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Month: November 2016

Football plane in Colombia crash was running out of fuel – recording | Reuters

By Julia Symmes Cobb and Brad Haynes
| LA UNION, Colombia/CHAPECO, Brazil

LA UNION, Colombia/CHAPECO, Brazil The plane that crashed in Colombia virtually wiping out an entire Brazilian football team was running out of fuel, had no electrical power, and was preparing for an emergency landing, according to the pilot’s final words.The disaster on Monday night killed 71 people and sent shock waves round the global football world. Only six on board the LAMIA Bolivia charter flight survived, including three of the Chapecoense football squad en route to the biggest game in their history: the Copa Sudamericana final.”Miss, LAMIA 933 is in total failure, total electrical failure, without fuel,” Bolivian pilot Miguel Quiroga was heard telling the control tower operator at Medellin’s airport on the crackly audio played by Colombian media.”Fuel emergency, Miss,” he added, requesting urgent permission to land. That matched the account from the co-pilot of an Avianca plane flying close by at the time. He said he overheard the LAMIA plane reporting it was out of fuel and had to land.”Mayday mayday … Help us get to the runway … Help, help,” Juan Sebastian Upegui described the LAMIA pilot as saying in an audio message also played by local media. “Then it ended … We all started to cry.”The BAe 146, made by BAE Systems Plc (BAES.L), slammed into a mountainside next to La Union town outside Medellin. Besides the three players, a journalist and two crew members survived.One survivor, Bolivian flight technician Erwin Tumiri, said he only saved himself by strict adherence to security procedure, while others panicked.”Many passengers got up from their seats and started yelling,” he told Colombia’s Radio Caracol. “I put the bag between my legs and went into the foetal position as recommended.”Bolivian flight attendant Ximena Suarez, another survivor, said the lights went out less than a minute before the plane slammed into the mountain, according to Colombian officials in Medellin. Of the players, goalkeeper Jackson Follmann was recovering from the amputation of his right leg, doctors said. Another player, defender Helio Neto, remained in intensive care with severe trauma to his skull, thorax and lungs.

Fellow defender Alan Ruschel had spinal surgery. Suarez and Tumiri were shaken and bruised but not in critical condition, medical staff said, while journalist Rafael Valmorbida was in intensive care for multiple rib fractures that partly collapsed a lung.INVESTIGATING THE CRASH
Investigators from Brazil have joined Colombian counterparts to check two black boxes from the crash site on a muddy hillside in wooded highlands near the town of La Union.Bolivia, where LAMIA is based, and the United Kingdom also sent experts to help the probe. The plane “came over my house, but there was no noise,” said Nancy Munoz, 35, who grows strawberries in the area. “The engine must have gone.” Some have questioned why Chapecoense used the charter company instead of a commercial airline and why the plane did not have enough fuel for the roughly five-hour flight.

The club’s vice president, Luiz Antonio Palaoro, said LAMIA had a track-record of transporting football teams around South America and it had used the airline previously. “We are dealing with the humanitarian aspect of the families and the victims,” Palaoro told reporters in Chapeco. “After that, we are going to have to think about restructuring the team and also in the appropriate legal measures.”Rescuers have recovered all of the bodies, which are to be sent to Brazil and Bolivia. All of the crew members were Bolivian.Forty-five of the bodies have been identified, Colombian officials said.Since there was no fire on board, bodies are being identified by fingerprints, Julio Bitelli, Brazil’s ambassador to Colombia, told Reuters.”There’s no need for family members to come,” he said. “If they want to come, that’s an individual decision that we respect, and we will give all the support needed.”

He said returning the bodies to Brazil was complicated by the number of victims, but air force planes were ready to take them from Medellin direct to Chapeco, in remote southern Brazil.Soccer-mad Brazil declared three days of mourning. It was a bitter twist to a fairy-tale story for Chapecoense. Since 2009, the team rose from Brazil’s fourth to top division and was about to play the biggest match in its history in the first leg of the regional cup final in Medellin. Global football greats from Lionel Messi to Pele sent condolences.In the small city of Chapecó in remote southern Brazil, black and green ribbons were draped on fences, balconies and restaurant tables. Schools cancelled classes, and businesses closed.”It’s a miracle,” Flavio Ruschel, the father of Alan Ruschel, told Globo News as he prepared to fly to Colombia. “I don’t think I’ll be able to speak, just hug him and cry a lot.”Black banners hung from a cathedral downtown and wrapped around a 14-meter statue of one of the town’s founding explorers.Outside the team’s Conda stadium, a group of hardcore fans put up a tent and promised to keep vigil until the bodies of their idols returned to the city.”We were there for them in victory, and we’re here for them in tragedy, rain or shine,” said fan Caua Regis. “Like family.” The club is planning an open wake at their stadium, a city official said.A homage was also planned for later on Wednesday at the stadium in Medellin of Atletico Nacional, which had been due to play Chapecoense in the regional final in the evening.The Colombian team wants the trophy to be given to Chapecoense in honour of the dead. “As far as we are concerned,” the team said, “Chapecoense will forever be the champions of the Copa Sudamericana Cup 2016.” (Writing by Helen Murphy and Andrew Cawthorne; Additional reporting by Anthony Boadle and Daniel Flynn in Brazil; Editing by Kieran Murray, Lisa Von Ahn and Lisa Shumaker)

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

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 05:01 IST

Day 10 of winter session washed out over protests on Nagrota attack, demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Parliament again failed to transact any business as the opposition parties created uproar on Wednesday demanding obituary references to the soldiers killed in terror attack in Nagrota on Tuesday as well as those who died due to harassment after demonetization. In the Lok Sabha, the demand was rejected by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan who said the operation in Nagrota was still underway and obituary reference can be made only after it is over.In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government was ready for a discussion on the terror attack along with that on demonetization issue. However, there was uproar in both the Houses, leading to repeated adjournments. The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day just minutes before 1 PM while the Rajya Sabha was adjourned at around 2.15 PM.Earlier, as soon as the Upper House met for the day, Opposition led by Congress and Trinamool Congress raised the demand for obituary reference over the killing of 25 armymen since the surgical strikes on September 29 and the “death of 82 people” due to post-demonetization hardships.Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said there should be an obituary reference for the seven army personnel including two officers killed in terrorist attack at Nagrota armybase near Jammu on Sunday as well as for the 82 people who died because of the “wrong policies of government.” As other opposition members joined in, Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien got listed papers to be laid on the table.Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (Trinamool) said he had given a notice under rule 267 for an obituary resolution to mourn the martyrdom of 25 army personnel since the surgical strikes across the LoC, and the death of 82 people standing in queues to get valid currency after the ban on 500 and 1000 rupee notes. Kurien, however, said the notice is not permitted. “It is a serious issue if the House is not ready to pay homage to brave soldiers and those who died because of the wrong policies” of the government, Azad said.Charging government with being insensitive, Mayawati (BSP) said demonetization was done without preparation and a condolence message has to be brought before the House. Jaitley said the government was ready for discussion on both the issues mentioned by the Opposition. While the discussion on demonetization should be resumed, the government is ready for a discussion on the situation along the border, he said.When Sharad Yadav (JD-U) also spoke on the currency issue, Jaitley snapped at him asking him to first discuss demonetization within his party and decide if it is against the move or for it. His remark was apparent reference to JD-U Chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar supporting demonetization. Yadav shot back, saying his party was not against demonetization but against the restrictions that have been placed on withdrawals. Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) demanded that the government should pay compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of all those who lost their lives due to hardship caused by demonetization. The Opposition members then trooped into the Well. Kurien said the government is ready for discussion on both the issues and they should decide which of the two should be discussed first. But Opposition members continued to shout slogans. With his pleas going unheeded, Kurien adjourned the proceedings till noon.When the House met again, Chairman Hamid Ansari called for Question Hour to be taken up, but the Opposition members were again on their feet raising objections. Soon the members of Congress, TMC, Left, SP, BSP and DMK stood in the aisles and started raising slogans. Later, when they raised slogans of “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan” the treasury bench members too joined them in shouting the same slogan. “There is total agreement in the House,” the Chairman commented sarcastically and wondered why the House was not being allowed to run. As the din continued, Ansari adjourned the House till 2 PM.When the House reassembled, protests continued as Opposition members kept on raising their demands. Congress leader Azad demanded a statement from the Defence Minister on the Nagrota attack. “Defence Minister should come and give the statement. When such a big incident has happened…We want to know the status,” the Leader of Opposition said.To which, Naqvi said, “The Operations are still on. We will give reply at an appropriate time.” The Chair also said that the issue can be debated later. “Where the country is one, all MPs are one. …What the Minister said is that the operation is going on. After that, information will be shared. We can have debate later,” the the Deputy Chairman said. Congress member Rajiv Shukla said, “Many of our soldiers have died. Many have died standing in queue after demonetization. We need to offer condolences to both in this House.”Pramod Tiwari (Cong) said the House has tradition of offering condolences and it should do first. “Modi government’s policies has been such that they is threat to our border security,” he said but did not elaborate. To this, Deputy Chairman said, “With regard to obituary, we will do at an appropriate time.” Amid noisy scenes, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said, “Our soldiers are fighting against enemies. We must be sensitive and united in our approach. Otherwise, it will give wrong message.” Amid din, TMC leader Derek O’Brien said, “We want the debate (on demonetization which was initiated on November 16) to continue but the Prime Minister is speaking outside Parliament and painting all political parties in poor light. He should apologise.”CPI (M) member TK Rangarajan said, “….the government is spreading rumour that bandh was failure. The government should apologise.” Trying to convince the Opposition, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the armymen are fighting at borders and they are still on job. “We are ready for debate on this issue,” he said. But the unrelenting Opposition MPs assembled near the Chairman’s podium, raising slogans “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan.” The Chair expressed happiness over MPs shouting “at least acceptable slogans”. Naqvi said, “We welcome your slogans but come for discussion.”As slogan-shouting continued, the Chair warned the Opposition members that he would adjourn the House. As the pleas for order went unheeded and Opposition members continued raising slogans demanding resignation of the Defence Minister, Kurien adjourned the House for the day.The Lok Sabha also saw uproar over the obituary issue after Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge raised it as soon as the House met for the day. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan initially thought he was raising the issue of allowing the Opposition to bring an Adjournment Motion on demonetization.When Kharge clarified that he wanted an obituary reference in the memory of the soldiers killed, she said she had no problems in bringing the reference but the details were still pouring in as combing operations were still on. She said she was aware that seven soldiers have been killed but let the complete report come. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House as it was the day when questions for the Prime Minister’s Office are slated to be raised.But as Kharge was persistent, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said issues of national security should not be brought into controversy. Most opposition members, including those from Congress, Trinamool Congress, Left, RJD then staged a walkout. The Speaker said it was sad that the Opposition had raised the issue like this.As the House took up the first question for the day during Question Hour, the Opposition members returned and rushed to the Well demanding Adjournment Motion on demonetization issue. The Speaker then adjourned the proceedings till noon.Later, Kharge and Trinamool leader Sudip Bandopadhyay expressed regret over the development but blamed the government for its inputs to the Speaker on the matter, a contention Mahajan rejected saying the government had no role in it.Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar attacked the Opposition over the matter, saying they should not do politics over martyrdom of soldiers, drawing protests from the Opposition benches. Turning to demonetization, the Opposition said it is ready for a debate under any rule that entails voting but the government refused to budge from its stand against division of votes. This led to frequent adjournments.Leaders of several Opposition parties, including Kharge and Bandhopadhyay, expressed willingness to withdraw their demand that the debate be held under Rule 56, which deals with an Adjournment Motion, but said the government also should not insist on debate under Rule 193 which does not entail voting.BJD also sided with the Opposition and rejected the government’s contention with its leader Bhartruhari Mahtab saying the division of votes was not on black money but the hardships facing people and states following the decision. Kharge asked the Speaker to decide on any rule that involves discussion and voting. “We are ready. We are not running away from debate,” he said, drawing support from Bandopadhyay.Ananth Kumar said the people stood with the Narendra Modi government on its action against black money and a divided message should not go out of Parliament on the issue. It should not appear that Parliament is against the measures being taken against black money, he said.Taking a dig at the government, Mahtab wondered who is dividing Parliament. He said it is neither the Leader of Opposition, nor the Trinamool leader. He said the Opposition was demanding a discussion on the predicament people are facing after demonetization, with every citizen, every state going through hardships.Jaitley said if the debate is about hardships facing people, then there is no need for division of votes and the debate should start immediately. Mahajan suggested that a debate should begin in the Zero Hour and Parliament will try to find “something out of the zero” as both sides are divide on rules.However, the Opposition members trooped into the Well as it became clear that the government was not agreeable to their demand. The Speaker said it was clear that the Opposition did not want a discussion and she adjourned the House till 1245 hours. Before adjourning the House, the Speaker took up Zero Hour asking members to raise issues of national importance. However, nothing was audbile in the din.When the proceedings resumed, the Opposition again raised the demand for discussion to be held under rules which entails voting. Mahajan said she had given one chance to the Opposition and was ready to allow them to proceed with the debate. However, the dissatisfied Opposition members stormed into the Well again and amidst continued sloganeering, the House was adjourned for the day.

