came into force from the midnight, saying "If elaborate prior arrangement for distribution of new currency notes were made prior to the announcement of the scheme, the very objective of the scheme would have been defeated. Further, the scheme impacts several sectors in the short-term but promises large benefits in the economy in the medium-term."
Petitions have been filed by a number of people including Sitaram Yechury of the CPI-M, seeking to know what the government was doing to ensure that there was adequate supply of currency notes according to a News 18 report.
The bench, meanwhile, asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, to file additional affidavit, if any, explaining the "schemes and steps" taken to ease the situation that has arisen due to demonetisation.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for one of the petitioners who has challenged the Centre's 8 November decision on demonetisation, said the court should start hearing the matter from Tuesday itself. Rohatgi, however, opposed the contention and said let all the petitioners, who have approached various high courts on the issue, come to the apex court which would take a call on 2 December as to whether the Supreme Court or the Delhi High Court would hear them all.


Terrorists Killed In Kashmir's Bandipora Had New Rs. 2,000 Notes, Say Police
BANDIPORA:MMNN:22 Nov. 2016
New notes of Rs. 2,000 were found on two terrorists killed in an encounter in Bandipora in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday.
The police say the terrorists had Rs. 15,000 in cash, including two notes of the new Rs. 2,000, and 160 Rs. 100 notes.
The terrorists were killed in a gunfight with security forces that went on for hours. Both are suspected to be from the Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, the police say.
Images after army searches showed the 2000-rupee notes along with two AK 47 guns.
Banks started dispensing new Rs. 2,000 notes two weeks ago, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi banned 500 and 1,000-rupee notes on November 8 in an attempt to check tax evasion and terror funding. PM Modi said terror attacks, including those facilitated by Pakistan, often involve counterfeit Rs. 500 notes.
Yesterday, four masked and armed men burst into a bank in Kashmir and left with Rs. 13 lakh, largely in the old Rs. 500 and 1,000 notes.
The robbery took place at a branch of the state-run Jammu and Kashmir Bank in Malpora, 100 km from Srinagar.



Patna-Indore Express tragedy: Parliamentary Standing Committee’s red flag ignored
NEW DELHI:MMNN:22 Nov. 2016
The deteriorating quality of food on the Rajdhani and the rail fare across trains seem to be two of the biggest discussion points each time the Railway Budget is presented.
But it's time we set aside the Rajdhani food for a bit and focus on what should be at the core of everybody's concern — whether or not passengers will reach their destinations safely, irrespective of budgetary allocations for various expenditure heads. Unfortunately, passenger safety seems to have been the least concern for the political class that sits over the financial fortunes of the Railways each year. And the recent Patna-Indore Express tragedy has once again highlighted this serious issue.
After the accident on Sunday, the government has initiated a probe to find out the possible cause of derailment. The accident site has been videographed, railway engineers and technical staff members were questioned and samples were collected from the debris to ascertain the factors that led to the derailment of 14 coaches of the Patna-Indore Express due to suspected rail fracture.
With as many as 146 deaths, it has become one of the worst rail disasters of recent times. And for once, the issue has united the railway employees’ unions across the political spectrum.
But, what after that?
The same old story of recommendations, promises and near-zero implementation is likely to repeat itself.
However, more than a decade ago in 2004, the Parliamentary Standing Committee in its report submitted to the 14th Lok Sabha had made radical observations on safety and the security of the Indian Railways. “We had recommended several measures for the safety and security of passengers in the Standing Committee report from the renewal of tracks to addressing the acute shortage of staff especially in the safety segment. But, barring a few, implementation of major recommendations was never done. So many passengers died in this accident. Had the new LHB-design coaches been used, as recommended, casualties could have been averted,” Basudeb Acharia, former chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Indian Railways and a seven-time Lok Sabha MP from Bengal told Firstpost.

A few Standing Committee observations:

- Resource crunch has been the basic cause for not proceeding with identified safety items like track-circuiting or renewal of the over-aged assets in the past three or four decades.
- Due to an acute shortage of staff at times, even the station masters have to perform commercial duties like the sale of tickets, booking of parcels/goods, attending public queries etc. In the process, there could be a lapse in train operations. Due to a shortfall in staff (that comes under the safety category), the safety of trains/operations has to be compromised.
- Against the 10 hours of duty from 'rolling on' to 'rolling off' and 12 hours of duty from signing on to sign off, the operational staff, especially gangmen and drivers, in actual practice have to work for even 22 to 24 hours at a stretch. At times, drivers have been found to be working for five consecutive days. Due to work stress and stifling conditions, the life of thousands of commuters is at risk and it certainly affects the safety of train operations.
- In order to earn more revenue, new trains have been introduced and many express trains were converted into super-fast ones and efforts are now being made to provide for commensurate safety safeguards and maintenance facilities. While doing so, proper care is not being taken to replace the over-aged rolling stock. The process of modernisation and renewal of track and maintenance lacks the desired attention.
- While the traffic has increased, the commensurate increase in assets for capacity-generation has not been there. The system is over-stretched, over-stressed and has a direct impact on the safety of the operations in running trains. Renewal and replacement of over-aged assets need to be expedited.
“Consecutive Rail Budgets have been ignoring the safety and security part and allocation in this segment is low in comparison to others. In a decade, the staff shortage has reached three lakh and due to this, time-bound renewal and maintenance of tracks is not happening,” added Acharia, who is also president of West Bengal Railway Contractor Labour Union.
The employees’ unions — whether Left or Right, are vocal against the current state of affairs in the Railways.
The RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Railway Mazdoor Sangh’s secretary-general, Ashok Shukla pointed out, “Every Rail Budget is politically-aimed. The number of trains is increased, populist announcements are made to keep the electorate happy, but ultimately the key concerns like passenger safety, track maintenance, renewal of tracks etc are compromised. The irony here is that Railways has set its standards in every category of operation, but fails to match it. Ultimately, the passengers have to pay the price.”
“There has been no real change in the mindset of Indian Railways since Independence. The political leadership has no control over bureaucracy even today. In the past decade, due to the government’s policy, there has been a massive curtailment in ground level staff, including loco drivers, whereas at the Rail Board-level, the number of members and officials has remained the same. The posts with permanent jobs have been filled by contractual workers, and the cascading effect is glaring,” Shukla added.
“There’s an acute staff crunch in the Railways and in the safety category, the shortfall is one lakh. Several staff members in sensitive positions including signal operators and drivers have to work beyond their capacity and working hours.
It has been affecting the performance and safety is compromised. The Railway’s Depreciation Reserve Fund and Development Fund are getting depleted, and whatever is available is mere peanuts. Despite the Parliamentary Standing Committee and Kakodkar Committee’s recommendations, the government has shown a deaf ear to it and train accidents are continuing. We’re taking up this issue with the government,” a member of the Left-affiliated All-India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) remarked.


