Yuva Sai Sagar

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Month: June 2016

UN rights council creates role of expert to protect LGBT people, India abstains

The UN Human Rights Council agreed on Thursday to appoint an independent investigator to help protect homosexuals and transgender people worldwide from violence and discrimination.After a heated debate lasting almost four hours, the 47-member state forum overcame strong objections by Saudi Arabia and Muslim countries to adopt a Western-backed resolution by a vote of 23 states in favour and 18 against with six abstentions.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The United Nations expert, still to be named, will have a three-year mandate. Mexico, which led Latin American states that were the main sponsors of the text, said that thousands of people are exposed to violence and discrimination due to their sexual orientation and gender identity.”Remember Orlando,” Mexican Ambassador Jorge Lomónaco told delegates, referring to the massacre of 49 people at a gay club in Florida on June 12. “Let us give hope to millions.”The United States and major European countries backed the resolution, while China, Russia and 16 African and predominantly Muslim states rejected it. India, South Africa and the Philippines were among the abstainers.”This Council regularly – and rightly – passes resolutions on racism, women and children. Yet, on this issue, we often hear of culture and tradition as reasons to justify violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity,” British Ambassador Julian Braithwaite said in debate.”This affects people in this room, and people in my team who are LGBT. Are you saying it is okay to discriminate against them based on their sexual orientation and gender identity? To hit, torture, or possibly kill them? Because that is what you are supporting, if you vote against this resolution.”Early in the session, Saudi Ambassador Faisal Trad brought a “no-action motion” to quash any debate on the resolution, but his move was defeated. Trad argued against what he called “the imposition of certain ideas” and said the new post would open up a “Pandora’s box” while ignoring cultural and religious specificities.”We will not barter man-made legislation against divine laws,” Trad said, invoking sharia (Islamic law). Nigeria called the resolution “divisive” and said that the sponsors also wanted to promote same-sex adoptions.Pakistan – speaking on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) of 57 states – decried the “promoting of certain notions, concepts and lifestyles on which there is no consensus”. In 2011, the UN rights body declared there should be no discrimination or violence against people based on their sexual orientation. At the time, Western countries called the vote historic but Islamic states firmly rejected it.

Right atmosphere needed to start talks with Pakistan: Indian envoy

India is ready for talks with Pakistan but a “right atmosphere” is needed before any dialogue could be resumed, Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bombawale said on Thursday. “We have been saying that proper atmosphere was required for talks,” Bombawale said. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Pakistan on December 25 and had a very good meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>But soon the “right atmosphere created by the visit was destroyed” due to the Pathankot attack, he said in a brief interaction with reporters during an Iftar-dinner organised by the Indian High Commission at a hotel here.Responding to a question, Bombawale said India is ready to discuss all issues including Sir Creek once the talks started after creation of right atmosphere for dialogue. The Iftar-dinner was attended by a large number of people from different walks of life and the guests expressed desire for peaceful ties between the two countries. The relations between the two sides deteriorated after Pathankot attack earlier this year and all efforts have failed to revive the peace talks.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviews performance of ministries

Amid talks of a Cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday reviewed the performance of various ministries in spending budgetary allocations and implementing schemes in the past two years and asked his colleagues to ensure schemes be tailored to benefit masses.At an over four-hour-long meeting of the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister reviewed the performance of all Union ministries to ascertain whether budgetary allocations have been spent wisely. He also sought to know the number of schemes implemented by each ministry.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi, according to those present in the meeting, asked the ministers to ensure that schemes are tailored in such a fashion that the benefit reaches the common man. Several ministers made suggestions on how best budget can be utilised. They also pointed out that at times, one sector gets more attention at the cost of the other. Top bureaucrats made a power point presentation running into over 100 slides.Modi was of the view that schemes mentioned in the election manifesto are implemented in true spirit to that the Opposition does not get a chance to accuse the government of falling short on promises.Expressing satisfaction over the implementation of various schemes, he said there was no need to come up with fresh schemes and the present ones should be altered as per changing needs. Today’s review is been dubbed as a ‘report card’ of Union ministers as there is talk of a long-pending reshuffle of the council of ministers.But ministers said there was no mention of the reshuffle exercise and the meeting was very “business like” where the prime minister took stock of the performance of various ministries.

Uttarakhand elections 2017: BJP to prepare ‘chargesheet’ against CM Harish Rawat to remove ‘the most corrupt government’

Ahead of the 2017 Assembly polls in Uttarakhand, BJP asked its party cadre on Thursday to “publicise” Centre’s “achievements” and prepare a “chargesheet” against Harish Rawat government terming it as “the most corrupt government” in the state’s history.The appeal to publicise the Centre’s “achievements”, especially what it has done for the empowerment of the poor and women and expose the current dispensation was made by BJP national secretary and media incharge Shrikant Sharma at a day-long party workshop in Dehradun.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Taking Centre’s achievements especially in the field of empowering poor and women through schemes like Jan Dhan Yojana and Ujjwala Yojana to people and exposing the state’s most corrupt government alone can power the BJP to victory in the next Assembly polls,” Sharma said.Describing Rawat’s continuance in office as a “plain political manipulation”, he said the state Cabinet s decision to pass the Appropriation Bill once again proves that the legislation had been defeated in the House and the government had fallen on March 18. “Rawat s continuance in office despite being reduced to a minority is pure political manoeuvre,” he said.Calling the Rawat government as “the most corrupt government” Uttarakhand had seen since its creation, he said the sting operation against the CM bore testimony to the fact.He asked party workers to go to people and convince them that 2017 Assembly elections was an opportunity for them to get rid of a government “steeped in corruption” and install a “development-oriented” government.

Arrested persons were being guided by ISIS to carry out terrorist activities in India: NIA

The NIA on Thursday claimed that the five persons arrested in Hyderabad on Wednesday were getting instructions from the Middle East-based terrorist organisation ISIS for planning and carrying out terrorist activities in India.NIA produced the accused Mohammed Ibrahim Yazdani alias Ibbu, Habeeb Mohammed alias Sir, Mohammed Ilyas Yazdani, Abdullah Bin Ahmed Al Amoodi and Muzaffar Hussain Rizwan before the third Metropolitian Sessions Judge court in Hyderabad which sent them to 14-day judicial custody. NIA’s application for their custody for interrogation is likely to come up for hearing on Friday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The remand report submitted to the court said the accused had also acquired weapons and explosive materials to carry out violent terrorist attacks and were in touch with the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria (ISIS). They were getting directions for planning and execution of terrorist activities in India from ISIS, the report added.Following its prior investigation, on June 22 NIA had lodged an FIR for “criminal conspiracy to wage war against the Government of India” by collecting weapons and explosive materials by targeting public places, religious sites and sensitive government buildings in various parts of India.According to the Central agency, the gang was preparing improvised explosive devices for carrying out blasts, and was being guided by an online handler, suspected to be based in Iraq/Syria.Along with explosive materials, the agency recovered two semi-automatic pistols with ammunition, an air gun with telescopic sight and shooting practice target boards, a large number of digital gadgets including six laptops, about 40 mobile phones, 32 SIM cards, and a large number of hard disks, memory cards, pen drives and tabs during its searches.

Maharashtra’s finance minister gifts life-size replica of tiger to Uddhav Thackeray, invites for Forest Day programme

Senior BJP leader and Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar called on Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday in a bid to bring thaw in the frosty relations between the saffron siblings, ahead of the expansion of state cabinet which is round the corner.Though Mungantiwar stated that Thackeray and BJP are willing to settle old disputes and renew their relationship, the Sena chief said his party will continue to criticise the government’s policies which it thinks are not in interest of the people.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I met Uddhav ji mainly to invite him for our saplings plantation drive that will take place tomorrow as part of the Forest Day programme. He has graciously decided to be a part of this drive,” Mungantiwar said after calling on Thackeray at his residence in suburban Bandra. He said they held some political discussions in which Thackeray “is of the view that the enmity between both the parties should be made a thing of the past and the relations should be renewed once again”.
ALSO READ It’s the tiger’s game and rules: Shiv Sena takes subtle dig at BJPSena, the junior partner in the BJP-led NDA government, has launched a string of sharp attacks on BJP and its leadership through its party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, inviting sharp rebuke from BJP. The frequent wrangling between the saffron siblings often lead to speculation that the alliance is tottering on brink. Life-size replica of tiger as a gift
ALSO READ Mumbai: Shiv Sena mocks Amit Shah in ‘Sholay’ posters, Ashish Shelar’s effigy burnt Mungantiwar also gifted Thackeray a life-size replica of a tiger, as a symbol of the state government’s initiative for tiger conservation. Tiger is the emblem of Sena, founded by late Bal Thackeray. However, taking a dig at Sena, he said, “Who rules the jungle, whether tiger or lion, depends on the nature of forests.”Recently, Sena had published an image in which a tiger was seen attacking a lion, seemed as a reference to BJP’s much-touted “Make in India” programme which was proposed and launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Thackeray said on Thursday that “the end to the dispute (between Sena and BJP) depends on the leadership of both the parties. Sena will continue to criticise those policies of government which it feels are not in public interest”.
ALSO READ Citizens want Rs 15 lakh in their account, promised after recovering black money: Shiv Sena to BJPThe Sena chief also stressed the need for conservation of tigers. “However, this (gifting of the tiger replica by Mungantiwar) should not be linked to politics,” Thackeray said. However, on the tiger’s replica presented to Thackeray, a BJP leader, “the gift serves two purposes. While tiger is a symbol of the government’s agenda of tiger conservation, we also wanted to send a message across on who is the real tiger in Maharashtra now.”In 2014 Assembly elections, BJP won 122 seats while Sena 63 in the 288-member House. Moreover, Sena ceded the ground in Mumbai and Thane, its home turf, to BJP.Expansion of state cabinetMeanwhile, speaking on the much-awaited expansion of state cabinet, Mungantiwar said the exercise would take place before July 10 when Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis leaves for Russia tour. While confirming that Sena would be the part of the expansion, he said the related intricacies would be decided by Fadnavis and Thackeray.When contacted, a Sena leader said Thackeray is likely to propose induction of Dr Sujit Minchekar from Kolhapur who belongs to Scheduled Caste, and Pratap Chikhalikar, a Maratha, from Nanded in the cabinet expansion. “Uddhav ji wants a balance between Marathwada and western Maharashtra region in the cabinet,” he said.While Chikhalikar represents Loha constituency in Nanded of Marathwada, Minchekar Hatkanagale constituency of Kolhapur district. Fadnavis had confirmed on Wednesday that the cabinet expansion will take place before he leaves for Russia on July 10 on a 7-day tour. The CM is supposed to host a tea party for the legislators on the eve of monsoon session of state legislature that commences on July 18.

Maharashtra: PIL wants BEST/MSRTC buses, vans used as school buses to take safety measures

The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed Maharashtra’s transport department to reply within two weeks to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed seeking proper enforcement of the Maharashtra Motor Vehicles(Regulation of School Buses) Rules 2011, by Light Motor vehicles, BEST and MSRTC buses used for ferrying school children.A Division bench of Justice VM Kanade and Justice MS Sonak said: “This is a serious matter and something needs to be done.” The court gave the direction while hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by PTA United Forum, which highlighted the fact that authorities have failed to ensure that the buses operated by stage carriers, such as BEST and MSRTC without adhering to the safety norms as envisaged in the Rules and without obtaining a special permit, for carrying school children. The inactions have defeated provisions of the duly notified Rules and have “caused several death of school children, rape of schoolgoing girl children and continue to expose them to grave risks.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The petition filed through advocate Rama Subramanian and Adv. M Ramesh states “BEST and MSRTC deploy a number of buses for carrying school children, without any modification of its body, as stipulated under the rules to ensure safety of small children. The said agencies have valid permit only as `Stage Carrier’ whereas for carrying schoolchildren, a Special Permit under Rule 4 of the said Rules. The buses deployed by the BEST and MSRTC authorities do not have lady attendant, which is mandatory, to safeguard the safety and interests of the children. Further, all safety features have been ignored in those buses.” It also states that the rules do not provide for any exemption to Light Motor Vehicles, which are used for carrying school children. Hence, authorities ought to have insisted for execution of common service agreement between such Light Motor Vehicle operators and the School Authorities and insisted on furnishing a copy of the same, while applying for permit, as stipulated under Rule 7 (B). But, for the reasons best known to them, the authorities have failed to ensure that a valid binding arrangement exists between the LMV operator and the school authorities. This has resulted in a vacuum at supervisory level, as the School Authorities are no longer in the picture. The petition says that the LMV operators are not only fleecing money from the children / parents, but care too look out for the safety and interests of the children.The petition prays for enforcement of rules and cancels permits granted to LMV school vans which do not have agreement with school authorities.