Nagrota attack: Police probing JeM links

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police is probing if Jasih-e-Mohammed (JeM) was responsible for Tuesday’s terror attack on an army camp in Nagrota, that left 7 officers and jawans dead, after a note written in Urdu bearing the name of JeM’s Afzal Guru Squad (AGS) recovered from three slain terrorists, a senior official said on Wednesday. “We are working on these links. We are going into all details, and investigation has started (into the links of JeM with Nagrota terror attack after recovery of notes in Urdu)”, Director General Of Police (DGP) K Rajendra Kumar told PTI tonight. “Let us first complete the probe then we will able to say anything on it,” he added. According to reports, a note, along with three AK-47 rifles, magazines and UBGL grenades, was recovered from the site of attack, points to the involvement of JeM’s Afzal Guru Squad.The note, written in Urdu with name bearing at the end of AGS of JeM, says that they have avenged the death of Guru. The recovered explosives were being disposed off by controlled explosions.JeM have named a squad after Afzal Guru to target security forces in India last year. It was first exposed in November last year, when Indian Army repulsed a major fidayeen (suicidal) attack on its Gorkha Rifles (GR) camp near the Line of Control (LoC) in Tangdhar and recovered bags with Afzal Guru Squad markings.Guru’s name also cropped up in Pathankot when Rajesh Verma, who was abducted along with Gurdaspur Superintendent of Police told reporters that the militants had told him that they wanted to avenge the death of 2001 Parliament attack convict. The DGP further said that security agencies were probing if the group came from International Border (IB) and was part of a group of three militants killed at the border in Ramgarh sector in Samba yesterday.”We have visited Ramgarh in this direction,” Kumar said. Jammu was rocked by two terror attacks yesterday in which seven army personnel, including two Major-rank officers, were killed and eight other security-men, including a BSF DIG, were injured before six heavily-armed terrorists were killed in separate encounters.

Demonetization: Shorter queues, but cash dispensing machines running dry

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Queues at most of the ATMs and banks across the city were shorter than expected on Wednesday though there were complaints that cash dispensing machines were either dry or shut and customers could not draw the maximum permissible amount.When asked about the situation, Central Bank Executive Director RC Lodha said, “We have made adequate arrangements to meet the higher demand for cash as salaries would be credited into customers account (as the month turns). In our bank there would be no shortage of cash.” However, many customers who went to banks today to withdraw money for their monthly expenses, a day ahead of the salary day, complained that they got very less cash, much below the withdrawal limit. “I managed to get only Rs 4,000 this morning against the withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000 as I was told that there was hardly any cash supply to the banks in the last few days. I will have to wait and try my luck later in the day,” said Swamy, a South Mumbai resident.Barring banks with huge customer base, the turnouts were lower as compared to the initial days of note ban. But in some places, the rush increased in the afternoon after banks were replenished with cash to meet customer demands amid fears of heightened crunch due to salary payments. Many others complained about ATMs being shut in their area for a fortnight while some others said they were being given coins during high withdrawals. “There are 4-5 ATMs of leading banks in my locality. But they have been shut since over a week, being dry on cash,” said Animesh, a resident of Andheri.However, they were a few who seemed to be unfazed by the cash chaos resulting out of the demonetization move. According to a Bhandup resident Hemang Palan, the situation on the ground has improved significantly compared to the panic in initial days leading to marginal rush and queues outside banks. “The situation was chaotic in initial days but not now. I think people have realised that this move to demonetise high denomination notes is in the larger benefit of the people and hence they are bearing with the decision,” he said.Also, public has come to terms with the fact that it may take some more days to resolve the crisis entirely as most of the ATMs are yet to be recalibrated. Nitin Sharma, a budding artist said, one has to bear some pain to get some gain in the coming months. “Me and my retired father did face difficulties in first few days, but there is no such rush or mismanagement. Bigger customer base banks, undoubtedly, are having a bit rush but they have streamlined their services and there are separate queues for senior citizens,” he said.
ALSO READ Crisis to hopefully end by Jan 2017, says demonetization committee head NaiduHowever, some people expressed their displeasure over the design and parity of new notes. A senior doctor working with a government hospital said, “I withdrew some thousands. Though there was no rush outside the bank, I was shocked to find disparity in the note designs. For a few seconds, I thought it was fake. Then I downloaded the Narendra Modi Keynote app and confirmed it by running Modi’s speech after scanning it.” He also claimed that situation of cash crisis was improving fast.

Mumbai BJP unit for contesting BMC elections alone: Kirit Somaiya

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Buoyed by BJP’s impressive show in the recently held municipal council polls in Maharashtra, a party MP on Wednesday said its Mumbai unit is for contesting forthcoming high-voltage BMC elections sans its partner of nearly two decades in the civic body, the Shiv Sena.Speaking to reporters in Parliament premise, BJP MP from Mumbai, Kirit Somaiya, said the BJP unit, however, is open to forming alliance with other small allies “if they wish to make the megapolis mafia-free”. Considered as Asia’s richest civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is expected to go to polls in February next year. “After the unprecedented victory (in the council polls), our target is (to win) BMC elections, to make Mumbai mafia-free. “It is the sentiment of Mumbai unit president Ashish Shelar, me and each of the BJP’s members that the party contests the election on its own. Our workers are prepared to contest all the 227 wards,” Somaiya said.The Parliamentarian from Mumbai North-East constituency said the BJP though is open to form alliance with other small parties in NDA “if they too want to make Mumbai mafia-free”. On asked if the Shiv Sena figured among such allies, Somaiya said Mumbaikars will not let the BJP go along with “those who looted and handed over Mumbai to mafias”, suggesting the strained ties between the two parties. He also listed alleged scams which took place in the cash-rich municipal body, dominated by the Uddhav Thackeray-led party.”Mumbaikars will not let us go along with those people. One party has looted Mumbai a lot. We will declare names of such people at appropriate time,” he said in a veiled attack. The Shiv Sena and BJP are currently enjoying power at Centre and in the state government too. The parties though share uneasy relationship ever since they parted ways in the run up to Maharashtra assembly polls held in November 2014.The BJP emerged as the major gainer in elections held for 164 municipal councils and nagar panchayats in Maharashtra, winning highest number of seats at 893 out of 3727 seats. The Shiv Sena had emerged as the largest party in the BMC during the previous polls held in 2012, winning around 75 seats in 227-capacity House. The BJP had won close to 30 seats.

National anthem: Cong supports SC direction, raises doubt over its implementation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Wednesday came out in support of the Supreme Court’s decision that National Anthem should be played before screening of a movie in a cinema hall, but raised questions on its implementation.”The 130-year-old party has seen the bigger independence movement. Therefore, we have strongly supported all aspects of genuine nationalism. We support, in principle, everything that enhances the respect and dignity of this nation. Therefore, we support this in principle,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said. He said one should not forget that Congress, as a party, has been part of the independence movement that was achieved through it.Raising concerns over implementation of the decision, Singhvi said it has to be seen very carefully. “Because in its implementation, there should not be in any manner create disrespect for any of the national icons, flag or anthem. I am sure care will be taken by the Indian as a citizen to ensure that this will happen. “I think the remembrance to the nation whether by saluting the flag or by National Anthem is a noble virtue,” he said.The Supreme Court today ordered cinema halls across the nation to mandatorily play the National Anthem before screening of a movie and the audience must stand and show respect. The apex court said that “love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National Anthem as well as to the National Flag”. “A time has come when citizens of the country must realise that they live in a nation and are duty-bound to show respect to the National Anthem which is the symbol of constitutional patriotism and inherent national quality,” a SC bench said.

Mamata flight hovers in sky, TMC claims conspiracy to kill Bengal CM for protesting against demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A private airline plane carrying West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hovered for over half an hour in the Kolkata sky before landing at the NSCBI Airport here on Wednesday night, prompting Trinamool Congress to allege that it was a conspiracy to eliminate the party supremo.”The flight took off from Patna at 7.35 PM, an hour behind schedule, and landed here at shortly before 9 PM, after hovering over 30 minutes in the sky due to technical reasons,” airport officials said, adding that such incident was nothing new in any airport. Senior Trinamool Congress leader and state Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim, who was accompanying Banerjee in the flight, however, took strong exception to “delayed permission from the ATC” for the flight to land and alleged that it was a conspiracy to eliminate the CM.Hakim claimed that even as the pilot announced 180 km away from Kolkata that the plane would land within five minutes, it ultimately touched down after over half an hour, “seriously inconveniencing the chief minister and other passengers”. “The pilot sought permission for landing from the ATC as the plane was flying short on fuel but the ATC kept the flight on hold,” he alleged. “This is nothing but a conspiracy to kill our chief minister as she has raised voice against demonetization and is touring the country to organise a mass movement against the anti-people decision,” Hakim said.When contacted, a senior ATC official said he was not aware of such incident. Mamata terms demonetization decision as ‘super Emergency’Stepping up her attack on the Centre over demonetization, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today dubbed the drive as “super Emergency” and vowed to agitate against it till a rollback of the decision.”The government has taken away the freedom from the people that they have been enjoying for the past 69 years. The government has snatched ‘Roti, Kapda aur Makan’ from the people… A people’s movement was started during the Emergency days… Today, the situation is even worse than Emergency, it can be termed as super Emergency,” the Trinamool Congress supremo said.”People are facing difficulties and inconveniences.They (NDA Government) have sold the country. It is the duty of political parties to raise their voice for the people and we will continue with our agitation till the government takes a decision to roll back the demonetization move,” she said. Mamata was addressing a gathering here in the course of her party’s nationwide campaign against demonetization. Raising the the issue of funding of PM Modi’s public meetings in foreign countries, she asked “From where do they get money to hold such mega public meetings in foreign countries like the US?”.She also raised issue of registration of land by BJP in Bihar for opening offices in districts and displaying deed numbers of land purchased by the BJP, questioned the PM’s intentions as to how could BJP buy huge chunks of land in the month of September, a few weeks before the announcement of demonetization on November 8. Without naming anyone, Banerjee said, “If someone comes with us, then it is good. But, it certainly pains us if someone is not with us in the struggle for common people. This is people’s cause. People will not forgive ‘gaddars’ (betrayers).”Mamata, who arrived in the state capital yesterday, also met RJD chief Lalu Prasad at the latter’s residence. The ruling JD(U) has already made it clear that it would not be present at Banerjee’s agitation programme in the light of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s support to demonetization. Questioning Modi’s poll promise of depositing Rs 15 lakh to every individual’s bank account from money stashed away illegally, Banerjee said, “What happened to the promise? Not a single paise came to anyone’s account nor any single paise was brought from the Swiss bank.” Lalu Prasad and his RJD have also been from time and again questioning the fate of this promise.”Entire industry sector and economy are witnessing a slowdown due to demonetization as a result of which people, mostly from Bihar who have migrated everywhere in search of jobs, are not getting their payments, especially in the jute industry and tea gardens in Bengal,” Banerjee said. Displaying two new notes of Rs 500 denomination having some dissimilar features, she alleged it smacked of a “big scam”.”The prime minister painted everyone as having black money, even those who file IT returns and pay taxes,” she said adding “The PM also disrespected the ‘stree shakti’ (women power) and ‘stree-dhan’ (women wealth).” In order to buttress her point that majority of people still rely on cash transactions in the absence of banking facilities, the TMC chief gave figures of availability of bank branches saying, of the 8,400 gram panchayats in Bihar, 5,000 panchayats do not have branches of any bank.After the programme was over and Mamata left the venue, senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh told reporters, “Nitish Kumar should not have supported the Centre’s decision of demonetization. It creates doubt among the people whether everything was fine in the grand secular alliance.” “There is no unanimity in the JD(U) itself on demonetization as Sharad Yadav, former JD(U) president, is saying something different while Nitish is supporting demonetization,” he said.Singh and party state unit chief Ramchandra Purbe, a few leaders of the Bihar unit of Samajwadi Party and Jan Adikar Party of Pappu Yadav along with TMC’s senior leader Mukul Roy were present on the dais.

