Yuva Sai Sagar

An online news channel

Month: May 2016

One for the road

Drinking alcohol at home can be taboo, so Indians love to drink on the move, writes Palash Krishna Mehrotra, tongue firmly in cheek.

Why drinking in India is an ‘outdoor sport’

Drinking alcohol at home can be taboo, so Indians love to drink on the move, writes Palash Krishna Mehrotra, tongue firmly in cheek.

Indian central bank chief wins over Modi despite broad mistrust | Reuters

NEW DELHI In late 2014, the knives were out for India’s central bank governor Raghuram Rajan.

Finance ministry officials were frustrated by his reluctance to cut interest rates to stimulate growth, and moves were afoot to ease him out of the job. Some were airing their reservations about Rajan’s hawkish stance in the media.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened a meeting of senior finance ministry staff that December to hear their complaints, said a person who was present.

At the end, the leader delivered a stern message: do not indulge in a public spat with the central bank.

The moment marked a turning point in ties between the heads of the newly installed government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Since then, Modi and Rajan have developed a close working rapport, government officials and people close to the governor say, and that could be crucial to the $2 trillion economy.

With Modi’s patronage, it is more likely the government will reappoint Rajan, whose three-year term expires in September, should he wish to stay on, the sources said.

That would allow him to try to revive India’s banking sector that has been smothered by distressed debt, which, in turn, is choking off economic recovery.

“Rajan will get another term and he will accept it,” said Arvind Mayaram, India’s former finance secretary who Rajan worked with closely first as the government’s chief economic adviser and then as RBI governor. “He is well entrenched in India’s political economy.”

A top government official said the decision rests with Modi and the leader has not yet said what he wants to do. Modi recently told The Wall Street Journal that Rajan’s reappointment would come up only in September.

The official, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the press, added that the prime minister was “proud” of the RBI governor and that a campaign against Rajan would not affect Modi’s decision.

The prime minister’s office and finance ministry did not respond to requests for comment. Rajan, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, has not disclosed his plans, and did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

MODI’S SUPPORT IS KEY

Modi’s support would be important if the 53-year-old RBI chief is to get the big state banking sector to complete a cleanup of massive debts and force defaulters to pay up.

Banks making provisions for bad debt are reluctant to issue new loans, leading to criticism within the sector and complaints from smaller businesses and politicians.

Patronage from above will also help shield Rajan from lingering opposition within the ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a man known for his straight talking and willingness to question government policy and achievements.

As the personal understanding between Rajan and Modi appears to grow, some officials still resent him.

The fact that Rajan was appointed by the previous Congress government did not help him win friends in Modi’s BJP, and the former University of Chicago professor has been viewed by some with suspicion as a product of the West, not India.

BJP parliamentarian and economist Subramanian Swamy, one of those leading a campaign to remove Rajan, recently accused him of “wilfully and deliberately wrecking the Indian economy.”

The governor’s penchant for blunt commentary raises hackles.

Rajan’s appeal for tolerance late last year was perceived to be a veiled criticism of the government for appealing to the Hindu majority at the expense of minority communities, prompting Swamy to rebuke him for speaking like a “grandfather”.

Rajan recently compared India’s fast-growing economy to a “one-eyed king in the land of the blind”. Trade Minister Nirmala Sitharaman publicly censured his comments.

BONHOMIE

The first signs of growing bonhomie between Modi and Rajan came early last year, when Modi called Rajan the “best teacher” for explaining complex economic issues to him.

Days later, the governor returned the compliment, saying the teaching went both ways.

The prime minister backed Rajan in the monetary policy panel’s composition and blocking moves to strip the RBI’s authority to regulate government bonds and manage public debt.

Modi’s office also directed the finance ministry to pursue only those policies where there was agreement with the central bank, a former finance ministry official said.

The governor frequently visits New Delhi to meet Modi, a government official with direct knowledge said. But their meetings are mostly kept away from the public gaze.

Modi’s office declined a request to disclose the number and details of the meetings, saying the information relates to “economic interest of the state”.

Rajan had help from junior finance minister Jayant Sinha, a college friend and one of the more influential economic voices in the Modi government.

At the December meeting, Sinha told the attendees that the clashes were undermining the government’s credibility, the person present said.

A government source said that Sinha also facilitated meetings between Rajan and Modi to broker a compromise on thorny issues such as the composition of the new monetary panel. Sinha did not respond to a request for comment.

LEARNING ON THE JOB

Rajan may prove a more effective governor second time around if he gets the chance, say some RBI insiders and economists.

Although he fended off a market attack on the rupee early in his tenure, bankers, economists and his former colleagues said he was relatively slow to grasp how liquidity flows through the economy and how to fine tune it to meet his primary policy goal of taming inflation.

Under Rajan, the RBI forced banks to source limited short-term funds from cash-for-bond auctions rather than getting unlimited funds from the central bank at a fixed rate.

Banks complained the new system was forcing up costs and hampering the transmission of rate cuts to the real economy, said several bankers privy to the discussions with the RBI.

At first, Rajan publicly dismissed their concerns as “nonsense”. It was only after 16 months of pleading by banks that he finally revamped the RBI’s liquidity management in April, the bankers said.

A second stint is likely to see a more accomplished operator as the RBI tackles bank debt, tries to develop the bond market as a viable source of funding for companies and switches to a Western-style approach to decision making.

A new monetary policy panel will be formed later this year to set interest rates, something Rajan favored to make the RBI more independent and introduce transparency to the process.

In a key victory for Rajan, draft legislation from the finance ministry that would have allowed the government to appoint more than half of the panel’s members was amended to split it evenly between government and RBI nominees.

Rajan will get the casting vote in the case of a 3-3 split.

Those who have worked with Rajan said his people skills and powers of persuasion will give him a big say on setting rates.

“WHY ROCK THE BOAT?”

Rajan continues to be lionized by foreign investors whose funds are needed to keep the Indian economy motoring ahead.

That was key in convincing Modi to defend him, while two off-cycle interest rate cuts in January and March last year also acted as a balm, a senior minister in the federal cabinet said.

The country has been ravaged by drought in the last two years and not enough jobs are being created to accommodate its rapidly expanding workforce, but India is the world’s fastest growing major economy and inflation is half what it was in 2013.

“The combination of Modi, (Finance Minister Arun) Jaitley and Rajan are delivering on the macro front,” said Gita Gopinath, an economics professor at Harvard University who knows Rajan well. “I really don’t see any reason to rock the boat.”

(Additional reporting by Douglas Busvine, Neha Dasgupta, Suvashree Choudhury and Rupam Jain; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Wall St. ends May with whimper as energy shares slump | Reuters

The S&P 500 wrapped up its third straight month of gains on a flat note on Tuesday as weaker energy shares countered a rise in safe-haven utilities.

The Nasdaq closed higher on Tuesday, and ended up 3.6 percent for the month, the best performance of the three major indexes. The Dow eked out gains for May to notch its fourth straight positive month.

Data on Tuesday showed U.S. consumer spending recorded its biggest increase in more than six years in April as households stepped up purchases of automobiles, while another report showed an ebb in consumer confidence in May.

Consumer staples .SPLRCS ended down 0.49 percent, while consumer discretionary shares .SPLRCD fell 0.11 percent.

Energy shares .SPNY were the worst performing sector, dropping 0.57 percent, as oil prices settled lower. Utilities .SPLRCU rose 0.56 percent, leading all sectors.

“There’s nothing out there today bringing money off the sidelines,” said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 86.09 points, or 0.48 percent, to 17,787.13, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 2.11 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,096.95 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 14.55 points, or 0.29 percent, to 4,948.06.

Investors will be parsing through economic data, including Friday’s employment report, to gauge whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates as soon as its June 14-15 meeting. The central bank caught investors off guard earlier this month when it signaled its next rate hike could be just weeks away.

“The market is getting used to the idea of potentially higher rates and the Fed hiking this summer,” said Aaron Jett, vice president of global equity research at Bel Air Investment Advisors in Los Angeles. “It’s been an amazing change in sentiment compared to the middle of February where people were ready to jump out of the window.”

After a rough start to the year amid jitters about the global economy and volatility in the oil market, the S&P 500 notched its third straight month of gains, its first such streak in two years. The benchmark index is up more than 2 percent in 2016.

On Tuesday, Dow component Disney (DIS.N) fell 1.1 percent. The studio’s latest release, “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” received poor reviews.

Celator Pharma (CPXX.O) surged 71.6 percent to $30.08 after agreeing to be bought by Jazz Pharma (JAZZ.O) for about $1.5 billion. The Nasdaq Biotechnology index .NBI rose 1.3 percent.

Great Plains Energy Inc (GXP.N) will buy bigger rival Westar Energy Inc (WR.N) for $8.6 billion, the largest deal in the U.S. electricity distribution market so far this year. Westar jumped 6.4 percent, while Great Plains fell 5.9 percent.

About 8.2 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, well above the roughly 7 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,648 to 1,395, for a 1.18-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,591 issues rose and 1,250 fell for a 1.27-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 25 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 81 new highs and 21 new lows.

(Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza and Nick Zieminski)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Combative Trump says he raised $5.6 million for vets, bashes media | Reuters

NEW YORK Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Tuesday detailed $5.6 million in contributions he raised for military veterans, and sharply criticized the news media for questioning him for months about what happened to the money.

At a combative news conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan, the billionaire accused the media of failing to give him credit for raising the funds at an event in January in Iowa.

“The press should be ashamed of themselves,” he told reporters gathered before him. “You make me look very bad. I’ve never received such bad publicity for doing a good job.”

He called an ABC News reporter at the event, Tom Llamas, “a sleaze” and described Jim Acosta of CNN as “a real beauty.”

Trump’s tirade flew in the face of the hopes of some Republican leaders who want him to tone down his rhetoric and become more magnanimous now that he has sealed the Republican presidential nomination for the Nov. 8 election.

Trump, whose bellicose language has been a trademark of an insurgent candidacy that has upended the Republican Party, has shown no signs of doing so.

While Trump has long had an adversarial relationship with the media, the donations to veterans touched a raw nerve with him. Reporters have been persistently questioning whether he in fact raised all the money he said he had in January and why it had taken so long to hand donations over to veterans groups.

The Washington Post said Trump only handed over a personal donation of $1 million last week — four months after announcing it — once the newspaper started asking questions about the money.

Trump said the coverage of his veterans group donations had been close to libelous. Asked whether he would keep his adversarial stance with reporters if elected president, Trump said: “Yeah, it’s going to be like this.”

A reporter told Trump he seemed resistant to the kind of scrutiny that comes with the office of U.S. president.

But Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush, said the news media should stop fretting about how Trump treats them.

“My advice to the press: Stop interviewing yourselves about Trump’s attack on the press. Don’t worry about it. Just do your jobs and be fair,” he said.

CLINTON POLL LEAD

The campaign of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton sought to take advantage of Trump’s discomfort by holding a conference call with reporters to accuse him of hypocrisy over veterans’ issues.

John Douglass, a retired Air Force general and Clinton backer, raised Trump’s disparagement a year ago of U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona, a war veteran. Trump had said McCain, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, was not a hero because he got captured.

“For him to disparage that service is despicable and disgraceful,” Douglass said.

Clinton leads Trump by 11 percentage points in the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll. According to the May 27-31 survey of likely voters, 46 percent support the former U.S. secretary of state while 35 percent back Trump.

California Governor Jerry Brown on Tuesday endorsed Clinton for the Democratic nomination, saying it was the only way to “stop the dangerous candidacy of Donald Trump.”

The New York real estate mogul in Tuesday also bristled at the possibility that Republicans opposed to him might run a third-party candidate as an alternative to Trump or the expected Democratic nominee Clinton.

He said a leader of that effort, Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard magazine, “looks like such a fool.”

“Let me tell you these people are losers,” said Trump, adding that a third-party candidacy would guarantee Clinton wins the White House and deny Republicans the chance to put conservatives on the Supreme Court.

“What you’re going to do is lose the election for the Republicans and therefore you lose the Supreme Court,” he said.

Trump read out a list of veterans’ organizations that had received money from the January event, which he attended instead of participating in a Fox News-sponsored candidates’ debate. He said the money was benefiting 41 groups and that the total of cash raised could climb as more comes in.

He turned the microphone over briefly to Al Baldasaro, a Trump supporter and a veteran from New Hampshire who also skewered the news media, saying reporters should “get your head out of your butt, focus on the real issues.”