Najeeb Jung, Sheila Dikshit skip Iftar party organised by AAP

Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, former chief minister Sheila Dikshit and leader of opposition Vijender Gupta on Thursday skipped the Iftar party organised by the AAP government led by Arvind Kejriwal.Vice President Hamid Ansari was the sole VIP face to have graced the occasion this time around. Ansari stayed at the event, organized by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, for about ten minutes. Apart from Jung, Dikshit, representatives from parties such as Trinamool Congress and a number of top diplomats had also attended the annual occasion last year.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The image of Kejriwal, Jung and Dikshit sitting together had received much attention during last year’s Iftar party. Asked about the absence of Jung, Gupta, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia played down their absence from the event this year saying it may have been due to their personal reasons.”They may have their own reasons but the invitations had reached everyone. I had also spoken to each of them individually,” Sisodia told reporters.The Iftar party was held in an open ground of Indira Gandhi Stadium which witnessed thousands of people attending the event, perhaps it is biggest iftar party held by the state government. At the iftar party, all AAP leaders including Sanjay Singh, Kumar Viswas, all Cabinet ministers and MLAs were present.Heavy rains also played a spoilsport disrupting the arrangements made by the city administration. Chairs put up in open ground were lying unused as they were drenched in rains.

Petrol price cut by 89 paise per litre, diesel cheaper by 49 paise a litre

New Delhi: Petrol price was on Friday cut by 89 paise a litre and diesel by 49 paise a litre, the first decrease in rates in two months.

A worker holds a fuel nozzle at a petrol pump in Mumbai June 11, 2010. India's oil ministry wants free pricing of petrol and diesel to help state firms who are forced to sell fuel at low, state-set prices. India's cabinet did not discuss any proposal to raise fuel prices or reform the sector on Thursday, a government minister said, continuing the uncertainty over a move that faces strong political resistance.REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui (INDIA - Tags: ENERGY)A worker holds a fuel nozzle at a petrol pump in Mumbai June 11, 2010. India's oil ministry wants free pricing of petrol and diesel to help state firms who are forced to sell fuel at low, state-set prices. India's cabinet did not discuss any proposal to raise fuel prices or reform the sector on Thursday, a government minister said, continuing the uncertainty over a move that faces strong political resistance.REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui (INDIA - Tags: ENERGY)

A worker holds a fuel nozzle at a petrol pump in Mumbai June 11, 2010. India’s oil ministry wants free pricing of petrol and diesel to help state firms who are forced to sell fuel at low, state-set prices. India’s cabinet did not discuss any proposal to raise fuel prices or reform the sector on Thursday, a government minister said, continuing the uncertainty over a move that faces strong political resistance.REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui (INDIA – Tags: ENERGY)

Petrol will cost Rs 64.76 a litre in Delhi from midnight tonight as compared to Rs 65.65 per litre currently, Indian Oil Corp, the nation’s largest fuel retailer, announced.

Similarly, diesel will cost Rs 54.70 per litre as against Rs 55.19 a litre currently.

This is the first reduction in rates in two months. Petrol price was last hiked by 5 paise a litre on 16 June and
diesel by Rs 1.26 a litre. Petrol prices in the four hikes since May 1 had been raised by Rs 4.52 a litre, while diesel rates had gone up by Rs 7.72 per litre.

“The current level of international product prices of petrol and diesel and Rupee-US Dollar exchange rate warrant
decrease in selling price of petrol and diesel, the impact of which is being passed on to the consumers with this price revision,” IOC said in a statement.

Barring an exemption on 16 April, when price of petrol was cut by 74 paise a litre and diesel by Rs 1.30, the upward trend in rates had been a phenomenon since 17 March.

After discounting the 16 April reduction, petrol prices have jumped by Rs 9.04 per litre since mid-March and diesel by Rs 11.05 per litre.

The movement of prices in the international oil market and Rupee-USD exchange rate shall continue to be monitored
closely and developing trends of the market will be reflected in future price changes, IOC said.

PTI

Canada to give troops for NATO force, ready to talk to Russia | Reuters

OTTAWA Canada confirmed on Thursday it would provide a significant number of troops for a new 4,000-strong NATO force on Russia’s border but also said it was ready to talk to Moscow in a bid to reduce tensions.

Canada, the United States, Germany and Britain each will command a battalion in the new unit, which is designed to help deter any show of force such as that deployed by Russia in Crimea in 2014.

Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who also condemned the actions of Russian-backed militants in Ukraine, declined to give many details about the new force. NATO diplomats say the Canadians will be based in Latvia.

Sajjan announced the move a day after U.S. President Barack Obama gave a speech in the Canadian Parliament and told Canada it needed to make a bigger contribution to NATO.

“As NATO we do need to be able to send a strong message that the actions in Crimea and Ukraine are not acceptable,” Sajjan said in a phone interview.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Washington would ask Canada for help to establish the force, given a lack of enthusiasm by other members.

“Thank you, Canada,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a Twitter post. “All four battalions for NATO’s east now have a lead nation.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is due to unveil Canada’s contribution at a NATO summit in Poland next week.

The Baltic states and Poland fear the force is too small and symbolic to deter an attack. The alliance’s military chief says there is no imminent threat from Russia.

Sajjan said while Canada strongly opposed what had happened in Crimea and Ukraine, it wanted to “send an equally strong message that we are open for dialogue, that we want to be able to reduce the tension.”

Canada’s relations with Moscow are chilly. The ruling Liberals took over last year from the Conservatives, who had cut most high-level ties and slapped sanctions on Russian firms, officials and business executives.

In January, Foreign Minister Stephane Dion said Canada would maintain the punitive measures for as long as necessary while seeking to re-engage with Russia.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Trott)

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

Canada confirms will give troops for eastern European NATO force | Reuters

OTTAWA Canada confirmed on Thursday that it would provide troops to help establish a new 4,000-strong NATO force on Russia’s border to act as a deterrent against a possible show of force by Moscow.

A statement from the Canadian defense ministry gave few details, but NATO diplomats say the Canadians will be based in Latvia. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is due to provide more information at a NATO summit in Poland next week.

“Canada stands side by side with its NATO allies working to deter aggression and assure peace and stability in Europe,” Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said in the statement.

He announced the move a day after U.S. President Barack Obama gave a speech in the Canadian Parliament and told Canada it needed to make a bigger contribution to NATO.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Washington would turn to Canada for help to establish the new force, given a lack of enthusiasm by other members.

The United States, Britain, Germany and France have all committed to providing troops.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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

Congress questions BJP by citing Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao and Tala Marandi’s son’s marriage to minor

Earlier today, two instances came to light, one that of Jharkhand BJP chief Tala Marandi’s son’s marriage to a minor and the other wherein BJP’s Jharkhand president’s son sexually exploited an underage girl for two years. The Congress Party on Thursday cornered the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over reports that the son of Jharkhand BJP chief Tala Marandi has married a minor girl.”On one side, the BJP and the Prime Minister chant the slogan of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ and on the other side, the son of their party president in Jharkhand is married to a girl who is minor,” Congress leader Shobha Oza said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There is another instance where an underage girl has accused that the son of the BJP’s Jharkhand president sexually exploited her for two years. All these instances show that how girls and women are treated in the houses of the BJP ministers. Investigation should take place in this incident. I would like to request the National Women Commission (NCW) to take cognizance of this matter. Guilty should be punished in this case,” she added.
ALSO READ Jharkhand BJP chief Tala Marandi’s son marries 11-year old minor; another minor alleges sexual abuseAccording to reports, the marriage with the minor reportedly took place on June 27, in Godda region of Jharkhand and the reception was held on June 29.Regarding the claims of sexual abuse, it is reported that the minor girl had submitted an application before the State Commission for Women against Munna for sexually abusing her for two years with the promise of marriage.

Madhya Pradesh cabinet expansion: BJP veterans Babulal Gaur, Sartaj Singh asked to resign

Replicating the Modi government’s ‘Margdarshak Mandal’ concept, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday dropped two senior ministers, apparently on ground of old age, as he expanded his council of ministers, inducting four ministers of cabinet rank and five MoS.Babulal Gaur (85) and Sartaj Singh (76), who held the important Home and PWD portfolios respectively, were shown the door. Both were said to have resigned following instructions from the BJP high command before the oath-taking ceremony.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I was asked by the central leadership to resign,” Gaur, a former MP chief minister, told PTI.Several bigwigs in BJP, including party patriarch L K Advani, besides Murli Manohar Joshi, Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha were marginalised in the party and not accomodated in the Modi government due to their advanced age.Advani and Joshi were included in the ‘Marg Darshak’ mandal, meant to mentor the party, but find themselves practically sidelined in the organisation. Both Gaur and Singh did not attend the oath-taking ceremony.Governor Ramnaresh Yadav administered the oath of office and secrecy to the four new cabinet ministers — Archana Chitnis, Rustam Singh, Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya and Omprakash Dhurve — at Raj Bhavan in Chouhan’s presence. Vishwas Sarang, Sanjay Pathak, Suryaprakash Meena, Lalita Yadav and Harsh Singh took oath as Ministers of State.There was speculation that Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Minister Kusum Mehdele too had been asked to resign because of her age, but when contacted an aide of the 71-year-old leader dismissed it as rumour. Sources said following today’s expansion, a Happiness Ministry, a first-of-its-kind in the country, will be created.The new ministry, inspired by Bhutan, which has the concept of ‘gross national happiness index’, will likely be headed by Chouhan himself, they said. The portfolios to the newly-inducted ministers will be distributed by tomorrow. There could be a rejig of portfolios as well, sources said. Chouhan’s council of ministers was last expanded in 2013.The Chouhan dispensation now has 20 cabinet ministers and nine ministers of state. Under the rules, the state can have a maximum of 33 ministers.Gaur was the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh from August 23, 2004, to November 29, 2005. Sartaj Singh was a minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s 13-day Government.

Nation wide survey to assess drug abuse to be conducted by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

After a gap of about 15 years, the government has given nod for conducting a nation-wide survey to assess the extent, trend and pattern of drug abuse among people across the country. To be conducted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in collaboration with the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) of AIIMS, the survey will provide national and state level estimates of proportion and absolute number of people who indulge in drug abuse, sources said. The two-year-long survey will also map the presence of services and interventions for drug dependent individual and identify the gaps in service delivery.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The last nation-wide survey to assess the drug use in India was conducted in 2001 and its data was published in 2004. “The earlier survey did not provide any data on prevalence of substance use at the level of different states in India, neither did it provide data on prevalence of drug use among women population. Since then there have been small scale studies focused on specific geographical areas or population. But there have been no nation-wide surveys.
ALSO READ Large number of people participate in a run against drugs”Thus the exact dimensions of this problem in India remain unknown,” a senior Ministry official said.The government’s decision to conduct the survey comes in the wake of a recent survey ‘Punjab Opioid Dependence Survey’ (PODS) which estimated that there are about 2.3 lakh opioid-dependent people in the state, which consumes drugs worth Rs 7,500 crore every year. Also, the recently released Bollywood film “Udta Punjab” had created a flutter over the issue of drug abuse.
ALSO READ Drugs ban: Madras HC differs with Delhi HC on lifting banInadequate information about alcohol and drug dependenceAccording to the official, one of the major programming obstacles is inadequate information about the extent and scale of alcohol and drug dependence in the country. “Additionally, India is expected to report to international agencies (like United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and World Health Organisation) on questions related to data on extent of substance use in India. In such instances, government has to rely on the old survey published in 2004,” he added.
ALSO READ Bill on transgender and drug abuse put on hold by PMOThe project is estimated to cost over Rs 22 crore. The drugs include all those listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in its International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) and include categories like alcohol, tobacco, opioids, sedative-hypnotics, cannabis, stimulants, hallucinogens and inhalants, said Dr Atul Ambekar, additional professor at NDDTC and principal investigator of the survey.”The study will include a household survey to determine the proportion of people who use drugs and people who are drug dependent,” Ambekar said. Besides, there will be focused thematic studies on specific topics or vulnerable populations which will include studying the pattern of drug abuse among homeless, prison residents, transgenders, female sex workers, transport workers (truck, taxi drivers, cleaners ets), said Dr Ambekar.The questions during the interview will pertain to socio- demographic data, substance use pattern, consequence of substance use, availability of services and knowledge and attitude towards substance use. As per the last survey report, the proportion of men using alcohol was 21%, cannabis 3% and opioids was 0.7%.The survey was jointly conducted by the Society for Promotion of Youth and Masses and NDDTC, AIIMS.

Spicejet denies aircraft fire or tyre burst, calls it landing gear problem

New Delhi: The right landing gear of a SpiceJet aircraft carrying 75 passengers onboard from New Delhi got overheated, causing some smoke while it landed at the Amritsar airport on Thursday evening.

Representational image. Image courtesy FlickrRepresentational image. Image courtesy Flickr

Representational image. Image courtesy Flickr

However, all passengers were deplaned safely, SpiceJet said.