ED proceedings against Karti: P Chidambaram objects in Madras HC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday alleged in the Madras High Court that the Enforcement Directorate proceedings against his son Karti under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) had been launched to cause political embarrassment to him.He made his submissions in an affidavit before Justice B Rajendran who reserved orders on a petition filed by Karti challenging the summons issued by the ED seeking his appearance in connection with its money laundering probe in the Aircel-Maxis deal of the 2G scam. The judge reserved orders after hearing elaborate arguments by senior Supreme Court counsel Gopal Subramaniam on behalf of Karti Chidambaram and Anand Grover for ED. Chidambaram in his affidavit claimed that the ED lacked jurisdiction under the PMLA to proceed against his son and contended that CBI had not found any offence under any law in respect of FIPB approval over which his son was being probed.”No scheduled offence exists, proceeds of crime do not exist and thus the respondents (ED) absolutely lack jurisdiction under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 to proceed further,” he said.He further said, “I regret to submit that the proceedings initiated against the petitioner (Karti) have been undertaken in order to cause political embarrassment to me and besmirch myreputation and that of my family members.” In the petition filed on his behalf by his power of attorney N R R Arun Natarajan, Karti sought to quash the ED’s August 19 summons contending that it was motivated by malice in law.He said he had reasons to believe that there had been determined campaign to bring discredit and harm to the reputation of his father Chidambaram. ED’s probe against Karti pertains to firms identified as Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited and Chess Global Advisory Services Pvt Ltd, where he had been a Director, and a few others for alleged violations under PMLA. The ED had told the court that further probe relating to the FIPB approval in the Aircel-Maxis deal and related issues were subject of further investigation under the anti-money laundering laws.The agency had also told the court that further probe relating to Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval in the Aircel-Maxis deal and related issues are subject of further investigation under anti-money laundering laws. Chidambaram, during whose tenure as Finance Minister in 2006 the FIPB approval was given, submitted that the approval matter was investigated by the CBI fully and the agency had submitted its status reports to the Supreme Court.He said CBI had recorded his statement in 2014 December and that of FIPB officials. “In their statements to the CBI, all the persons affirmed that the approval was granted by FIPB and recommended to the Finance Minister for his approval in accordance with the guidelines. The Finance Minister granted approval in the ordinary course of government business.”Chidambaram pointed out that the charge sheet in the Aircel-Maxis case was filed on August 28, 2014 and the statements in respect of the FIPB approval from the officials concerned were recorded thereafter in the course of further probe under CrPc. “It is thereafter that the status reports were filed in the Supreme Court. The CBI has not found or reported any offence under any law in respect of the said FIPB approval,” he submitted adding thus no offence was made out.

Crisis to hopefully end by Jan 2017, says demonetization committee head Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday said the ongoing currency crisis caused by demonetization would hopefully end by January 2017, even as he stressed on the need for all to work collectively to alleviate the problems of people.Chandrababu, who has been appointed by the Centre as the Convenor of a 13-member committee to look into all issues related to demonetization and its aftermath, told a press conference late on Wednesday night that December was a “crucial” month in the current scenario. “December is a crucial month. I hope by January this problem will ease out. By (Sankranti) festival time, things should be normal,” he said.”This is a major issue which concerns everyone. To solve this problem, we have to think collectively. Ultimately, common man is the sufferer and to end his woes, a collective effort is needed,” Chandrababu said. Asked when the committee was likely to meet, he said they would discuss and decide the date. “There are Chief Ministers, experts and NITI Aayog members in the committee. When we all sit, we will discuss what to do and work out ways to go forward,” he added.AP has already developed certain models for a transformation to a digital economy. “We are in an advanced stage, in terms of technology, mobile penetration and other things. If we can logically take this forward, there will be better results. Even a backward and illiterate country like Kenya has maximum mobile currency. We have to adopt such best practices,” the Chief Minister pointed out.Asked about the Centre’s choice in naming him as the head of the committee, Chandrababu observed, “I don’t know what they had in mind. But first, we have to come out of this situation. And, we should do good to the country.”

Supreme Court orders cinemas to play national anthem | Reuters

By Tommy Wilkes and Suchitra Mohanty
| NEW DELHI

NEW DELHI Cinemas must play the national anthem before screening a film and the audience must stand and listen, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday in a ruling echoing growing nationalist sentiment under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The court ordered that an image of India’s national flag also be displayed on screens during the anthem, and it gave cinemas 10 days to comply, saying its decision would help “instil a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism”.”People must feel this is my country and this is my motherland,” the New Delhi court said in an interim order issued in response to a petition from a local retiree.”The time has come for people to realise that the national anthem is a symbol of constitutional patriotism.”Nationalist fervour surged when Modi’s government said in September it had sent troops into territory controlled by bitter rival and neighbour Pakistan to strike at Islamist militants suspected of preparing to attack.

India’s wildly popular Bollywood film industry found itself caught up in the aftermath when a filmmakers’ body banned the hiring of Pakistani actors and some regional politicians said that those prepared to work with their neighbours were unpatriotic.Playing the national anthem in Indian cinemas was common in the 1960s, but the practise fell out of favour as fewer and fewer people paid attention. A few states had since made it compulsory for theatre halls and cinemas to broadcast the anthem, but there is no nationwide law mandating it.

Some commentators mocked the court’s ruling as idiotic. “The Supreme Court’s moral, constitutional and political idiocy in the national anthem order is truly breathtaking. More dark times ahead,” Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president of the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research think-tank said on Twitter.Thousands took to the streets early this year in India’s biggest nationwide student protests in 25 years after the arrest of a student accused of sedition, prompting accusations that Modi’s government was clamping down on freedom of expression.

To support his case in the court, petitioner Shyam Narayan Chouksey said the Prevention of Insults to National Honor Act of 1971 had been breached, Indian media reported.The court also ruled that broadcasting a shortened version of the anthem would not suffice, and it prohibited playing the anthem at “undesirable” or “disgraceful” places. (Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 23:44 IST

India’s Supreme Court orders cinemas to play national anthem | Reuters

By Tommy Wilkes and Suchitra Mohanty
| NEW DELHI

NEW DELHI Indian cinemas must play the national anthem before screening a film and the audience must stand and listen, the country’s Supreme Court said on Wednesday in a ruling echoing growing nationalist sentiment under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The court ordered that an image of India’s national flag also be displayed on screens during the anthem, and it gave cinemas 10 days to comply, saying its decision would help “instil a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism”.”People must feel this is my country and this is my motherland,” the New Delhi court said in an interim order issued in response to a petition from a local retiree.”The time has come for people to realise that the national anthem is a symbol of constitutional patriotism.”Nationalist fervour surged when Modi’s government said in September it had sent troops into territory controlled by bitter rival and neighbour Pakistan to strike at Islamist militants suspected of preparing to attack.

India’s wildly popular Bollywood film industry found itself caught up in the aftermath when a filmmakers’ body banned the hiring of Pakistani actors and some regional politicians said that those prepared to work with their neighbours were unpatriotic.Playing the national anthem in Indian cinemas was common in the 1960s, but the practise fell out of favour as fewer and fewer people paid attention. A few states had since made it compulsory for theatre halls and cinemas to broadcast the anthem, but there is no nationwide law mandating it.

Some commentators mocked the court’s ruling as idiotic. “The Supreme Court’s moral, constitutional and political idiocy in the national anthem order is truly breathtaking. More dark times ahead,” Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president of the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research think-tank said on Twitter.Thousands took to the streets early this year in India’s biggest nationwide student protests in 25 years after the arrest of a student accused of sedition, prompting accusations that Modi’s government was clamping down on freedom of expression.

To support his case in the court, petitioner Shyam Narayan Chouksey said the Prevention of Insults to National Honor Act of 1971 had been breached, Indian media reported.The court also ruled that broadcasting a shortened version of the anthem would not suffice, and it prohibited playing the anthem at “undesirable” or “disgraceful” places. (Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 23:44 IST

Aadhaar to not be a condition for citizens to obtain benefits : IT Min

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Government said on Wednesday it is strictly adhering to Supreme Court’s order that production of Aadhaar Card will not be a condition for citizens to obtain any benefit due to them. Individuals without Aadhaar number can offer alternate means of identification for availing government subsidies, benefits and services, it added. “Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act provides that if an Aadhaar number is not assigned to an individual, the individual shall be offered alternate and viable means of identification for delivery of the subsidy, benefit or service,” Minister of State for IT and Electronics PP Chaudhary informed the Lok Sabha.The Supreme Court, in its Interim Order dated August 11, 2015, had directed that the production of Aadhaar Card will not be a condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen. The apex court directed government that Aadhaar card will not be used for any purpose other than PDS scheme, kerosene and LPG subsidy, which was later extended to include schemes of MGNREGA, National Social Assistance Programme pensions (old age, widow and disability pensions), PMJDY and EPFO, through its interim order dated October 15, 2015.Chaudhary added that the Supreme Court, through its October 15 order, had also ruled that the Aadhaar scheme is purely voluntary and cannot be made mandatory till the matter is finally decided by the Court. The government had introduced the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, in Parliament on March 3, 2016, and it was passed by the Parliament on March 16, 2016. The Bill received the assent of the President on March 25, 2016 and has been published in the Official Gazette on March 26, 2016, as Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.