PM Narendra Modi very confident of good relation with US President elect Donald Trump
New Delhi :MMNN:15 Nov. 2016
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is confident that Donald Trump, the US President elect, will be favourably inclined towards India. According to a report in ToI, PM Modi is believed to have said this in an informal discussion on Trump’s win during the dinner hosted by Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan. Modi has reportedly said that he enjoys a good relation with Trump and that Republicans have on a whole been been more favourable towards India, than Democrats.
Modi even said that Democrats have been more inward looking, though recent governments have been more friendly. Modi does not expect much change in US approach in terms of bilateral ties with India.
PM Modi was one of the first leaders to congratulate US President elect Donald Trump after the latter won the election in a shocking result. PM Modi had tweeted, “Congratulations @realDonaldTrump on being elected as the 45th US President. We appreciate the friendship you have articulated towards India during your campaign, @realDonaldTrump.
We look forward to working with you closely to take India-US bilateral ties to a new height. @realDonaldTrump.” Modi also spoke to Trump to convey his best wishes and hoped the two nations would continue to build on the “bedrock of strong Indo-US ties”.
Trump’s opinion on India has largely been positive. He recently attended an event organised by a Hindu group in the US, and proclaimed his love for India, saying, “I love Hindus”.
There is little doubt that India may very well stand to gain from Donald Trump’s presidency, especially in the context of Pakistan. Trump has indicated zero tolerance to terrorism and terrorists and with that in mind, India should look to drive home the important point that Pakistan-sponsored terrorism cannot be taken lightly.
Pakistan media it seems is well aware of this threat, and has thus chosen to warn of its possible implications. It is already wary of what Donald Trump as US President means for the country.
It is worried that Trump would likely view Pakistan through the “prism” of India’s policies towards the neighbouring country. An editorial in the Dawn has cautioned that the Modi government may move “very quickly” to project Pakistan as the common rival of the US and India.



Supreme Court refuses to stay Govt's demonetisation notification
NEW DELHI:MMNN:15 Nov. 2016
Supreme Court today refused to stay the government's notification demonetising Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes but asked it to spell out the steps taken to minimise public inconvenience.
"We will not be granting any stay," a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and D Y Chandrachud said.
The remarks were made after some advocates insisted on a stay.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for one of the petitioners, however, said he was not asking for a stay on the notification but seeking answers from the government about the steps taken to remove public inconvenience.
The bench asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to file an affidavit about the measures already undertaken by the government and the RBI to minimise public inconvenience and also the steps likely to be undertaken in future.
Without issuing any notice to the Centre or the RBI, the bench posted the matter for further hearing on November 25.
During the hearing, the Chief Justice said the objective seems to be laudable "but there is some inconvenience also to the public at large."
The bench also said "You (Centre) can have surgical strike against black money but you cannot have surgical strike against people of the country."
At the outset, the Centre which had filed a caveat in the matter, sought dismissal of the petitions challenging demonetisation on several grounds including that they were "misconceived". Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, outlined the idea behind demonetisation and said large number of fake currency has been used to finance terrorism in various parts of the country including in Jammu and Kashmir and northeastern states.
He, however, agreed with the bench that some inconvenience to common citizens occurs as this kind of "surgical strike" is bound to have "some kind of collateral damage".
He also said there were as many as 24 crore bank accounts including 22 crore opened under the 'Jan Dhan Scheme' and the Centre was hopeful to "ramp up" the outflow of the cash to banks, post offices and two lakh ATMs across the country. "Two lakh ATM machines could not have been deliberated in advance to be in tune with new notes as the cash would have been out of the banks," Rohatgi said, adding that "secrecy is the key to such actions".
Rohatgi said there were approximately one lakh branches of various banks and two lakh ATMs besides the post offices across the country to dispense cash to common people and the restriction on withdrawal is there to ensure that the money be paid to maximum number of people.
He summed up the submission contending that there was no legal basis for opposing the Centre's move to demonetise the higher denomination currency notes aimed at "catching big fish" which the previous governments failed to do in last 50 years.
He said the Centre has complied with section 26(2) of the RBI Act and the present "surgical strike has to be seen in the context of safety and security of the nation, its border, and financial terrorism unleashed through fake currency."
"The attack is on those who have stashed huge amount of currency," he said, adding that the surgical strike of this nature has to be carried out in complete secrecy and it was not possible to come out with Rs 10 lakh crore of currency in one go as there was a need for recalibration of ATM machines across the country.
The AG was assisted by a team of lawyers, including two Additional Solicitors General, and a senior official from the Finance Ministry. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for one of the petitioners Adil Alvi, said the petition has also challenged the constitutional validity of the notification as the provision of the Reserve Bank of India Act has not been complied with.
He referred to section 26(2) of the Act and said the government was not authorised to demonetise all series of currency notes of high denominations in one go.
There has to be a legislation if the government wants to demonetise the entire series of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, Sibal said, adding that in 1978, a law was brought to demonetise the currency notes of particular denominations.
Sibal then highlighted the inconvenience faced by the common people in getting their own money from banks and ATMs and said it was a "surgical strike against the common man."
The apex court, on November 10, had agreed to hear pleas against the November 8 decison of the Narendra Modi government that these notes are no longer a legal tender.
Out of the four PILs on the demonetisation issue, two were filed by Delhi-based lawyers Vivek Narayan Sharma and Sangam Lal Pandey, while two others were filed by individuals, S Muthukumar and Adil Alvi.
The petitioners had alleged that the sudden decision has created chaos and harassment to public at large and the notification of the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance be either quashed or deferred for some time.
Sharma, in his plea, had termed the notification of DEA as "dictatorial", claiming that it did not grant reasonable time to citizens for exchanging the specified bank notes to legitimate notes to avoid "large scale mayhem, life threatening difficulties".
The plea also sought either quashing of the notification or a direction to the Centre for grant of "reasonable time frame" to citizens to exchange the demonetised currency notes to avoid difficulties being faced by the people.
The Prime Minister, in a televised address to the nation, had declared that high denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 will no longer be legal tender from November 8-9 midnight. He had said the Government has declared a "decisive war" against black money and corruption.


India-US relations to be among top priorities of Trump administration
New Delhi :MMNN:11 Nov. 2016
India-US relations across trade, defence and social ties will be among the priorities of the newly elected US President Donald Trump's administration.
While priorities of Trump administration will emerge in the months following the elected Republican leader's taking charge of the White House in January, relations between India and the United States of America are sure to figure in them, United States ambassador Richard Verma said on Friday.
Trade transactions between the two countries are worth more than $110 billion at present with the value of merchadise trade being over $63 billion. Of this, India's exports to US, accounting for over $40 billion, constitutes the largest offshore market for Indian goods.
India also conducts $15 billion worth trade transactions in the defence sector with the US, Verma said. He added that the current level has been reached in a period of 10 years when significant deals have been inked in the defence sector.
Although the push by the US to cap the release of H1B and L1 visas continues to face opposition from India, Verma said Indians could continue to figure prominently in the list of recipient nations.