There was, however, no fire or tyre burst, the airline clarified.

SpiceJet flight SG 2515 from Delhi to Amritsar carrying 75 passengers landed at Amritsar on 06:15 PM.

Engineer on ground saw smoke coming out from the right landing gear after flight landed at Amritsar airport, SpiceJet said in a statement.

Taking precautionary measure, the engineer used fire extinguisher on over heated landing gear, it said adding there
was no tyre burst or any fire.

The SpiceJet statement:

NO INCIDENT OF FIRE OR TYRE BURST HAS TAKEN PLACE in SpiceJet flight 2515 from Delhi to Amritsar carrying 75 passenger which landed at Amritsar on 06:15 PM. Engineer on ground saw smoke coming out from the right landing gear. Taking a precautionary measure he used fire extinguisher on over heated landing gear. All passengers on board are safe.

PTI

Union Cabinet reshuffle: Will those aged above 75 be axed?

BJP’s decision to drop two ministers from the Madhya Pradesh government on the ground they have crossed 75 years has triggered speculation that such a yardstick could be applied in the much-talked about Union Cabinet reshuffle that is likely to take place soon.Party chief Amit Shah held a long meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday evening where the two leaders are believed to have discussed the reshuffle and the long overdue organisational rejig.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister Najma Heptulla turned 75 in April last year and her colleague Kalraj Mishra turns 75 on Friday. Though the party has never put the age rule on record it was widely believed to have been the reason why senior leaders like L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi were co-opted into the “margadarshak mandal” (guiding group) and kept out of the Cabinet.With the UP assembly polls scheduled for early next year, some party leaders believe that Mishra, a well-known Brahmin face from the state, may be retained. States like UP and Assam are likely to get more representation in the Council of Ministers while some ministers of state may be promoted, sources said.Going by its rule to have 25 per cent new faces in the national executive, the decision-making body will see fresh names or those who did not find place in Shah’s team after he took charge for the first time in 2014. The recast executive is likely to meet in Kerala in September, sources said.

‘This is a brazen murder of democracy’,National Conference accuses PDP on Land Transfer Bill

National Conference (NC) accused the ruling PDP of “sabotaging” the Land Transfer Bill on Thursday, which aims at preventing transfer of land to non-state subjects, in the Assembly by supporting the move of its ally BJP to transfer the bill to a select committee.”This is a brazen murder of democracy, ironically and tragically on the same day when (chief minister) Mehbooba Mufti took oath as a member of the Assembly. The bill was sent to the select committee despite the fact that BJP members were part of the cabinet decision on June 23 to introduce the bill in the House. This defies sanity and precedent and questions the very existence and writ of the chief minister,” NC spokesperson Junaid Mattu said in Srinagar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mattu said PDP’s “sellout was exposed” in the Assembly on Thursday when some PDP members rose in open revolt against the party. “Even some members of the ruling party were shocked at how a bill passed through the Cabinet to be tabled in the Assembly could be sabotaged in this manner. NC had announced that it would support the Bill and all such measures that are aimed at safeguarding J-K s special status.”Unfortunately, it is now pretty evident that for Mehbooba, J-K’s special status is negotiable and she can quite easily barter in lieu of BJP’s continued patronage and benevolence,” the NC spokesperson said.He said the transfer of the bill to the select committee was a matter of “shame” for the chief minister. “…PDP has obliged BJP in sabotaging the bill without any consideration for the absolutely damaging message this would send out. This emboldens those voices that have sought erosion of the State Subject Laws and abrogation of Article 370 and this could very well be the first covert step by the PDP-BJP alliance to erode J&K’s special status,” he said.He alleged that the entire “covert plan” is being enacted under the direct supervision of the chief minister. “Nothing could be more tragic,” he said.”Those members of PDP who rose in revolt against their own party at this shocking sellout should realise that their party is now at open loggerheads against the people of this state and their legal and political interests. “PDP’s continued investment in the politics of betrayal and U-turns is a matter of grave concern and the chief minister should know that her deeds will have proportionate and serious consequences,” the NC spokesperson said.

Kerala finances alarming, says white paper; former govt UDF rejects report

Kerala’s finances are ‘alarming’ and there is a need to ensure 20-25 per cent annual growth in tax collection for the next five years, according to a white paper tabled in the state assembly on Thursday.The white paper tabled by Finance Minister T M Thomas Issac said that for a state holding a negative cash balance in reality, it was an impossible task to take on immediate and short-term liabilities of over Rs 10,000 crore and that the situation was ‘alarming’.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Apart from meeting the day-to-day challenge of keeping the Treasury afloat to meet the routine expenditure of administrative machinery, Kerala was constantly facing grave paucity of resources for financing all its other plan and capital expenditure, the report said, adding the state has been living on a ‘financial lie’.In the last three years, budgetary exercise was ‘fudging of accounts’, Issac told reporters. Schemes and projects were announced without the funds to back them up, he said.The Annual Plan size during this period had been fixed at about 10-15 per cent even beyond the state’s estimated capacity – to announce an artificially-bloated plan size each year, the minister said. In the process, unfortunately, budgets have lost their sanctity and budget speeches have become exercises in conjuring up unachievable visions of schemes and projects, he claimed.Kerala was also unable to reduce revenue expenditure beyond a certain extent due to commitments in the social sector and increase in salary, interest payments and pension, which is mainly attributed as reason for its burgeoning revenue deficit of the state, he said.However, the minister said, government would check Non plan revenue expenditure, which was necessitated as the previous government had announced various projects which were not included in the budget and were sanctioned as Outside the Agenda (OA) by the cabinet.Citing an example, he said about Rs 700 crore to Rs 800 crore had been spent for former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s pet Mass contact programme. Such heads of expenditure added to rise in Non Plan Revenue expenditure, he said.The report said efforts would be made to galvanise tax collection machinery in all departments, mainly in commercial Taxes, Motor Vehicles, Registration, Revenue and Excise. Kerala would have to gear up its tax machinery and ensure that growth rates in tax collection are sustained at 20-25 per cent per annum for the next five years, it said.”There is no escape from this conclusion, given the limited range of fiscal choices available to the state’, it said.UDF slams White Paper UDF chairman and Kerala opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala dismissed claims made by the LDF government in its White Paper and said there had been “better financial management” during the tenures of the UDF government than that of LDF. He also claimed that though there was financial slowdown, the UDF government was able to collect taxes up to 99 per cent in its last tenure.”There had been better financial management during the tenures of UDF government than that of LDF. Kerala had suffered the worst financial crisis during 1998-2000 when LDF was in power. Even the state treasury was closed that time,” he said at a press meet in the Assembly media room.Former Finance Minister and KC(M) supremo K M Mani also critisised the White Paper, saying it failed to present the real picture of the state’s financial position.

ISIS terror module busted: 5 persons arrested by NIA get judicial custody

A local court on Thursday remanded five persons, arrested by NIA in Hyderabad on Wednesday on charges of their involvement in a terror module suspected to be linked to Islamic State (IS) and conspiring to carry out bomb attacks, in judicial custody for 14 days. The accused were produced in the chamber of the Metropolitan Sessions Judge by NIA amidst heavy security.The judge remanded them in judicial custody though the investigating agency has filed an application seeking their police custody for further examination. NIA’s application for police custody is likely to come up for hearing on Friday. The accused were later shifted to Cherlapally Central Prison.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mohammed Ibrahim Yazdani alias Ibbu, Habeeb Mohammed alias Sir, Mohammed Ilyas Yazdani, Abdullah Bin Ahmed Al Amoodi and Muzaffar Hussain Rizwan were arrested by NIA after a series of searches were conducted at 10 locations in Old City area, with the assistance from Hyderabad Police. The agency had detained six others, including a techie, during the operation.According to NIA, the preliminary examination has revealed that the gang was preparing IEDs for commission of terror acts and were being guided by an online handler suspected to be based in Iraq/Syria.NIA had earlier registered a case based on credible information that some youths hailing from Hyderabad and their accomplices have entered into a criminal conspiracy to wage war against the Government of India by collecting weapons and explosive materials by targeting public places, including religious sites and sensitive government buildings and others in various parts of the country. The agency recovered firearms, ammunition, precursor chemicals for making explosives, digital exhibits and Rs 15 lakh cash from the searched locations.NIA also seized two semi-automatic pistols with ammunition, an air gun with telescopic sight and shooting practice target boards, a large number of digital items including six laptops, about 40 mobile phones, 32 SIM cards, and a large number of hard disks, memory cards, pen drives, and digital tabs.Meanwhile, local police on Thursday dismissed as “rumours” and “false” certain messages that are being circulated in social media about the threat to public safety and security in the wake of the arrests made by NIA. “There are certain messages floating in social media about the threat to public safety & security. The information being circulated in social media are all rumours and are found to be false,” Hyderabad Police said in a statement.All necessary security and bandobast arrangements have been made in the city by police to maintain peace and public order.”Law & order situation is peaceful. People of Hyderabad city are requested to not believe in rumours being circulated in social media”, it said.Meanwhile, Mohammed Ishaq Yazdani, brother of one of the arrested persons Mohammed Ibrahim Yazdani, termed the allegation against his brother as “rumours”.”It’s all rumours. Around 15 to 20 gun-wielding persons came to our house yesterday morning and in the name of investigation threw the household belongings and took away the laptop and tab. They also took away my original Aadhaar Card,” he alleged. He claimed that Rs 15 lakh seized during the raid belonged to Ibrahim’s in-laws.

Security beefed up for ‘Alvida Namaz’ in Lucknow

Elaborate security arrangements have been made by the police in old city areas for ‘Alvida Namaz’ on Friday.”Elaborate security arrangements have been made for Alwida namaz to be held tomorrow,” District Magistrate Rajshekhar said.More than 2,000 police personnel and 20 magistrates have been deployed in the area, he said, adding that 20 CCTV and video cameras have also been installed for surveillance. Besides there would be 4 drone cameras, fire tenders, ambulances and quick response teams also and arrangements have also been made for power back up, the DM said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>’Alvida Namaz’ is offered on the last Friday of Ramzan.

Ibrahimovic to join Manchester United | Reuters

LONDON Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is joining Manchester United and will play for his first Premier League club at the age of 34 under his former manager Jose Mourinho.

“Time to let the world know my next destination is @Manutd,” Ibrahimovic said on Twitter on Thursday.

Ibrahimovic had been widely expected to join the English club after informing Paris St Germain that he was leaving after four years in the French capital.

The much-travelled striker will link up with Mourinho, his former manager at Inter Milan, who has just taken over at Old Trafford.

United, who have not paid a fee to sign the out-of-contract Ibrahimovic, will be the eighth club of a career which began with his hometown team Malmo in 1999 and has included spells at Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona and AC Milan.

He has scored 392 goals in 677 games and won a trophy in each season of his career since 2001.

Beyond the silverware, however, it is the box-office appeal of the Swede which has appealed to United, whose supporters have bemoaned the lack of star-quality in their teams since the departure of Alex Ferguson.

United were widely criticised for playing boring football last season under now departed manager Louis van Gaal. Boring is not a word which could be used to describe the flamboyant Ibrahimovic, who scored 50 goals in 51 matches for PSG last season.

United have not yet confirmed the deal but British media reported that he will undergo a medical at Old Trafford on Friday.

Ibrahimovic announced his retirement from international football last week after Sweden’s early exit from Euro 2016.

He will link up with his new team mates next month and could feature on the club’s tour of Asia, for which they are due to depart on July 19.

(Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Ed Osmond)

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

Puducherry: Father of Acid attack victim wants to appeal in Supreme Court for death penalty to accused

The father of 23-year-old woman software engineer, who died after an acid attack in Karaikal in 2012, appealed to Puducherry government on Thursday to explore the possibility of filing an appeal in the Supreme Court seeking death penalty for the accused in the case.Jayapalan, father of Vinothini, was reacting to the June 28 Madras High Court order upholding the life sentence awarded by the trial court to the accused in 2013. The high court had pulled up the trial court for not considering death sentence and also said it was forced to confirm the life term in absence of an appeal by the Puducherry government seeking enhancement of the sentence.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jayapalan expressed satisfaction over the high court verdict confirming life sentence on Suresh Kumar, who carried out the brutal acid attack on Vinothini as she turned down his proposal. “It has observed that the accused should have been awarded death sentence by the lower court. We request the Puducherry government to analyse the possibilities of an appeal in the Supreme Court in this regard,” he said.After suffering serious injuries, including disfigurement of her face, in the November 12, 2012 attack at a bus stand here, Vinothini succumbed in a Chennai hospital 90 days later.On August 20, 2013, Karaikal Judicial Magistrate Vaidyanathan sentenced Suresh Kumar to life imprisonment. He had also slapped another four-and-half years rigorous imprisonment and Rs 1 lakh fine on the accused for causing injuries to Vinothini’s father during the attack.However, the accused challenged the verdict in the high court, which upheld the lower court judgement. Vinothini’s mother committed suicide after the trial court verdict while Jayapalan, who was working as a security guard in a private school at Karaikal, has been suffering from depression and is under the care of his brother-in-law.