There is no point talking to Pak, India should adopt "tit for tat" policy: RK Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former home secretary RK Singh advocated for adopting a “tit for tat” policy against Pakistan on Wednesday and stressed that there should be no bilateral talks with the neighbouring state till it supports terrorism. His remarks comes ahead of Pakistan Prime Minister’s foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz’s visit to India to take part in the Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar this week. “His (Aziz) coming and participating in a multilateral conference, I don’t think that it is a problem. But bilateral talks no. There is no point in talking to them (Pakistan).Whenever we have started a dialogue with them, we only had terror attacks,” the BJP MP from Ara in Bihar said. He said that it should be made clear to the neighbouring state that the present Indian government has a new policy of “hitting back”. Asked whether Pakistan should be declared a terror state, he said that such a declaration from India will not lead to anything but if it is done at the international forum, then sanctions will be imposed and Pakistan will “feel the pain”.”If we (India) alone declares it as terror state, nothing will happen. If it is declared at the international forum, then sanctions will be imposed on it. Then it (Pakistan) will feel the pain. And if Pakistan does not change its policies, then that time will also come. “It is not only our problem, but it is world’s problem.” “This attack is a message that no matter who the chief (Pakistan army) is, our (Pakistan’s) policy remains the same.We need to tell them that our policy does not remain the same. During the previous governments, the policy was different. This government has a policy of hitting back,” he said.Referring to the recent terror attack on the army camp in Nagrota, he said the targeting is done by Pakistani army and ISI who not only train and arm these jihadis, but also send them across the border and give covering fire (while crossing border). “One should not take it as a Jihadi attack. This attack is by Pakistani Army and ISI. They just use jihadis. And the answer to this is only one. If someone hits you, you hit back. “This we have started through surgical strike. And it is not that we have done it once and we will not do again. It should be made clear to Pakistan that ‘tit for tat’ is our new policy,” he said.

Punjab jailbreak: How culprits got police uniforms one day before

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police uniforms in which the armed men stormed the Nabha jail were arranged a day before the sensational jailbreak, police said on Wednesday.During the interrogation of Palwinder Singh Pinda, who was brought to Patiala from Uttar Pradesh, it was revealed that all the accused involved in the jailbreak incident at Nabha had assembled fire arms, and police uniforms were arranged a day before the incident in the house of one Gurpreet Singh, resident of Moga, police said on Wednesday. “It was here that they finalised and rehearsed the execution of plan to free prisoners from Nabha jail,” said a police official.Acting on the input, parties were dispatched to Moga district under the supervision of SP (Investigation Patiala and Mohali). As a result of which the accused Gurpreet was arrested from the area of Patran police station when he was trying to escape to Uttar Pradesh, police said. During the search of his vehicle, a 9 mm pistol along with ammunition, an another weapon .380 with ammunition and a car were seized, they said.The car, which was in his possession, was snatched at gun point from Mohali a few months back, police said. They said the arrest of Gurpreet was significant as he was providing logistics, funds and a safe house for these gangsters for quite sometime. Further investigation is on, police said.Gurpreet was arrested for allegedly harbouring gangsters, a night before they attacked the high-security jail. Pinda, who facilitated the escape of six prisoners, including two terrorists, from Nabha jail was sent to police custody for 11 days by a local court here. He was brought from Uttar Pradesh on transit remand and produced before the Nabha court last night.Meanwhile, the three accused – assistant jail superintendent Bhim Singh, head warden Jagmeet Singh and a sweet shop owner Tejinder Sharma, who were arrested on Tuesday, on the charges of abetment and criminal conspiracy – were remanded in police custody till December 9 by the local court.In a sensation jailbreak, a group of armed men stormed the Nabha jail in police uniforms and managed to free six prisoners – Harminder Singh Mintoo, Kashmir Singh and gangsters Amandeep Dhothian, Vicky Gounder, Gurpreet Sekhon and Neeta Deol – from the high security jail at Nabha in Patiala district on Sunday.

In India’s ‘Dollar City’, exploited garment workers are silent – filmmaker | Reuters

By Anuradha Nagaraj

CHENNAI, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A fish tank with expensive Arowana fish is prominently displayed in many factories making hosiery in the Indian textile hub of Tirupur – the owners believe it will bring them wealth. But any prosperity is limited to factory owners. Few profits trickle down to the tens of thousands of workers they employ, says filmmaker P.R. Amudhan, who has made a documentary that chronicles the plight of those at the bottom of a global supply chain.The name of his film, “Dollar City”, refers to Tirupur city, which is home to an expanding garment industry, one of the pillars of India’s economy – and the foreign exchange it generates through exports.”It is the owners who are receiving, enjoying and consuming the dollars that come into this city, which produces garments for brands across the world,” Amudhan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.”The worker earns very little in the city that is often referred to as dollar city. And today, there is complicit silence on the issue, even the super exploited worker is not complaining.”The film has been screened 50 times across India since its release on May 1, to audiences that include manufacturers, workers and policymakers – sparking a debate on what some unions fear is the acceptance of exploitative conditions in the sector.”The documentary has revealed the enormous power wielded by the garment industry, the abominable conditions in which factory workers live and work in Tirupur,” Sujatha Mody, president of Garment and Fashion Workers Union, wrote in a blog after watching a screening with workers in Chennai.

Other viewers were shocked by the urban squalor and poverty in Tirupur.India is one of the world’s largest textile and garment manufacturers serving the international and increasingly, domestic market. Many of the workers employed in the $40-billion-a-year industry are trapped in debt bondage, face abuse or are forced to work long hours in poor conditions, campaigners say.

Traditionally, the dyeing units, spinning mills and apparel factories have drawn on cheap labour from villages across the state of Tamil Nadu to cater to the demand from Western high street shops.”Tirupur is a massive attraction for young workers because the city promises a better future,” said Amudhan.”But if they want to be part of it, they have to follow the script. There is no room for questions or protest, not even when the better future does not materialise.” The documentary, which also explores the government’s complacency in implementing labour laws, featured uncomplaining, muted voices of workers from Tirupur.

“None of the garment workers interviewed in the film spoke of their difficulties,” Mody said. But at screenings in Chennai, New Delhi and Hyderabad, this silence was questioned.”I view it as a collective crime, where everyone is equally responsible, even the worker,” Amudhan said.”It has the workers’ consent, the unions are lethargic, the government is complacent and aspirational manufacturers are busy chasing profits.” (Reporting by Anuradha Nagaraj, Editing by Katie Nguyen.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)

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

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 23:16 IST

SYL row: SC re-appoints receivers, seeks status report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Wednesday again appointed receivers in the ongoing Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal dispute between Punjab and Haryana and sought a report from them by December 15 on the present status of land and other properties on the canal site.A bench comprising justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy, however, made clear that Union Home Secretary, Chief Secretary of Punjab and the Director General of Punjab Police, who have been made receivers, will not be taking over of the possession of the land, meant for the SYL canal project. The three officers were earlier appointed receivers on March 17 on the plea of Haryana and they were given power to take possession of the project land and were also asked to maintain status quo on the site.Later, a five-judge Constitution bench, on November 10, set aside the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act, 2004 which “unilaterally” terminated the 1981 water-sharing pact with Haryana. The bench, however, had not asked the receivers to continue with their job. Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for Haryana, today said that recently, Punjab government had decided to denotify the land acquired for the SYL canal project with immediate effect and return them to the owners free of charge.The bench, for the time being, did not agree with the submission of Divan that the receivers, like earlier, should take over possession of the land in question as the attempts have been made by Punjab to ensure that the verdicts of this court is not enforced. “The decision to denotify 5,376 acres of acquired land for the project and give them back to 4,980 farmers or their descendants would further complicate the issue,” Divan said while urging the bench to pass an order to maintain status quo on the SYL canal site.The bench issued notice to Punjab on the plea of Haryana seeking enforcement of apex the court verdicts and appointment of the receivers to ensure that the project land in Punjab remains intact. Haryana rushed to the court after Punjab decided to denotify project land and give them back to farmers. A battery of senior lawyers led by Ram Jethmalani and Harish Salve represented Punjab and termed the dispute as “very sensitive” which can be resolved through “government-to- government” initiatives.”Kindly issue notice to us. This is a very sensitive issue. No counsel should strictly go by the instructions of their clients. We all have to find a solution,” Jethmalani said, adding a group of experts can be asked to go into the issue and “the court should not decide the matter strictly on legal considerations”. Salve, also representing Punjab, said there should not be any order to restore the position as it would amount to quashing of decisions taken by the state government with regard to de-notification of land and their return to farmers.”There is assembly resolution…the land cannot disappear. The land will remain as they are,” he said, adding that Punjab is also facing acute water problem and moreover, the ground water is also depleting. Earlier, the apex court had agreed to hear the plea of Haryana alleging that Punjab was violating its earlier interim order that the status quo on land meant for Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal be maintained. The five-judge constitution bench has recently held that Punjab cannot “unilaterally” terminate the agreement or legislate to “nullify” the verdict of the highest court.The controversial 1981 water-sharing agreement came into being after Haryana was carved out of Punjab in 1966. For effective allocation of water, SYL canal link was conceptualised and both the states were required to construct its portions in their territory. Haryana constructed the portion of SYL canal in its territory. However, Punjab after initial work, stopped the work leading to spate of litigations.In 2004, the Congress government of the state came out with the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act with an intention to terminate the 1981 agreement and all other pacts relating to sharing of waters of rivers Ravi and Beas. The apex court had first decreed the suit of Haryana in 2002 asking Punjab to honour its commitments with regard to water sharing in the case.Punjab challenged the verdict by filing an original suit which was rejected in 2004 by the Supreme Court which asked the Centre to take over the remaining infrastructural work of the SYL canal project.

India to raise awareness on adoption after ‘heinous’ baby smuggling racket uncovered | Reuters

By Nita Bhalla

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – India plans to launch a public awareness drive on adoption procedures to curb the buying and selling of children after the police found stolen babies and infant skeletons during raids on charities, clinics and homes for the mentally ill and elderly.Thirteen babies have been rescued, and the remains of two other infants uncovered, in a series of raids in West Bengal over the last 10 days, as police investigate a suspected international human trafficking racket.Eighteen people, including doctors, midwives, owners of charities and clinics in North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas districts have been arrested, suspected of stealing babies from women who delivered at clinics, but told they were stillborn. The babies were then smuggled by road in cardboard biscuit boxes and kept in homes for the elderly and disabled until they sold for adoption within India and overseas, say police.

Ministry of Women and Child Development said on Wednesday the discovery had prompted Maneka Gandhi to take action to stem the crime of baby smuggling.”We are convening meetings to sensitise (the) public about adoption procedure as laid down by law to avoid such heinous incidents,” said the statement posted on the ministry’s Facebook page and on its Twitter account. The social media post also included photographs of the some of rescued babies, all under 10 months old, lying in the intensive care unit of a local hospital, where they are being treated for malnutrition, skin and respiratory infections.