(Additional reporting by Amanda Becker and Doina Chiacu; Writing by Steve Holland; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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Sri Lanka arrests seven Tamil Nadu fishermen; Jaya writes to Modi

Seven fishermen from Tamil Nadu were arrested today by Sri Lankan Naval personnel for allegedly fishing in Lankan territorial waters prompting Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps for their release. The seven, part of groups of fishermen who ventured into the sea from Rameswaram, have been taken to Talaimannar in northern Sri Lanka, Rameswaram Fishermen Association President T Sesuraja said. The arrest came on the first day of fishermen resuming their work after the end of a 45-day-long annual fish breeding season ban on fishing using mechanised boats.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a letter to Modi, Jayalalithaa also flagged the issue of Sri Lanka reportedly trying to rebuild a church in Katchatheevu. She said seven fishermen who had set out for fishing from Rameswaram yesterday were apprehended by the Lankan Navy early today. She said it was their first day of fishing after the 45-day ban period and they were taken to Talaimannar. Seeking to bring the resumption of fishermen’s arrest to his “direct personal attention,” she said, the “Sri Lankan Navy has escalated the frequency and magnitude of instances of abduction of our fishermen and the seizure of their boats and fishing equipment over the last two years.” She urged him to take up the matter with the highest authorities in Sri Lanka and secure the immediate release of the fishermen and a total of 89 fishing boats impounded on various occasions, without any delay. The “Sri Lankan strategy,” of not releasing boats and fishing gear of the state’s fishermen, was causing great frustration among them, she said and requested him to direct the External Affairs Ministry to take immediate action in the matter. Against the background of reports indicating efforts to rebuild a church in Katchatheevu, she said,”in a related provocative move, the Sri Lankan Government is trying to rebuild St Anthony’s church on the disputed Katchatheevu Island without obtaining the consent and contribution of Tamil Nadu fishermen.” On May 14, she had said “the Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu apprehend that if the church is demolished and reconstructed by the Sri Lankan side unilaterally, their traditional and customary access to this important place of worship could also be curtailed in the future.” She had urged the Centre to prevail on Colombo to involve Indian fishermen in the church rebuilding initiative.

Wall St. flat as energy offsets utilities’ gain | Reuters

NEW YORK The S&P 500 wrapped up its third straight month of gains on Tuesday on a flat note, as weaker energy shares were countered by a rise from Amazon and safe-haven utilities.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 87.66 points, or 0.49 percent, to 17,785.56, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 2.06 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,097 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 14.55 points, or 0.29 percent, to 4,948.06.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

‘Cat and pigeon’ analogy distorted: Mehbooba Mufti on Kashmiri Pandits

Kashmiri Pandits will have to be housed in “inclusive” transit camps in the Valley till they get the confidence to return to their native places without security, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Tuesday while accusing the opposition and media of distorting her “cat and pigeon” analogy. “My remarks were distorted by the opposition and media to project as if every Kashmiri is a militant. Kashmiri Muslims are fed up of violence. Kashmiri Pandits are not afraid of Kashmiri Muslims. They are afraid of those who perpetrated Wandhama Massacre,” she said in the Legislative Council while replying to a debate on Motion of Thanks to the Governor’s Address. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mehbooba, while speaking in the Assembly on Saturday about rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, had reportedly said she will not throw Kashmiri Pandits like “pigeons before the cat”. Today, she said unless migrant Pandits get the confidence to go to their native places without security, they have to be provided proper residences in transit camps which would be inclusive. “The workers of Congress, PDP, NC and BJP are living with security. Should we not then provide a sense of security to Pandits. We have to make them comfortable. “Unless they get confidence to go to their native places without security, they have to be provided proper residences in transit camps which will be inclusive with 50 per cent reservation for migrants of other faiths. And to link these issues with Article 370 is completely misplaced,” she said. Hitting out at the opposition for accusing the government of implementing RSS agenda in Kashmir, Mehbooba said such remarks reflect the lack of faith among the opposition members in their ideology which is deeply secular and plural. “Even Pandits swear by the name of (sufi saints) Dastgeer saheb and Rash-Maili saheb. No power on earth can dilute our secular ethos,” she said. On the issue of construction of Sainik Colonies, the Chief Minister said the first such colony in the state was built around 1964 in Samba and was meant for the state subjects only. “Sheikh Abdullah inaugurated that colony. In March 2011, a meeting of Rajya Sainik Board took place followed by more meetings in 2012. In 2014, the meeting was attended by (then chief minister) Omar Abdullah. Every meeting discussed that land should be provided but no final decision was taken. “In my tenure also on April 21, a meeting was convened, again call for land, the Divisional Commissioner communicated to the board on May 18 that no suitable land has been identified. How can you say that there is confusion on the issue” she said.

Arvind Kejriwal warns discoms over power outages

In a stern warning to discoms, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said they will be made to compensate consumers for even one-hour-long outage if they do not spruce up their supply network in the next six months. The warning has come in the wake of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) issuing an order to discoms and power distribution companies to compensate consumers for unscheduled outages extending up to two hours. Penalties can go up to Rs 100 per hour. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kejriwal said there is need to make discoms “accountable for outages” and then, Delhiites will be benefited from the privatisation of power sector. “For now, we have asked discoms to compensate consumers for unscheduled power cuts extending up to two hours, but after six months if there is no improvement in their power supply network, government will bring it down to one hour norm,” he said here. “The privatisation of power sector had been done in order to provide better facility of electricity to Delhiites,” Kejriwal said, adding that the accountability of power distribution companies will be questioned if power outages continue. “Why electricity wires and transfers get damaged only in Delhi? Why is there no such incidents in Washington, London and New York?” he asked. “We will also make Delhi a world-class city and for this, the accountability of discoms should be fixed for power outages. They should be penalised for outages. There will then be benefit of privatisation of power sector in the national capital,” he added. As per the DERC’s order issued yesterday, power distribution companies will have to compensate to consumers for unscheduled power cuts extending up to two hours. The move followed frequent power outages this month in the midst of an intense heatwave. However, power companies had attributed the blackouts to local faults. As per new power supply code, Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) has set a deadline of three hours for fixing a blown fuse or damaged service line and failing which, power companies will have to pay Rs 100 per consumer for every subsequent hour.For fault in distribution line, discoms will have to restore supply within two hours and if they failed to do the same, they will be liable to pay Rs 50 per consumer for first two hours of default and thereafter Rs 100 for every subsequent hour.The power regulator has also set a deadline of two hours to rectify the failure of distribution transformer failing which discoms will have to pay Rs 50 per consumer for first two hours and thereafter Rs 100 per consumer for every subsequent hour. In its notification, DERC has also stated that scheduled power outages should not exceed 12 hours and the restoration of supply should be done preferably by 6 PM.According to the notification, in case of power supply failure, discoms will pay compensation to the affected consumers by way of adjustment against current and/or future bills for supply of electricity within 90 days of failure of the discoms to meet the guaranteed ‘Standards of Performance’.”If the licensee (discoms) fails to pay compensation, the affected consumer(s) may approach the ombudsman. In case, the claim for compensation is upheld by the ombudsman, the compensation shall be determined by the ombudsman at the rate of Rs 5,000 or five times the compensation payable as per Schedule-III to these regulations, whichever is higher,” it said.

Sting CD row: Uttarakhand HC stays Harish Rawat’s arrest

The Uttarakhand High Court on Tuesday stayed the arrest of Chief Minister Harish Rawat in connection with the probe of a sting video, in which he can be seen striking a deal with the rebel Congress leaders. The next hearing in the matter has been scheduled for June 20. Last week, Rawat was questioned by the CBI in connection with a probe into the sting operation. “I don’t have to produce any proof for my innocence, have not done anything wrong,” Rawat had told media after the questioning. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, the Uttarakhand High Court had refused to quash the ongoing CBI probe into the sting operation, following which the agency had summoned the Chief Minister. The sting operation was done in March, when rebel Congress lawmakers voted against the state budget, triggering a political crisis. Later, Rawat government was sacked by the Centre and the state was placed under President’s Rule. However, Congress knocked the door of the Court and Rawat returned as Chief Minister after winning a trust vote ordered by the Supreme Court earlier this month.

LDF govt not to ‘hurt’ anybody on Sabarimala women entry issue

The LDF government in Kerala would not take any decision that would hurt anybody on the issue of entry of women of menstruating age in the famous hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala, state Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran on Tuesday said. Addressing a meet-the-press here, Surendran said, “The government will not take any decision that would hurt anybody …it will take any decision only after consulting all groups.” The issue had not yet been discussed either in the ruling front or by the ministry, he said. He further said he was only a politician and not competent enough to say how the entry of women would affect the rituals of the temple. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The case is under the consideration of the Supreme Court and it will take a decision in this regard. I am not the right person to say how the entry of women will affect the rituals of Ayyappa Temple. There are competent people to comment on the matter and they will speak,” the Minister said. Women in the age group of 10-50 are banned entry in the temple, which attracts lakhs of devotees. Asked about the decision to dissolve the Devaswom Recruitment Board and entrust the job to the state-run Public Service Commission, he said there was no need for an institution like Devaswom Recruitment Board for the purpose. “Our decision was only to leave the recruitment of clerical staff and engineers, who are very less in number, to PSC. And not the recruitment of priests. There is no need for a separate devaswom recruitment board for the purpose,” he said. Surendran slammed the previous UDF government for constituting the board. The PSC would make appointments after meeting all necessary formalities and procedures, he added.

Parliamentary secretaries: Election Commission forwards 21 MLA’s response to petitioner

Election Commission has forwarded the response of 21 AAP MLAs to the petitioner, who had approached the poll body for their disqualification, saying their appointment as parliamentary secretaries comes under the Office of Profit.Lawyer Prashant Patel, the petitioner, will now have to respond on the stand taken by the AAP MLAs, after which the EC will fix a date for personal hearing. Twenty one AAP MLAs, facing the risk of disqualification from the Assembly on office of profit issue, have sought a personal hearing before the Election Commission. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The EC had earlier issued notices asking them to explain how their appointment as parliamentary secretaries does not fall under office of profit and why their Assembly membership should not be cancelled. In their response to the poll body, the MLAs have said that parliamentary secretary is a post without any remuneration or power. A senior party functionary maintained that there was no “pecuniary benefit” associated with the post. On 13 March, 2015, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had passed an order appointing 21 party MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries. Thereafter, the AAP government had sought an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997. Through the Bill, which has been forwarded to the Centre by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, AAP wants “retrospective” exemption for the parliamentary secretaries from disqualification provisions. Questions have been raised over their appointment by the opposition. The Lt Governor had said the office of parliamentary secretary is defined as an “office of profit if one looks at the statutes of Delhi” and that as per the GNCT Act, the city can have only one parliamentary secretary attached to the office of the Chief Minister. The 21 MLAs include Alka Lamba, Jarnail Singh, Adarsh Shastri and Rajesh Gupta.

AAP slams Modi for ‘not taking action’ against Robert Vadra

Aam Aadmi Party Punjab In-charge Sanjay Singh took attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “not” taking action against Robert Vadra, son-in-Law of Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi, for his alleged involvement in scams.He alleged that before Lok Sabha elections Modi used to claim he would send Vadra to jail for his alleged involvement in land scam but after coming to power he “did not” utter his name even once.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Singh said Congress and BJP were “two sides of the same coin” and “befooling” the citizens of the country.Referring to reports that arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari allegedly facilitated purchase of a property in London for Vadra, Singh said, “Funds came from him (Bhandari)”, and it is “evident the money was paid to Vadra for securing (defence) deals in previous UPA government”.”Despite having all proofs against Vadra, what is stopping Modi from initiating action against him,” he said. “Before elections, BJP released a CD and booklet of allegations of scam against Robert Vadra, was that also a Jumla?” Singh asked. He demanded that Modi fulfil his promise by taking action against Vadra.

Grand alliance’s RS nominee Ram Jethmalani hits out at PM Modi over black money issue

“I am making a confession that I helped them to cheat you, I have come to seek your forgiveness,” says Jethmalani. Veteran lawyer and Bihar’s ‘Grand Alliance’ nominee for Rajya Sabha Ram Jethmalani on Tuesday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the black money issue and sought forgiveness from the people for supporting him in last Lok Sabha elections. “The one promise he had made was that Rs 90 lakh crore of black money was concealed in foreign banks and that he will get back that money and give Rs 15 lakh to the family of every poor man….and then he appoints a party president (Amit Shah) who made a statement that it was an election jumla (gimmick),” Jethmalani said at an event here. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expressing regret over supporting BJP and Modi earlier, he said, “I am making a confession that I helped them to cheat you, I have come to seek your forgiveness. I want nothing from you (Modi) and nothing means nothing but fulfil your promises to the people of India,” he said, referring to his letter to Modi extending his support to him in the elections.

Modi approves doctors’ retirement age at 65 years in Central Health Service

New Delhi: Superannuation age of all doctors in Central Health Service has been enhanced to 65 years with effect from Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said about the decision that will benefit about 4,000 doctors.

Representational / Getty images.

Representational / Getty images.

“Central Government has decided to enhance superannuation age of all doctors in Central Health Service to 65 years with effect 31st May 2016,” he tweeted.

“With this step, we retain our experienced doctors for a longer period & provide quality health services to citizens, particularly the poor,” PM Modi added in another tweet.

There are about 4,000 doctors under the Central Health Service, according to the Health Ministry website.

PM Modi had announced at a rally in Saharanpur on 26 May that the Union Cabinet will take a decision within a week to raise the retirement age for doctors to 65 years “whether in states or government of India”.

Health Minister JP Nadda today said the step will empower the government to strengthen the healthcare sector in the country.

“This will enable the government to retain experienced doctors for a longer period, and to provide better services in its public health facilities, particularly to the poorest, who are entirely dependent on public facilities,” he said.

“It will help in providing additional doctors in the health pool of the country. This will strengthen the efforts of the Ministry in conceptualising and rolling out various people-oriented schemes which need the services of doctors in implementing them,” the minister said.

PM Modi had said at the May 26 rally that there is a need for more doctors across the country but it was not possible to fill the gap in two years of his government.

“There is a shortage of doctors. In government hospitals, their retirement is 60 years in some states, 62 in some others. If adequate numbers of medical institutes were there, then we would have more doctors and would not feel the shortage. It is difficult to make doctors in two years but poor families cannot be forced to live without doctors.