Monsoon blues: June ends with rainfall deficiency of 11%

New Delhi: Of the four-month monsoon season in the country, June has ended up with the overall rainfall deficiency of 11 percent and it is fast declining.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Monsoon is yet to reach several parts of the country, especially northwest India and all region barring the southern peninsula have received deficient rainfall until now.

In east and northeast India, monsoon was deficient by 28 percent, while the deficiency was 17 and 7 percent in
central and northwest India respectively.

The Northern Limit of Monsoon (NLM) continues to pass through Dwarka, Vallabh Vidyanagar, Sawai Madhopur, Gwalior,
Lucknow, Pantnagar, Dehradun, Una and Jammu. It is expected to cover Delhi, Haryana and Punjab in next two days.

June to September is considered as the rainfall season in India. As per the IMD forecast after two consecutive bad
rainfall seasons, this monsoon will be “above normal”.

However, some more positive news is in the offing. El Nino, which is related to sea surface temperatures in the
Pacific, is in “neutral” condition. The phenomena had hampered monsoon last year and was also a reason for a warmer winter.

“Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) is currently over Maritime Continent and is strong in amplitude, which is
favourable for active monsoon conditions over central and north India.

In its forecast for the next 15 days, the IMD has predicted an “above normal” rainfall activity over north India
during first week and over central India during second week of July. Western parts of the country are likely to receive above normal rainfall activity during second week.

“The West coast is likely to receive above normal rainfall till 10 July. Slightly below normal rainfall activity
is likely over northeastern states till 5 July and normal rainfall activity thereafter.

“Normal to below normal rainfall activity is likely over south interior Peninsular India and it is likely till middle of July,” the IMD said.

PTI

AAP MLA Dinesh Mohaniya claims to have video evidence to prove his innocence

AAP legislator Dinesh Mohaniya, facing allegations of molestation and sexual harassment, on Thursday claimed he had evidence in the form video footage to show that charges against him are “baseless” and will produce it in the court.The Sangam Vihar MLA was arrested while addressing a press conference on June 25 and was released on Wednesday after his bail application was granted by a city court.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I have video footage that clearly shows that the complainant woman left my office in a normal state and there was no chaos. She even stayed there for 5-7 minutes talking to other people which shows nothing was amiss,” Mohaniya said.He said that although he had no footage of the meeting with a group of women inside the room but the video he had “clearly showed” that nothing had happened as was alleged by the complainant.Expressing his faith in the judiciary, he said “the allegations against me are false and baseless and it is a conspiracy of Delhi Police and some BJP leaders.” He also denied the Delhi Police charge that he was arrested as he had not received two notices to join the probe registered against him.The MLA was booked on June 23, a day after allegedly misbehaving with a group of women who had gone to him with a complaint regarding water crisis in their locality. The charges of molestation and sexual assault were added later by police following statements before a magistrate by two complainants.Delhi AAP convener Dilip Pandey lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Delhi Police for creating an “atmosphere of fear” among the party MLAs.”Modiji is taking revenge of BJP’s defeat in Delhi elections and police is arresting and framing AAP MLAs to stop them from working for the people of Delhi,” he said.Political “animosity” is hampering works of public interest in Delhi, he said, adding that Aam Aadmi Party will not be deterred by the action against its MLAs.

Raghuran Rajan a great central bank governor: World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim

New Delhi: Describing Raghuram Rajan as a “great” central bank governor, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim on Thursday hoped that the Indian leadership will continue with the policy of having an independent Reserve Bank chief.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in New Delhi on 30 June 2016. Image courtesy PIBWorld Bank president Jim Yong Kim calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in New Delhi on 30 June 2016. Image courtesy PIB

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in New Delhi on 30 June 2016. Image courtesy PIB

“He (Rajan) is so well respected. I think he has done a great job,” Jim, who is in New Delhi on a two-day visit, told reporters at the India office of the World Bank.

On Rajan’s untimely exit, Jim said he did not know the whole story, but added, “I understand he is going back to
academia at some point in time. He is an extremely respected and productive scholar in addition to being a great central bank governor.”

Rajan on 18 June had announced that he will return to academia when his three-year term as Governor of the Reserve
Bank of India ends on 4 September, ending uncertainty about his continuation in light of BJP MP Subramanian Swamy’s tirade against him.

Talking about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the World Bank president said, he is a “big fan” and hoped the BJP
government will continue with the policy of having an independent central bank.

“I think the Modi government has made it clear that they will continue with the important principle of having an
independent central bank,” he said.

Jim, who met Modi earlier in the day said, many things have been said that confirm his opinion that it is not about a single person but about certain principles and practises that they would adhere to.

“I don’t expect there will be a major shift because the principles of independent central bank, someone who is
respected, I think will continue,” he said.

Rajan, 53, was appointed by the previous Congress-led UPA government in September 2013 for a three year term. He is the second Reserve Bank Governor who will be leaving the Mint Road headquarters of the India’s banking sector regulator without getting a five-year term in the last 25 years.

PTI

Justice Dhingra Commission seeks 6 weeks time to give report on Robert Vadra’s land deals

Justice S N Dhingra Commission, which was set up to probe into grant of land licences to some companies including that of Robert Vadra’s in Gurgaon during the Congress rule in Haryana, on Thursday sought six weeks more time to submit its report hours before the deadline was to end. Justice Dhingra said he sought more time in order to go through some documents from a person stating “that they are documents of benami transactions of who benefitted from the grant of licence.” Haryana government had earlier twice extended the term of the Dhingra Commission of Inquiry.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BJP government in the state had in December last year extended the Commission’s term for a period of six months and on June 17 this year its term had been extended till Thursday.
ALSO READ Robert Vadra cries foul, says being ‘used for political gains’Earlier, media reports had said the Commission was ready with its report which would have gone into mutation of a land deal between a firm M/S Skylight Hospitality owned by Robert Vadra and realty major DLF. The Rs 58-crore deal related to 3.5 acre land in Gurgaon’s Shikohpur village which was sold by Vadra to DLF.In October, 2012, senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka had cancelled the mutation of the land deal between Skylight Hospitality and DLF. It was mired by controversy over allegations of undervaluation.
ALSO READ Robert Vadra property row: IT dept impounds Sanjay Bhandari’s passportThe request for extension came in the midst of a row after Congress alleged that Justice S N Dhingra, a retired judge of the Delhi High Court, “has sought favours from government of Haryana, making him incompetent and unsuitable to deliver any verdict or report in the matter.”Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had also sought scrapping the Dhingra Commission of Inquiry on Wednesday, pointing out that it was “contrary to established rules and norms, without due cabinet approval and prompted by malice and political considerations”.The present Manohar Lal Khattar government in Haryana had on May 14, 2015 set up the Dhingra Commission to probe issues concerning the grant of license(s) for developing commercial colonies by the Department of Town and Country Planning to some entities in Sector 83, Gurgaon.The Commission was to probe transfer or disposal of land, allegations of private enrichment, ineligibility of beneficiaries under the rules, and other connected matters, bringing Vadra land deal under the scanner.BJP had made the land deals under the previous Congress government in Haryana a major poll issue during the 2014 Lok Sabha and the state Assembly polls, alleging rules were relaxed to favour a few including Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.The Commission had summoned former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda but he was represented by his counsel on the two dates. The Commission also summoned 26 government officers as witnesses and examined at least 250 files pertaining to approval, grant or rejection of colony licences to various builders, and change of land use and development plans.Anil Vij hits out at former Haryana CM HoodaHaryana’s Health Minister Anil Vij on Thursday hit out at Hooda’s criticism of the Dhingra Commission, saying “undue favours” to builders by the previous Congress regime had come under attack even from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).”CAG had also said a lot in its report earlier that government bent rules to benefit Vadra’s company,” Vij told reporters in Ambala.”To keep him and his the then political masters happy, Hooda had gone out of the way to dole out benefits. Why is he feeling guilty conscious? What is the need to write a letter to the Governor when the Commission was about to submit its report?”The day when the Commission of Inquiry was formed, Hooda could have said the same thing then. Now, why are the Congress leaders feeling scared and why are they making a noise about the whole thing,” Vij asked.Congress alleges Justice Dhingra sought favours from Haryana govtMeanwhile, senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala charged that “Justice S N Dhingra has sought favours from government of Haryana, making him incompetent and unsuitable to deliver any verdict or report in the matter.”Surjewala claimed said that Justice Dhingra is also chairman of Delhi-based Justice Gopal Singh Public Charitable Trust.”The facts are very very clear which are now in public domain. Dhingra Commission is constituted on May 14, 2015. On December 8, 2015, Justice Dhingra as head of his own Trust, that is Justice Gopal Singh Charitable Trust, moves an application to the Deputy Commissioner, Gurgaon, asking that a particular individual in Gurgaon has gifted him land for construction of a school and that money should now be utlilised out of public ex-chequer’s funds, for construction of a road thereupon as also electricity poles etc. The Deputy Commissioner Gurgaon, where Dhingra Commission is headquartered, works with great urgency and says the road be constructed out of district planning funds within a week. When they realise that it can’t be done, then the HRDF (Haryana Rural Development Fund) Board headed by the Chief Minister proceeds to sanction Rs 97 lakh out of which road is being constructed..,” Surjewala alleged while talking to reporters.”..Why is government’s ex-chequer’s money being utilised to build a road to the Trust property when many other villages in surrounding areas have been demanding for construction of roads, none of which has been undertaken.

Justice SN Dhingra Commission seeks six weeks to give report on Robert Vadra’s land deals

Chandigarh: Justice SN Dhingra Commission, which was set up to probe into grant of land licences to some companies including that of Robert Vadra‘s in Gurgaon during the Congress rule in Haryana, on Thursday sought six weeks more time to submit its report hours before the deadline was to end.

Official sources said the Commission has sought six weeks more to submit its report.

Justice Dhingra said he sought more time in order to go through some documents from a person stating “that they are documents of benami transactions of who benefitted from the grant of licence.”

Haryana government had earlier twice extended the term of the Dhingra Commission of Inquiry.

The BJP government in the state had in December last year extended the Commission’s term for a period of six months and on 17 June this year its term had been extended till Thursday.

Earlier, media reports had said the Commission was ready with its report which would have gone into mutation of a land deal between a firm M/S Skylight Hospitality owned by Robert Vadra and realty major DLF. The Rs 58-crore deal related to 3.5 acre land in Gurgaon’s Shikohpur village which was sold by Vadra to DLF.

Justice SN Dhingra. Getty ImagesJustice SN Dhingra. Getty Images

Justice SN Dhingra. Getty Images

In October, 2012, senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka had cancelled the mutation of the land deal between Skylight Hospitality and DLF. It was mired by controversy over allegations of undervaluation.

The request for extension came in the midst of a row after Congress alleged that Justice S N Dhingra, a retired judge of the Delhi High Court, “has sought favours from government of Haryana, making him incompetent and unsuitable to deliver any verdict or report in the matter.”

Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had also on Wednesday sought scrapping the Dhingra Commission of Inquiry, pointing out that it was “contrary to established rules and norms, without due cabinet approval and prompted by malice and political considerations”.

The present Manohar Lal Khattar government in Haryana had on 14 May, 2015 set up the Dhingra Commission to probe issues concerning the grant of license(s) for developing commercial colonies by the Department of Town and Country Planning to some entities in Sector 83, Gurgaon.

The Commission was to probe transfer or disposal of land, allegations of private enrichment, ineligibility of beneficiaries under the rules, and other connected matters, bringing Vadra land deal under the scanner.

BJP had made the land deals under the previous Congress government in Haryana a major poll issue during the 2014 Lok Sabha and the state Assembly polls, alleging rules were relaxed to favour a few including Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The Commission had summoned former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda but he was represented by his counsel on the two dates.

The Commission also summoned 26 government officers as witnesses and examined at least 250 files pertaining to approval, grant or rejection of colony licences to various builders, and change of land use and development plans. Haryana’s Health Minister Anil Vij on Thursday hit out at Hooda’s criticism of the Dhingra Commission, saying “undue favours” to builders by the previous Congress regime had come under attack even from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

“CAG had also said a lot in its report earlier that government bent rules to benefit Vadra’s company,” Vij told reporters in Ambala.

“To keep him and his the then political masters happy, Hooda had gone out of the way to dole out benefits. Why is he feeling guilty conscious? What is the need to write a letter to the Governor when the Commission was about to submit its report?