Reports of human trafficking in India increased by 25 percent in 2015 compared to the previous year, with more than 40 percent of cases involving children being bought, sold and exploited as modern day slaves, government crime data showed.There were 6,877 cases related to human trafficking last year against 5,466 in 2014, with the highest number of cases reported in the northeast state of Assam, followed by West Bengal, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

Thousands of children are lured to big cities each year by traffickers who promise good jobs but sell them into domestic or sex work or to industries such as textile workshops.Often they are unpaid or held in debt bondage in sectors such as construction and agriculture. Children are also abducted for slavery or for sale for adoption using fake documentation. (Reporting by Nita Bhalla. Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

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

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 23:09 IST

Pakistan-backed terror to be focus of Heart of Asia conference, say India, Afghanistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the wake of the brazen Nagrota attack, India and Afghanistan would seek to isolate Pakistan on terror at the two-day Heart of Asia conference beginning Saturday in Amritsar as the two countries on Wednesday pitched for a regional counter-terror framework to effectively deal with the menace.Identifying terror emanating from Pakistan as the “greatest threat” to regional peace and stability, India and Afghanistan said the Heart of Asia — Istanbul Process, a platform to assist the war-ravaged country in restoration efforts, provides an opportunity to face the challenge “head on”.Afghanistan has been pushing for finalising an effective counter-terror framework to deal with terror at the conference which will be attended by representatives from over 30 countries including China, the US, Russia, Pakistan and Iran.Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz will represent Islamabad at the conference amid heightened tension between the two countries in the wake of the Nagrota army camp attack in which seven officers and jawans were killed. Asked during a briefing on Pakistan’s willingness for a bilateral meeting with India on the sidelines of the conference, Joint Secretary in the MEA Gopal Baglay said,”We have not received any request for a bilateral meeting.” There was indication that possibility of an Indo-Pak bilateral meeting was remote.Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will jointly inaugurate the ministerial deliberations on Sunday where the Indian delegation will be led by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the absence of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is ill. “Terrorism is the biggest challenge which has beset the whole region. It (terror) is responsible for the situation in Afghanistan. It is a major threat to regional peace and stability. We have to discuss this question and we have to face it very squarely. I think the HoA Ministerial conference provides us with the opportunity required to face the challenge head on,” Baglay said, addressing a joint press conference with Afghan ambassador to New Delhi Shaida M Abdali.On his part, the Afghan envoy said there was a need to take collective measures to fight terrorism and uproot the “breeding ground” of the menace and its “safe sanctuaries”, in obvious reference to Pakistan. “Terrorism is the greatest threat to the region and we expect the HoA to approve the regional counter terrorism framework that has been drafted by Afghanistan and circulated to HoA countries. We hope the conference will adopt it,” he said, strongly condemning the Nagrota attack.Abdali said Afghanistan was pushing for “binding” clauses in the counter-terror framework to effectively contain terror infrastructure. Afghanistan has been facing terror strikes by militant groups based in Pakistan. Asked what role HoA can play in containing terror, Baglay said specifics on what should be done and how to deal with those who “support and glorify” terrorists will be discussed. “Threat of terrorism is the biggest challenge to peace and stability to the region. There is support to it in our region and where the problem lies we all know. It needs to be sqaurely addressed,” he said. A declaration will be issued at the conclusion of the conference and is expected to focus on ways to deal with terror. Asked how India was looking at the challenge and what steps it will push for to tackle terror in the wake of the Nagrota attack, Baglay said these are matters of detail and under discussion at inter-governmental level. India is also likely to ask countries in the region to show strong resolve to tackle terrorism.Abdali said terrorism is “creation of the region and the solution lies in the region. Therefore the upcoming HoA is very well timed”. He said terrorism is a multifaceted phenomena which requires a “multifaceted approach” and should include dismantling the “terror matrix”, tackling drug trafficking and effectively dealing with radicalisation. The Afghan envoy said terror must be dealt with effectively not only for sake of countries like India and Afghanistan but also for people in the country where “terrorism is nurtured.” The conference, whose theme is security and prosperity, will also deliberate on major connectivity iniatives including Chabahar project, a five nation railway project. There may be deliberations on TAPI (Turkmenistan Afghanistan-Pakistan India) gas pipeline project.President Ghani is schedule to arrive on Saturday and he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have a bilateral meeting, possibly on that day itself. Thanking India for providing the last of the four military helicopters to his country last week, Abdali said bilateral talks between the two leaders will be very important, adding security cooperation will be part of the discussion. On HoA helping Afghanistan in its transition, Baglay said six baskets of Confidence Building Measures are being considered and India has tried to bring in more consultation in the groupings initiatives.The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was launched in 2011 and the participating countries include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates.Swaraj had attended last year’s conference in Islamabad.The platform was floated to encourage security, political and economic cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours.The countries which support the initiative are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Finland, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Britain and the US. Four countries Uzbekistan, Latvia, Bulgaria and Austria are attending the conference as guest nations.

National Anthem to be played at cinema halls: Here’s how the idea evolved

The Supreme Court’s verdict directing cinema halls across the nation to play the National Anthem before a movie screening has garnered mixed reactions.

While many applauded the apex court’s move, apparently aimed at rooting patriotism in the citizens, it also raised many eyebrows. The Supreme Court order said: “People must feel this is my country and this is my motherland…At the root of protocol for national anthem, is respect for national identity, integrity and constitutional patriotism.”

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Some would argue that legal intervention in promoting and inserting national pride amid people can be a problematic idea. The notion that the National Anthem, played before a movie screening, can instill some sense of national pride remains debatable at best.

We will not concern ourselves with the rights and wrongs of it. With all due respect to the apex court, the verdict as it stands now does direct the cinema halls to play the 52 second long National Anthem.

Though it does seem interesting to probe how did the idea generate and the notion that the National Anthem – a subject of reverence – is somehow related to cinema — a media that was and is directed at entertainment and recreation.

As this article in The Guardian points out the practice to play National Anthem in cinema halls in India was first introduced after the 1962 India-China war.

Those were the times of high national fervor, with India facing a mightier enemy at its borders. But then the National Anthem was played at the end of the movies. The moviegoers, ignorant to the diktat, would simply file out of the cinema hall soon after ‘The End’ flashed on the screens, and perhaps this was why the practice slowly faded and was eventually discontinued, until 2003.

In 2003, as reported in The Huffington Post, “Narendra Verma of the Nationalist Congress Party lobbied and got the Maharashtra government to order cinema halls to do it again.”

There have also been incidents, in the select few states where it is a law, of people heckling others for refusing to stand up to the national anthem.

The most recent, and shameful incident in this context was from Panaji in Goa, when Salil Chaturvedi, a disabled man was struck and abused for not standing up during the National Anthem, as he recounted his experience to Firstpost Hindi. As Salil points out, the crowd, agitated with national fervor often can blind people to the most obvious, and even human values – as in this case that a wheelchair-bound man could not have possibly stood up in attention.

Incidentally, the law, does not as yet criminalise the act of not standing up while the National Anthem is playing.

The Ministry of Home Affairs advisory, to this day, states that a person shall stand up whenever the Anthem is sung or played, while conceding that it is not possible to list out all possible occasions when the National Anthem should be played. The Home Ministry advisory in the final clause, leaves it to the discretion and “good sense of the citizens not to indulge in indiscriminate singing or playing of the Anthem.”

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 23:03 IST

Demonetization: ED conducts searches across 40 locations; Rs 1.2 cr cash seized

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Enforcement Directorate conducted country-wide searches on Wednesday at about 40 locations and seized around Rs 1.2 crore cash as part of its crackdown to check black money held with currency exchanges and hawala dealers in the wake of the demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes.The agency has also filed a money laundering case against the officials of a private bank branch in Kashmere Gate area here, which was recently investigated by the Income Tax department on charges of alleged irregularities in converting the scrapped currencies. The I-T teams then had also conducted survey operations on the bank after the Delhi Police intercepted two people carrying Rs 3.5 crore cash in new currency.Officials said Enforcement Directorate teams seized about 20 lakh cash in old currency, about Rs 1 crore in new notes and transaction papers of about Rs 50 lakh foreign exchange at the end of operations. They said all the cash, documents and entry registers have been seized from the premises of hawala dealers and those currency exchanges who were indulging in illegal exchange of the old notes. “The cases are under investigation both for possible contravention of forex and money laundering laws,” they said.The searches were conducted by multiple teams of the agency in various cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Gandhinagar and Bengaluru among others. As many as 100 sleuths along with police personnel took part in the operation. In the eastern region, the agency searched at least 16 locations including six in Kolkata, two each in Bhubaneswar and Paradip (both in Odisha), Guwahati among others.The sleuths from the Kolkata zone of the ED seized Rs 10 lakh cash in new currency from the premises of a doctor in the West Bengal capital during the said operation, even as an assortment of foreign currency worth Rs 4 lakh has been seized from the same area.They said the agency launched the nationwide action as it was getting reports of instances of illegal exchange of old currency and stashing of new currency notes to perpetrate hawala and money laundering like activities.ED is the central agency to enforce two laws — the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

32 ceasefire violations on LoC, 23 militant attacks foiled: BSF

Srinagar: The Border Security Force (BSF) said on Wednesday that it has foiled 23 attacks, including two BAT actions by Pakistan, along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Kashmir Valley this year and is alert to deal with any untoward incident.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“BSF has foiled and faced 23 attacks of militants and Pakistan regulars on its posts and personnel along LoC in Kashmir this year. The guys (BSF jawans) have done well, they have been doing their jobs with utmost dedication. They have foiled many infiltration bids on the LoC and also foiled two BAT (Border Action Team) attempts and in one of the actions, three of our guys have been killed, but they foiled the action and killed one militant and recovered weapons,” Vikas Chandra, inspector general, BSF Kashmir Frontier, told reporters here.

The frontier chief of the border guarding force said security at various installations of BSF has beefed up in the wake of the Nagrota terror attack. “Security arrangements have been made. We are alert 24×7 to deal with any incident during these difficult times,” he said.

Chandra said the paramilitary force, along with the army, was “appropriately” responding to the ceasefire violations. “Ceasefire violations have been taking place and we have responded appropriately to them. There were 32 ceasefire violations in 2016 along the LoC on this side. We have lost some men and some others have been injured as well, but that is part of the life, part of duty,” he said.

Responding to a question on whether the ceasefire violations were just that or a cover for infiltration, the BSF officer said, “We can say it is combined. They are infiltration bids as well and we have foiled many such incidents.”

Asked whether the attack on the LoC by Pakistan and mutilation of bodies of soldiers was a BAT action, Chandra said, “Generally, BAT actions take place. It would have happened, that is why there has been such action.”

He said 14 BSF battalions were deployed in the Valley. “Over 14,000 personnel are deployed in the Valley, both on the LoC and in the hinterland. We are working with the army guarding the LoC. In the last one year, nine BSF officers have sacrificed their lives and 18 others have been injured while guarding the LoC and also while working in the hinterland,” he said.

On a question whether there was an increase in the militant attacks after India conducted surgical strikes, the BSF officer said, “I will not say it is an increase. It is a tactic they have been using earlier as well. On the LoC, we have to be careful and we are being careful. It is not that they have not been trying, they have been, but we have averted those on this side of the LoC.”

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 22:52 IST

India inks Rs 5,000 crore deal with US for 145 M777 howitzers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Breaking the Bofors jinx, India and the US on Wednesday inked a nearly Rs 5,000 crore deal for 145 M777 ultra-light howitzers, which will be mostly deployed near the borders with China.This is the first deal for artillery guns since the Bofors scandal in 1980s. “India has today signed the Letter of Acceptance which formalises the contract between India and US for these guns,” sources said.The deal for 145 American ultra-light howitzers, costing about Rs 5,000 crore was recently cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The deal was inked as a two-day meeting of the 15th India-US Military Cooperation Group (MCG) began here.India-US MCG is a forum established to progress Defence Cooperation between HQ Integrated Defence Staff and US Pacific Command at the strategic and operational levels. The meeting commenced with the US Co-Chair Lt Gen David H Berger, Commander US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific calling on Lt Gen Satish Dua, CISC, HQ IDS. The MCG meeting is co-chaired by Air Marshal AS Bhonsle DCIDS (Operations), HQ IDS.A 260-member delegation from the US Defence Forces and several officers from the three Services HQ and HQ IDS representing the Indian side are attending the bilateral event.On the issue of M777, the sources said India had sent a Letter of Request to the US government showing interest in buying the guns which will be deployed in high-altitude areas in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh, bordering China. The US had responded with a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) and the Defence Ministry had in June looked into the terms and conditions and approved it.The offsets, under which BAE Systems, manufacturer of the gun, will invest about USD 200 million, will be pursued independently.While 25 guns will come to India in a fly-away condition, the rest will be assembled at the proposed Assembly Integration and Test facility for the weapon system in India in partnership with Mahindra. The first two howitzers will be delivered within six months of the contract being inked, while rest will be delivered at the rate of two per month. The howitzers that can be heli-lifted were first proposed to be bought from BAE about 10 years back.