“Therefore from Uttar Pradesh, I want to announce this to my countrymen that this week our government’s Cabinet will take a decision and the retirement age of our doctors, whether in states or government of India, would be made 65 years instead of 60 or 62,” he said.

Almost 46 million people trapped in slavery with North Korea, India key offenders – global index | Reuters

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Almost 46 million people are living as slaves globally with the greatest number in India but the highest prevalence in North Korea, according to the third Global Slavery Index launched on Tuesday with Australian actor Russell Crowe.

The index, by Australia-based human rights group Walk Free Foundation, increased its estimate of people born into servitude, trafficked for sex work, or trapped in debt bondage or forced labour to 45.8 million from 35.8 million in 2014.

Andrew Forrest, founder of Walk Free, said the rise of nearly 30 percent was due to better data collection, although he feared the situation was getting worse with global displacement and migration increasing vulnerability to all forms of slavery.

Forrest, an Australian mining billionaire and philanthropist, urged businesses to check their supply chains for worker exploitation, saying he found thousands of people trapped in slavery making goods for his company Fortescue Metals Group.

“But I’ve had some of some biggest entrepreneurs in the world look me in the eye and say I will not look for slavery in case I find it,” he said at the launch of the index in London.

Crowe, who played Roman general-turned-slave Maximus in the 2000 movie “Gladiator”, described the plight of people “in our communities who are stuck, utterly helpless and trapped in a cycle of despair and degradation with no choice and no hope.”

“As an actor, my role is often to portray raw human emotion, but nothing compares with the people’s lives reflected in the report published today,” he said.

“The shock of reading the Global Slavery Index was one that I wouldn’t step away from.”

Incidences of slavery were found in all 167 countries in the index, with India home to the largest total number with an estimated 18.4 million slaves among its 1.3 billion population.

But Forrest said India deserved credit for starting to address this problem with the government this week unveiling a draft of its first comprehensive anti-human trafficking law to treat survivors as victims rather than criminals.

North Korea ranked as worst in terms of concentration with one in every 20 people – or 4.4 percent of its 25 million population – in slavery and its government doing the least to end this with reports of state-sanctioned forced labour.

“We need to make it clear we’re not going to tolerate slavery and when there is slavery in a regime we should not trade with them,” Forrest told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

NUMBERS CRITICISED

Forrest acknowledged the latest data was likely to attract criticism with some researchers accusing the index of flawed methodology by extrapolating on-the-ground surveys in some countries to estimate numbers for other nations.

The 2016 index was based on interviews with about 42,000 people by pollster Gallup in 53 languages in 25 countries.

But Forrest said a lack of hard data on slavery in the past had held back efforts to tackle this hidden crime and it was important to draw a “sand in the line” measurement to drive action. He challenged critics to produce an alternative.

The United Nation’s International Labour Organization estimates 21 million people globally are victims of forced labour but this does not take into account all forms of slavery.

“Without measurement you don’t have effective management and there’s no way to lead the world away from slavery,” he said.

Forrest said the Global Slavery Index aims to measure the prevalence of slavery in the 167 most populous countries as well as the level of vulnerability of people to enslavement and strength of government efforts to combat this.

The 2016 index again found Asia, which provides low-skilled labour in global supply chains producing clothing, food and technology, accounted for two-thirds of the people in slavery.

About 58 percent of people living in slavery are in five countries – India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan.

However the countries with the highest proportion of their population enslaved were North Korea, Uzbekistan, and Cambodia.

The governments taking the least action to tackle slavery were listed as North Korea, Iran, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, and Hong Kong.

By contrast the governments taking most action were the Netherlands, the United States, Britain, Sweden and Australia.

Forrest said a reason for launching the index in Britain was to acknowledge the lead set by the UK government which last year brought in the 2015 Modern Slavery Act.

While Europe has the lowest regional prevalence of slavery, Walk Free said it was a source and destination for forced labour and sexual exploitation. The impact of a mass influx of migrants and refugees fleeing conflicts and poverty has yet to be seen.

Crowe said slavery was a problem that was not going away.

“I think all of us should keep focused on it until we get to that point … where it just gets pushed over the edge and it’s finished,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

HSBC cutting ‘dozens’ of senior jobs in investment bank – sources | Reuters

LONDON HSBC has begun cutting senior posts in its investment banking division in a cull that could lead to dozens of staff worldwide losing their jobs, according to sources with direct knowledge of the cuts.

HSBC began informing staff in its global banking and markets division in London last week, one of the sources said, with a further round of cuts this week expected to affect around 10 senior people in the unit.

A spokesman for HSBC declined to comment.

The latest round of job cuts at Europe’s biggest bank shows new co-chief of global banking Matthew Westerman is making his mark, two of the sources said.

HSBC announced in February that Westerman would be joining from Goldman Sachs to become co-head of global banking in its investment bank, alongside Robin Phillips. The bank announced at the same time it would enlarge the global banking unit by merging its capital financing business into it.

Capital financing, which helped companies raise funds by debt and equity offerings, had become a separate unit under Spencer Lake in a prior reorganisation in 2013.

Its integration back into the banking division has resulted in a number of duplicated and overlapping roles that are now being eliminated to cut costs, the sources said.

HSBC said last June it would slash nearly one in five jobs, as Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver seeks to combat sluggish growth across the lender’s sprawling empire.

Part of that cull involves cutting back risk weighted assets in the investment banking and trading unit of the bank, known as global banking and markets, by up to one third.

(Reporting By Anjuli Davies and Lawrence White, additional reporting by Sophie Sassard, Freya Berry and Sumeet Chatterjee in Hong Kong; Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Susan Thomas)

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Missing files in Ishrat case: senior IAS officers depose

Three key officers handling files in the Home Ministry related to the alleged fake encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan have deposed before an one-man inquiry committee probing the missing documents of the case. The panel of B K Prasad, Additional Secretary in the Home Ministry, recorded the statements of retired IAS officer Deverakonda Diptivilasa and serving senior IAS officers Dhamendra Sharma and Rakesh Singh in the last few days. All the three were handling the key Internal Security-I division in the Home Ministry as Joint Secretary in different periods. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Diptivilasa is currently serving as non-official Director of public sector Corporation Bank, Sharma is at present with Delhi government. Singh is serving in Karnataka government. Sources said Diptivilasa, Sharma and Singh explained their respective position and reportedly pleaded their ignorance about the missing documents related to the Ishrat Jahan case. The inquiry panel has so far not been able to trace the missing files related to alleged fake encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan. The one-member panel was constituted after Home Minister Rajnath Singh had disclosed in Parliament on March 10 that the files were missing. Following an uproar in Parliament, the ministry had asked Prasad to inquire into the circumstances in which the files related to the case of Ishrat Jahan, who was killed in an alleged fake encounter in Gujarat in 2004, went missing. The papers, which disappeared from the Home Ministry, include the copy of an affidavit vetted by the then Attorney General and submitted in the Gujarat High Court in 2009 and the draft of the second affidavit vetted by the AG on which changes were made. Two letters written by the then Home Secretary G K Pillai to the then Attorney General late G E Vahanvati and the copy of the draft affidavit have also so far remained untraceable.

Attacks on Africans have racial overtones, PM Modi must break silence: Congress

Congress on Tuesday came down hard on the government over attacks on African nationals, saying such incidents have racial overtones, and demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi break his silence on the issue. The party also demanded Union Minister VK Singh, who made controversial comments on the issue, be “reined in” and Goa Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar be dismissed for pitching for a strict law to deport Nigerians.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Party’s senior spokesman Anand Sharma told reporters that the government should have intervened after the first incident, given the fact that the attacks had “racial overtones and one cannot be in the denial mode”. He alleged the government allowed the situation to deteriorate. He said the attacks have rattled the international community and the Prime Minister should take immediate corrective measures or else it would have adverse consequences for Indians living in African countries. Noting that President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari have already expressed their anguish and outrage over the attacks, Sharma said the Prime Minister should now give a “pause to his self-propaganda” and comment on it. The government should realise that India and Africa have a special relationship as the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru strove for Afro-Asian solidarity when the people of Africa were struggling against colonialism and apartheid, the Congress leader said.

Bungled blood transfusions infect 2,234 with HIV virus in India

Nothing can be more scarier than to be on the receiving end of a bungled blood transfusion procedure. This report published in The Hindu, states that since the past 17 months almost 2,234 people across the country have been infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) during the blood transfusions.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The cited data released by the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) further reveals that Uttar Pradesh has 361 such botched up blood transfusion cases, the highest, with Gujarat, Maharashtra and Delhi trailing behind with 292, 276 and 264 cases respectively.

NACO revealed the numbers in response to a query raised by an Right to Information activist Chetan Kothari, states the report.

“No action has been taken against hospitals or blood banks yet,” Kothari was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

According to NACO’s Deputy Director General, Naresh Goyal, the HIV-infected blood would be transfused because the donor would be in that stage where the viral load would still not be detected during the screening process.

“These are unfortunate cases and we are working towards the goal of zero transmission. Having said that, these numbers must be looked in the context of the scale of our HIV programme. For example, 20 years ago, nearly 8-10 percent of total HIV infections were coming to transfusions. Currently, that figure is below 1 percent. We have conquered this route of infection. It is now legally mandatory for every blood bank to screening the units before giving it to a patient,” he said.

Earlier in May, a three-year-old boy in Assam contracted HIV after he underwent multiple blood transfusions for serious burn injuries at Gauhati Medical College Hospital, The Times of India reported.

Although it is said that blood transfusions can be life-saving, we should not ignore the possible risks involved in it.  This report lists down several reactions one might attract if the transfusion doesn’t agree with the receiver. Apart from HIV infection, sudden fever, acute lung injury, Hepatitis B and C and bacterial contamination are some of the fatal infections to name a few.

NACO’s 2015 annual report states that the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIVs) in India was estimated at around 20.9 lakh in 2011. About 86 percent of these fall under the age-group of 15-49. Also, children with less than 15 years of age accounted for 7 percent while 39 percent 8.16 lakh were among women.

Fire breaks out at Kalyan dumping yard in Maharashtra, none hurt

A major fire broke out at the Aadhar Wadi dumping yard in Kalyan this evening in the district following which at least 12 fire tenders were pressed into service, civic officials said. Anil Laad, Disaster Control officer of the Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Corporation (KDMC) said the blaze erupted at around 5.30 PM. The dumping yard is of KDMC. Officials said no one was injured in the blaze. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief of Regional Disaster Management Cell of Thane Region Santosh Kadam said at least 12 fire tenders, including some from neighbouring towns of Thane, Bhiwandi, Ambarnath and Ulhasnagar, were pressed into service and efforts were on to douse the fire, he said.

French Open organisers under fire as backlog grows | Reuters

PARIS Fans spent more time looking at the murky Parisian sky than watching tennis on Tuesday as French Open organisers were accused of “not caring about the players” after the event was disrupted by more rain following the previous day’s washout.

Czech seventh seed Thomas Berdych summed up everyone’s frustration on a day when nine hours of play was lost by tweeting: “Hey @AustralianOpen can you send us one roof here to Paris?! You have 3 down there.”

The inability to play under cover, with Roland Garros being the only one of the four grand slam venues that does not have a court with a retractable roof, certainly proved costly for Agnieszka Radwanska and Simona Halep — fourth-round losers in the only two matches that were completed on day 10.

With the fixture list piling up, the women in top seed Serena Williams’ half of the draw would now need to play on four successive days to win the title if the final takes place on Saturday as scheduled — though more rain is forecast.

World number one Novak Djokovic and the men in his half of the draw, including Berdych, can also forget about enjoying the traditional rest days between each round as they would have to play on four of the next five days to contest Sunday’s final.

Radwanska, the world number two, and 2014 runner-up Halep –who both started their last-16 matches on Sunday — were forced to play in misty rain on Tuesday as organisers made a desperate attempt to clear the huge backlog.

“No one cares about the players in my opinion,” sixth seed Halep said after she was beaten 7-6(0) 6-3 by Australian Sam Stosur in a battle of former finalists.

“It was impossible to play. To play tennis matches during the rain is a bit too much. I was close to getting injured with my back… but no one cares.”

Radwanska had been leading Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2 3-0 when rain halted play on Sunday.

When the match resumed more than 40 hours later, the Polish second seed suffered a monumental meltdown as she lost 10 successive games in a 2-6 6-3 6-3 defeat by an opponent ranked 100 places below her.

“I’m just so surprised and angry that we have to play in the rain. I mean, it’s not a $10,000 tournament. It’s a grand slam,” said Radwanska, the highest seed to exit the tournament.

“How can you allow players to play in the rain? I cannot play in that condition. They really don’t care what we think.”

BACK TO THE LOCKER ROOM

Ernests Gulbis and David Goffin did get on court for their fourth round showdown but took matters into their own hands by marching back into the locker room even before organisers had a chance to make a call.

It was a decision that Halep welcomed. “Good. Well done to them,” the Romanian said as she gave them a thumbs-up.

While matches at the three other majors — Wimbledon (grass), Australian and U.S. Opens (both hardcourts) — are halted at the first sight of any raindrops, the brittle claycourt surface at Roland Garros means competitors are often told to play on in drizzle.

Roger Federer did just that in the 2009 men’s final when he beat Robin Soderling to win his solitary French Open trophy.

Unsurprisingly, Pironkova did not think Tuesday’s conditions were unplayable, though she acknowledged they were far from ideal.

“Well, it’s happened before, of course. We have played in all sorts of conditions,” said the Bulgarian, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 2010.