“The day when the Commission of Inquiry was formed, Hooda could have said the same thing then. Now, why are the Congress leaders feeling scared and why are they making a noise about the whole thing,” Vij asked.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala charged that “Justice SN Dhingra has sought favours from government of Haryana, making him incompetent and unsuitable to deliver any verdict or report in the matter.”

Surjewala claimed said that Justice Dhingra is also chairman of Delhi-based Justice Gopal Singh Public Charitable Trust.

“The facts are very very clear which are now in public domain. Dhingra Commission is constituted on 14 May, 2015. On 8 December, 2015, Justice Dhingra as head of his own Trust, that is Justice Gopal Singh Charitable Trust, moves an application to the Deputy Commissioner, Gurgaon, asking that a particular individual in Gurgaon has gifted him land for construction of a school and that money should now be utlilised out of public ex-chequer’s funds, for construction of a road thereupon as also electricity poles etc.

The Deputy Commissioner Gurgaon, where Dhingra Commissionis headquartered, works with great urgency and says the road be constructed out of district planning funds within a week. When they realise that it can’t be done, then the HRDF (Haryana Rural Development Fund) Board headed by the Chief Minister proceeds to sanction Rs 97 lakh out of which road is being constructed..,” Surjewala alleged while talking to reporters.

“..Why is government’s ex-chequer’s money being utilised to build a road to the Trust property when many other villages in surrounding areas have been demanding for construction of roads, none of which has been undertaken.

Question paper of UP Higher Judicial Service exams should be in Hindi too: HC

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court said on Thursday that the question papers in UP Higher Judicial Service (HJS) examination should also be available in Hindi. “We find no reason as to why the question paper cannot also be in Hindi Devnagri Script”, the court observed.At the same time, this being the matter of expert advise and expertise for framing questions in Hindi, the court left it open to the respondent High Court to deal with this issue on the administrative side for an appropriate decision that deserves to be taken for examinations in future, it said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the court clarified that the High Court will not be required to take any decision for the HJS recruitment examinations, 2016, either preliminary or final.A vacation division bench of Justices Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Raghvendra Kumar delivered the judgement on a writ petition filed by a practising lawyer intending to appear as a candidate in coming UPHJS examinations 2016. He prayed that the question papers for the examination should be prepared in Hindi and English languages both or else this would violate the constitutional provisions. The court disposed of the petition.

Amritsar: Spicejet aircraft emits smoke after landing gear gets overheated

The right landing gear of a SpiceJet aircraft carrying 75 passengers onboard from New Delhi got overheated, causing some smoke while it landed at the Amritsar airport on Thursday evening. However, all passengers were deplaned safely, SpiceJet said. There was, however, no fire or tyre burst, the airline clarified.In its statement released, SpiceJet said, “No incident of fire or tyre burst has taken place in SpiceJet flight 2515 from Delhi to Amritsar carrying 75 passenger which landed at Amritsar on 06:15 PM. Engineer on ground saw smoke coming out from the right landing gear. Taking a precautionary measure he used fire extinguisher on over heated landing gear. All passengers on board are safe.​”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In another incident on Thursday, a special Air India charter flight carrying CRPF officials and personnels from Jammu to Srinagar had a narrow escape as two tyres of the flight burst while landing at Sheikh ul Alam International airport in Srinagar.

Supreme Court upholds dismissal of drunken CRPF constable, says personnel expected to follow rules

Holding that dismissal of a CRPF constable for indulging in a drunken brawl in a market was not “disproportionate,” the Supreme Court on Thursday said a member of a disciplined force is expected to follow rules and “not allow his feelings to fly in fancy”.The Apex Court’s observation came while allowing the Centre’s appeal against a High Court verdict upholding a trial court order directing reinstatement of a CRPF constable in service along with arrears of pay and allowances and other consequential benefits.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As a member of a disciplined force like CRPF, such behaviour was not expected of him and in the circumstances, the punishment of dismissal cannot be termed “disproportionate”, a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said.CRPF constable Diler Singh was dismissed from service after a departmental enquiry held against him. In June 22, 2001, he had left the campus in Narnaul in Haryana without permission, went to the market, consumed liquor and quarrelled with some civilians.”We are inclined to think that as a member of the disciplined force, the respondent was expected to follow the rules, have control over his mind and passion, guard his instincts and feelings and not allow his feelings to fly in fancy. It is not a mild deviation which human nature would grant some kind of lenience.”It is a conduct in public which has compelled the authority to think and, rightly so, that the behaviour is totally indisciplined. The respondent (constable), if we allow ourselves to say so, has given indecent burial to self- control, diligence and strength of will-power,” the court also said.Court noted that it has been established that he had consumed liquor at the market place, and it has been also proven that he has picked up quarrel with the civilians. It is not expected of a member of the disciplined force to behave in this manner.Noting that when a member of the disciplined force deviates to such an extent from discipline and behaves in an untoward manner which is not conceived of, the court said it is difficult to hold that the punishment of dismissal as has been imposed is disproportionate and shocking to the judicial conscience.

Delhi cops book two juveniles for beating class nine student to death

New Delhi: A 13-year-old boy was found dead after a scuffle with a group of teenagers near his house in east Delhi’s Mayur Vihar area, police said on Thursday.

Police registered a case of murder in connection with the incident and apprehended two juveniles.

The deceased, Rajat Menon, class IX student at a private school, had left home around 6 pm on Wednesday and did not return.

Later, it emerged that he had a fight with two teenagers, both sons of a local paan shop owner, a senior police official said.

During investigation, the police came across a CCTV grab in which they could spot Rajat and two of his friends on a scooter. They were approached by two men and one of them could be seen hitting Rajat twice.

File photo of Delhi police. ReutersFile photo of Delhi police. Reuters

File photo of Delhi police. Reuters

Rajat is then seen parking his scooter and going towards a park with two of his friends and the two men who approached him.

In another CCTV grab which emerged later, police found the two teenagers rushing Rajat to a hospital.

Menon was found dead nearly 500 metres away from his apartment in phase 3 of Mayur Vihar. However, there were no external injuries on his body.

When locals raised an alarm, the two minors with whom Menon had a fight, rushed there and took him to a hospital in a motorbike. Menon was declared brought dead by doctors there but the cause of death is yet to be ascertained, the official said.

“A case under Section 302 of IPC has been registered and two persons, both juveniles, have been apprehended,” DCP (East) Rishipal Singh said.

He further said, during investigation it came to light that Menon and his friends were heading towards a snooker parlour when the two juveniles waylaid them. They entered into an altercation, which later turned to a scuffle.

An official privy to the investigation said Menon earlier had a fight with one of the two juveniles around a month ago.

When Menon’s friends were questioned, it emerged that the arguments took place over Menon and his friends playing some prank on the accused a few months ago.

The official further said after yesterday’s incident Menon, his friends and the juveniles, all left the scene and, prima facie, they did not realise at that point of time that Menon had collapsed soon after.

The deceased boy’s father, Unnikrishnan Menon, who is a native of Kerala and works at an MNC here, said, “My son went to purchase something when he was cornered and beaten up. We know who are involved and we are awaiting the postmortem report.”

The local pan shop owner claimed there was no fight in which his sons were involved and they were apprehended by police only because they were seen with Menon, being the ones who took him to a hospital.

Menon was first rushed to Malik Hospital in Mayur Vihar, which informed the matter to police, following which he was rushed to Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital. Menon’s body was sent for postmortem examination and viscera was preserved for further examination, police said.

She was quite enthusiastic about getting clicked: Somya Gurjar explains selfie with rape survivor

Somya Gurjar, a member of Rajasthan State Commission for Women, who faced flak for clicking a ‘selfie’ with a rape victim, resigned from her post on Thursday. Gurjar along with Rajasthan State Commission for Women Chairperson Suman Sharma took a selfie with a rape victim, which triggered controversy. The matter came to light when the two pictures went viral on social media. The selfie was clicked by Gurjar on Wednesday when she and Sharma had gone to meet the rape victim at the Mahila police station (Jaipur North). As per reports, the 30-year-old woman was allegedly raped by her husband and two brothers-in-law who also tattooed expletives on her forehead and hand for failing to bring Rs.51,000 as dowry. An FIR has been registered under Sections of 498-A (Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act), 376 (punishment for rape) and 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust) of IPC and an investigation in the case has been initiated.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Somya Gujrar told ANI: “That selfie wasn’t for entertainment. That woman (alleged rape survivor) was quite enthusiastic about getting clicked. When we were taking pictures of her tattoo as a part of probe, she showed a lot of interest in our phone and asked us to click her. We just took her (alleged victim) picture so she would cooperate us in our investigation. Rajasthan/desh mein mahol garma gya hai, agar mere resign se shaant hota hai to mai yahi chahungi ki shanti vyavastha bani rahe (The atmosphere in the country is inflamed, if by my resignation will help it calm down I’d like it become peaceful again). We never share or highlight on social media, anything related to probe conducted by commission.”

Critical review of situation needed for AFSPA revocation: CM Mehbooba Mufti

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Thursday, the revocation of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the state would need critical review of the security situation.”The need and desirability of revocation of AFSPA in various areas of the state requires critical review of the security situation and other relevant factors,” she said in a written reply to a question in the Legislative Council.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Chief Minister’s reply came to a clubbed question of opposition National Conference (NC) lawmakers – Shehnaz Ganai, Showkat Hussain Ganai and Bashir Ahmad Veeri.
ALSO READ Jammu and Kashmir oppostion guns for PDP after Centre rules out lifting of AFSPAMehbooba, who holds the Home Department portfolio, said AFSPA was in operation in the state but the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, 1997, ceased to be in force in 1998. The Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, 1997, ceased to be in force in 1998 with effect from October 7, 1998, she said.There have been demands from many quarters for the revocation of AFSPA. Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had pitched for its revocation during his term, but the demand was ruled out by the Centre.

Land-grabbing case: Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam meets Maha CM Fadnavis, gives ‘clinching evidence’ against Minister Waikar

Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam on Thursday met Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and handed over documents which he claimed proves Minister of State for Housing and Shiv Sena leader Ravindra Waikar’s involvement in land grabbing.The documents contained “clinching evidence”, he told reporters after his meeting with Fadnavis at his official residence.During the meeting, the Congress leader demanded immediate dismissal of Waikar and demolition of the illegal construction at a government gymnasium in Aarey Colony.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Chief Minister assured me he would take a serious note of my complaint,” Nirupam said.On Monday, the Congress leader had filed a complaint against Waikar with the state Lokayukta alleging the minister usurped government land in Aarey Colony and made illegal constructions at a government-run gymnasium there.Waikar, while denying the charges of land grabbing, had said yesterday that permissions for construction were given by the Urban Development Department, headed by the Chief Minister himself. Nirupam has also accused the Sena leader of misusing his position to clear a slum redevelopment project for a firm in which he was a partner earlier.

West Bengal: CPI(M) walks out of assembly over state pay commission, Congress shows solidarity

CPI(M) staged a walk-out on Thursday protesting against the Speaker disallowing party leader Sujan Chakraborty from reading out a notice relating to the state pay commission and price rise, while Congress showed solidarity but stayed back.At the start of the Zero hour, Leader of the Opposition and Congress MLA Abdul Mannan speaking on similar issues said after the announcement of Union Cabinet’s acceptance of the 7th Pay Commission by the Centre on Wednesday, the difference in salaries between the state and central government employees had become “enormous”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He wanted to know from the ruling party what steps were being taken by the Chief minister and Finance minister to give relief to the state employees. To this, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee said the state government was sitting on a debt burden of Rs 2.13 lakh crore but the employees were being paid on time.Chatterjee said he would draw the attention of both the Chief minister and Finance minister on the issue and in spite of the gap, the state government had brought the work culture which was ruined by the Left government. Regarding payment of balance DA, he said that it was a sensitive issue.CPI(M) member Sujan Chakraborty said despite serving notice to the Speaker, he was not allowed to speak and the staged the walkout. Chatterjee later told Mannan that it had been improper of him to discuss the business advisory(BA) proceedings to the media and the sanctity of such meets had been vilified by it. He also requested Mannan to attend the BA meetings.Speaker Biman Banerjee, who is also the chairman of the BA committee, reprimanded Mannan for making public its discussions and asked the Congress leader to meet him in his chamber to attend the BA panel meet on Thursday. Later, Mannan told reporters that the manner in which CPI(M) was disallowed to speak on the issue was “highly undemocratic”. By allowing him to speak and not CPI-M, the ruling party was trying to create a wedge between the two parties, Mannan said, adding the Left party and Congress would now be more watchful and vouched for better floor coordination.

Fliers to pay less for excess checked-in baggage from Friday

New Delhi: From Friday onwards, fliers will be required to shell out lesser money for excess checked-in baggage up to a certain limit as the revised fee structure comes into effect.