Kohinoor diamond row: SC seeks Centre's reply in four weeks
MMNN:11 Nov. 2016
The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Centre on the Kohinoor diamond matter seeking a reply in four weeks.
Senior Advocate Sommo Chkravarthy said that an impression has been created that the gem was gifted by Maharaja Dilip Singh to the Britishers, but documents produced prove that it was actually stolen. "There must be proper diplomatic parley between the Central government and the government of United Kingdom , that must be supervised by the Supreme Court. Second, is that the impression is created that the gem was gifted by Maharaja Dilip Singh to the Britishers but we have produced all the documents that it was actually stolen," he said.
"Britishers had acquired it illegally and forcefully. The archaeological survey of India has also directed to file the affidavit. Supreme Court has directed it to come up within four week. They have been directed to file an appropriate counter affidavit," he added.
Earlier, after UK Minister of Asia and Pacific affairs Alok Sharma's assertion on the restitution of 'Kohinoor' diamond, Advocate Nafis Siddiqui, the petitioner of the case, said that he will file a new application and if Britain doesn't return the gem still, he will then appeal in the UNESCO and in the UN. "New application will be filled in the Supreme Court to send the advocated commissioner to Britain and request the British government to return the property of India and to get a stay on the selling or auctioning of the diamond. We will get it back, if not, we will appeal through the UNESCO or through UNO," said Siddiqui.
Earlier, in the Supreme Court Centre said that Britain did not steal the 'Kohinoor' but rather it was gifted to them.
Referring to UNESCO declaration of 1970 and 1978, he added that UNESCO has mentioned to return everything that has been looted from the colonial ruled country back to them. France, America and even Australia did so, Britain must also.
After the subjugation of Punjab in 1849 by the British forces, the properties of the Sikh Empire were confiscated and the Kohinoor was also transferred to the treasury of the British East India Company in Lahore.
Later, the diamond was shipped to Britain and was handed to Queen Victoria in July 1850. It was cut to improve its brilliance and was mounted into Queen Victoria's crown. The diamond now sits in the tower of London along with the Crown Jewels. The people of India have been demanding the return of the 105-carat diamond, which the British Government rejected in 2013.


Pakistan-trained LeT militant surrenders in native north Kashmir
Srinagar:MMNN:4 Nov. 2016
A suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba militant surrendered in his native north Kashmir village to where he returned from Pakistan after arms training this year, police said on Friday.
Umar Khaliq Mir alias Sameer dropped his arms and appeared before a police team that cornered him in a house not far from the 24-year-old’s residence in Baramulla district on Thursday evening, superintendent of police Harmeet Singh said.
Mir, who lives in Tujjar area off Sopore town, had crossed the Line of Control over to Pakistan this May to get arms training, according to the police.
There was no case against him, the Sopore SSP said, prompting the police to give the militant a chance to surrender. “We sent him a message through the house-owner, asking him to come out of hiding,” he added. The mission failed.
Subsequently, the SSP called him on phone and said there will be no gunfight if he laid his arms inside and came out.
After this, the militant wanted his father, who lives in the same village, to be called. “We brought the father and sent him in. Mir then came out with his father,” Singh said.
Not every time do such efforts succeed for the police. There have been several instances where militants refused to surrender despite police suggesting it.
The SSP said it was with a group of foreign militants that Mir came back from Pakistan. “We are interrogating him to get to his fellow militants,” he added.
The officer requested all local militants to surrender. “We will welcome them,” he said.



‘Surround, finish them all’: Cops’ alleged conversation on SIMI ‘encounter’
Bhopal:MMNN:4 Nov. 2016
An audio clip allegedly featuring walkie-talkie conversations of police officials handling their “encounter” with SIMI operatives early this week has surfaced, fuelling further suspicion that cops were keen to kill — not capture alive — the eight men who “jumped” jail.
The tape doing the rounds on social media — its authenticity was yet to be confirmed — indicates the SIMI men were carrying arms.
The new clip comes after a few video visuals of the alleged Monday morning “police encounter” with the eight activists of the banned Islamic organisation went viral. The men, who were said to have jumped Bhopal Central Jail on Diwali night, were killed near Malikheda on the outskirts of the state capital. Speaking to HT on the authenticity of the audio clip, IG Bhopal, Yogesh Choudhary said that the whole incident is under investigation.
“It is a matter of investigation. CID is already probing the incident, I cannot comment on that,” Choudhary said.
According to sources, the audio conversation involves a senior police official, the personnel at police control room (PCR) and the police officials present at the encounter site at Khijradev village under Gunga police station.
The senior police official asks on the walkie-talkie whether all the five (of the eight) men were fleeing together. “Kya paanchon saath me bhaag rahe hain”, (Are all the five escaping together?) goes the question. To this, one of the police officials at the encounter site responds in the positive: “Haan, paanhcon saath me bhaag rahe hain.”(Yes, the five are together”)
The senior police official then tells them not to back off and kill them after rounding them up: “Bilkul piche nahi hatna hai. Gherke poora kardo kaam tamaam” (Don’t back off...Surround them and finish them).
One of the police officials then says the SIMI men were firing at them.
To this, the senior official commands to “do retaliatory firing after taking a proper position”. He further asks his colleagues not to spare the men if they have fired—and further informs the cops that another police party was reaching the spot. “Proper position lekar fire karo, jisse crossfire na ho,” ( Take proper position and then fire to avoid crossfiring) he adds.
After a few seconds, a police official at the site says they have killed five of the SIMI men. The senior official congratulates the cops, and says that they were about to reach the location.
One of the police officials at the site says that they have rounded the remaining ones at the top of the hillock where they were standing.
A police official at the PCR seeks confirmation on whether the five were dead. Yes, says a police official at the site. The senior official again congratulates them: “Shabash. Bache huye teeno ko bhi nahi chodna hai, maar dalo”(Well done. Dont’ spare the other three, kill them).
A police official at the site then demands two or three ambulances at the site to which the police personnel at PCR say that they have already sent them. The senior police official then again says that kill them all. “Bas unhe maar daalo. Yadi ye ghayal hote hain to hume unka aspatal me dhyaan rakhna padega. Agar nahi mar rahe hai to maar daalo saalon ko. (Just kill them. If they only get injured, we’ll have to take them to hospital and take care of them. If they aren’t dead, just kill the chaps.”)
A police official at the site then says: “Sir is saying ‘kill all of them’.”
‘Paanch mar chuke hain, sabhi ko maar daalo (five are dead, kill all)” says the senior police official.
One of the officials at the site then asks to leave one of the men alive, adding what will happen if they kill all of them.
Replies the senior official: “Nahi nahi nahi, wo bhi fire kar rahe hain na. Hum keh sakte hain ki hume hathiyar mile hain (No no, they are firing too. We can say we got weapons (from them).”
Then one of the officials at the site says they have killed all the eight men: “Sir humne sabhi aathon ko maar daala”.
All the police officers on the walkie-talkie rejoice. Sounds of cheers can be heard.
A police official at the spot says “humne unhe gher lia hai, wo yahan beech me pade huye hain” (we have rounded them up; they were lying in between). The reinforcements need not to come to the top of the hillock, he adds.
“Jo baaki force pahunch rahi hai, unhe upar aane ki zarurat nahi hai, bata do kuch aur farzi operation karna pade to,” (There is no need to send the force at the top of the hillock...tell them in case we need to do another fake encounter) says the same official at the site.
The senior official then says not to worry and they were coming: “Hum pahuch rahe hain. Hum pahuch rahe hain. Chinta mat karo. (We are reaching there, don’t worry)”
He then asks the police officials at the site to stop shooting. At this, a police personnel at the PCR asks all the police officials on the hillock to stand in their positions and stop shooting ahead of verification of the dead SIMI men.