“Usually if the court is not fit for play, like if it’s slippery, they would cancel the match right away. But today the court was still hanging in, it was okay. We could have played, and so we did.”

Radwanska and Halep’s exit meant that at least five of the top eight women’s seeds failed to make their allotted quarter-final spots.

Only two of 10 scheduled matches were completed as the claycourt major suffered its sixth day of showers, with Djokovic — leading Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6 6-4 4-1 — one of 16 players still stranded in the fourth round.

(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by John Stonestreet)

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Karnataka: CM Siddaramaiah warns against threatened mass leave by policemen

As lower rung police personnel plan to go on a mass leave on June 4 in protest against alleged harassment and lesser pay, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday warned against any act of “indiscipline” by the force. Siddaramaiah chaired a meeting of Home Department and police officials and asked the force not to get instigated, saying there should not be any room for indiscipline. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking to reporters after the meeting, he said, “A non-recognised organisation has called for protest by police on June 4 by going on one day mass leave. Police department is a disciplined organisation. It is a department that has the responsibility of protecting public life and property, so there should not be any room for indiscipline.” “If there is any act of indiscipline, government will take it seriously and will take strict action against them,” he said.
ALSO READ Karnataka: Policemen plan to apply for leave en masse on June 4; state govt on tenterhooksAn organisation called Akhila Karnataka Police Maha Sangha is spearheading the stir led by V Shashidhar, who is its founder-President and a suspended police personnel. Asking police personnel to discuss their demand with the government, Siddaramaiah said, “The government will be open minded on this. If the demands are just we are ready to fulfil them. All issues can be solved through discussion.” Requesting police not to participate in the protest, he said, “If you participate, it will be indiscipline. We have complete faith in our police force. There has never been indiscipline. Even now they will not indulge in any indiscipline by going on mass leave.” Siddaramaiah also expressed confidence that keeping public safety and protection of law and order in mind, the force would stay away from any such protest. “There is no scope for mass leave, every one should understand that,” he said, adding, the government will take action against those instigating the police. He also requested opposition BJP and other political parties not to take up the issue for political advantage. In a letter to Home Minister G Parameshwara on May 13, Shashidhar had highlighted the issues faced by police, particularly constables, and their intention to go on mass leave. The letter pointed out irregular working hours coupled with no proper leave and pay anomaly, among others.Complaining about interference by politicians and influential persons, it also demanded separate pay commission for police. To a question about protest by state government employees on June 2, the Chief Minister said, “We will talk to the employees union.” The state employees are demanding pay parity with central government employees.

Nirmala Sitharaman files nomination papers for Rajya Sabha

Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday filed nomination papers for the upcoming Rajya Sabha election from Karnataka. Sitharaman, accompanied by Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers Ananth Kumar, BJP state president and MP B S Yeddyurappa and BJP state leaders, arrived at Vidhana Soudha at 11.15 am to file the nomination papers.Earlier, BJP wanted to re-nominate Union Minister for Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Parliamentary Affairs M Venkaiah Naidu for the fourth time but had to cancel it due to the opposition from Kannada organisations. Naidu was nominated by BJP from Karnataka for three consecutive terms to the Rajya Sabha.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking with media persons after filing the nomination papers, Sitharaman said that she would take care of Karnataka’s interests in every way. “I am going to be a servant here being sent by honourable Prime Minister who calls himself Pradhan Sevak. I will be also a sevak and because I will have to represent Karnataka. I will make sure that the interests of Karnataka will be ensured in the Parliament,’’ she said.When asked that Venkaiah Naidu had also given similar assurances and promised to work for the welfare of Karnataka but did nothing, she said: “Venkaiah Naidujee is a very senior leader of our party. He has been a former president, we all respect him. He has done his best. We will continue the tradition. We will do as much we can under the leadership of Yeddyurappaji, other former chief ministers and Union Minister Ananth Kumar.’’She said that Karnataka had wonderful schemes during Yeddyurappaji’s regime. “There was a separate budget for agriculture during Yeddyurappa regime,’’ she added.BJP has 44 MLAs in the Assembly and needs one more MLA’s support to ensure the election of Nirmala Sitharaman for Rajya Sabha without any problems.Interesting contestThe election to Karnataka Legislative Council took an interesting turn with BJP fielding Lehar Singh as its second candidate in the election scheduled for June 10. The interesting thing is that BJP needs 11 more votes to bag the second seat in the election to the Council. BJP has nominated V Somanna as its first candidate in the election to the Council.It remains to be seen how BJP leaders will succeed in getting the 11 votes in support of the second candidate. Karnataka Minister for Energy DK Shivakumar and JD(S) leader and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy have also taken the election to the Council as a prestige issue. It’s a question of who will blink first since both of them have claimed to have the support of Independent MLAs and dissident MLAs of Congress and JD(S).

Goa: Nigerian accused of rape sent to three-day police custody

The Nigerian national, accused of abducting and raping a woman in Goa, was on Tuesday sent to three-day-police custody by a Mapusa court. The police, which nabbed the 41-year-old rape accused from Panvel railway station on Monday, produced him before the Judicial Magistrate of First Class Court in Mapusa, after having booked him under IPC Sections 365, 506, 342, and 376. According to reports, the Nigerian national is accused of raping a 31-year-old Goan woman. In her complaint, the victim has accused two African men of raping and abducting her while she was on her way to Parra. Following the incident, Goa tourism minister Dilip Parulekar called for a strict law to deport foreign offenders within a month of the alleged crime. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He accused Nigerians of resorting to crimes to extend the duration of their stay in the country. “Nigerian students come to study here, file FIRs and build a court case and try to stay in India. They get involved in unwanted things like drugs,” Parulekar told reporters yesterday.

Art of Living may move SC against NGT’s ‘unjust verdict’

After the National Green Tribunal (NGT) dismissed a plea of The Art of Living (AOL) Foundation seeking to furnish a bank guarantee of the balance compensation amount of the environmental compensation levied on them for damage to the Yamuna floodplains during the World Culture Festival (WCF) held in March, the foundation said they found the verdict unjust and after reviewing the order they would go to the Supreme Court. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The NGT also directed AOL to pay the remaining Rs 4.75 crores as environment compensation. “We find the verdict unjust and, if need be, after reviewing the order we will go to the Supreme Court. We have not violated any law or done any wrong,” said AOL. “The Art of Living has never said that we don’t have funds. We were ready and willing to give a bank guarantee which served the purpose, but our application has been wrongly dismissed. We will test the legality and see how we can correct the judgement,” said the foundation in a statement. “We don’t agree with the observations of the Tribunal. The Art of Living has neither polluted air or water or earth. We have left the WCF site in a better condition than what we had got. We have an extensive repertoire for environment work and find these allegations unacceptable,” it further said. No scientific assessment of the site has yet been done, claimed AOL, adding: “On a brief visual inspection, allegations have been made and we have been asked to compensate an amount arrived at arbitrarily. The damage has not even been assessed. We are, therefore, not happy and will consider all options. We would like to point out that what a section of media is enthusiastically calling a fine is not a fine but a compensation deposit, it added.On Monday, the NGT had issued notice to petitioners – environmentalist Manoj Misra, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and other respondents – on a plea filed by The Art of Living Foundation, seeking reconstitution of principal expert committee to examine the alleged impact of the World Culture Festival on the Yamuna floodplains. The foundation filed an application to reconstitute an independent and an unbiased expert committee to examine the allegations. The foundation alleged, “The committee has pre-judged the issue and are under self-imposed pressure to justify that figure, creating a bias for itself.” “The Art of Living objects to the existing committee comprising Brij Gopal, Prof. Gosain, C.R. Babu and headed by Sashi Shekhar, who arrived at an arbitrary figure of Rs. 120 crore based on a very brief ‘visual’ assessment without following a scientific process,” the foundation said in a statement.The court, which heard the preliminary arguments to change the committee, issued notice to Mishra, the other petitioners as well as the respondents. The court will tomorrow consider the request for another independent body to simultaneously assess the site pending the final disposal of the application. On March 9, the NGT had refused to prohibit the World Culture Festival on the bank of Yamuna, but slapped a fine of Rs. 5 crore on the foundation for damaging biodiversity of the ecologically sensitive Yamuna floodplains.On May10, the foundation had issued a clarification over a NGT notice to its founder Ravi Shankar for his alleged remarks against the green panel, saying the allegations against the spiritual leader were ‘completely false’ and based merely on ‘newspaper reports’. The NGT issued a notice to Ravi Shankar for his alleged remarks that the fine imposed by the green panel for organising an event on banks f river Yamuna was politically motivated. “At the NGT proceedings, it was specifically pointed out by The Art of Living lawyers that applications filed by Anand Arya and Misra were based merely on news paper reports and that the tribunal ought not to entertain the same,” the Art of Living statement said. “It was also clarified by The Art of Living that the allegations about Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the NGT was misconceived since the video of the speech was available with Art Of Living and demonstrate that the allegation was completely false,” it added. The Art of Living further said that it would respond to NGT’s notice and warned the complainant of strict action if allegations are found without credible basis. “Court in fact warned Misra that if he is not able to prove his allegation, he will be penalised,” the statement added. The NGT in a notice to Ravishankar had asked why should not contempt of court proceedings be initiated against him and has directed him to file a reply to it latest by May 25.

No sabotage, cause to be known after inquiry: Manohar Parrikar on Pulgaon fire

Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday said there was no sabotage involved in the fire at the central ammunition depot at Pulgaon in the district but the exact cause would be known only after inquiry. “We are not ruling out any possibility but there is no sabotage as such,” he told reporters here. Fire was contained with timely help from all the concerned persons and only a complete inquiry will reveal its cause, Parrikar said. It is too early to speculate about the cause, he added. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Parrikar, who visited the injured personnel at the Datta Meghe Medical College and Hospital at Sawangi Meghe in the district, said 130 tonnes of anti-tank mines were destroyed in the fire. However, the 16 persons who lost their lives while trying to douse it succeeded in saving the ammunition stored in nine other sheds, the minister said. Parrikar, accompanied by the Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, spent more than half an hour meeting the injured personnel at the hospital. At least 16 defence personnel, including two Army officers, were killed in the massive fire that broke out at one of Asia’s biggest ammunition depot in Pulgaon which houses the largest stockpile of weapons in the country. The fire which started at 1 AM at one of the sheds that housed “highly sensitive ammunition” in the high security central ammunition depot (CAD), spread over 7,000 acres, has been completely doused and the situation brought under control after an overnight operation. Parrikar said the 16 defence personnel who died in the mishap prevented a greater disaster with their fire-fighting effort. “These 16 men lost their lives while fighting fire… but for their sacrifices, the ammunition in remaining nine stores would have created a havoc in the area,” he said.When asked about monetary loss caused by the blaze, the minister said the loss of life was more important. Necessary compensation will be paid to the victims and their kin as per the norms, he said. To a question whether there was a plan to bifurcate the stock at Pulgaon and create one more depot, Parrikar said it had already been bifurcated. Earlier, on arrival at Nagpur airport from Delhi, Parrikar and Army Chief Dalbir Singh Suhag flew to the CAD in a chopper and spoke to the Army officials at the site to take a stock of the situation.

Karnataka: Policemen plan to apply for leave en masse on June 4; state govt on tenterhooks

The proposed plan of Karnataka police to apply for leave on June 4 has made the state government leave no stone unturned to reach out the policemen. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah convened a meeting with top police officers on Tuesday evening to discuss the demands of policemen that include poor salary, harassment by senior officers in the name of discipline, improper leave structure and other issues.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Home Minister Dr G Parameshwara had also appealed to the policemen to not to go ahead with their plan of applying leave en masse on June 4 since it is against the police manual. The police department had also issued advertisements in the media highlighting the welfare schemes implemented for policemen.The Akhila Karnataka Police Mahasabha had advised the policemen to abstain from duty by applying leave on June 4 in support of their demands that were pending for a quite long time. It is believed that a large number of policemen have applied for leave on June 4. The plan to go on mass leave will be the first of its kind in the state.Directive to doctorsTo prevent policemen applying a medical leave, the director, health and family welfare, Bidar district, on May 28 (No. CR-08/2016-17) directed doctors working at district, taluk and primary health centres not to issue medical certificates and recommend medical leave for policemen. “The state government has been trying to prevent the policemen to go on leave. All the doctors at government hospitals have been directed not to issue medical certificates recommending leave to policemen. It is against the fundamental rights of policemen,’’ said V Shashidhar president, Akhila Karnataka Police Mahasabha.Retired police officers’ appealThe members of Karnataka State Retired Police Officers’ Welfare Association on Tuesday appealed the policemen to not to go ahead with their plan of applying leave on June 4 since it would affect the law and order in the state. “We are not against their demands. We support their demands but not their plan of applying leave en masse on June 4. Remaining absent from duty without permission will attract a disciplinary action. We want the policemen not to be misguided by outsiders. We will meet the Director General and Inspector General Police (DG&IGP) Om Prakash to discuss about the genuine demands of policemen,’’ said PM Pemmiah, president, Karnataka State Retired Police Officers’ Welfare Association.AAP’s appealAam Aadmi Party, Karnataka, on Tuesday, demanded that the state government consider the genuine demands policemen and chalk out a time-bound plan to meet them. The AAP Karnataka leaders have appealed the policemen not to go ahead with the plan of applying leave en masse on June 4. “Salary of policemen in Karnataka is less than the neighbouring states such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala. We want the state government to increase the salary of policemen in Karantaka,’’ Prithvi Reddy, state convener & national executive member, Aam Aadmi Party, Karnataka.Demands of AAP— Address the demand of fair wages which will be on par with wages being paid to policemen in other states— Reduce inhuman working hours by immediate recruitment of required number of policemen and officers— Allow leave as per applicable labour laws— Provide required training and counselling— Provide required equipment to help improve efficiency— Reduce the number of policemen assigned to VIP duty and reallocate them to regular police duty— Stop political interference and allow police to function independently as this will help in improving morale and respect in civil society