Cabinet approves Rs 2,000 crore package for refugees from PoK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Rs 2,000 crore development package for displaced people of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) living in the country was on Wednesday approved by the government.The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the Home Ministry’s proposal to provide enhanced financial aid to 36,384 families, who are mostly living in Jammu region after their displacement from PoK post Independence. Each of these families will get around Rs 5.5 lakh as aid, a senior official said.The amount is “one time settlement” for the displaced families and will be released to the Jammu and Kashmir government to be disbursed to eligible families through Direct Benefit Transfer.The refugees from West Pakistan, mostly from PoK, settled in different areas of Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts. However, they are not permanent residents of the state in terms of Jammu and Kashmir Constitution. Some of the families were displaced during Partition in 1947, and others during the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan.The displaced people can cast their votes in Lok Sabha polls but not in the elections to Jammu and Kashmir assembly.Jammu and Kashmir Sharanarthi Action Committee (JKSAC), an organisation representing the displaced people of the PoK has been maintaining that the package should not be seen as final settlement as Rs 9,200 crore was required to settle all of them.The Modi government had in January 2015 approved certain concessions for the refugees from West Pakistan settled in Jammu and Kashmir after considering the problems being faced by them. The concessions include special recruitment drives for induction into paramilitary forces, equal employment opportunities in the state, admission for the children of refugees in Kendriya Vidyalayas, among others.

Why can’t you but new vehicles: NGT refuses to lift diesel ban in Haryana

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday refused to permit over 10-year old diesel vehicles from plying in Karnal in Haryana and asked the state government to expedite installation of CNG stations. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar passed the order on the plea of Karnal Independent Schools Association seeking permission to ply diesel vehicles over 10 years old until adequate number of CNG filling stations are set up in their city that falls in the NCR.”Why can’t you buy new vehicles? Karnal is almost Delhi and it is as thickly populated as any colony here. You run international schools, charge handsomely, why can’t you buy new vehicles. We are not going to permit diesel vehicles in Karnal, you can be rest assured,” the bench said.When the NGT asked the lawyer appearing for association to file an affidavit stating that it was ready to fit new engines in the old buses, he withdrew his petition. In its plea, the association had said that it runs around 900 buses in 77 schools which were all private and unaided CBSE schools in Karnal.”The member schools do not have substantial means and resources to immediately procure approximately 175 new diesel buses. The schools cannot purchase new CNG fitted buses as well due to lack of adequate resources and as well as due to non-availability of CNG filling stations in the area. “Many of the children who attend these schools come from far flung, rural and remote areas as well and have no means of transport besides school buses. Many of these children belong to under privileged backgrounds as well,” the plea had said.The tribunal had earlier asked Uttar Pradesh and Haryana governments to mull over the possibility of installing CNG stations in NCR and consider the proposal after it was informed that there was no CNG station in Karnal and Meerut. On July 18, the green panel had directed authorities in Delhi-NCR to cancel the registration of all diesel-powered vehicles which were over 10 years old.

From Vicco ads to crying babies: 5 other issues SC needs to tackle in theatres after national anthem

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>We ought to be thankful that we live in a country where the apex court of the land is always at hand to hand out important judgements that affect citizens. Despite a shortage of judges, which has led to a passive-aggressive ‘don’t cross the Lakshman Rekha fight with the Centre’, an SC bench was at hand to hand out a landmark judgement ordering all theatres to screen the national anthem before films. The SC bench also added that all present must ‘stand up in respect’ till it ended. They felt that the practice would ‘instil a feeling within one a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism.’ There was also a purely existential moment when Justice Mishra remarked: “People must feel this is my country. This is my motherland… Arrey, who are you? You are an Indian first. In other countries, you respect their restrictions. In India, you do not want any restrictions?”Now as grateful as one is to the SC for being the cheerleader for pre-screening nationalism, one must hope that SC will also take cognizance of the other atrocities that take place in an Indian movie theatre, even the ones they call multiplexes. Here are some of them:Exorbitant ticket prices and cost of snacks How can we call ourselves a democracy when a Sidharth Malhotra film like Baar Baar Dekho can set an individual back by Rs 400? Isn’t it enough that one has suspended all disbelief and acknowledged that Sid is a genius mathematician? Surely, this isn’t why the Army is defending the nation at the border?And while we’re at can anyone explain how a tub of popcorn, even with a smidgen of cheese and caramel on it costs Rs 300. No economist worth his salt (which barely exists in the popcorn tub) has ever been able to explain the exorbitant price, and one must conclude that the only reason for this is that all theatres are money-laundering fronts. Vicco Turmeric cream ads While we’re on the subject of pre-movie videos, perhaps we need to talk about the other videos that are thrust upon us before the main event starts. They usually consist of insurance ads, smoking cautions and a Vicco turmeric spot which haven’t changed since Independence. Honestly, how is Vicco turmeric still a thing in 2016? Phone overuse during show times And that brings us perhaps to the most heinous type of filmgoer around – the phone-user. The esteemed court must have noticed that cell phones are now more ubiquitous than toilets, and the average human is unable to go 30 seconds without checking his phone. While understandable, none of this excuses the constant interruptions and the SC must figure out a way that a patriotic movie-goer’s experience isn’t ruined by these modern contraptions.Nepotism in BollywoodNow this isn’t a purely theatre-based problem, but since the judiciary has a deep understanding of the nepotism problem, perhaps they can help us with the end product that is vitiating our movie-going experience. How many times must we endure Abhishek Bachchan and Uday Chopra, simply because they were born in the wrong family? How many years do we give Varun Dhawan before he does an Alia, and can show a semblance of acting skills? Now before some smart-aleck reader points out that I’ve the choice, to not go to watch them, the SC order has made it clear, that in the theatre, a man’s gotta do, exactly what a man’s gotta do.People making out and crying babies And the last point of contention is reserves for those unruly elements who feel that just because they’ve shelved out the money, they can do anything in a theatre. Surely, there’s someone who can put an end to this tonsil hockey game. And while they’re at it, might they also consider the case of individuals who like to show off they’ve had coital relationships by bringing their new-borns to movie theatres.Now one barely agrees with social media enthusiast and US President-elect Donald Trump, but there’s a time and place for babies, and a rally, just like a movie theatre is not one of them. One is extremely hopeful that the country’s judiciary will take my complaints as seriously as they did Shyam Narayan Chouskey’s complaint who got the ball rolling in 2001 when he complained that audiences didn’t stand up when the national anthem played during Karan Johar’s Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham! Bharat Mata Ki Jai. Jana Gana Mana… (hope you’re standing).

Demonetization: Toll collection to resume from mid-night of December 2

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The toll collection on National Highways, which was halted in the wake of withdrawal of high-value notes, will resume from the mid-night of December 2. “The toll collection on National Highways will resume from mid-night of December 2,” a road ministry official said.To ensure smooth traffic flow and reduce currency hardships, the government announced on November 24 that it has further extended the date for toll exemption on National Highways till mid-night of December 2. The government had also earlier said the scrapped Rs 500 notes would be accepted at toll plazas on National Highways from December 2 mid-night to December 15.As per the plan, sufficient swipe machines will be installed at toll booths with help from SBI and other banks in order to facilitate payments and easy flow of traffic. The government had earlier announced its decision to keep the toll collection in abeyance till November 11 mid-night, which was later extended to November 14, 18, 24 and later to December 2.The decision was taken to ensure smooth traffic flow across all National Highways and provide relief to the cash-strapped people lining up outside banks and ATMs after Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were scrapped.A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced ban on such notes to tackle corruption and black money, the government had on November 9 said no toll fee would be collected on NHs till November 11 mid-night. The government’s earlier decision to accept the withdrawn notes at the toll plazas led to chaos in the absence of adequate change, causing massive traffic snarls.

National anthem: Will SC verdict boost patriotism, asks Owaisi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi welcomed the Supreme Court’s direction on Wednesday that cinema halls across the country must play national anthem before the screening of a film, but wondered if it would help boost the feeling of patriotism.Talking to reporters outside Parliament, Owaisi said the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 and the Union Home Ministry’s advisory regarding the national anthem do not talk about citizens requiring to stand up when the anthem is being rendered, and suggested to the government to amend the law and revise the advisory. The act prohibits desecration of or insult to the Constitution, national anthem, flag and the country’s map.”It (the directive) is alright and it has to be followed.But the question is whether it requires people to stand up when the anthem is being rendered? Will this help see rise in patriotism or nationalism?” Owaisi asked. Referring to a report about a disabled person being beaten up for allegedly not standing up while the national anthem was being played at a multiplex in Goa last month, Owaisi sought to know “what can be done in this regard”.”What I believe (is that) children should be taught about (respecting anthem) from very young age… The government needs to amend the 1971 act and correct the MHA advisory,” the Hyderabad MP said, adding that he was for patriotism. The Supreme Court today directed that cinema halls across the country must play the national anthem before the screening of a film and people should stand up as a mark of respect. P

Wing tips of two taxiing planes touch each other at Mumbai airport

Wed, 30 Nov 2016-09:35pm , Mumbai , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A major mishap was averted on Wednesday when the wing tips of two aircrafts – one of them taxiing and the other on the verge of takeoff – touched each other at the city’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai.No passenger or crew member of either IndiGo or Kuwait Airways aircraft was hurt in the incident, which took place at around 0545 hours, airport sources said.Both the aircraft are now grounded and the incident has been reported to the aviation regulator DGCA, they said.Kuwait Airways’ Airbus A330 was taxiing at the runway for parking (rpt) parking while IndiGo’s Airbus A320 was taking off for Kolkata via Jaipur, they said.

Government approves inclusion of 15 new castes in Central OBC list

The National Commission of Backward Classes (NCBC) had recommended a total of 28 changes in respect of 8 states — Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Government on Wednesday approved inclusion of 15 new castes and modification in 13 other castes in the Central list of Other Backward Classes (OBCs).The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the proposal. The National Commission of Backward Classes (NCBC) had recommended a total of 28 changes in respect of 8 states — Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand.Out of these 28, 15 were new entries, 9 were synonyms or sub-castes of the castes which were already in the list and 4 were corrections. “The changes will enable the persons belonging to these castes/communities to avail the benefits of reservation in Government services and posts as well as in Central Educational Institutions as per the existing policy,” according to an official statement.They will also become eligible for benefit under the various welfare schemes, scholarships etc being administered by the Central Government, which are at present available to the persons belonging to the Other Backward Classes, it added. On the NCBC recommendation, a total of 2479 Entries for inclusion, including its synonyms, sub-castes, etc in the Central List of OBCs have been notified in 25 States and 6 Union Territories. The last such notification was issued till September, 2016.NCBC examines requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists and hear complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any backward class in such lists. Its advice is binding upon the Central Government. Meanwhile, the Centre is already considering to relax the creamy layer norms for the OBC and note in this regard was already under consideration.