Good money, honeytrap, WhatsApp calls: How Pak spy ring operated in India
New Delhi:MMNN:28 Oct. 2016
India on Thursday declared Pakistan high commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar 'persona non-grata' for spying and asked him to leave the country within 48 hours after he was caught by Delhi Police with sensitive defence documents, including those about deployment details of BSF along the India-Pak border.
Mehmood Akhtar, described as the kingpin of an ISI spy ring, belongs to the Baloch regiment of Pakistani Army and was on deputation to the spy agency since 2013.
Investigators probing the case suspect more people from the Pakistani mission may be involved in the espionage ring.
Sources in Delhi Police also did not rule out possible involvement of some BSF personnel in the racket as they believe the staffer Mehmood Akhtar and his accomplices could not have got hold of deployment details unless somebody in BSF was leaking them.
Akhtar, who worked in the visa section of the Pakistani high commission, had procured sensitive defence documents and deployment details of BSF along the India-Pak border and shared them with the ISI. Three of Akhtar's accomplices were already arrested.
Akhtar was detained but released after prolonged questioning on Wednesday as he enjoys diplomatic immunity.
He said that he is on deputation to ISI since January 2013 and is a serving Hawaldar of 40 Baloch Regiment of Pakistan army and native of village Kahuta of Rawalpindi district, said Ravindra Yadav, joint commissioner of police(Crime).
During interrogation, Akhtar said that he was posted in Pakistan high commission for last two-and-a-half years, according to police.
It is also suspected that he lured many people into the spying ring by offering them good money and that there was a honeytrap at play to lure people, said another officer in the probe team.
Sources said more people in the Pakistani high commission may be involved in the case.
On possible involvement of BSF personnel, they said, "The documents that were recovered from them couldn't have been procured without the help of someone privy to such sensitive information. We are suspecting that they were aided by some BSF personnel who leaked the information and documents to them.
"We are investigating that aspect. We have identified some of the officers involved and we will be conducting a raid soon."
The Delhi Police had been tracking the module for the last six months and received information on October 25 that Akhtar will be meeting Subhash Jangir and Maulana Ramzan at the Delhi Zoo on October 26 around 10am, said the officer.
A team of officers of crime branch led by ACP Sanjay Sherawat under the supervision of DCP crime (south) Bhisham Singh laid a trap and caught the trio while they were in the process of exchanging documents.
Akhtar initially showed an Aadhar card in the name of Mehboob Rajput.
"He claimed to be a resident of Chandni Chowk but after sustained interrogation, he revealed his real name Mehmood Akhtar," said Yadav.
He was carrying a forged Aadhar card to assume an Indian identity. "He is serving with Pakistan ISI and has got diplomatic immunity since he is posted in the Pakistan high commission (PHC) of Delhi. This was verified through MEA and after confirmation and as per the due procedures, he was handed over to the PHC diplomats in presence of MEA representative," Yadav said.
Since Akhtar was working in the visa department, it gave easy access to him to identify people who could work for him as spies.
"He would chat up with people about their family background and then start laying his trap. People who were financially weak would be lured by promise of getting big money," said a senior police officer.
The officer said the honeytrap angle was also being explored. "From initial investigation, it has been revealed that some girls were exploited after being promised good money and were used to lure men into the module. We are investigating this aspect," he added.
Police have also recovered the mobile phones of Maulana and Jangir, who were sharing information and documents with Akhtar.
"It has been found that they used to mostly communicate through WhatsApp calls as they are not recorded. We cannot procure the call detail records of calls made through WhatsApp.
"On normal phone calls, their conversations would mostly happen through codewords and we were studying the pattern in the last six months," said a senior police officer.
Akhtar would meet Maulana and Jangir once every month in Delhi where they would give documents to him and he would pay them a high amount in return.
During interrogation, they didn't reveal the amount for leaking information but it is suspected to be in the range of Rs 30,000-Rs 50,000, said a senior police officer.
Akhtar had come in contact with Maulana and Jangir through a Jodhpur-based passport and visa agent, identified as Shoaib.
Maulana and Jangir are residents of Nagaur in Rajasthan. Maulana has been working as an Islamic preacher at a local mosque Qureshiyon ki Masjid there and Subhash had a small kirana shop near the mosque.
Maulana Ramzan was in contact with Shoaib, who was arrested from Jodhpur.



15 Pakistani Rangers killed in retaliatory firing along International Border: BSF
JAMMU:MMNN:28 Oct. 2016
The BSF on Friday said it had killed 15 Pakistani paramilitary personnel while retaliating to cross-border shelling and firing in which two Indian civilians were killed and two injured in Jammu region.
Firing mortar shells and using automatic weapons, Pakistani troops targeted civilian areas and forward security posts along the International Border and Line of Control in Jammu, Kathua, Poonch and Rajouri districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
BSF said that as per the ammunition used in firing and shelling, it appeared that Pakistani Army is supporting its paramilitary Rangers along the IB.
In retaliatory firing, 15 Pakistani rangers have been killed so far, BSF said.
"At 1720 hour yesterday, Pakistan Rangers started unprovoked heavy firing and shelling in Kathua Sector of Jammu which further spread to Hiranagar and Samba. It continued till 0500 hours today in the area of 24 BSF posts," a senior BSF officer said.
BSF Additional Director General Arun Kumar told reporters here that a befitting reply was being given to the Pakistani shelling and firing.
"Fifteen Pakistani soliders have been killed in retaliatory firing and shelling by BSF. We have destroyed their OP (outposts) and damaged a few," Kumar said. As per the ammunition (120 mm mortars) used, it appears that Pakistani army is supporting the Rangers, he said after laying wreath at the mortal remains of BSF martyr Jitendra Kumar.
"In the Pakistani shelling, one civilian died in Khour belt of Pallanwala sector today," Jammu Deputy Commissioner Simrandeep Singh said, adding another civilian was injured in R S Pura sector. Similarly, one woman Usma Bi, aged 50 years, was killed in shelling by Pakistan on Gohlad village in Mendhar tehsil of Poonch district today, Defence spokesman said.
Another civilian was injured in area, the reports said.