Incomprehensible why some Ishrat files are missing: P Chidambaram

Former Home minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday said it was “incomprehensible” why certain files in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case were missing and asserted that there was nothing morally, politically or ethically wrong in the ‘second’ affidavit, which stated there was no conclusive evidence to prove that she was a terrorist. “It is simply incomprehensible why some papers in the files are missing. Which are the papers that are missing? The letters written by the Home Secretary to the Attorney General, the draft affidavit sent to the AG, the vetted affidavit the AG sent to the home ministry and the final affidavit sent to the AG,” Chidambaram said here. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The papers are missing. Who gains by losing these papers? It is only those who make accusations gain. These papers will completely vindicate what I have been saying. I want to place the entire file in the public domain, including the missing papers,” the Congress leader said. He is facing BJP fire over his alleged role in drafting a second affidavit in Ishrat Jahan encounter killing case. Chidambaram also recalled that the affidavit was filed after Ahmedabad Metropolitan Judge S P Tamang’s report, which in September 2009, declared the encounter fake. “Now, the second affidavit is not really a second affidavit…it is a supplementary affidavit. Any lawyer would know that a further affidavit is a supplementary affidavit that is vetted by the highest law officer of the country,” he added. Chidambaram, who filed nomination for the Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra, said the second affidavit only has five to six paragraphs and it does not withdraw the first affidavit. “The second para says why the further affidavit is being filed. The further affidavit was filed after Judge Tamang’s report, which indicted the police and said it was a fake encounter and the persons killed were in custody for at least more than two to three days,” he said.”They were killed at midnight while they were sitting in a car and Rs 2.06 lakh were planted on their bodies. All this is finding of a judge in the Maharashtra judiciary,” Chidambaram said. He added that the fifth para of the further affidavit states that the Government of India shares intelligence inputs regularly with state governments and the first affidavit disclosed what those intelligence inputs were. “I wish to clarify that the intelligence inputs are only intelligence inputs and not conclusive evidence and you cannot come to any conclusion on the basis of intelligence inputs. It must be investigated and prosecuted in a court of law. Now please tell me which part of that affidavit is wrong either legally, morally or politically,” he asked. Chidambaram’s remarks came amid speculation that the one-member inquiry panel set up by the Union Home Ministry, probing the missing files related to the case, could submit its report soon. The panel headed by B K Prasad, a Tamil Nadu cadre IAS officer, was constituted on March 14 this year to inquire into the circumstances in which the crucial files related to the case of Ishrat Jahan, who was killed in an alleged fake encounter in Gujarat in 2004, went missing.The papers which went missing from the Home Ministry include the copy of an affidavit vetted by the Attorney General and submitted in the Gujarat High Court in 2009 and the draft of the second affidavit on which changes were made, they said.The first affidavit was filed on the basis of inputs from Maharashtra and Gujarat police besides the Intelligence Bureau where it was said the 19-year-old girl from Mumbai outskirts was a Lashkar-e-Taiba activist but it was ignored in the second affidavit, they said.The second affidavit, claimed to have been drafted by the then Home Minister P Chidambaram, said there was no conclusive evidence to prove that Ishrat was a terrorist, the sources said.Pillai had claimed that as Home Minister, Chidambaram had recalled the file a month after the original affidavit, which described Ishrat and her slain aides as LeT operatives, was filed in the court.Subsequently, Chidambaram had said Pillai is equally responsible for the change in the affidavit.Ishrat, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in an encounter with Gujarat Police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.The Gujarat Police had then said those killed in the encounters were LeT terrorists and had landed in Gujarat to kill the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Shashi Tharoor praises Kolkata’s Passport Seva Kendra, Sushma Swaraj thanks him for compliment

Shashi Tharoor is one of those politicians who seem to call a spade a spade, even though he does it more eloquently than most people. Recently, on a trip as part of the Parliament’s external affairs committee to Kolkata’s Passport Seva Kendras he was impressed with the services and mentioned that the public were also thrilled with the speed and efficiency of the passport issues.He wrote on Twitter: “Leading Parliament’s ExternalAffairs Committee on visit to Passport Seva Kendra Kolkata, India’s largest PSK. V.good! Interacting w/the public & staff at Passport Seva Kendra Kolkata. Passport services have improved dramatically w/PSKs. Many members of the public told me they were impressed by the speed&efficiency of the passport issuance system.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When one individual wondered if he had a government post, Shashi Tharoor clarified that a parliamentary committee wasn’t a government post and 8 opposition MPS chaired such committees.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj thanked Tharoor for the compliment. She wrote: “Thank you Shashi Tharoor ji Chairman Parliamentary Standing Committee on External affairs.”While in Kolkata, Shashi Tharoor also met Swami Atmapriyananda, VC of Vivekananda University and Mohd Salim, CPM MP from Raigunj.

Shocking: 8-year-old girl sleeping outside hut abducted, raped in Delhi

An eight-year-old girl, who was sleeping outside her hut, was allegedly abducted and raped by a youth in outer Delhi’s Kirari area, police said on Tuesday. The incident took place in the wee hours of Saturday when the accused, who is suspected to be a minor, allegedly gagged the girl, took her to a secluded spot near her house, and raped her. The girl was sleeping on a cot outside her house at an unauthorised colony in Kirari area when the accused spotted her. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the sexual assault, the accused fled the spot leaving behind the girl, who returned home on her own early morning and went off to sleep on the same cot. It was her mother who raised an alarm after she saw blood stains on the bed sheet and rushed the girl to a hospital. The hospital authorities, in turn, called up police. After doctors confirmed sexual assault, the girl was sent for counselling. During counselling, the girl broke down and narrated her ordeal. A case under IPC sections 363 (abduction) and 376 (rape) and relevant sections of POCSO Act has been registered at Aman Vihar police station, a senior police officer said. CCTV footage from the locality were scanned and, in one clip, the suspected accused could be seen with the girl. He was identified and a hunt launched to nab him. “He was arrested today and his age is being verified,” DCP (Outer) Vikramjit Singh said. The accused is a stranger to the family and lives in another lane in the same locality, police said.

Suresh Prabhu set to be re-elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is set to be elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh with the deadline for filing nominations for the biennial election ending on Tuesday. Prabhu today filed the nomination as a BJP nominee, supported by the NDA partner TDP. Union Minister of State for Science and Technology Y S Chowdary of TDP and former Andhra Pradesh minister and Chowdary’s fellow partyman T G Venkatesh, who too filed nomination papers at the AP Legislature here today, are also set to be elected to the Rajya Sabha. While Chowdary is seeking an election to the Upper House of Parliament for a second straight term, Venkatesh is going to make his maiden entry. Both are industrialists-turned-politicians. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The candidates were accompanied by Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapati Raju; TDP General Secretary N Lokesh, son of party supremo and Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu; and AP BJP president K Haribabu as they filed the papers. The election, slated for June 11, is being held to fill four vacancies from AP. With a combined strength of 108 in the 176-member AP Assembly, the ruling TDP-BJP can comfortably bag three seats. The opposition YSR Congress has fielded its leader Vijaysai Reddy as its nominee for the sole seat it can win. His wife, Sunanda Reddy, also filed her nomination as a dummy candidate. She will later withdraw it, YSRCP MLC U Venkateswarlu said.

Germany risks Turkey wrath with Armenian genocide vote

Berlin: Germany’s parliament votes Thursday on a resolution that brands the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocide, drawing a clear warning from Turkey’s president that it would harm ties.

Put forward by the ruling left-right coalition and the opposition Greens, the resolution entitled “Remembrance and commemoration of the genocide of Armenians and other Christian minorities in 1915 and 1916” also carries the contested word throughout the text. The vote comes just over a year after President Joachim Gauck became Germany’s highest ranking official to describe the massacre as a “genocide”, sparking a fierce response from Turkey.

Its timing is also awkward, as Germany and the European Union need Ankara to help stem a migrant influx even as tensions are rising between both sides over a string of issues, including human rights. In a strong call against the Bundestag move, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “If (Germany) falls into such a game, that would harm our future ties —ƒ the diplomatic, economic, political, commercial and military ties between the two countries.”

“I believe all of these would be reconsidered,” he told reporters in the western province of Izmir, adding that he had also telephoned Chancellor Angela Merkel over the wording of the text. Merkel’s Christian Democrats were instrumental in putting the resolution forward, and she herself could, as an elected MP, cast a vote.

‘Partial responsibility’

A file photo of Angela Merkel. APA file photo of Angela Merkel. AP

A file photo of Angela Merkel. AP

Turkey and Armenia have long been at loggerheads over the World War I-era massacre.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kin were killed between 1915 and 1917 as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart and have sought to win international recognition of the massacres as genocide.

“It’s about rendering historical justice, it’s an obligation of the entire international community towards the memory of the victims of the genocide,” Armenian foreign ministry spokesman, Tigran Balayan, told AFP.

He added that recognition is “important for the prevention of genocides in future”.

Modern Turkey, the successor state to the Ottomans, rejects the claim, arguing that 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian troops.

More than 20 nations, including France and Russia, have recognised the Armenian genocide, but Germany has not.

In direct reference to the atrocities against the Armenians, the resolution says: “Their fate exemplifies the mass exterminations, the ethnic cleansing, the expulsions and indeed the genocides that marked the 20th century in such a terrible way.”

It also states that the “German Empire bears partial responsibility for the events,” a point that Gauck had also made last year.

Germany was then allied with the Ottomans, and deployed soldiers who participated in the deportations of Armenians, Gauck had said.

‘Wrong path?’

The issue is particularly sensitive in Germany, as it has special ties with Ankara not least due to its three-million-strong ethnic Turkish population which settled following a massive “guest worker” programme in the 1960s and 1970s.

Ahead of the vote, around 1,000 people marched Saturday in a protest organised by Turkish groups, which also sent letters to lawmakers to campaign against the vote.

Kurds in Germany launched a counter-campaign, flooding Bundestag lawmakers with emails urging them to withstand Turkish pressure.

Yet the vote is also controversial within party lines.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who a year ago rejected Gauck’s use of the word “genocide”, said Tuesday he hoped the Bundestag vote would not derail efforts to reconcile Turkey and Armenia.

The German government’s top official in charge of integration, Aydan Oezoguz, warned that it is the “wrong path” to take.

“Those who think that such a move would lead automatically to a rehabilitation in Turkey are wrong. Through this vote, that aim would be pushed further away.”

Nevertheless, party leaders shrugged off any potential impact on relations with Turkey.

The aim is “not to put Turkey in the dock,” Franz Josef Jung, who is the deputy chief of the Christian Democrats group in parliament, told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily.

“We are not asking the Turkish government to admit its guilt in the genocide, but for it to recognise its historical responsibility.”

Mehbooba on Kashmiri Pandits: Cat and pigeon analogy distorted by media, opposition

Srinagar: Kashmiri Pandits will have to be housed in “inclusive” transit camps in the Valley till they get the confidence to return to their native places without security, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Tuesday while accusing the opposition and media of distorting her “cat and pigeon” analogy.

AFP

Mehbooba, while speaking in the Assembly on Saturday about rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, had reportedly said she will not throw Kashmiri Pandits like “pigeons before the cat”. AFP

“My remarks were distorted by the opposition and media to project as if every Kashmiri is a militant. Kashmiri Muslims are fed up of violence. Kashmiri Pandits are not afraid of Kashmiri Muslims. They are afraid of those who perpetrated Wandhama Massacre,” she said in the Legislative Council while replying to a debate on Motion of Thanks to the Governor’s Address.

Mehbooba, while speaking in the Assembly on Saturday about rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, had reportedly said she will not throw Kashmiri Pandits like “pigeons before the cat”.

On Tuesday, she said unless migrant Pandits get the confidence to go to their native places without security, they have to be provided proper residences in transit camps which would be inclusive.

“The workers of Congress, PDP, NC and BJP are living with security. Should we not then provide a sense of security to Pandits. We have to make them comfortable.

“Unless they get confidence to go to their native places without security, they have to be provided proper residences in transit camps which will be inclusive with 50 percent reservation for migrants of other faiths. And to link these issues with Article 370 is completely misplaced,” she said.

Hitting out at the opposition for accusing the government of implementing RSS agenda in Kashmir, Mehbooba said such remarks reflect the lack of faith among the opposition members in their ideology which is deeply secular and plural.

“Even Pandits swear by the name of (sufi saints) Dastgeer saheb and Rash-Maili saheb. No power on earth can dilute our secular ethos,” she said.

On the issue of construction of Sainik Colonies, the Chief Minister said the first such colony in the state was built around 1964 in Samba and was meant for the state subjects only.

“Sheikh Abdullah inaugurated that colony. In March 2011, a meeting of Rajya Sainik Board took place followed by more meetings in 2012. In 2014, the meeting was attended by (then chief minister) Omar Abdullah. Every meeting discussed that land should be provided but no final decision was taken.