Anna University exams cancelled due to Nada

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Area Cyclone Warning Centre Director, S Balachandran, made an announcement on Wednesday wherein he declared that a depression over Bay of Bengal is likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm and cross the north Tamil Nadu coast early on December 2, bringing heavy rainfall in its wake.As a result of which, Anna University engineering college examinations which were to be held on December 1 (Thursday) have been cancelled. The schools in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Thiruvallur, Cuddalore and Nagapattinam have also declared a two-day holiday in the wake of cyclonic storm ‘Nada’.
ALSO READ Heavy rains in TN and Puducherry for 2 days, Nada to cross on Dec 2The weather office said the depression over southeast Bay of Bengal moved west-northwestwards and intensified into a deep depression and lay centred about 830 km of southeast Chennai, 780 km east-southeast of Puducherry and 490 km east-southeast of Trincomalee in Sri Lanka. “The system is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards and intensify further into a cyclonic storm (Nada) during next 12 hours. It is very likely to cross north Tamil Nadu coast between Vedaranyam and Chennai close to Cuddalore by early hours of December 2,” it said.In its warning, the weather office forecast heavy to very heavy rainfall over Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on December 1 and 2. The fishermen were also asked to return immediately. In Chennai, rains are expected to start early Thursday morning and intensify gradually, adding to spells of heavy to very heavy rain are likely in the city, Balachandran added.”With PTI inputs

Rahul Gandhi’s official Twitter account hacked

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a sensational case, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s twitter account @OfficeOfRG was hacked on Wednesday evening. At the time of writing this report, the account still hasn’t been retrieved by Rahul Gandhi’s team. The hacker has been tweeting indiscriminately with posts laden with obscenity. While the tweets are been promptly deleted, hacker’s access to the Twitter account hasn’t been revoked so far. His twitter handle was also changed. Congress confirmed that Rahul Gandhi’s account has been hacked saying Here are screenshots of some of the offensive tweets

Heavy rains in TN and Puducherry for 2 days, Nada to cross on Dec 2

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A depression over Bay of Bengal is likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm and cross the north Tamil Nadu coast early on December 2, bringing heavy rainfall in its wake, the weather office said on Wednesday. The cyclonic storm has been named ‘Nada’, S Balachandran, Director, Area Cyclone Warning Centre, told reporters in Chennai.The weather office said the depression over southeast Bay of Bengal moved west-northwestwards and intensified into a deep depression and lay centred about 830 km of southeast Chennai, 780 km east-southeast of Puducherry and 490 km east-southeast of Trincomalee in Sri Lanka.”The system is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards and intensify further into a cyclonic storm (Nada) during next 12 hours. It is very likely to cross north Tamil Nadu coast between Vedaranyam and Chennai close to Cuddalore by early hours of December 2,” it said.In its warning, the weather office forecast heavy to very heavy rainfall over Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on December 1 and 2. “Squally winds would commence to prevail along and off Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts from December 1 morning,” it said and asked fishermen not to venture into the sea.Those out in the sea were advised to return immediately. In the next 24 hours in Tamil Nadu beginning 0830 hrs on Wednesday, rains will commence along coastal parts and gradually move to inner districts, Balachandran said. In Chennai, rains are expected to start early Thursday morning and intensify gradually, he said, adding, spells of heavy to very heavy rain are likely in the city.

ISRO will launch 83 satellites in one go in January 2017

Of the 83 satellites, three are Indian, namely, Cartosat-2 series weighing 730 kg as primary payload, INS-IA and INS-1B, total weighing 30 kg.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch 83 satellites, 80 of them being foreign, in one go in January next year, the Lok Sabha was told on Wednesday.80 satellites weighing 500 kg belonged to five foreign countries — Israel, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Switzerland and the US. “These international customer satellites are being launched as part of the commercial arrangement between them and Antrix Corporation Ltd, the commercial arm and PSU under the ISRO,” Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the PMO said in a written reply. The Department of Space comes under the PMO.It will be the first of its kind mission in ISRO’s space history. Three Indian satellites are namely Cartosat-2 series weighing 730 kg as primary payload, INS-IA and INS-1B, total weighing 30 kg.

Home Ministry claims Pathankot militants entered from Punjab, BSF says theory still a conjecture

New Delhi: The BSF on Wednesday said the exact area from where terrorists who attacked the Pathankot IAF base infiltrated is still a matter of “conjecture” and that there was no direct evidence of a breach in the security system along the Indo-Pak border.

Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir had on Tuesday said in a written reply in Lok Sabha that “four Pakistan-based terrorists entered Punjab via Janial road, Dhusi turn, near Ravi river bridge, Gulpur Simli village-Akalgarh and attacked airforce station in Pathankot.”

Pathankot air base. AFPPathankot air base. AFP

Pathankot air base. AFP

Border Security Force chief KK Sharma said there are many “variables” on the border, marked by riverine gaps and other unguarded patches and Pathankot could be one of those. “That is still a matter of conjecture. It is suspected they came from this area (as mentioned in the Minister’s reply)… But there is no direct evidence of a breach (of the border fence),” he said.

The DG added that due to riverine areas and other gaps in the undulating terrain on the border, it is “not possible to erect a fence” everywhere.

Putting an end to speculation about the number of terrorists involved in the Pathankot attack, Ahir’s statement made it clear that only four militants had entered the airforce station to carry out the strike.

The answer was seen as contrary to a statement made by Home Minister Rajnath Singh on 4 March. He had said that charred remains, apart from four bodies of terrorists, were found at the debris after security forces searched the Pathankot airforce station when the operation ended.

Talking about the Indo-Bangla border, the DG said non-lethal weapons given to BSF troops will “stay” as both the sides are determined to reduce the number of deaths on the frontier.

He said the incidents of smuggling of fake Indian currency notes along the border, especially in the notorious Malda area, has “drastically” gone down post demonetisation.

Asked if hostilities could increase in the wake of new Pakistan Army chief taking over, he said it was a “million dollar question” to him too.

Sharma added that the 2.5-lakh personnel strong force is running a special financial literacy programme for its troops so that they can save and invest better for their future.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 20:38 IST

Arun Jaitley to lead Indian delegation at HoA conference

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will lead the Indian delegation at the two-day Heart of Asia conference beginning Saturday which will be participated by over 30 countries including China, the US, Russia, Iran and Pakistan.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is unwell, will not attend the meet. The main conference will be inaugurated jointly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on December 4. Afghanistan is the permanent chair of HoA while India is its co-chair this year being the host.The ministerial conference will be co-chaired by Jaitley and the Afghan Foreign Minister, Gopal Baglay, who heads the PAI (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) division in Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters.Swaraj is undergoing treatment for kidney failure and the MEA last week had announced that she will not attend the meet. The HoA platform was floated with an aim to encourage security, political and economic cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours.

Court dismisses law suit against President for hurting ‘Hindu sentiments’

Plea sought deletion of portions from Pranab Mukherjee’s book ‘Turbulent Years 1980- 1996’. Delhi court rekected the plea and asked the complainant to explain how can the President of India, who has immunity under the Constitution from legal proceedings, be dragged in a lawsuit. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A Delhi court on Wednesday dismissed a plea filed against the President of India seeking deletion of some portions from his book published this year for allegedly hurting Hindu sentiments.Additional District Judge Vineeta Goyal rejected the law suit which had sought deletion of portions from Pranab Mukherjee’s book ‘Turbulent Years 1980- 1996′. The court had earlier asked the complainant to explain how can the President of India, who has immunity under the Constitution from legal proceedings, be dragged in a lawsuit. A group of lawyers and a social worker had filed the law suit against Mukherjee seeking deletions of portions from his book making a reference to the demolition of the Babri Masjid allegedly hurting Hindu sentiments.Earlier during the proceedings, the plaintiffs’ advocates had claimed that a civil suit can be filed against the President during his tenure in respect of any act done by him in his “personal capacity”. “We are not saying anything against the President of India. We are concerned with the author of the book who is Pranab Mukherjee. How can he write such things in his personal capacity where sentiments of lakhs and crores of people are concerned,” advocates Hari Shankar Jain and Vishnu Shankar Jain had said.President’s counsel Ruby Gautam Singh, however, had opposed the plea, saying that it was not maintainable.

Netflix allows subscribers to binge-watch shows offline | Reuters

Netflix allows subscribers to binge-watch shows offline | Reuters

Nov 30, 2016 20:21 IST

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Video streaming pioneer Netflix Inc said its subscribers would now be able to download popular shows such as “Orange is The New Black” and “Narcos” on their mobile devices at no extra cost.”While many members enjoy watching Netflix at home, we’ve often heard they also want to continue their ‘Stranger Things’ binge while on airplanes and other places where Internet is expensive or limited,” Eddy Wu, director of product innovation, wrote in a blog post.Netflix, whose other popular original shows include “House of Cards” and “The Crown”, has expanded into almost all countries, with China being a notable exception.

The new feature is included in all plans and available for phones and tablets on Alphabet Inc’s Android and Apple Inc’s iOS platforms, the company said.More content will be available for offline viewing later, Netflix said.

The company’s shares rose 2 percent to $119.97 in early trading on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 20:21 IST

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Stand up to the National Anthem before movies: Full text of Supreme Court’s order

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to “instil committed patriotism and nationalism”, the Supreme Court ordered cinema halls across the nation to mandatorily play the National Anthem before screening of a movie and the audience must stand and show respect. The apex court said that “love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National Anthem as well as to the National Flag”.”A time has come when citizens of the country must realise that they live in a nation and are duty-bound to show respect to the National Anthem which is the symbol of constitutional patriotism and inherent national quality,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy said. Passing a slew of directions, the bench said fundamental duties as in the Constitution “do not allow any different notion or the perception of individual rights that have individual thought, have no space. The idea is constitutionally impermissible”. “The directions are issued, for love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National Anthem as well as to the National Flag. That apart, it would instil the feeling within one a sense committed patriotism and nationalism.”Here’s the complete text of the judgement: Supreme Court of IndiaWrit Petition(s)(Civil) No(s). 855/2016SHYAM NARAYAN CHOUKSEY v/s UNION OF INDIADate : 30/11/2016CORAM : HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE DIPAK MISRA HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE AMITAVA ROYFor Petitioner(s)Mr. Abhinav Shrivastav, Adv.Mr. Rituvendra Singh,Adv.Mr. Harmeet Singh Ruprah,Adv. For Respondent(s)Mr. Mukul Rohtagi,AGMr. Ashok Kumar Panda,Sr.Adv.Mr. Avijit Prasad,Adv.Ms. Movita,Adv.Mr. B.K. Prasad,Adv.We have heard Mr. Abhinav Srivastav, learned counsel for the petitioner and Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, learned Attorney General for India along with Mr. A.K. Panda, learned senior counsel for the Union of India. This Court on 28.10.2016 while entertaining the Writ Petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India had noted the submissions advanced by the learned counsel for the petitioner, made reference to the enactment, namely, Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971. It had also taken note of the averments in the petition. It has been averred in the petition that sometimes National Anthem is sung in various circumstances which are not permissible and can never be countenanced in law. The emphasis is on showing requisite and necessary respect when the National Anthem is sung or played.The assertion is that it is the duty of every person to show respect when the National Anthem is played or recited or sung. Having heard the learned counsel for the parties and awaiting the reply from the Union of India, as an interim measure, it is directed that the following directions shall be scrupulously followed:(a) There shall be no commercial exploitation to give financial advantage or any kind of benefit. To elaborate, the National Anthem should not be utilized by which the person involved with it either directly or indirectly shall have any commercial benefit or any other benefit.(b) There shall not be dramatization of the National Anthem and it should not be included as a part of any variety show. It is because when the National Anthem is sung or played it is imperative on the part of every one present to show due respect and honour. To think of a dramatized exhibition of the National Anthem is absolutely inconceivable.(c) National Anthem or a part of it shall not be printed on any object and also never be displayed in such a manner at such places which may be disgraceful to its status and tantamount to disrespect. It is because when the National Anthem is sung, the concept of protocol associated with it has its inherent roots in National identity, National integrity and Constitutional Patriotism.(d) All the cinema halls in India shall play the National Anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the National Anthem.(e) Prior to the National Anthem is played or sung in the cinema hall on the screen, the entry and exit doors shall remain closed so that no one can create any kind of disturbance which will amount to disrespect to the National Anthem. After the National Anthem is played or sung, the doors can be opened.(f) When the National Anthem shall be played in the Cinema Halls, it shall be with the National Flag on the screen.(g) The abridge version of the National Anthem made by any one for whatever reason shall not be played or displayed.We have so directed as Mr. Mukul Rohtagi, learned Attorney General for India submits with all humility at his command and recommend that National Anthem has to be respected. The directions are issued, for love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National Anthem as well as to the National Flag. That apart, it would instill the feeling within one, a sense committed patriotism and nationalism. In this regard, we may refer to clause (a) of Article 51(A), Fundamental Duties occurring in Part IVA of the Constitution. It reads as follows:“51A. Fundamental duties – It shall be the duty of every citizen of India – (a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem”.From the aforesaid, it is clear as crystal that it is the sacred obligation of every citizen to abide by the ideals engrafted in the Constitution. And one such ideal is to show respect for the National Anthem and the National Flag. Be it stated, a time has come, the citizens of the country must realize that they live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to National Anthem which is the symbol of the Constitutional Patriotism and inherent national quality. It does not allow any different notion or the perception of individual rights, that have individually thought of have no space. The idea is constitutionally impermissible. Mr. Rohatgi has submitted that the Union of India shall circulate this order to the Chief Secretaries of all the States and Union Territories. That apart, Mr. Rohatgi submits that the order shall be shown in the electronic Media and published in the print media so that every one knows that such an order has been passed and follow the same in letter and spirit. This order shall be given effect to within a period of 10 days. Let the matter be listed on 14th February, 2017 for further hearing. (Madhu Bala) (H.S. Parashar) Court Master Court Master

Salary day amid note ban: Banks start rationing to combat cash crunch; pressure to escalate

Snehalata Awasthi, a 35-year-old content writer working in a multinational content providing company in New Delhi, reached Citibank branch at Connaught Place in New Delhi at 8 am on Wednesday, to stand in a long queue. Finally, she managed to get Rs 10,000 against her requisition of Rs 24,000.