Lashkar-e-Taiba claims responsibility for Uri terror attack
New Delhi:MMNN:25 Oct. 2016
Pakistan based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba has claimed responsibility for the Uri terror attack that killed 20 Indian soldiers last month in Kashmir.
Funeral prayers in absentia for one of the Uri attackers, organized by LeT's parent organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa, are to be held in Gujranwala of Punjab, Pakistan, according to posters widely circulated on social media. A special address by JuD chief Hafiz Saeed will be held after the prayers, the poster said.
The poster brags that LeT's Muhammad Anas, code named Abu-Saraqa attained "martyrdom" while carrying out the attack on the Indian Army camp in Uri, Kashmir. Written in Urdu, the poster, however also made an outlandish claim that LeT terrorists had killed 177 Indian soldiers.
"Funeral prayers in absentia for Mujahid Bhai Abu Siraqa Muhammad Anas martyr for having killed 177 Hindu soldiers in Kashmir," the poster said. The funeral is at Sadabahar Nursery near Bada Nala Nawab Chowk Girjakh Gujranwala.
The claim assumes significance since the Pakistan government has consistently denied the role of its Kashmir-centric terror groups in the Uri attack.
Muhammad Aamir Hussaini, a staff reporter with the Frontier Post in Pakistan told the TOI, "After such posters and such events organized by JUD, what will be authenticity of claims made by Pakistani Foreign Office in front of International community." This poster shows that Hafiz Saeed is working in Punjab with the consent of the civilian government and in this case the military establishment, he added.
After the poster was widely circulated online, JuD claimed that it was a hoax, Pakistani Reuters correspondent Asad Hashim tweeted. However former editor Dawn, Abbas Nasir in a tweet response confirmed the veracity of the poster and said that the funeral prayers have now been postponed.



PM Narendra Modi invites suggestions for 25th 'Mann ki Baat' edition on Oct 30
New Delhi:MMNN:25 Oct. 2016
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation through his monthly radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat' on All India Radio on October 30.
Calling on the people to contribute for the 23rd edition of the programme, the Prime Minister tweeted asking people to share their thoughts and inputs for the forthcoming programme on the Narendra Modi App and MyGov Open Forum.
"You can also dial 1800-11-7800 and record your message as well as write on the MyGov Open Forum," PM Modi tweeted.
According to a note on the website mygov.in, toll free calls can also be on 1800 11 7800 between 23 and 29 October to record the suggestions in Hindi or English. Suggestions can also be made by clicking on ‘”Submit your suggestion” on the same website.
The statement said, "The 25th episode of Mann ki Baat would be on 30th October, 2016. Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks forward to sharing his thoughts on a number of themes and issues. As always, the Prime Minister invites you to share your ideas on topics he should address. So what are the themes, issues or topics that you want the Prime Minister to speak about?
Share your views in this Open Forum or alternatively you can also dial the toll free number 1800-11-7800 and record your message for the Prime Minister in either Hindi or English. Some of the recorded messages may become part of the broadcast.
You can also give a missed call on 1922 and directly give your suggestions to the Prime Minister.
And stay tuned to Mann Ki Baat at 11:00 AM on 30th October, 2016."


Two Indian troops injured in gunbattle, ceasefire violation by Pakistan
New Delhi:MMNN:21 Oct. 2016
An army soldier was injured in fierce gun battle with a group of infiltrating terrorists from across the Line of Control in Gali Maidan area of Sawjian sector, while a BSF jawan was injured in unprovoked firing by Pakistani rangers in Hiranagar sector along the international border in Kathua district on Friday.
Identifying the injured army soldier as Launce Naik Vinod Kumar and the BSF jawan as Gurnam Singh, sources said that former got injured during an encounter with a group of terrorists who sneaked into Sawjian sector on the Indian side from the Pakistan occupied Kashmir during wee hours of Friday. The encounter was in progress, sources added.
Significantly, the infiltration attempt from across the LoC in Sawjian sector of Poonch district came nearly 24 hours after half a dozen heavily armed terrorists attacked a BSF naka along the international border in Kathua district with small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades so as to cross over to the Indian side. The infiltration attempt was foiled by alert BSF personnel who retaliated killing one of them as during illumation of the area with the help of tracer bomb, terrorists fleeing back to Pakistan side were seen carrying a body with them, sources added.
Meanwhile, a BSF jawan was injured as Pakistani Rangers continued resorting to mortar shelling and small arms fire on two forward Indian positions at Bobiyan in Hiranagar sector of Kathua district. Sources said that the fire from across the international border first came around 9.35 am and it continued for nearly 40 minutes.
Thereafter, the Pakistani Rangers again resumed firing on Indian side around 12.15 noon, sources said, adding that it was continuing till reports last came in. The Indian side was also retaliating.
Ever since, India carried out surgical strikes across the Line of Control causing sufficient damage to terrorists and those shielding them last month, Pakistan has been resorting to mortar shelling and small arms fire at one or the other place along the borders in Jammu region. It continued lobbing mortar shells, besides resorting to automatics and small arms fire along the LoC in Rajouri district’s Manjakote area of Bhimber Gali sector throughout Wednesday night.
The Indian troops retaliated appropriately. There had been no casualty or damage on the Indian side. Pakistani troops have resorted to firing in Rajouri sector also this afternoon.



Rajnath Singh pays tribute on National Police Commemoration Day
New Delhi:MMNN:21 Oct. 2016
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday paid homage to the police personnel who laid down their lives in the line of duty as the nation marked the National Police Commemoration Day.
Singh laid a wreath at the National Police Memorial in Chanakyapuri here along with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Director of the Intelligence Bureau Dineshwar Sharma and other senior police and paramilitary officers.
The National Police Commemoration Day is observed on October 21 to remember the martyrdom of security personnel. “On the occasion of Police Commemoration Day today, I salute all those brave police personnel who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty,” Singh said.
The Director of the Intelligence Bureau said that 473 policemen were killed in the line of duty in various parts of the country between September 2015 and August 2016.
The day is observed in the memory of the policemen who were killed while taking on Chinese forces at a place called ‘Hot Springs’ in Ladakh in 1959 when they were guarding the Indian border.
Other paramilitary forces like CISF, CRPF, ITBP, SSB and NSG will hold events at their respective locations to mark the say.


Army Says Ready For Any 'Misadventure' From Across Line Of Control
New Delhi:MMNN:18 Oct. 2016
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi said "the world is talking about our army", a top commander in Kashmir said that "the Indian army is ready to deal with any misadventure from across the LoC " or Line of Control, the de facto border between India and Pakistan.
PM Modi did not directly mention the cross-border raids carried out last month, but said, "Israel used to be known for this sort of action. Our army has proved it is no less."
On September 29, soldiers trekked into Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir to target seven gathering areas for terrorists. Neither the government nor the armed forces have commented on how many terrorists were killed. The army has spoken of "significant casualties" inflicted on the other side of the Line of Control, while stating that all Indian soldiers returned safely.
Pakistan says India is misrepresenting firing along the Line of Control, which is not unusual, as unprecedented military strikes in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. Intel and security agencies have warned of retaliatory action, including possible terror strikes. There are nearly 100 terrorists waiting to infiltrate India from Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, the government has been advised.
"Along the LoC, our preparedness is of the highest degree. The Indian Army is ready to deal with any misadventure from across the LoC, whether it is by regulars or otherwise," said Lt General Satish Dua today, the commanding officer of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps.
India's military action came days after an army base in Uri in Kashmir was attacked, leaving 19 soldiers dead. PM Modi is fronting a campaign to also have Pakistan diplomatically isolated.