Extra baggage on board to cost cheaper from 1 July 2016. ReutersExtra baggage on board to cost cheaper from 1 July 2016. Reuters

Extra baggage on board to cost cheaper from 1 July 2016. Reuters

Under the new tariff regime, only Rs 100 would be charged per additional kilogramme of checked-in baggage up to a
certain level compared to the existing charge of Rs 300 per kg.

The reduced rates, announced by the government earlier this month, was initially scheduled to come into force from
15 June. However, the implementation date was extended to 1 July by aviation regulator DGCA after airlines sought more time to upgrade their system.

Currently, all domestic airlines allow free checked-in baggage up to 15 kg. Beyond that, they charge Rs 300 per extra kg. Only Air India allows a free baggage of up to 23 kg.

“Airlines have been asked to keep variable checked-in baggage fare between 15-20 kg to benefit passengers who carry
checked-in baggage in excess of 15 kg but less than 20 kg,” DGCA had said.

Carriers would be free to charge any fee on the baggage weighing beyond 20 kg.

On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court refused to stay DGCA’s decision to lower the fee structure for excess checked-in
baggage carried by fliers.

PTI

RBI to accept pre-2005 notes only at select offices from July 1

The Reserve Bank on Thursday said it will accept pre-2005 banknotes only at its select branches from Friday as majority of the old series banknotes have been withdrawn. RBI is pulling out the pre-2005 banknotes because of fewer security features compared to banknotes printed after 2005.The central bank said it has observed that a major portion of the pre-2005 banknotes have been withdrawn from circulation and only a small percentage of these notes remains in circulation.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”On a review, therefore, the Reserve Bank has decided that from July 1, 2016 the facility of exchanging the pre-2005 banknotes will be available only at the select offices of the Reserve Bank,” it said in a release.The branches are: Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Belapur, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Jammu, Kanpur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Nagpur, New Delhi, Patna, Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi.Reserve Bank in December 2015 had set June 30, 2016 as the last date for public to exchange pre-2005 banknotes at the identified bank branches and Issue Offices of the Reserve Bank. RBI also clarified that these pre-2005 banknotes will continue to remain legal tender. Further, RBI said it is a standard international practice that not to have currency notes from multiple series remaining in circulation at the same time.Soliciting cooperation from public in withdrawing these banknotes from circulation, RBI has urged them to exchange pre-2005 banknotes at its mentioned offices as per their convenience.”The Reserve Bank will continue to monitor and review the process so that the public is not inconvenienced in any manner,” it said.

Louis Berger bribery scam: ED interrogates former Goa CM Digambar Kamat

The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday quizzed former Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat in Panaji in connection with the Louis Berger bribery scam.”He was questioned about the noting on the file by him in his capacity as a Chief Minister of the state. Several questions related to the inquiry were asked from him,” a senior ED official said on condition of anonymity.The veteran Congress leader arrived at ED office on Thursday morning and was interrogated till evening.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In August 2015, when Goa police was investigating the claims of US-based company that they had paid heavy bribes to an Indian minister, the ED had lodged FIR under Prevention of Money Laundering Act.The company had won consultancy for the project of augmentation of sewerage and water supply infrastructure in the state implemented under funding by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) when Kamat was heading the Congress government in Goa.Former state Public Works Department minister Churchill Alemao, JICA project director Anand Wachasunder and Louis Berger s Vice President Satyakam Mohanty were arrested in the case, whereun state ministers allegedly received bribes to the tune of USD 976,000 to grant contracts for the JICA-funded project in Goa.Kamat could not be arrested earlier as he was granted anticipatory bail by a local court which was upheld by the Goa bench of Bombay High Court.

Odisha: Naveen Patnaik launches 100 drinking water projects, 8 Aahar centres, announces bus service for Koraput

Affirming his government’s commitment to develop urban areas, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched 100 new drinking water projects and eight ‘Aahar’ cheap meal centres in Odisha on Thursday, besides announcing a city bus service for Koraput district.The drinking water projects would benefit around two lakh people in 46 urban areas of 21 districts in the state, he said while dedicating the three important programmes from the state secretariat in Bhubaneswar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, 100 similar safe drinking water projects had been launched in the state. All these show the commitment of the government for ensuring the development of urban infrastructure and inclusive growth in urban areas, he said. The new water projects would go a long way in providing safe drinking water to the people in urban areas, Patnaik said.Dedicating eight new ‘Aahar’ centres in urban areas, he said Housing and Urban Development department had launched the programme in five municipal corporations on April 1, 2015 to provide cooked meal (steamed rice and dalma) at Rs 5 per meal to the poor and needy people.The ‘Aahar’ programme was meant particularly for patients, their attendants, construction workers, labourers, rickshaw pullers, auto drivers, street vendors and needy students visiting urban areas for different purposes. With the launch of the eight new ‘Aahar’ centres, the total number of such centres in the state has increased to 110, an official statement said.The newly-launched Aahar centres were located at Udala and Karanjia in Mayurbhanj district, Anandpur in Keonjhar district, Nilagiri in Balasore district, Kamakhyanagar in Dhenkanal district, Chandikhol Chhak in Jajpur district, near Pattamundai in Kendrapara district and Konark in Puri district.Besides, the Jeypore-Koraput-Sunameda city bus service would benefit the people of the region in a big way, Patnaik added.

UP elections 2017: Mayawati’s trusted lieutenant RK Chaudhary quits party, accuses her of ‘auctioning’ tickets

In a second setback to BSP in as many weeks, party supremo Mayawati’s once trusted lieutenant and former minister RK Chaudhary quit on Thursday, accusing her of “auctioning” tickets for Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.An unfazed BSP, however, downplayed 57-year-old Chaudhary’s resignation, saying it will have no impact on the party.”At election time, tickets are allotted to the person who pays the highest amount,” he alleged at a hurriedly convened press conference to announce his resignation.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said since the death of party founder Kanshi Ram, there has been a marked change in the working style of Mayawati and that veteran leaders, who functioned with missionary zeal, were not given adequate weightage.Senior BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya quit the party on June 22, saying he felt “suffocated” and accusing the party chief of “auctioning” tickets for the polls. Hours after Chaudhary’s announcement, state BSP chief Ram Achal Rajbhar said his resignation will have no impact on the party and described the rebel leader as “selfish”.”There is no place for selfish people in BSP…Chaudhary was expelled earlier too for his selfish motives…his departure had no effect earlier and will not have any impact this time too,” he said.Chaudhary said Kanshi Ram had united different castes under one banner and evolved them into a group which could not be “sold” and due to his concerted efforts, a vote bank was created in all Assembly constituencies in UP.”But after Kanshi Ram, Mayawati started eyeing this non- saleable votebank and began selling tickets and BSP became a ‘mandi’ (wholesale market) for ticket selling…Under such circumstances, the party is no longer the mission of social change,” he said in hard-hitting remarks.Senior BSP leader and Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council Naseemudin Siddiqui said till the time Chaudhary was in BSP, the party could not form majority government.”Now we will form majority government in the state,” he said, adding, “In the past too, BSP came to power only after Chaudhary was expelled from BSP.”

India forced to upgrade submarine fleet to counter Chinese design in India Ocean

In order to counter threats from China’s nuclear-powered attack submarine in the Indian Ocean, India is equipping and upgrading its two Shishumar Class submarines with Harpoon Anti-Submarine Counter measure missiles.India signed a key agreement with Germany on Thursday worth €35 million (approx.Rs 2.5 billion) for the upgraded submarines so that they can fire Harpoon missiles. The retrofit of the new weapon suite will be carried out in two of the four SSK submarines (INS Shishumar, Shankush, Shalki and Shankul) at Naval Dockyard, Mumbai and is backed by a training package to support and operate the system.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Defence Ministry inked the contract with Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, one of the leading European system providers for submarines and naval vessels for the integration of missiles. The German defence major has also offered to integrate any weapon system, including ‘Brahmos’ onto the latest 214 Class Submarines for the upcoming project P75 (I) project, under which six submarines will be build through ‘Make in India’ route. The Indian Navy has been operating HDW Class 209/1500 submarines for decades. The German submarine manufacturer has been providing logistics support to the Indian Navy for the same, in terms of spares and components for these boatsCommenting on the latest development, Dr Gurnad Sodhi, Managing Director of Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems’ operations in India, said, “It is a key milestone in our long-standing commitment towards India. We have the capacity to integrate any weapon system that is selected by the Indian Navy, onto our submarines. We have successfully carried out such integration on similar boats for other Navies across the world. We are happy to take on this project to now integrate the harpoon missiles in two of the four SSK submarines.”Off late, Indian Navy has noted China’s interests in the Indian Ocean. Last year, a Chinese Song class diesel-electric submarine flanked by a destroyer, had docked for a few days at a Chinese-owned container terminal in Colombo. This was followed by the deployment of the relatively advanced Shang Class nuclear fast attack boat, a significant cause of concern at Naval Headquarters. Also the deployment of a submarine tender deep in the South Indian Ocean as part of search operations for MH-370, the missing Malaysian jetliner had also caused concern in New Delhi. The presence of this vessel suggests the deployment of a Chinese nuclear submarine far from its shores, something which has not been the norm for China’s submarine fleet in the past which has typically operated well within the range of ships and aircraft operating from land bases.

No relief from heat for Punjab, Haryana; Hisar sizzles at 42 degrees

Hot and humid weather continued to prevail across Punjab and Haryana on Thursday with Hisar sizzling at 42 degrees Celsius.While monsoon is expected to hit the two states including Chandigarh in a couple of days, high humidity levels, along with soaring temperatures, have added to the woes of the people. Hisar in Haryana was hotter by three notches against normal on Thursday, a MeT Department official said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Karnal too sweltered at 39.4 degrees Celsius, three notches above normal while Ambala too had a hot day at 38.3 degrees Celsius, two notches above normal. Sultry weather also prevailed in Chandigarh, which recorded a high of 37 degrees Celsius.In Punjab, Amritsar was hot at 39 degrees Celsius, two notches more than normal while Ludhiana’s maximum settled at 36.1 degrees Celsius.Patiala, too, braved sultry weather recording a high of 37 degrees Celsius.

Solar scam: Prime accused Saritha Nair to ‘write life history in Tamil’

Saritha Nair, prime accused in the solar panel scam in Kerala, said on Thursday she would soon come out with her autobiography.”Some people approached me to write my life history in Tamil. It is in the process of being written and will come out soon and contain all important incidents in my life,” she told reporters in Coimbatore after appearing in a local court. Saritha had lived in the city for some time.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Referring to the solar scam, Saritha said she had already submitted 90% of the related documents to the judicial commission probing the scandal. She expressed hope that the new LDF government in Kerala would take steps to ensure that the case was completed expeditiously and that the guilty would be punished.
ALSO READ Solar scam: Non-bailable arrest warrant issued against prime accused Saritha NairSaritha said that she was receiving many threatening calls. The solar panel scam in Kerala pertains to alleged duping of several persons to the tune of crores of rupees by Saritha and her accomplice Biju Radhakrishnan by offering solar panel solutions.

Tiger safari proposal in Corbett National Park red flagged, Uttarakhand asked to comply with wildlife norms

The Centre has red flagged a proposed tiger safari project in Uttarakhand’s Corbett National Park and asked the state government to first comply with wildlife norms.It cited the central government’s recent decision to stop tiger safari project in Madhya Pradesh’s Pench National Park citing alleged violation of rules. The Uttarakhand forest department had in August last year sought permission of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, to start a tiger safari inside the famous national park.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The NTCA has asked the Uttarakhand government to take prior permission from Central Zoo Authority (CZA).
ALSO READ Stop tiger safari in ‘Mowgli land’: Centre to Madhya Pradesh govtIt may also be looked into that if the proposal is in conformity with and as per tiger conservation plan prepared for Corbett reserve, said a letter by the NTCA to the state, a copy of which was received in reply to an RTI query filed by wildlife activist Ajay Dubey.On the issue of the safari in the Pench National Park, the NTCA had said that it exposes tigers to poaching. The Madhya Pradesh forest department had failed to take prior approval from the CZA before construction of tiger safari there, it said.
ALSO READ Relocate people in tiger reserve within time frame: Panel to CentreThe tiger population in the country was estimated at 1,706 in 2010. It rose to 2,226 in 2014. Uttarakhand ranks second –after Karnataka–in tiger population in the country. It has an estimated 340 tigers, as per the latest government data.