“In my tenure also on April 21, a meeting was convened, again call for land, the Divisional Commissioner communicated to the board on May 18 that no suitable land has been identified. How can you say that there is confusion on the issue” she said.

In an alternate universe where Orkut’s the new Facebook, a day in the life of Mumbai police

In the city of dreams, it is no surprise that the police force performs miracles. In its latest feat, the Mumbai police has, wonder of wonders, brought the dead back to life. Poor old Orkut, that prehistoric relic from a more innocent internet age, found itself being dragged into the controversy over Tanmay Bhat’s Snapchat video.

In an interview to The Times of India, a Mumbai police spokesperson said that the authorities have written to Google and Youtube administrators to block the video “on their social Orkut.” This would be a slightly difficult proposition, considering that Orkut is now the social media equivalent of dinosaurs, having become extinct in September 2014.

Considering the Mumbai police’s newfound affinity for time travel, here is what our cops spend their day doing, in an alternative universe:

Image: APImage: AP

Image: AP

Monitoring telegrams: Ever alert, the Mumbai police have a very advanced surveillance system and they actively monitor telegram communications. You never know what malicious plans people might be hatching to overthrow the Empire…no wait…the government. Or worse, they may be hatching plans to eat beef. Gasp!

Samurai-sword__AFPSamurai-sword__AFP

Image: AFP

Research in new sword technologies: When terrorists are upgrading their weapon stockpiles, the protectors of the law must keep pace. A committee has been constituted comprising of prominent noblemen, astrologers and retired priests to examine the issue. Sources have told FP Special Forces that the terms of reference for the committee include deciding whether weapons from Shivaji’s era have in fact become obsolete.

Image courtesy: Twitter/@mumbaiheritageImage courtesy: Twitter/@mumbaiheritage

Image courtesy: Twitter/@mumbaiheritage

Tackling crimes on trams: Modern means of travel come with modern policing challenges. The cops have successfully figured out that trams are in fact not terrifying demons taking sinners to their chosen hellholes, but are actually modes of transport. Who would have thought? The exigencies of the age demand a close eye on what people are up to in those things. At present, the police are following up on intelligence inputs saying that unmarried men and women even hold hands in these newfangled carts.

Image: ReutersImage: Reuters

Image: Reuters

Gramophones: In their spare time, the cops unwind by listening to music on a mysterious gadget called a gramophone. The police are enchanted with the discovery that voices can be stored inside a machine and be heard later. Last heard, a widespread agitation was launched over the choice of music to be played. “We won’t tolerate all this anti-national Mozart and Beethovan nonsense. Only KL Saigal and VD Paluskar are allowed.”

Meanwhile, at a prominent traffic junction in the city, a bullock cart owner is stopped by the police for wrongly parking his bullock cart. “Don’t you know who I am? I know the Viceroy’s son-in-law,” he is heard arguing. A few metres away, a constable whispers to his colleague, “Some things never change.”

Elephant tramples man in Chhattisgarh, sixth such incident in one month

Korba, Chhattisgarh: Elephant attacks continue to claim lives in Chhattisgarh’s Korba district as another villager was trampled by a wild jumbo taking the death toll to six in the region this month.

The local forest authority has sought permission to tranquilise two ‘rogue’ tuskers in order to shift those to another place or kill the pachyderms if necessary.

“Mukhiram Manjhwar (45) was attacked by the jumbo last night while he was sleeping in front of his house at Pidiya village under Kartala forest range,” Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Korba Forest Division Vivekanand Jha said.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Dori (Mahua fruit) was kept in front of the victim’s house and a jackfruit tree was also there. Prima facie it appears that pachyderm was attracted by the smell of Mahua or jackfruit, the DFO said.

So far six villagers, including two women, were killed by three rogue tuskers at separate places in Kartala and Kudmura forest ranges of Korba division this month.

An elderly woman, Samudribai Rathiya, was killed on Monday morning near Charmar village in Kartala forest range when she had gone to pick Mahua fruits.

“Of the three rogue tuskers, one has now joined its herd while two others are still venturing alone in the forests.
After monitoring the activities of the elephants for the past few days, we have become certain that the animals have gone rogue,” Jha said.

In a letter to Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (wildlife), we have sought his direction into the matter. Besides, permission has also been sought to tranquilise the two tuskers and shift them to other region or kill them if necessary keeping in view the welfare of people, he said.

“The chances of human-animal conflict increases in this season as villagers go in the forest to pluck tendu leaves and pick mahua fruits. After the recent incidents, the villagers have been advised to take precautions and stay alert,” the DFO said.

Moreover, Van Samiti (forest committees) have been asked to organise meeting with villagers to discuss the situation and take necessary precautions, Jha added.

The thickly forested northern Chhattisgarh, comprising Surguja, Korba, Raigarh, Jashpur and Korea districts, are notorious for incidents of human-elephant conflict.

The region has witnessed killings of several people and damages to houses and crops by rogue elephants in the last few years.

Eknath Khadse skips Maharashtra Cabinet meet; moves in beaconless car

Mumbai: Maharashtra Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, embroiled in a string of controversies, on Tuesday skipped the weekly meeting of the Cabinet and was seen moving in his native district Jalgaon in a beaconless car, fuelling speculation.

Khadse left for Jalgaon late on Monday night and was in the Muktainagar Assembly constituency as per a scheduled event.

Khadse left for Jalgaon late on Monday night and was in the Muktainagar Assembly constituency as per a scheduled event. PTI

Khadse left for Jalgaon late on Monday night and was in the Muktainagar Assembly constituency as per a scheduled event. PTI

The senior BJP minister has for the last few days stayed away from media after allegations of impropriety in purchase of MIDC plot in Pune and alleged calls from fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim’s residence to his mobile triggered a political storm in the state.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, decided to set up Employee’s State Insurance (ESI) Corporation at state level by converting existing Scheme as per ESI Act 1948 amendments.

The central government will bear all the cost for the corporation for first three years and 90 per cent cost thereafter, Fadnavis said.

“This decision of setting up the corporation will benefit lakhs of workers enrolled with ESI and will get better health facilities,” he said.

The Cabinet also sanctioned additional posts for both Trauma Care Centre at GMC Nagpur and Super Specialty Hospital at Nagpur.

The Cabinet also sanctioned 100 posts for Super Specialty Hospital envisaging a cost of Rs 7 crore per year and 147 posts for Trauma Centre with cost of Rs 4.48 crore per year.

Meanwhile, a delegation of NCP on Tuesday met with Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and sought Khadse’s dismissal from the state Cabinet.

The delegation, which included NCP leaders Ajit Pawar, Dhananjay Munde and around two dozen party legislators, said there appeared to be truth in the allegations against Khadse and sought his resignation.

The delegation also sought action against comedian Tanmay Bhat and online comedy group AIB over a mock video on Bharat Ratna singer Lata Mangeshkar and cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar.

Munde told reporters that the party has also demanded loan waive for drought-hit farmers.

India economy sees 7.6% annual growth

India’s economy grew by 7.6% in 2015-16 as the nation retained its place as the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

Slavery is not yours to keep, servants’ quarters are not yours to give

We have the highest number of slaves in the world. No one gives a toss.

Over 18 million Indians are bonded labourers and either work for free or for a pittance or they are exploited. Big deal.

A nation is unmoved by the fact that it has won the gold medal for slavery in the latest Global Survey Index.

The media carries it as an also-ran item; of no great consequence. The fact that these chained Indians would fill 400 cricket stadiums cuts no ice. Who gives a damn?

Who even wants to read further? Sure, it is sad, but what can one do? True, seeing as how you may be a slave owner under the law and not even realise it.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

You have children doing your housework? You use office staff for personal errands? Your driver’s wife works for free in your kitchen because you got him a job and he has to be eternally grateful? The cook’s school-going son has to wash your car, because, hey, he lives with his dad in the back of your house. Cannot say no. And when you have a party on a Saturday night, is the whole lot co-opted to serve the master? Does the dhobi do all your laundry, Mr Minister and have to pay for the soap because even that you don’t give. I hope you are reading this.

Welcome to the club all you urban slave owners. Go get your whip.

The rural exploitation? That is another story; a saga in itself.

Where are the NGOs? Silent. A smattering of coverage here and there is all that this survey gets, eliciting feeble responses. Not even the foul-mouthed trolls feel energised to express an opinion. You would think that something as grotesque as this would resonate harshly against the nation’s conscience.

Nothing. Bigger fish to fry than bonded labour, than families selling girls into prostitution, than paying interest for the past twenty years on a Rs 1,000 loan, than working at fields and homes for nothing, because a roof over their heads and emotional blackmail is the weapon that is held over their heads.

I know of a senior bureaucrat in Delhi who lives in a government house and has given the servant’s quarters to a family. They all work for him for free. Cook, clean, wash, sweep and not a penny. I want to name and shame him.

The head of this wretchedly defeated family, crammed into a room, told me that if I did say anything to anyone he would deny it.

I asked him how common this was as a practice, where the government quarters were exchanged for the enslavement of everyone living there. He laughed. And then laughed some more. With a dry, mirthless, shake of the head. Then he looked at me with contempt and asked, where does it not happen?

Think of it. These are our lawmakers, senior bureaucrats and politicians, snuffling at the public and lecturing the nation while thinking nothing about using manpower, childpower and womanpower, because these people are powerless.

And why does it flourish with such disdain for the freedoms we supposedly cherish. Because the majority of the privileged do it, they see it as an entitlement. They do not even think it is wrong to protect and preserve serfdom.

Out of 167 nations examined in the exploitation stakes, we account for 40 percent of slaves in the world and we also lead in the abuse of children, besides being strong contenders for the victory podium in human trafficking, having made it to the finals. The scorching shame of it leaves us unaffected and unmoved. Try making it a subject of conversation at a party. Everyone will walk away.

If the editor of Firstpost decides to put this up it will scarcely reach the ‘trending’ column. More likely it will die away with three comments.

One comment for every six million slaves. Unlike the 3,500 responses to Tanmay Bhatt.

Sure, we have more important things to discuss.

My suggestion: Unchain bonded labour in those big, white bungalows and those government colonies. Those servants quarters are not yours to give.

Not in Delhi, not in any of the cities and towns and villages of our nation.

Central govt doctors’ retirement age extended to 65 years

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday approved the proposal of extending the retirement age of all doctors of the Central Health Service to 65 years. The proposal made by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will be effective from May 31, 2016. This will enable the Government to retain experienced doctors for a longer period, and to provide better services in its public health facilities, particularly to the poorest, who are entirely dependent on public facilities.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare JP Nadda stated that this step will empower the Government to strengthen the healthcare sector in the country. “It will help in providing additional doctors in the health pool of the country,” he said. Nadda added that this will strengthen the efforts of the Ministry in conceptualising and rolling out various people-oriented schemes which l need the services of doctors in implementing them.

What does modern slavery look like?

More than 45 million people are living in modern slavery, with Asia accounting for two thirds of the victims, a new report says.

17-year-old girl gangraped by five, including two minors in Chhattisgarh

Raigarh: A 17-year-old girl was allegedly gangraped by five persons, including two minor boys, at a village in Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh, following which all the accused have been held, police said Tuesday.

After the incident that took place last week, the victim had tried to end her life by consuming pesticide. Currently, she is in a critical state and undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Raigarh, according to police.

Three of the accused — Mohan Sahu (50), Mahesh Sahu (25), and Gulshan Chandra (21) — have been booked under IPC Section 376 (g) (gangrape) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

“The incident had taken place on 23 May at Uchh Bhatti village, located around 65 km away from the district headquarter, when the victim was at home along with her elder sister,” City Superintendent of Police (CSP) Satyendra Pandey said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image of Chhattisgarh police. AFP

However, the crime came to light on Monday when the minor girl was admitted to Raigarh district hospital in a serious condition, he said.

“The victim’s parents are labourers and had gone to a different state for work. On the night of 23 May, the accused Mohan Sahu stormed into the victim’s house along with his four friends and locked her elder sister in a room and then took turns to rape the girl,” he said.

The accused fled from the spot after committing the crime, he said.

“Following the incident, the girl tried to commit suicide by consuming pesticide on the same night, but was admitted to Sarangarh hospital by her neighbours, who rushed to her house after hearing her screams,” Pandey said.

When the girl’s condition deteriorated and she developed infection in her kidneys, she was shifted to a private hospital, where the doctors informed the police about the case, the CSP said, adding, her statement was recorded.

“Based on her statement, a case been lodged with Kosir Police Station against the accused,” he said.

The girl is undergoing treatment at ICU and her condition is said to be critical, the CSP said.