Modi likens Army’s surgical strikes to Israel’s exploits
New Delhi:MMNN:18 Oct. 2016
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday likened the Army’s recent surgical strikes across the LoC to Israel’s exploits and stressed that the Indian forces had shown they were no less than anybody.
“Our Army’s valour is being discussed across the country these days. We used to hear earlier that Israel has done this. The nation has seen that the Indian Army is no less than anybody,” he said.
Israel is known for its targeted military strikes against enemy countries and militant outfits.
Mr. Modi was speaking at a rally in Himachal Pradesh, where he inaugurated three hydro-power projects.
The issue of surgical strikes had snowballed into a political row, with the Opposition accusing the BJP and its government of “milking” it for political benefits. The charge has been rejected by the BJP, which has insisted that it is taking the issue to the masses to boost the Army’s morale and highlight the strong political will of the Prime Minister.
Underscoring his commitment to the welfare of armed forces, Modi on Tuesday said his government had fulfilled its promise of ‘One-Rank, One-Pension’ for ex-servicemen, an issue which, he said, was hanging fire for over 40 years.
The previous governments, he said, duped the people by making tall claims and some of them even allocated Rs. 200 crore-500 crore in this regard but never did an analysis of the cost burden and how it could be executed.
“I did it and was puzzled to find that the economic burden kept rising. It worked to be more than Rs. 10,000 crore,” he said, adding that it was difficult for any government to make such a big allocation in one go.
Mr. Modi said he spoke to the armed forces and offered to release the money in four installments to which they agreed.
“Over Rs. 5,500 crore in first installment has been given. The rest will be given too. A promise hanging fire for the last 40 years has been fulfilled,” he said.
At the ‘Parivartan Rally’, Mr. Modi also targeted Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, saying BJP chief ministers dedicated themselves to causes like drinking water and roads while the Congress leader was concerned about his own welfare.
“Do I need to explain what the current Chief Minister is known for?” he said and then added, “When the BJP gave chief ministers, somebody dedicated himself to water, somebody to roads but when others came they dedicated so many things for their personal welfare,” he said.
The BJP has accused Mr. Singh of being involved in corruption but the Congress leader has rejected the charges and claimed that he was a victim of “political vendetta”.
Elections are due late next year in the State.


PM Modi to inaugurate war memorial in Bhopal, likely to rake up surgical strikes
New Delhi:MMNN:14 Oct. 2016
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be inaugurating the newly built war memorial — Shaurya Samarak — and address a meeting of former servicemen at Lal Pared ground, in Bhopal during his three-hour visit, ahead of the Brics meet in Goa.
According to a report, this visit comes after his Dussehra speech in Lucknow, where he was quoted as saying "sometimes war is inevitable" in the wake of the surgical strikes by the Indian Army.
The state BJP vice-president, Vijesh Lunawat said, “It is a matter of pride for Madhya Pradesh people that the Shaurya Smarak came up with the state government’s efforts and the PM is going to inaugurate it. This will give a boost to the morale of not only the armed forces but also the citizens of the country”.
In report it is said that the Samarak covers 13 acres of ground and cost Rs 41 crore. It symbolises the various stages of life, war, death and victory. The bravery and glory of soldiers is celebrated in the Shaurya gallery display and India's gratitude is represented by the Shaurya Stambh. Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar will be present as well.
A report by The Times of India speculated that PM Modi is likely to speak about the surgical strikes on this occasion, and meet the former soldiers and war widows. The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government have sent invitations to General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha and Chief of Navy Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba.
Security has been ramped up in the state capital in view of Modi's visit. Railway stations, airports, bus terminals, important markets and localities in the city were secured ahead of the high profile visit. Vehicles were screened at different check points to ensure no untoward incident occur. The administration also issued a circular asking all government and semi government offices to suspended work post 3 pm.
Bhopal Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Raman Singh Sikarwar said 5,000 policemen have been deployed at the airport, route and the venue of the three events
Modi will meet the Jain saint Acharya Vidhyasagarji Maharaj at a Jain temple first and then will inaugurate the Shourya Smarak.
He will remain in Bhopal for nearly three hours before leaving for his onward destination, said an official.
At 7:05 pm Modi will leave for Panaji.



Pakistan confirms it has Indian soldier in its custody
New Delhi:MMNN:14 Oct. 2016
TWO WEEKS after Sepoy Chandu Babulal Chavan, posted with 37 Rashtriya Rifles at Mendhar along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, was reported to have “inadvertently crossed over” the LoC, the Pakistan army has accepted that the 22-year-old is in their custody.
The first official confirmation of the whereabouts of Chavan was conveyed on Thursday by officials of the Pakistan army’s military operations directorate to their Indian counterparts over the official hotline, Army sources told The Indian Express.
Chavan crossed over to the Pakistani side with his rifle around noon on September 29, hours after DGMO Lt General Ranbir Singh had announced the surgical strikes by Indian special forces on terrorist launch pads across the LoC.
By 2.30 pm that day, Lt General Singh had informed the Pakistan army on the hotline about Chavan, said sources. The Indian Army had clarified at the time that Chavan’s disappearance was not connected to the strikes.
Thursday’s acknowledgement by Pakistan has now raised hopes that Chavan will be returned to India through existing mechanisms.
At Chavan’s village in Maharashtra’s Dhule district, family and friends started gathering at his grandparents’ residence as soon as they came to know about the latest development.
“We have great faith in the government’s assurance that Chandu will be brought home safe,” said a friend of the family.
Two weeks ago, soon after Chavan’s family had been informed that he may been captured by the Pakistan army, his grandmother Lilabai suffered a cardiac arrest and died in Jamnagar, Gujarat, where she was visiting her other grandson, Bhushan Chavan, who is with the Maratha Light Infantry.
Lilabai, 65, and her husband Chinda Dhondu Patil Sonawane had brought up the two boys in Borvihir village after the brothers lost their parents at a young age.