Delhi University website crashes on day 1 of admissions

It was not just the cut-offs which kept Delhi University aspirants worried but also the varsity’s website which crashed on day one of the admissions playing a spoilsport in DU’s maiden effort at making the entire admission process online.The university authorities said they are aware of the issue and are looking into the problem. The university had announced its first cut-off late on Wednesday night and the applicants had to first study the list, then select course and college on the admission portal for an admission slip and lastly approach the respective colleges with the slip and other required documents.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the website crashed early morning itself rendering aspirants helpless who rushed to colleges to seek alternative options but the efforts went in vain.”The website isn’t working and I went to college thinking they will allow me to take admission since I am eligible as per the cut-off but I was told that the slip is mandatory,” said Nasreen Ghai, a B.Com aspirant at SRCC college.Tanuka Dua, who accompanied her daughter to LSR college said, “It is a tedious process to generate an admission slip online, I had managed to do so but couldn’t take a print out as the portal then crashed but I took a screen shot. The college authorities did not accept it”.This is for the first time that the university has introduced full-fledged online admission procedure for UG admissions unlike previous years when it used to be both online and offline. When contacted, Kirti Ranjan, Officer on Special Duty, Admissions, said, “The technical team has been monitoring the server and few glitches were reported. We are looking into it”. Few colleges helped applicants and allowed access to their computer laboratories but the website continued to trouble them.The university had received 2.5 lakh applications for the 54,000 seats in 63 colleges. In a major shift from previous years, no DU college has kept the ceiling at 100 per cent in the first cut-off list, however, the required percentage soared at almost all the colleges.The highest cut-off for the academic session has been announced by Ramjas college at 99.25 per cent for BCom Honours, 98.75 for BCom and 98.5 for Economics Honours. The cut-off for Hansraj College has remained unchanged across stream with Eco(H) being the highest at 98 per cent.Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), ranked among the best in the country for higher studies in Commerce and Economics, announced its cut off at 98.25 per cent for Economics Honours and 98 per cent for BCom Honours.The students have three days to take admission under the first list following which the next cut-off list will be released. DU had announced this year that it will only release five cut-offs unlike previous years when the varsity issued up to ten cut-off lists.

Countries harbouring terrorists should pay the price: Sushma Swaraj takes subtle dig at Pakistan

Countries sponsoring and harbouring terrorists should be made to pay the price, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said, calling for a united global fight against terrorism. In an address to BRICS Youth Summit, Swaraj said the fight should be carried out without any distinction being made between “good” and “bad” terrorists. Swaraj said BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) was shaping the global discourse significantly to deal with a range of challenges like climate change, poverty alleviation and corruption and that it must also work to eliminate terrorism. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We also need to work and fight together to eliminate international terrorism in BRICS, UN Security Council and its various Committees. This should be done without any differentiation of a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ terrorist.”A terrorist is a terrorist and is someone who is acting against humanity as a whole. Those countries which sponsor and harbour terrorists should be made to pay the price,” Swaraj said.India will host the eighth annual Summit of BRICS in Goa in October in its capacity as chair of the influential bloc comprising the five countries account for 42 per cent of the world’s population and combined GDP of over USD 16 trillion.”We also need to work together for early reforms of the UN Security Council, so that this body continues to be relevant to the needs of the 21st century,” she said.Noting that building “responsive, inclusive and collective solutions” would be core to India’s BRICS chairmanship, she said in its short journey, the bloc has left an indelible mark on the global economic and financial architecture.”The establishment of New Development Bank and Contingency Reserve Arrangement have been landmark achievements in this regard,” she said.Talking about youth power, Swaraj said 800 million citizens of India are under the age of 35 and they are the driving force in making India the fastest growing major economy in the world.”In Prime Minister Modi you will find the biggest champion of youth. He had stressed the role of youth in his address at the Fortaleza Summit,” she said.Youths from all the BRICS member nations are participating in the summit.”All five BRICS countries have rich resources in terms of youth and BRICS countries’ youthful and democratic profiles, combined with our economic vibrancy, can be an asset in consolidating exchanges between our people,” she said. During India’s BRICS Chairmanship, a series of events are being organised with special focus on youth.

What Justice Dhingra took from BJP to fix Robert Vadra, Hooda: Village road!

Just hours before the submission of the Justice SN Dhingra Commission report to the Haryana government, former chief minister BS Hooda and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra have launched an ugly political attack on the state government.

Robert Vadra. PTIRobert Vadra. PTI

Robert Vadra. PTI

The Congress’ three-pronged attack includes playing political victim, alleging the constitution of the Commission to be illegal (on grounds that it was done without Cabinet approval), while additionally going so far as to accuse Justice Dhingra himself of seeking and becoming a beneficiary of the states’ largesse.

On Friday, 1 July, 2016, the Dhingra Commission will be submitting its findings on Hooda’s role in the illegal grants of licences to hundreds of private companies, including the Robert Vadra case, involving Vadra’s company Skylight Hospitality and real estate major, DLF.

Charge 1 – Dhingra Commission illegal

The Dhingra Commission was constituted on 14 May, 2015 under Section 3 of The Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952.

Over a year later, on Wednesday, 29 June, 2016, the eve of the submission of its report, Hooda suddenly woke up to write a letter to Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, accusing the constitution of the Committee itself to be illegal, on grounds that cabinet approval had not been obtained for it.

He further alleged that the terms of reference were changed midway to target him and other Congress ministers and officers who served under him between 2004-14.

Unfortunately for Hooda, its too easy to call his bluff.

According to state government sources, the Terms of Reference of the Dhingra Committee were issued on 29 May, 2015 and approved by the Cabinet on 1 June, 2015. The notification was later amended on 14 August, 2015 to extend the scope of the commission to four villages including Shikohpur, Sihi, Kherki Daula and Sikanderpur Badha which brought sector 78 to 86 of Gurgaon under its ambit. 

Detailed justification for this has also been provided. Since not a single licence application for this sector mentions the sector, but names these four villages, the Commission felt the notification, too, needs to be amended to include these villages as the areas of the licences to be considered. It was also “modified in respect of nature of licence as even in residential licences, commercial licences were granted. Therefore the notification should be in respect of licences granted in above four villages whether residential, commercial or composite”.

This amended notification, too, was cleared by the Cabinet – on the very same day, but only after getting the changes first approved by the Advocate General, Haryana and vetted by the Legal Remembrance department.

Given the expansion of the brief, the Haryana government on 7 December, 2015 further extended the term of Dhingra Commission for six months till 30 June, 2016.

The Commissions of Enquiry Act 1952, shows that the government is perfectly within its right to do all of this, especially given the seriousness of the charges against Hooda and Vadra and its desire to introduce “remedial measures for systemic improvement, with a view to preventing loss of revenue to the public exchequer and undue private enrichment in future”.

Here’s the Commissions of Enquiry Act 1952: “Section 3. Appointment of Commission. (1) The appropriate government may, if it is of opinion that it is necessary so to do, …. appoint a Commission of Inquiry for the purpose of making an inquiry into any definite matter of public importance and performing such functions and within such time as may be specified in the notification, and the Commission so appointed shall make the inquiry and perform the functions accordingly”.

As a chief minister of 10 years, Hooda would know well that none of this is illegal. On the other hand, it is an essential and appropriate exercise towards eventually “taking corrective action” and meeting “the ends of justice”.

Charge 2 – Vadra victim of political vendetta

On Friday, 30 June, 2016, Robert Vadra, chose to play up the victim card, his only defence since he first came into the public eye for his questionable business/land dealings, by posting on Facebook:

Almost a decade of governments false and baseless accusations on me ! They cannot prove anything without proof, and there is nothing there to prove… I will always be used for political gains, I know … But I will walk with my head held high, as in time and with the truth which will conquer incorrect perceptions, that are created about me.

Vadra would have been better advised to wait for the release of the release of the Dhingra Commission report before deciding it had no proof. Everyone knows that government records do not lie and most of the records in Vadra’s particular case are already in the public domain.

Charge 3 – Justice Dhingra is compromised

The third strategy, to muddy the waters by sullying the reputation of Justice Dhingra himself, has been the most vicious.

Hooda has alleged out-of-turn favours/benevolence extended by the Haryana government towards a Gurgaon-based charitable trust headed by retired Justice Dhingra after he was appointed head of the Commission.

Documents available with Firstpost confirm that Justice Dhingra did indeed make a request to the deputy Commissioner, Gurgaon, to construct a paver-blocks road in place of a kachcha road leading to a school for the underprivileged children. The school is run by a trust headed by Justice Dhingra. But it doesn’t show any illegality or impropriety in the grant of this permission. While Rs 95,40,000 was sanctioned for the construction of the road, Rs 47,70,000 has been sanctioned so far.

It is the government’s mandate to build roads and launch welfare schemes and developmental projects and no rules were bent in this case. Further, Justice Dhingra is not the beneficiary of the money released by the state government to build the road.

The Congress spin-machine, it seems, will drag even a school for the underprivileged into the debate, if it helps to undermine the judge and the commission, if it helps Robert Vadra’s case. Brace for more of this in the days to come when the contents of the report become public.

7th Pay Commission: How salary disparity explains brain drain from govt

At the press conference held to give the details about the Seventh Pay Commission, finance minister Arun Jaitley cited an IIM-A study to drive home the point that the government staff is indeed getting higher if not same salaries at the similar experience levels.

Interestingly, the same study has proof that the government servants are paid less at the top level, which may be the reason for the brain drain to the private sector from the public sector.

The IIM-A study was done for the Seventh Pay Commission and its purpose, in the premier educational institution’s own words, was “to provide comparative analysis of salaries/emoluments in the government sector vis-à-vis central public sector undertakings/ private sector in India.” (The study, which is available online, does not take into account the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations or increments.)

ReutersReuters

Reuters

The study has been conducted on the salaries of nurses, physiotherapists, lab technicians, doctors (MBBS), doctors (MD/MS), dieticians, OT assistants, radiographers, teachers (PRT), teachers (TGT), teachers (PGT), principals (HS), scientists, technical staff (railways), account officers, graduate engineers, software developers, network engineers, system analysts, programmers, data entry operators, foremen, draftsmen, electricians, plumbers, welders, drivers, store-keepers, cashiers, clerks, library staff, secretarial staff, publicity staff, photographers and cameramen, receptionists, gardeners, and general helpers.

It is citing this study that the finance minister asserted at the press conference that a government helper gets Rs 22,579 monthly, which is more than 2 times the wage of the private sector counterpart.

This is indeed true. Take a look at the table below:

Govt vs private salaryGovt vs private salary

It shows wide variation in the salary levels of the private sector and public sector staff. Out of the 20 categories mentioned in the table, only in three cases government salaries are lower.

For as many as 17 categories the government salary is higher than the private sector counter part. The widest variation can be seen in the case of data entry operators, in whose case the government salary goes up to Rs 86,482.

In the private sector, the top salary for a data entry operator is just Rs 21,000. So also is the case of general helper. Here the government salary goes up to Rs 73,739 as against the private sector salary of Rs 28,000. Precisely, this is what the finance minister was mentioning at the press conference.

But then there is a catch: the sample jobs taken for the study doesn’t include many top level categories, where the private sector salaries are much higher than the government salaries. Neither does it mention why it didn’t take these categories.

“Initially, we identified a comprehensive list of sample job roles which are relevant for our study through a consultative method. Final job roles were identified in consultation with the Seventh Central Pay Commission,” the study says in the executive summary. This doesn’t exactly explain why the top level pays were kept out of the study’s purview. And it is here where the skew is huge in favour of the private sector.

For instance, take the banking sector. In the last financial year, the chairman of State Bank of India drew a salary of Rs 31 lakh per annum, while Chanda Kochchar, managing director and CEO of its private rival ICICI Bank, drew a salary of Rs 4.8 crore per annum. SBI’s total assets as of March 2016 stood at Rs 20,48,080 crore as against ICICI Bank’s Rs 7,20,695 crore. However, the top paid executive in the Indian banking sector was Aditya Puri, managing director of HDFC Bank (total assets Rs 7,08,846 crore), who received Rs 9.73 crore per annum.

The numbers given above clearly say why the top government bureaucrats are not really happy about the Seventh Pay Commission implementation (read here).

In its concluding remarks, the IIM-A study says: In most of the roles studied here, salaries across Government and CPSUs are in similar range. In many of the roles studied here, government is paying higher salaries compared to the private sector, particularly in initial years, for jobs at the lower levels of skill requirement and hierarchy. Salary in government is relatively lower compared to the private sector, particularly in later years, for some highly skilled jobs.

This is one area the government needs to address urgently. And it is not about equal pay, but equitable pay.

(With Rajesh Pandathil)

Nine killed in medical store fire in Mumbai

Photos: 1 of 6

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BRICS must work for UNSC reforms, terrorism elimination, says Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday called on BRICS nations to work together for UN Security Council reforms and be united in the fight against terrorism.

Sushma Swaraj. AFPSushma Swaraj. AFP

Sushma Swaraj. AFP

“Today, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) is shaping the global discourse significantly on issues ranging from SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), climate change, poverty alleviation, health, ICTs, corruption, and norms of international law,” Sushma Swaraj said here in a meeting of BRICS youth representatives.

“We also need to work together for early reforms of the UN Security Council, so that this body continues to be relevant to the needs of the 21st century,” she stated.