Nothing wrong in affidavit which says no conclusive evidence that Ishrat Jahan was a terrorist: P Chidambaram

Facing BJP fire over his alleged role in drafting a second affidavit in Ishrat Jahan encounter killing case, former Home Minister P Chidambaram on Monday asserted there was nothing morally, politically or ethically wrong in that affidavit which said there was no conclusive evidence to prove she was a terrorist.Chidambaram also recalled that the affidavit was filed after Ahmedabad Metropolitan Judge S P Tamang’s report, which in September 2009, declared the encounter fake. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Later probes, first by SIT and then by CBI, had also said that the deceased had been in the custody of the police and that weapons recovered from them were planted by the policemen. “The version says it is fake encounter. The persons, who were killed, were in custody for more than two or three days. They were killed at midnight. They were killed while they were sitting in the car. 2.06 lakh were planted on their bodies. All this is finding of a judge in the Maharashtra judiciary.”The further affidavit has only five or six paragraphs.It does not withdraw the first affidavit. In paragraph two, it says why a further affidavit is being filed and in para 5 it says that the government of India shares intelligence inputs regularly with states. Accordingly, we share intelligence inputs. I wish to clarify that the intelligence inputs are only intelligence inputs and not conclusive evidence and you cannot come to any conclusion on the basis of intelligence inputs. It must be investigated and prosecuted in a court of law,” Chidambaram told reporters here.The former Home Minister’s remarks came amid speculation that the one-member inquiry panel set up by the Union Home Ministry, probing the missing files related to the case of alleged fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan, could submit its report soon. “It is incomprehensible why some files are missing,” the former Home Minister said replying to questions.The panel headed by B K Prasad, a Tamil Nadu cadre IAS officer, was constituted on March 14 this year to inquire into the circumstances in which the crucial files related to the case of Ishrat Jahan, who was killed in an alleged fake encounter in Gujarat in 2004, went missing.Replying to questions, Chidambaram today said,”tell me which part of that affidavit is wrong legally, morally or politically, which sentence or word in the further affidavit was wrong legally, politically and ethically. “And please remember the further affidavit was vetted by the Attorney General of India.”

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal warns discoms over power outages

New Delhi: In a stern warning to discoms, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said they will be made to compensate consumers for even one-hour-long outage if they do not spruce up their supply network in the next six months.

The warning has come in the wake of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) issuing an order to discoms and power distribution companies to compensate consumers for unscheduled outages extending up to two hours. Penalties can go up to Rs 100 per hour.

Kejriwal said there is need to make discoms “accountable for outages” and then, Delhiites will be benefited from the privatisation of power sector.

A file photo of Arvind Kejriwal. AFPA file photo of Arvind Kejriwal. AFP

A file photo of Arvind Kejriwal. AFP

“For now, we have asked discoms to compensate consumers for unscheduled power cuts extending up to two hours, but after six months if there is no improvement in their power supply network, government will bring it down to one hour norm,” he said here.

“The privatisation of power sector had been done in order to provide better facility of electricity to Delhiites,”
Kejriwal said, adding that the accountability of power distribution companies will be questioned if power outages continue.

“Why electricity wires and transfers get damaged only in Delhi? Why is there no such incidents in Washington, London and New York?” he asked.

“We will also make Delhi a world-class city and for this, the accountability of discoms should be fixed for power outages. They should be penalised for outages. There will then be benefit of privatisation of power sector in the national capital,” he added.

As per the DERC’s order issued yesterday, power distribution companies will have to compensate to consumers for unscheduled power cuts extending up to two hours.

The move followed frequent power outages this month in the midst of an intense heatwave. However, power companies had attributed the blackouts to local faults.

After Bassi’s appointment as UPSC member, AAP accuses BJP of favouritism

New Delhi: The AAP on Tuesday said that appointment of former Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi as a member of the UPSC proves that “BJP’s senior spokesperson” has been “obliged” by the government.

“Appointment is the prerogative of the government. This has become clear on whose instructions Mr Bassi was working and he has been obliged.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. AFPDelhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. AFP

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. AFP

“The AAP has been saying very categorically that Mr Bassi was acting as the senior spokesperson of the BJP. So his appointment with the UPSC as a member proves the fact that he was and he is the senior spokesperson of the BJP, which is why he has been appointed,” AAP leader Ashutosh said.

BS Bassi, who had a controversial tenure as Delhi Police Commissioner with frequent run-ins with the AAP government, was on Tuesday appointed a member of UPSC, a Constitutional post, with a five year tenure.

Bassi’s tenure as Delhi Police Commissioner, especially towards the end, had come for criticism after the arrest of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) President Kanhaiya Kumar over sedition row.

The former police Chief was involved in a running battle with the AAP government led by Arvind Kejriwal with five of its legislators arrested under different counts during Bassi’s tenure.

Haryana: Media baron Subhash Chandra and lawyer RK Anand file for Rajya Sabha nomination

Media baron Subhash Chandra and lawyer R K Anand filed their nomination papers as Independent candidates for the second Rajya Sabha seat falling vacant from Haryana. The biennial elections to the Upper House are scheduled to be held on June 11 and today is the last date for filing nomination. While Chandra claimed to have garnered support from the ruling BJP and some MLAs cutting across party lines, main opposition Indian National Lok Dal threw its weight behind Anand, who has fought Lok Sabha election in the past as an INLD candidate. However, Anand at present is not a member of INLD, a party leader said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister and BJP leader Birender Singh had yesterday filed nomination papers for the Upper House polls from Haryana. Asked about the candidate for the second Rajya Sabha seat, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had yesterday said, “Efforts are on with regard to the candidate. We (INLD and BJP) are hopeful that we can have a consensus. I want that both candidates should be elected unopposed.” However, today’s development has changed the equation. The decision of INLD, which is accused by Congress of being BJP’s ‘B’ team to back Anand, has made the contest an interesting one.While Anand was accompanied by the Leader of the Opposition in the Haryana Assembly Abhay Chautala (INLD) along with other party MLAs for filing his nomination, Chandra went with some BJP and Independent MLAs for filing the papers. Chandra told reporters that he had sought support from members of the Haryana Assembly cutting across party lines.”I have got support from many members. Independent members have given their support, BJP too has given its support. I am hopeful that I will get support from other parties as well,” he said.

There is no racism, Africans are safe in Hyderabad, Telangana: DGP Anurag Sharma

Hyderabad: Telangana‘s Director General of Police Anurag Sharma on Tuesday said that Africans living in Hyderabad and elsewhere in the state “can rest assured about their safety,” adding there is “no racism here.”

“There is no racism here. All are equal. Still, we will take further care to ensure their safety in the wake of the attacks reported in the recent times and the concerns raised over their safety,” Sharma said at a media interaction here in the wake of President Pranab Mukherjee commenting on the issue of safety of Africans in India.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The police chief asserted that the attack on 23-year-old Nigerian student Kazeem Dami in Hyderabad last week was a clear case of dispute over car parking and had nothing to do with racism as alleged by the student. “The accused in that case was arrested for assaulting on the student (Nigerian),” the DGP said.

“We have many foreign students studying or working here. We are taking care of their safety. We do not have different laws for different people. All will be governed and dealt with under the same law of the land,” Sharma elaborated.

Asked if the police face problems from the Africans here, the DGP said: “We do not categorise. If problems are faced from some people, that will not be attributed to the community.”

Kazeem had parked his Honda Accord car in front of the house of a neighbour. This resulted in Mohammed Gafoor, the neighbour, and some other locals attacking Dami.

The student suffered head injuries that required seven stitches. Gafoor was arrested the same day. Kazeem alleged that “some 15 Indians attacked me”.

BJP president Amit Shah lunches with Dalit family in Uttar Pradesh

Varanasi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Tuesday had lunch with a Dalit family here as part of the party’s mass contact expansion programme ahead of next year’s assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Shah was welcomed with drum beats and garlands when he arrived at Jogiyapur village in this district and sat down later with the family of Girija Prasad Bind to have lunch.

A file photo of Amit Shah. AFPA file photo of Amit Shah. AFP

A file photo of Amit Shah. AFP

The Dalit family is said to be a great supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who represents Varanasi in Lok Sabha, and spent most of the previous night preparing for Shah’s visit.

Local BJP workers and leaders had started arriving in Jogiyapur on Monday night.

Shah had taken a sacred bath in the Kshipra river with Dalit sadhus at the Simhastha Kumbh in Madhya Pradesh earlier this month.

The BJP president is scheduled to address a public rally in Allahabad on Tuesday evening.

Quality of discussions in Parliament deteriorating: Sumitra Mahajan

Agartala: The quality of discussions in parliament has been deteriorating and the lawmakers’ viewpoint and participation must be improved, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said on Tuesday.

“Quality of deliberation of parliamentarians has been deteriorating, and their viewpoint and participation must be enhanced,” Mahajan said after inaugurating the two-day conference of North East Region Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (NERCPA).

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. PTILok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. PTI

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. PTI

She said, “To improve the ideas of the parliamentarians and for a better understanding of the contemporary issues, they can take the support of the Speaker’s Research Initiative (SRI), set up on 23 July last year.”

“The SRI has been looking after the strategic policy aspects of core areas and issues of India for the betterment of the people on a long-term basis. For high-quality deliberations in the legislative bodies, the SRI has also been holding numerous workshops for the lawmakers and other stake holders.”

The Lok Sabha Speaker also stressed on the need for holding quality debates to strengthen people’s faith in the legislative institutions. “The MPs must be trained to put their views appropriately,” she said.

“Most of the times during their discussions in Parliament the MPs concentrate their views only on their constituency. In their speeches in Parliament they must reflect the entire picture of the country. They must keep in their mind that the parliamentarians are policy-makers,” she added.

Mahajan said that legislators in a parliamentary democracy represent the hopes and aspirations of the people. Therefore, they need to periodically introspect their roles and responsibilities.

Highlighting various issues of northeastern states, she said that India cannot be developed without the development of the northeast region.

“The present central government is also attaching high importance for an all-round development of northeast India,” Mahajan said.

“On the political spectrum, northeastern states have two dynamic and experienced chief ministers — Tripura’s Manik Sarkar and Sikkim’s Pawan Kumar Chamling. Recently, a young and dynamic leader has taken charge as Assam’s Chief Minister (Sarbananda Sonowal). You have dynamic leaders in the northeast and have dynamic young generation,” she added.

“I am sure that the leaders from the northeast with their energy, experience, vision and sense of purpose will write a glorious chapter in the development of the region.”

“Northeast is considered as a place of sanctity and the most auspicious direction where most powerful, positive and progressive energies are generated. So peace, harmony and development in the region are very important,” Mahajan said.

“Rs30,000 crore has been earmarked for the northeastern region in the current (2016-17) Union budget and most of this would go for development of rail, road, waterways and telecom connectivity in the region,” the Lok Sabha Speaker said.

“India is working with Thailand and Mayanmar on a 1,400-km-long highway that would link India with South-East Asia by land, giving a boost to trade and cultural exchanges besides economic integration. The Railways Ministry is giving massive push to railway infrastructure in the northeast, and now Manipur and Mizoram are also on the broad gauge rail map,” Mahajan said.

She said the northeast region is blessed with favourable gender equation, rich natural resources and high percentage of literate young rural population. “This youthful workforce can be harnessed as a national asset for nation-building,” Mahajan said.

She said the northeast has been represented by 39 members in Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha), and they along with the close to 500 members of state legislative assemblies and other local representatives could collectively play an important role in the socio-economic development of the region.

NERCPA is currently chaired by Meghalaya Assembly Speaker Abu Taher Mondal.

The participants in the two-day NERCPA conference include Speakers, Deputy Speakers of seven of the eight northeastern states excluding Assam, some legislators and parliamentarians, Tripura Governor, Chief Minister and Parliamentary Affairs Minister.

The Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the new Assam Assembly are yet to be elected.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said that to maintain transparencies, expenditure of elections should be met by the governments. “Use of money power during elections must be checked,” he said.

Sarkar said the Representation of People Act should be amended for equitable representations of all caste, creed and religion in Parliament and legislative bodies.

Jat stir: Haryana inquiry committee makes strong comments against top officials

Chandigarh: During the Jat mayhem in Haryana in February, the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and DGP “fell short” of what could be expected of them, some officers at local level “deserted” duties and some did not act due to “caste bias”, according to a committee set up by the state government to inquire into the riots.

The Prakash Singh Committee also made strong observations against former Chief Ministers, saying they had “eroded the authority of certain institutions” with a view to concentrate powers in their own office and as a result “the office of the Chief Secretary does not command the power or enjoy the prestige it does in most other states.”

The panel, in its 451-page report on violence during the Jat quota stir, said the “administrative paralysis” had gripped the state and the “highest functionaries in the government failed to show the kind of guidance, direction and control that is expected in a crisis of such proportions”.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“The two officers who matter the most in the state, the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and the Director General of Police, fell short of what could be expected of them in such a situation,” noted the committee headed by Singh, a retired IPS officer who had headed police forces of Uttar Pradesh and Assam besides the Border Security Force (BSF).

The committee, which has indicted 90 police and administrative officers for their “failure to act”, said “The Home Department was a washout, the Director General of Police failed to lead from the front, and the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) could not produce even one page of directions he may have issued to Deputy Commissioners and senior police officials in Sonepat during the Jat stir that rocked the state for a week in February.”

It said, “The Home Department did not issue any directions on the handling of the crisis, while the then DGP Yash Pal Singhal did not visit any of the affected areas, and also did not permit the next highest ranked officer to do so.”

The report, which significantly came at a time when Jats have threatened to launch their agitation afresh from June 5, said, “The Home Department also plays a somewhat subsidiary role in matters relating to law and order. These distortions need to be corrected to prevent a repeat of similar paralysis in the future.”

Describing the situation as “a horrific picture”, it said, “What was lacking was the will to act, the determination to prevent riotous mobs from assembling in the first instance and then dealing with them effectively while they were committing acts of violence, arson, loot or vandalism.”

The report, submitted to the High Court here yesterday, said, “Officers at the district level, barring a few honourable exceptions, just did not rise to the occasion. They were either unequal to the daunting situation they faced or they could not mobilise the full strength of the officers and men under their command, some of whom went missing or deserted their duties.”