India to seal border with Pakistan by 2018: Rajnath Singh after security review meet
New Delhi:MMNN:7 Oct. 2016
In the wake of the repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan and heightened tension along the border, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said that the government has decided to seal the entire stretch of 3,323-km-long Indo-Pak border by December 2018.
Briefing the press after chairing a security review meeting in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, Rajnath said that the implementation of the government decision to seal the international border will be carried out in a time-bound manner. The home minister also said that the development of the procedure will be done in a planned way, with a monitoring framework set up to review the the progress, monthly, quarterly, bi-annually and annually.
The decision comes in the wake of rising India-Pakistan tension after the 18 September attack on a military base in Jammu and Kashmir and the later surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control.
On the question of securing the riverine belts, and areas where it is geographically unfeasible to put physical barrier along the border, Rajnath said that the government will look into technological solutions to ensure every inch of our land is guarded. According to The Indian Express, the technical solutions may include deployment of cameras, sensors, radars, lasers, etc.
The Home Minister also sought to assure that the nation's security will never be compromised with ample security arrangements made at the borders. Praising the armed forces, Rajnath also said that the way a farmer guards his farms, Indian soldiers are vigilant and guarding the borders.
Rajnath also said that a Border Security Grid will be formed, wherein suggestions will be sought from all stakeholders in the border areas. He said that in the security review meeting, suggestions were sought from the chief ministers, home secretaries, and DGPs of the four border states, based on which the basic framework of the Border security Grid will be prepared.
The home minister however stayed vary of commenting on issues apart from the proceedings of the meeting. When asked if he would like to comment on Rahul Gandhi's Khoon Ki Dalaali remark, Rajnath refused to comment. However, he later added that all citizens should unite and support the armed forces when the nation faces tough times. "I won’t comment, I will just say that in the face of tough times all the citizens should unite and be on the same page, irrespective of whichever line of profession they belong to," Rajnath said.
He also refused to comment on the rising demands of putting in public the proof of army surgical strike carried out in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Rajnath merely repeated that the entire nation trusts the armed forces and people should be patient and have faith in the army. " Tension between India and Pakistan has increased, so we should be united & believe in our army," he said.
The home minister is on a two-day visit to Rajasthan where he headed a security review meeting in Jaisalmer with home ministers, home secretaries, and deputy generals of police of four states whose boundaries touch Pakistan along with top BSF officials. Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju was also present at the meeting. for amid repeated incidents of skirmishes along the Indo-Pak international border.
"It is a meeting of the Union Home Minister with the Home Ministers of the four states. Since the Chief Ministers and the Deputy Chief Minister (of Punjab) are holding the Home portfolio, they are participating in the meeting," a Home Ministry official said.
During the two-day visit, Singh will also hold meetings with top BSF officials and chair a meeting with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Gujarat Chief Minister
Vijay Rupani, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, officials said.
During the two-day trip, the Home Minister will tour border areas of Rajasthan and will visit Munabao, border outposts in Barmer and interact with BSF personnel.
Singh will also visit Murar, BoP in Jaisalmer and asses the situation along the Indo-Pak border. The meeting is being called to bring a synergy among the state police forces and Border Security Force, which guards the Indo-Pak border. Issues concerning the states are also expected to be discussed in the two-day deliberations, the officials said.
There have been many incidents of infiltration of terrorists through the border in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir and trans-border smuggling of goods, narcotics and fake Indian currency notes in Rajasthan and Gujarat, they said.
Of the 3,323-km-long Indo-Pak border, 1,225 km falls in Jammu and Kashmir (including Line of Control), 553 km in Punjab, 1,037 km in Rajasthan and 508 km in Gujarat.
After the security review meet in Jaisalmer, Rajnath will hold a meeting with BSF officials in Barmer on 8 October, according to the Barmer Collector Sudhir Sharma. Elaborate arrangements are being made for the visit, he said.



SC extends stay on Bombay HC order, delays women’s entry inside Haji Ali
New Delhi:MMNN:7 Oct. 2016
Supreme Court on Friday extended the stay granted by Bombay high court to facilitate an appeal against its decision to lift the ban on entry of women near the sanctum sanctorum of the famous Haji Ali Dargah, till October 17 when it will hear the matter.
However, during the brief hearing, a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice A M Khanwilkar expressed hope that the Haji Ali Dargah Trust, which has challenged the high court judgement, “will take a stand which is progressive”.
The court adjourned the matter at the request of senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam who appeared for the trust.
“The order of the high court granting stay on operation of its judgement to continue till the next date of hearing on October 17,” the bench said.
Subramaniam assured the bench that he was on a “progressive mission” and said all holy books and scriptures promoted equality and nothing which is regressive in character should be suggested.
The bench also remarked that “if you are not allowing both men and women to go beyond a point, there is no problem. But if you are allowing some to go beyond a point while others are not, it is a problem.”
The bench, which recorded that an identical issue has been raised and was pending before the Supreme Court relating to the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, said “the problem is not only among Muslims, but among the Hindus also”.
The counsel, appearing for a women’s group which has challenged the practice of the Trust not to allow women near the sanctum sanctorum, submitted that the position was different before 2011 than what it is today.
The Trust moved the apex court challenging the Bombay High Court order lifting the ban on women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the renowned Muslim shrine in South Bombay.
The high court on August 26 had held that the ban imposed by the Trust on women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah, contravened Articles 14, 15 and 25 of the Constitution and said women should be permitted to enter the sanctum sanctorum like men.
The high court had allowed a PIL filed by two women Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Niaz, from NGO Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, challenging the ban on women’s entry into the sanctum sanctorum of the dargah from 2012.
It had granted a six-week stay on the order on a request by the Dargah Trust to enable it to appeal before the Supreme Court.
The high court had held that the Trust had no power to alter or modify the mode or manner of religious practices of any individual or any group.
The high court in its 56-page judgement had also noted that the “right to manage the Trust cannot override the right to practice religion itself”.
It had said the trust has not been able to justify the ban legally or otherwise. Hence it cannot be said that the prohibition was an essential and integral part of Islam and whether taking away that part of the practice would result in a fundamental change in the character of the religion or belief.
It had also refused to accept the justification of the Trust that the ban was imposed for safety and security of women, in particular, to prevent sexual harassment at places of worship.
The Trust had claimed that the ban was in keeping with an order of the Supreme Court wherein stringent directions have been issued to ensure that there is no sexual harassment to women at places of worship.
The court had noted that the aims, objectives and activities of the Haji Ali Dargah Trust were not governed by any custom or tradition and held that it was a public charitable trust and hence, open to people all over the world, irrespective of their caste, creed or gender.
The Maharashtra government had earlier told the court that women should be barred from entering the inner sanctorum of Haji Ali Dargah only if it is so enshrined in the Quran.