With India assuming the chairmanship of the five-nation grouping this year, the three-day second BRICS Youth Summit is to be held in Guwahati, Assam, from 1 July.

Sushma Swaraj also called upon the BRICS nations “to work and fight together to eliminate international terrorism”.

“This should be done without any differentiation of a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ terrorist. A terrorist is a terrorist, and is someone who is acting against humanity as a whole,” she said, adding that those countries which sponsor and harbour terrorists should be made to pay a price.

Sushma Swaraj said that BRICS should be driven by people-to-people contact and the youth should take a lead in this.

“BRICS should explore developing innovative mechanisms of youth engagement,” she said.

She suggested to the participants of the Guwahati summit to deliberate on issues like skills development, social inclusion, youth volunteerism and participation in governance.

“These all are themes which are of great contemporary relevance, especially for BRICS countries,” the External Affairs Minister said.

“Your deliberations will provide valuable inputs to the leaders of our countries in the BRICS Leadership Summit.”

Stating that all five BRICS countries have rich resources in terms of youth, she said that BRICS countries’ youthful and democratic profiles, combined with their economic vibrancy “could be an asset in consolidating exchanges between our people”.

According to Sushma Swaraj, building responsive, inclusive and collective solutions was the core theme for India’s BRICS chairmanship.

“We are especially focused on institution-building, implementing past commitments, and exploring innovative solutions in a spirit of continuity with consolidation,” she said.

Sushma Swaraj mentioned that during India’s BRICS chairmanship, a series of events are being organised with special focus on youth.

“These include the BRICS Under-17 Football Tournament, Young Diplomats’ Forum, Young Scientists’ Conclave, Film Festival, Urbanisation Forum, Smart Cities Workshop, Local Bodies Conference, Wellness Conclave and Convention on Tourism,” she said.

26/11 attack trial: Pak foreign secretary writes to Jaishankar for additional evidence

Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday said it has asked India to provide “additional evidence” for the early
completion of the Mumbai attack trial in which LeT operations commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi and six others are accused.

“Our foreign secretary has written to India’s foreign secretary to provide additional evidence so that Mumbai case trial is competed. The response from the Indian side is still awaited,” Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said at a press briefing.

A file photo of the 26/11 attack. Reuters

A file photo of the 26/11 attack. Reuters

Zakaria, however, did not elaborate when exactly the letter was written.

Pakistan arrested seven Lashkar-e-Taiba-linked militants, including Lakhvi, for their role in the 2008 Mumbai attack in which 166 people were killed.

Mumbai attack mastermind Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum are accused of abetment to murder, attempted murder, planning and executing the Mumbai attack.

Lakhvi is living at an undisclosed location after he got released from jail on bail a year ago. The other six suspects are in Adiala Jail Rawalpindi. The case has been going on in the country for more than six years.

India has been urging Pakistan to complete the trial at the earliest. It has said that enough evidence has been shared with Islamabad to prosecute the accused.

However, Pakistani officials say India has not provided enough evidence needed to successfully complete the trial.

Meanwhile, Zakaria also said that the dialogue was the only option to resolve all outstanding issues with India.

“It has been said many times earlier that peace talks is the only way forward for relations between Pakistan and India,” he said.

Asked about threats against Pakistani artists in India by extremists, he said there are many other people in India who welcome and support artists and promote people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

“Both India and Pakistan agree that atmospherics should be improved and people-to-people contacts always help,” Zakaria said.

He said religious tourism is part of such efforts and Pakistan has been encouraging it.

Zakaria also said that influential US Senator John McCain would shortly visit Pakistan and hold important talks on various issues.

India ‘kidnapped’ boy returns from Bangladesh

An Indian boy, who was recently found in Bangladesh six years after going missing in Delhi, is reunited with his family.

Manohar Parrikar launches India’s first integrated defence communication network

New Delhi: India’s first integrated defence communication network was on Thursday launched enabling the army, air force, navy and the Special Forces Command to share situational awareness for a faster decision-making process.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The Defence Communication Network (DCN), a strategic, highly secure and scalable system, has a pan-India reach — from Ladakh to the North East to island territories.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who inaugurated the network at South Block, emphasised on the need to keep the network completely secure all the time.

He said a false sense of security and safety should not creep in and the Standard Operating Procedures should be followed.

Parrikar said this network is a step towards jointmanship that the government is pushing for in the armed forces.

While all the three forces have their own command, communication and intelligence networks, this is the first time when there will be a dedicated network for greater synergy.

“Technology decides how the wars are fought these days. The network has a pan-India reach and is a testimony to the fact that Indian Army and the Corps of Signals are well placed to meet any challenges and responsibilities which come their way,” Lt Gen Nitin Kohli, Signal Officer in Chief, said.

Built by HCL under a nearly Rs 600 crore project, DCN offers high quality voice, video and data services covering 111 entities spread across the country.

It is capable of working on terrestrial as well as satellite mode of communication and has also been fixed
onboard different military vehicles.

Air India aircraft suffers tyre bursts while landing in Srinagar, passengers safe

Srinagar: Troopers of central para-military forces aboard an Air India chartered flight on Thursday had a providential escape as two tyres of the aircraft burst during landing at the international airport in Srinagar, a police officer said.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The incident occurred around 2 pm. There was no immediate information on the number of troopers or crew aboard the aircraft.

“The aircraft was chartered by the central paramilitary forces on the Jammu-Srinagar sector. All troopers aboard have since been moved out safely from the aircraft,” the police officer told IANS.

“The runway is being cleared by towing away the aircraft stranded there,” the official said.

DU cut-offs are ‘high maintenance’: Twitter reacts

Yet another year, yet another cut-off — that always remains high. That’s the story of the Delhi University cut-off list, which is out of reach for thousands of students.

Ramjas College of Delhi University has declared the highest academic cut-off at 99.25 percent for BCom (Honours), leaving behind Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), which has remained India’s top commerce college for last many years.

Forget dreams that are slowly slipping away, the people on Twitter are more concerned (naturally) about making jokes on dreams, schemes and relevant memes. Our pick of the finest… jokes, not marks.

PIO meeting seeks voting rights and Rajya Sabha Seats for NRIs

An international convention of people of Indian-origin in the US has demanded voting rights for Indian citizens living outside India and Rajya Sabha seats for NRIs. “The Election Commission of India should finalise the procedure for electronic voting before the next general election in India takes place,” the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) said in a resolution passed during its annual convention in New York over the weekend.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There are 10 million NRIs who are citizens of India, have no representation in the decision making process of the country of their citizenship, it said. “We urge the Government of India to nominate a few prominent NRIs as members of the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of Parliament) so as to reinforce and further integrate the bonds between India and the overseas Indian community,” GOPIO said. Over 200 delegates from 20 countries participated in the annual GOPIO convention Noting that many NRIs want to support their alma maters; set up schools and colleges in their villages and towns, and support social and environmental causes, GOPIO said however, they face major hurdles. “The clearance process through the Home Ministry is very time consuming and needs to be streamlined and made more efficient,” it said. “We want the government to enact legislation to designate Fast Track Courts for NRIs/PIOs for the speedy settlement of their property, business, inheritance and other legal issues in India,” it said. “We call upon the Government of India to enact another legislation to provide Title Insurance to ensure that their ownership in real estate is protected against forged signatures on the deed and for any such fraudulent transfer of their properties,” GOPIO said. In its resolution, GOPIO asked the Indian government to implement uniform entrance fee throughout India including monuments under the jurisdiction of the states. Many NRIs/PIOs are moving back to India to be closer to their families, GOPIO said. Once they settle back in India, their social security benefits (which are generally tax free in the developed countries (income comes below the tax bracket) are taxed according to the Indian tax rules. “We strongly feel that those who are getting their social security benefits from outside India should receive tax parity similar to Indian retirees and request the Finance Ministry to change the rules. Of course, such person’s Indian income must be taxed as per the rules,” it said.

India, Pakistan must decide pace, scope of dialogue on Kashmir: US

Asserting that India and Pakistan must engage in “direct dialogue” to reduce tensions, the US has said it is for the two countries to determine the pace, scope and character of talks on the Kashmir issue.”The normalisation of relations between Pakistan and India is vital to both countries and the region,” State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said.”Steps that initiate closer regional economic ties can also create jobs, lower inflation and increase energy supply,” he said yesterday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The spokesperson made the remarks while responding to questions on the statement by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz that India is shying away from talks on Kashmir and other bilateral issues.”We believe that the pace, scope, and character of dialogue on Kashmir is for India and Pakistan to determine,” Toner said.”However, India and Pakistan stand to benefit from practical cooperation and we encourage India and Pakistan to engage in direct dialogue aimed at reducing tensions,” he said.”The United States strongly supports all efforts between India and Pakistan that can contribute to a more stable, democratic, and prosperous region, but this is an issue that must be determined by the two sides,” Toner said.

BJP Jharkhand chief’s son accused of sexually exploitating a woman and marrying a minor

Ranchi: Jharkhand BJP President Tala Marandi’s son Munna Marandi has been accused of sexually exploiting a girl for over two years and marrying another girl, a minor, this week.

A girl has filed a complaint at a court in Godda district that Munna exploited her sexually for two years while promising to marry her, and then went back on his word.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

She said Munna befriended her, gifted her a mobile phone so that they could remain in touch, used her sexually, and then agreed to marry someone else.

She said she filed the complaint after she learnt about Munna’s planned marriage.

Munna’s marriage was reportedly solemnised on Tuesday- allegedly with a girl who is only 11 years old. The minimum legal age for a girl to marry is 18.

The girl alleging sexual exploitation also approached the Jharkhand Women Commission on Wednesday. The commission’s Chairperson Mahua Manjhi assured her that her complaint will be acted upon.

Sources in the commission said that a notice could also be served on Tala Marandi for allegedly getting his son to marry a minor girl.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das cancelled his scheduled appearance at the wedding reception in Godda on Wednesday despite the fact that he was in the district on that day.

Das did that to avoid controversy, sources in the Chief Minister Office said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules the state, has so far been silent on the issue.

The opposition parties have demanded an enquiry into the entire episode.

“The BJP should sack the state president and fair probe should be instituted to investigate the allegations of sexual exploitation and marriage with a minor girl,” Alok Dubey, General Secretary of Jharkhand unit of the Congress, told IANS.

A Santhal tribal leader, Tala Marandi was appointed the president of the Jharkhand unit of the BJP last month.

He represents Borio Assembly constituency in Sahibganj district.

Sheena Bora case: HC tells CBI court to give Shyamvar Rai’s confessional statement to all co-accused

The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court to give the confessional statement recorded before a magistrate by accused-turned-approver Shyamvar Rai, to all co-accused in the case.Justice Sadhana Jadhav while directing the CBI court said, “It is a statutory duty of the prosecution to provide all the evidence which it is relying on to the accused, help them defend.” The court gave this direction while allowing a petition filed by accused Sanjeev Khanna who had sought for the confessional statement.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The court while setting aside the order of the CBI court rejecting Khanna’s application noted, “Prosecution is in a case and people are not prosecuted. The sessions court while rejecting the plea noted that prosecution is not relying on the confessional statement at the present moment. This contention was incorrect as the trial is yet to commence.”CBI advocate Poornima Kantharia said that the investigation is still in progress, so the statement would be released as soon as the investigation is complete. Sanjeev Khanna’s advocate Hrishikesh Mundargi at the same time argued that the prosecution cannot hold back the statements and it’s their right under Section 207 of the Evidence Act to get the statement.On April 24, 2012, Indrani Mukerjea allegedly strangulated and murdered her daughter Sheena Bora along with driver Shyamwar Rai and her ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna. They were arrested in August last year while Peter Mukerjea, Indrani’s husband was arrested in November, 2015 on charges of murder, abduction and destruction of evidence. Rai was made an approver in the case on June 20, 2016 and has been granted pardon on certain terms and conditions.

India, Pakistan must determine pace, scope and character of talks on Kashmir: US

Washington: Asserting that India and Pakistan must engage in “direct dialogue” to reduce tensions, the US has said it is for the two countries to determine the pace, scope and character of talks on the Kashmir issue.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“The normalisation of relations between Pakistan and India is vital to both countries and the region,” State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said.

“Steps that initiate closer regional economic ties can also create jobs, lower inflation and increase energy supply,” he said yesterday.

The spokesperson made the remarks while responding to questions on the statement by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz that India is shying away from talks on Kashmir and other bilateral issues.

“We believe that the pace, scope, and character of dialogue on Kashmir is for India and Pakistan to determine,” Toner said.

“However, India and Pakistan stand to benefit from practical cooperation and we encourage India and Pakistan to engage in direct dialogue aimed at reducing tensions,” he said.

“The United States strongly supports all efforts between India and Pakistan that can contribute to a more stable, democratic, and prosperous region, but this is an issue that must be determined by the two sides,” Toner said.

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