It said the officers displayed cowardice, or hesitated to take strong action for fear that they would not be supported by the government, or deliberately avoided doing so because they had “a caste bias” which translated on the ground into “inaction against the rioters, connivance with the vandals, absence from duty/desertion, abatement of the hooligans”.

It was a cow: Final report in the Dadri lynching case confirms meat was beef

The final report on the meat found from the house of Akhlaq in Bisahra Village of Greater Noida, has confirmed that the flesh was that of a cow. The report was presented in the court on Tuesday. The same has been compiled by the Central Forensic and Scientific Lab in Mathura. Interestingly, the lab is governed by the Uttar Pradesh government.

Dadri-Final

Interestingly, the preliminary report of the lab test of the pieced of meat recovered from the house of Akhlaq had ruled out that it was cow meat. The report suggested that the flesh is that of a goat. 50-year-old Akhlaq was killed by an angry mob over allegations and rumour that his family was feasting on meat of a cow calf.

Dadri-1

The timing of the report is in question. The report confirming that if was cow meat comes at a time when Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are round the corner. This report could well be used as a tool to funnel religious sentiments by various political parties and divide the state on religious grounds quite easily.

The earlier and report had been issued by the Deputy Chief Medical Veterinary Officer of the Government Veterinary Hospital, of Dadri, Disrtict Gautam Budh Nagar. It says that “due to the request of Tej Pal Singh, Sub-Inspector, Police Station Jarcha, case no. 241/15 dated 29/09/2015, I have examined the meat seized by the police from the village”.

The report said that meat weighing about 4-5 kilograms in the form of small pieces, which was non-hygienic, red in colour and foul smelling with deposits of white fat was received for further tests. The meat pieces were from the the hind legs of the animal and skin of the animal was intact.

Image courtesy: Getty Images

A file photo of Mohammad Akhlaq’s family after a mob lynched him to death. Image courtesy: Getty Images

The officer had then concluded the initial report by saying that “to the best of my knowledge, it seems that this meat belongs to goat progeny but for final confirmation and diagnosis, sample have been taken and sent to forensic laboratory, Mathura. Rest of the meat was handed over to the police authority for final disposal”.

The incident had taken place in Bisahra Village of Greater Noida on the night of September 28, last, when there was an announcement was made from the loud speaker of a local temple that the family members of Akhlaq were consuming beef at home.

Immediately, a mob of about 200 persons gathered outside the house of Akhlaq’s house and hell broke loose. While Akhlaq was beaten to death, his younger son Danish, sustained severe head injuries. He was treated at a local hospital in Noida from where he was later shifted to the Army Hospital in Delhi. The elder son of Akhlaq and Danish’s elder brother is a Corporal with the Indian Air Force and was posted in Chennai when the incident took place.

The local police had registered an FIR and ten persons including the son of a local BJP leader was arrested. Seven more persons were arrested later taking the total arrest count to seventeen. The police have filed a charge sheet in this case.

Suresh Prabhu, YS Chowdary and TG Venkatesh file RS nominations papers from Andhra Pradesh

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu filed the nomination to the Rajya Sabha biennial election from Andhra Pradesh as a BJP nominee, supported by NDA partner TDP. Union Minister of State for Science and Technology Y S Chowdary and former Andhra Pradesh minister T G Venkatesh also filed their nomination papers at the AP Legislature here as TDP nominees. While Chowdary is seeking an election to the Upper House of Parliament for a second straight term, Venkatesh is going to make his maiden entry. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Both are industrialists-turned-politicians. The Rajya Sabha election nominees were accompanied by Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapati Raju, TDP General Secretary N Lokesh, son of party supremo and Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, and AP BJP president K Haribabu.The election, slated for June 11, is being held to fill four vacancies from AP.With its combined strength of 108 in the 176-member AP Assembly, the ruling TDP-BJP can comfortably bag three seats.TDP has given one seat for ally BJP, which is part of the N Chandrababu Naidu government in the state.The opposition YSR Congress has fielded its leader Vijaysai Reddy as its nominee for the sole seat it can win.Noting that he is happy and excited to be nominated from AP, Prabhu expressed hope to work together with TDP for development of the state.”As we know, it (AP) is one of the most dynamic states in the country, fast progressing under the leadership of another dynamic Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. So we are very hopeful that we together will be able to build a model Andhra Pradesh…,” Prabhu said.Recalling that he has been an MP from Maharashtra and Haryana earlier, he said he belongs to the country in true sense of term as he would be representing a southern state (AP) now. Observing that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s theme is ‘sab ka sath-sab ka vikas’, he said faster development of AP would lead to faster development of the country. Asked about the railway zone promised to AP during bifurcation, Prabhu said he cannot talk about railway issues as the process of election is on, but added that all-round development of the state would be his endeavour. Lokesh said the party is happy to nominate Suresh Prabhu to the Rajya Sabha from AP, as per the request of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.Chowdary and Venkatesh vowed to work for AP’s development.

BJP President Amit Shah eats at a Dalit family’s home in Uttar Pradesh

As part of its plan to woo the dalits ahead of the UP assembly election in 2017, BJP president president Amit Shah had a meal with a Dalit family in one of the village in Sevapuri Assembly segment under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency.On his way to Allahabad from the Varanasi Airport on Tuesday, Shah made a small halt at Jogiyapur village in Sevapuri Assembly segment to share a meal with a Dalit family, <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shah is shared an afternoon meal in the village with Girjaprasad Bind and Ikbal Bind’s family, who belongs to the Dalit community.

Vadodara: Two cops injured in protest against encroachment drive

Vadodara: Two policemen were injured on Tuesday when a mob allegedly set on fire a police outpost and their six two-wheelers as they protested an encroachment drive by the civic body on Ajwa Road, the police said.

“The mob of nearly 200 people attacked the officials of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) when they reached Suleiman-Ni-Chal locality to carry out demolition. They set on fire a police chowki, six two-wheelers of policemen and also pelted stones,” Joint Commissioner of Police DJ Patel said.

“Two policemen sustained minor injuries and 50 Special Reserve Police personnel, along with local policemen were deployed to control the situation,” he said and added, “ten teargas shells were also fired by police to disperse the mob”.

The VMC, which is on a major demolition drive across the city as part of the Smart Cities project, had issued a notice on 28 May and gave three days time to people who were living “illegally” in the locality and evacuate the places.

File photo of Gujarat police. AFPFile photo of Gujarat police. AFP

File photo of Gujarat police. AFP

The people erected around 227 temporary houses on a plot which is reserved for a garden.

Meanwhile, VMC Commissioner HS Patel said the situation has been brought under control and the demolition was being carried out as planned.

“This is an effort (by mob) to stop demolition, but we are determined to carry out the operation. We know the drive is good for the city and we are not targeting any person, a group or a community but doing it as part of the Smart Cities project,” he told reporters.

“The notice was served on 28 May and VMC officials on Monday visited the spot to check the situation. It was found that none of residents had evicted the places. Hence, VMC was forced to carry out the demolition drive,” another VMC official said.

Dadri lynching: Lab report says meat in Mohammed Akhlaq’s home was beef

The meat in Dadri lynching victim Mohammad Akhlaq’s home has been found to be beef, reports The Hindustan Times. Fifty-two year-old Mohammad Akhlaq and his son Danish were attacked by a mob in Bisada in Dadri over rumours that they had slaughtered a cow and kept beef in their home. A fast track court had permitted the lawyers of the suspects in the case to get a copy of the forensic report which was submitted to the court in April. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the final result section of the report, signed by the Joint Director of the Forensic investigation Laboratory, Mathura, states, “On the basis of chemical analysis the sample belongs to cow or its progeny.” This is contradictory to the preliminary reports which said that the meat was that of a goat. The incident had sparked a nationwide debate over intolerance, with the opposition parties launching a full-fledged attack on the ruling government over the alleged growing intolerance in the country. In December 2015, the documents submitted by the Uttar Pradesh Police as part of the first chargesheet of the case revealed that according to preliminary report submitted by Dadri’s Government Veterinary Hospital, the meat confiscated by the authorities from Akhlaq’s home on the night of the murder was that of a goat. Akhlaq was lynched on September 28, 2015. His wife Ikraman had alleged that 10-15 armed people barged into their house and started beating up her husband and son Danish with an intention to kill.The police has so far arrested 18 people, along with two juveniles, in the case.With agency inputs.

India transfusions infect many with HIV

At least 2,234 people in India contract the deadly HIV virus while getting blood transfusions in hospitals in the past 17 months.

Death of Congo student was not a racial attack, people at the spot tried to save him: Sushma Swaraj

In the wake of the recent attacks on African nationals in the country, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday met African students to assure them of their safety and security in India.During a meeting with the delegation of African students, Swaraj said, “We held a meeting with African students and told them the incident of death of Congo national is unfortunate and painful for us, but it is not a case of racial attack and should not be seen in that context.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 23-year-old Congolese national Masonda Ketada Olivier was recently beaten to death after a verbal altercation over the hiring of an auto-rickshaw in Vasant Kunj area of south Delhi.
ALSO READ Unfortunate if Indians dilute their friendship with Africans: Pranab MukherjeeStating that being a mother she could understand the pain of the parents of the Congo student (Oliver) who lost their son on foreign soil, Swaraj added, “The day this incident took place, I sought a report from the Lt Governor and I was informed that two people have been arrested. CCTV footage clearly shows that Indian citizens who were present at the spot, tried their best to save Oliver.”Swaraj also said that the government has chalked out a plan as per which, Ministers of States along with Secretaries would visit every metro city and hold discussions with African students.
ALSO READ Attacks are racist but we have belief in Indian govt: African envoy”We will initiate programs of awareness & sensitisation in areas with max population of African students, so that such incidents don’t recur,” she added.There has been a series of attacks on African nationals in the last few weeks, including killing of the Congolese youth and assault on a 23-year-old Nigerian student in Hyderabad.
ALSO READ Congo student’s murder: African community seeks strong action; Swaraj says committed to their safetyFive persons have so far been arrested in connection with the attacks.

dna Afternoon Must Reads: Sonia attacks govt over charges against Vadra; Fire in India’s biggest arms depot; and more

1. It’s a conspiracy for ‘Congress mukt bharat’: Sonia Gandhi on Vadra’s alleged benami property Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday dared the government to conduct an inquiry in connecting with the alleged benami property of her son-in-law Robert Vadra in London. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Live | Maharashtra: At least 17 killed in fire at India’s biggest arms depot; Parrikar to take stockAt least 17 security personnel, including two Army officers, were on Tuesday killed in a massive fire that broke out at one of Asia’s biggest ammunition depot in Maharashtra’s Pulgaon that houses the largest stockpile of weapons in the country. Read more here3. Kerala: IT professional kills father, cuts body into piecesSherin John, working with a company in IT hub Technopark, cut his father’s body into pieces after shooting him and dumped them at various locations. Read more here4. Taliban kill 16 bus passengers in AfghanistanThe Taliban on Tuesday pulled passengers from several buses in northern Afghanistan, killed at least 16 of them and took dozens of others hostage, officials said. Read more here5. Who is Tanmay Bhat? Lata Mangeshkar has the best response to the Snapchat controversyThe ongoing Snapchat controversy has hit the roof and eventually, Lata Mangeshkar decided to break her silence on the issue. Read more here

Delhi court dismisses criminal complaint against Kejriwal for ‘defaming’ PM Modi

A Delhi court on Tuesday dismissed a criminal complaint filed against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for using allegedly ‘defamatory and seditious’ words against Prime Minister Narendra Modi following the CBI raid at the office of his Principal Secretary.Metropolitan Magistrate Abhilash Malhotra fixed the matter for order after hearing arguments on behalf of complainant, an advocate.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Complainant-advocate Pradeep Dwivedi sought had Kejriwal’s prosecution under sections 124A (sedition) and 500(defamation) of IPC alleging there was ‘seditious intention’ behind the remarks which spread “hatred and contempt” against the Prime Minister.
ALSO READ No regrets: Arvind Kejriwal defends his ‘Modi is a coward and a psycopath’ comment He had argued that the remarks like ‘coward’ and ‘psychopath’ uttered by the AAP leader against Modi were “defamatory and seditious” and such statements could spread ‘disharmony’ and ‘disaffection” in the country.The complainant also alleged that when CBI had raided the Chief Minister’s Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar’s Delhi Secretariat office on December 15 last year, Kejriwal had made offensive remarks on his Twitter account against Modi.”On December 15, 2015, the accused posted the remarks on his Twitter account which reads as ‘Modi is a coward and a psychopath’. The remarks were made against the democratically elected PM of the largest democracy of the world,” it said.

Kolkata: Three arrested in gangrape of foreign national

Three persons were arrested on Tuesday in connection with the gangrape of a foreign national, which took place late on Sunday night.The three arrested were earlier detained by the Electronics Complex Police Station of the Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate. The vehicle, in which the victim was raped was also seized by the police.On Sunday night, the victim, a Nepal-national had boarded a radio cab from Baguihati to Salt Lake Sector- V, to meet her friends over dinner around 11.30pm. She got down several metres away from the restaurant and started walking towards it when an SUV car pulled up next to her and forced her inside the vehicle. The four men inside the car took turns to rape her for over three hours in the moving car.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Around 3 am in the morning, the four men dumped her near Baisakhi. A taxi driver found her in a semi-conscious state and rushed her to the Bidhannagar Mahukuma Hospital.The victim had been living in Salt Lake area’s Baguihati for the last three years as a paying guest and worked nearby.Police are also carrying out searches for the fourth accused, who is still at large.

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