Cross-border terrorism, radicalisation grave challenges: Modi
New Delhi:MMNN:4 Oct. 2016
With terror attacks continuing to emanate from Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday described cross-border terrorism and radicalisation as "grave challenges to our security".
"Rising tide of terrorism, especially cross-border terrorism, and the rise of radicalisation are grave challenges to our security," Modi said in a joint press statement with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong following delegation-level talks between the two sides here.
"They threaten the very fabric of our societies," Modi said.
"It is my firm belief that those who believe in peace and humanity need to stand and act together against this menace."
The Prime Minister's remarks came following the September 18 cross-border terror attack on an army unit at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir that claimed the lives of 19 Indian soldiers and the attack on an army camp at Baramulla on Sunday in which a BSF trooper was killed.
Following the Uri attack, India pulled out of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Summit that was scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November citing Pakistan's sponsorship of terrorism as the reason.
The Indian Army also carried out surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir in which "significant casualties have been caused to the terrorists and those who are trying to support them".
In Tuesday's joint press statement, Singapore's Lee, while condemning terrorism in all its forms, extended his condolences to the families of the victims of the Uri attack.
Modi said that India and Singapore have agreed "to enhance our cooperation to counter these threats, including in the domain of cyber security".
"Our defence and security cooperation is a key pillar of our strategic partnership," he stated.
"As two maritime nations, keeping the sea lanes of communication open, and respect for international legal order of seas and oceans is a shared priority.
"Our cooperation in the framework of Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), East Asia Summit and the Asean Regional Framework is aimed at building an open and inclusive architecture for regional cooperation, in an atmosphere of trust and confidence."
Modi said that trade and investment ties formed the bedrock of the India-Singapore bilateral relationship.
Stating that the two sides enjoyed a strong network of business to business partnerships, he said: "In this context, Prime Minister Lee and I have agreed to expedite the second review of our Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement."
Following Tuesday's delegation-level talks, India and Singapore signed three memorandums of understanding (MoU), including two on skill development and one on industrial property cooperation.
"Prime Minister Lee and I also welcome the issuance of corporate rupee bonds in Singapore," Modi said.
"It is a step forward in our efforts to mobilise capital for India's large infrastructure development needs."
Recalling his visit to Singapore in November last year, the Indian Prime Minister said that the bilateral relationship was upgraded to the level of a Strategic Partnership with "renewed spirit, new energy".
"To deliver benefits to both our people, our partnership aims to combine the strengths of Singapore with the scale of India; and dynamism of Singapore with vibrancy of our states," Modi said.
Affirming the importance of the bilateral ties, Prime Minister Lee said that Singapore was a firm believer in India and would contribute where it can.
Earlier on Tuesday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on Lee here.
The Singapore Prime Minister, accompanied by a high-level delegation, arrived here on Monday on a five-day bilateral visit to India.
Lee will call on President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday before leaving for Udaipur where agreements are expected to be signed between Singapore and the Rajasthan government.



Why China's move to block Brahmaputra tributary is actually linked to Balochistan
New Delhi:MMNN:4 Oct. 2016
In the wake of India's newly re-imagined policy towards Pakistan — conducting precision strikes across the Line of Control (LoC), reviewing the 'Most Favoured Nation' status tag, and organising high-level meets to discuss withdrawal from the Indus Waters Treaty — China has played its latest card by blocking a tributary of Brahmaputra to facilitate work on of its expensive hydropower projects in Tibet. Power has a lot to do with perception politics and perhaps China intends for this to just be a warning to India, the timing of such a move from China implies that it’s trying to corner India and showing its support for Pakistan.
On Friday, 30 September, Xinhua reported that Tibet blocked a tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo River as part of its most expensive hydro project. The 4.95-billion-yuan project ($740 million) can store up to 295 million cubic meters of water.
This is not too far-fetched a theory, considering that China is known to displays of aggression across the border when it is unhappy. An earlier Firstpost editorial also points out that such aggression is a part of the Chinese “blow-hot, blow cold” routine. In June this year, the Chinese termed it a "temporary transgression" when about 250 China's Peoples Liberation Army soldiers entered Arunachal Pradesh's east district of Kameng. These incursions are not new and in fact the trend has been rising over the last few years. According to the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, in 2010, there were 228 incursions, 213 in 2011, 426 in 2012.
So how is blocking a tributary of the river in its own legal territory one such show of aggression?
The Brahamaputra originates in China (Yarlung Tsangpo) and flows through India and Bangladesh; a part of the river’s basin is also in Bhutan. The river basin covers close to 5,80,000 square kilometres through the four countries. The basin, most certainly poses a security concern for India, since both countries have fought over territories in which the river flows. Dam building activities, water diversion plans — with no bilateral or multilateral treaty on these waters — all actors in the issue have their own set of concerns.
In the Centre for Naval Analyses 2016 report titled Water Resource Competition in the Brahmaputra River Basin: China, India, and Bangladesh, authors Nilanthi Samaranayake, Satu Limaye, and Joel Wuthnow explain that China’s concerns stem from a fear Indian government’s “actual control” over Arunachal Pradesh (a state it has considered part of China and referred to as ‘Southern Tibet’) can be strengthened through dam-building activities. China’s interests can be inferred as political. However, India’s concerns with any activity upstream (ie in China) is both political and physical. While there is worry over Beijing’s claim to Arunachal Pradesh, probable water diversion or dam building activities in the upper riparian areas of the river could have large scale implications on the physical level
In 2013, India complained to China about its expensive hydropower projects announced in the Brahmaputra region citing 'irreparable damage' to the Indian basin and also the impact it would have on the physical land and surrounding regions. China didn’t budge, only assured that it wouldn’t have a negative impact.
In the ongoing scuffle between India and Pakistan — when both sides are unencumbered in their ways to smear the other as the enemy, China is at an advantage to pick a side.
China has in the recent past also unequivocally expressed its support to Pakistan — “In case of any (foreign) aggression, our country will extend its full support to Pakistan,” consul-general of China in Lahore, Yu Boren is quoted as saying in a report published in Dawn. While it may look like China is just being a kind neighbour to Pakistan and supporting it in standing up to a bully like India, but if you look closer there is much more at play here — the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, for instance. H Jacob writes in a paper for the European Council on Foreign Relations, China, India, Pakistan and a Stable Regional Order, that China is “steadily increasing its influence in the region with its innovative ‘New Silk Road’ strategy, and by offering economic and development assistance to Pakistan.”
When the Prime Minister Narendra Modi raked up the Balochistan cause in his Independence Day speech, he also loosened the screws on any plans for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. China is looking to gain something — by using Gwadar as another naval base (despite Pakistan and China assuring that it will be used only for economic reasons), China will have fresh access to the Indian Ocean (making it a two ocean power) and if the controversy surrounding South China Sea is anything to go by, India is right in being wary of
China’s agenda. And China involves itself in the international arguments to further its own cause. So China’s reaction of closing the taps on the Brahmaputra shouldn’t be construed as its big-brotherly act towards Pakistan, considering that India threatened to abrogate the Indus Waters Treaty.
China is uniquely aware of Brahmaputra’s importance to lower riparian States like India and Bangladesh and as Brahma Chellaney writes in Coming Water Wars (in The Magazine of International Economic Policy):
“Upstream dams, barrages, canals, and irrigation systems can help fashion water into a political weapon that can be wielded overtly in a war, or subtly in peacetime to signal dissatisfaction with a co-riparian state.”
China is applying subtle pressure to let India know that the India-Pakistan equation is subject to the complex geopolitics of the South Asian region. The two nations should perhaps engage in cooperation and dialogue, like they did in the early 2000s after a major flood hit the North East of India. Sure, talking about a river that flows through contested territory is not easy, but better than escalation that neither country should attempt.