It’s not just Snehalata Awasthi; there are thousands of customers who have received less cash against their requisitions. Also there are customers, who have failed to withdraw money from smaller neighbourhood branches.

Facing shortage of cash supply vis-à-vis huge demand for withdrawal of cash from customers, the banks have resorted to rationing of cash dispensation. Based on their status of cash in hand, the public sector and private banks have set cash disbursal limits for customers.

Heavy rush outside Bank of India, Delhi. Firstpost/Naresh Sharma

Heavy rush outside Bank of India, Delhi. Firstpost/Naresh Sharma

Internal rationing system

According to the latest Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines — a customer can withdraw up to Rs 24,000 from a bank branch in a week. However, due short supply of cash from the RBI, the banks have developed individual rationing mechanism.

“Though my salary will be deposited in my account on Wednesday evening, but it is going to be difficult tomorrow to withdraw cash. As large number of customers will be there to withdraw salary tomorrow, I came to withdraw money from my account. The bank told me that I can withdraw maximum Rs 10,000,” said Awasthi.

Besides, rationing of cash disbursal, the banks have also set limits on withdrawal of cash through cheque and cash withdrawal form. In the case of the latter, withdrawal limit has been set less than the cheque.

“Our maximum thrust is to give cash to as many customers as possible. Due to short supply of cash, we can’t give Rs 24,000 to all. So, we’ve set a temporary limit like Rs 10,000 in a day,” a Citibank official told Firstpost.

Large number of ATMs in Delhi, especially those of private banks had no cash on Wednesday. It is the account-holders of public sector banks (PSBs) who are the satisfied customers.

“I failed to withdraw cash both from my bank branch and ATM. It’s a private new generation bank. But my wife, who has an account in a government bank, got money from there,” Chattarpur-based businessman Rajesh Sharma said.

“Though we’re not getting the amount that we have requested the RBI, yet we’re trying our best to manage it by lowering the withdrawal limit and also ensuring that the ATMs are replenished. We’ve deployed additional staff to deal with the swelling number of customers. After all, it’s salary time and everyone should get money,” said a Central Bank of India official.

A branch and ATM of ICICI bank in Delhi bear a deserted look due to no cash. Firstpost/Naresh Sharma

A branch and ATM of ICICI bank in Delhi bear a deserted look due to no cash. Firstpost/Naresh Sharma

Mad rush

In anticipation of acute cash crunch in banks and ATMs due to the beginning of salary week, a large number of citizens in the national capital pushed off from home quite early on Wednesday to withdraw cash from the respective bank branches.

The branches of PSBs in Delhi have witnessed more rush than the private ones.

The bank branches and ATMs will face immense pressure during the first week of December, which is going to be the real test of the demonetisation move.

Non-availability of Rs 500 notes

Though Rs 500 denomination notes have been released, the banks disbursed only Rs 2,000 and Rs 100 denomination notes.

Surprisingly, many customers have also received Rs 50, Rs 20 and Rs 10 denomination notes. Even customers have complained of having received soiled small denomination notes.

“I received cash in Rs 50, Rs 20 and Rs 10 denomination notes. Many of those notes were old and soiled, which will again be difficult for me to use. I was told by my bank branch that they too have received the same from RBI,” said Akash Chowdhary, a resident of Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh.

According to banking sources, anticipating mad rush at bank branches from 1 December as salaried-class and pensioners will go to collect their salaries and pensions, 20-30 percent extra cash has been provided to those branches with salary accounts.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 20:16 IST

Illegal funds being sent to Kashmir to create unrest: Kiren Rijiju

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Illegal funds are being sent through ‘hawala’ and other channels to inimical forces in Kashmir Valley to incite protests, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said on Wednesday. Replying to a written question in the Rajya Sabha, Rijiju said the practice of sending illegal money through ‘hawala’ and other channels to inimical elements in the Valley to incite protests have been going on. Rijiju’s colleague, Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said separatists and militants were receiving funds from foreign countries through ‘hawala’ and inward remittances. Referring to the tension along the Indo-Pak border, Rijiju said 24 suspected militants, who were trying to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir, were killed, while 78 attempts of infiltration were foiled till October-end this year.Till October this year, there were 201 incidents of infiltration from across the border into Jammu and Kashmir and 30 cases of infiltration into Punjab. He said five BSF personnel killed were and nine others injured due to cross-border firing between September and October this year. Replying to another question, Ahir said there was no information about espionage being carried out by Pakistan using pigeons.However, some pigeons with rubber tag with Pakistani telephone no/name of persons have been found in border areas, he said.

Demonetisation: ED conducts searches on 40 locations across country

New Delhi: Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday conducted searches at 40 locations across the country in order to check black money held with currency exchanges, hawala dealers and others in the wake of the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Officials said the searches are being conducted by multiple teams of the agency in various cities and as many as 100 sleuths along with police personnel are undertaking the search operation.

In the eastern region, the agency is searching at least 16 locations including six in Kolkata, two each in Bhubaneswar and Paradip (both in Odisha), Guwahati among others.

The sleuths from the Kolkata zone of the ED have also seized Rs 10 lakh cash in new currency from the premises of a doctor in the West Bengal capital during the said operation, even as an assortment of foreign currency worth Rs 4 lakh has been seized from the same area.

They said the agency is looking at instances of illegal exchange of old currency and stashing of new currency notes to perpetrate hawala and money laundering like activities.

ED is the central agency to enforce two laws — the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 20:04 IST

Mamata’s photo should be kept in every household: TMC MP Idris Ali

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A TMC MP on Wednesday compared party chief Mamata Banerjee to national icons like Rabindranath Tagore, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi and said the West Bengal Chief Minister’s photograph should be kept in every household in the country.TMC MP from West Bengal’s Basirhat, Idris Ali, today came to Parliament sporting an orange kurta, specially created and designed in College Street in Kolkata, with the face of Banerjee drawn on it. Ali told PTI the photograph of the West Bengal Chief Minister is kept in almost all the households of the state nowadays.”Just like people keep the photograph of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, I think, her (Banerjee’s) picture should also be hung in every household across the country,” he said. He said she is a very popular leader who has lead from the front to oppose the government’s demonetisation decision from the very first day. He said Banerjee leads a very simple life and she has also taken up the cause of the poor. Many leaders from various parties also greeted him after they saw the kurta in Parliament, he added.

Five held in TN over blasts in lower courts: NIA, Kerala cops fear ressurection of Al-Umma

The arrest of five persons from Tamil Nadu by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with the blasts at five lower courts in south India strengthens the fears of Kerala police about the reincarnation of the proscribed Al-Umma as a new terror outfit.

Senior officials believe that the outfit called Base Movement is a regrouping of Al-Umma, which was banned following the Coimbatore blasts in 1998, and a section of the Al-qaeda. It came up with bases in Tamil Nadu and Kerala after Al-qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri launched Al-qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) in August 2014.

A senior officer involved in the probe into the blast at Malappuram collectorate said that Al-Umma may have transformed into Base Movement after it came under police scanner in connection with various blasts including the one outside BJP’s office at Malleswaram in Bangalore.

The officer, who chose to remain anonymous, told Firstpost that the outlawed outfit may have assumed the new name in order to divert the attention of the security agencies. While Al-Umma mostly targetted Hindu shrines and leaders, the focus of the Base Movement so far has been courts.

The new outfit registered its presence by planting a bomb on the premises of a court complex at Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh on 7 April. The Chittoor blast was followed by a second blast at the collectorate-cum-district courts complex at Kollam in Kerala in June.

The Principal District Judge Court complex at Mysuru in Karantaka was the third target, when a pressure cooker bomb went off there on 1 August. This was followed by a fourth low-intensity blast on the premises of Nellore district court in Andhra Pradesh on September 12 and the fifth near the first class magistrate court at Malappuram in Kerala.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Reports said that the outfit had planned more such attacks in Maharashtra, Telengana and Kerala besides targeting nearly two dozen VIPs, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The NIA got the details of the plan from the interrogation of the five persons arrested from Madurai and Chennai on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

Although all the Base Movement operatives detained by the NIA are from Tamil Nadu, the state did not figure in their target. Police officials believe that this may be to avoid any suspicion and ensure their smooth operation from Tamil Nadu.

The Al-Umma was banned following its involvement in the Coimbatore blasts. The judicial probe into the blast revealed that the outfit that came into existence in the wake of the Babri Mosque demolition in 1992 hatched the explosion in a bid to eliminate senior BJP leader L K Advani.

The probe found that blasts in which 58 people were killed was hatched by Al-Umma with the help of Kerala-based People’s Democratic Party headed by Abdul Nasser Madhani to avenge the demolition of the Babri mosque.

Police officials believe that the Base Movement may have been trying to build itself by scaling up its targets gradually. Their initial operations were not intended to kill anybody. The IEDs used for the low intensity blasts in the five places did not have any shrapnel attached to it. The devices were planted at places where minimum casualties could occur.

Sunil Babu K, Kanhangad deputy superintendent of police and the investigating officer of the case, said the initial objective of outfit was only to spread fear. They also may have sought to send a message by selecting lower courts as their targets. The officer said that the outfit was concerned over the continued detention of Madhani in a jail in Bangalore and the killing of five Muslim youths in a police encounter in Andhra Pradesh in April 2015.

In a pen-drive left at the Chittur blast site, the activists of the Base Movement had referred to the killing of the youths, who included erstwhile Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) leader Viqaruddin Ahmed. They were killed while being taken to a court.

Soon After the blast at Chittur, the group had also sent a letter to the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes there claiming that they had carried out the explosion as an act of retaliation for the killing of the youths.

The Base Movement had begun its activities after informing Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. A letter sent by post to his secretary in January 2015 informed him that they were beginning their activities that year. The letter contained a map of India and a picture of slain Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The second letter was sent to French consulate in Bengaluru in January 2016 marking their protest against the visit of their President Francois Hollande. It also contained the map of India and Osama bin Laden’s picture. The group had left these signs behind the two explosions at Kollam and Malappuram in Kerala as well. However, the NIA has not got any clue regarding involvement of people from the state in the blasts.

Malappuram district superintendent of police Debesh Kumar Behera does not rule the involvement of local people behind the blast at the collectorate. He said that a team of police officials from the district would question the five persons arrested by the NIA to find out their local links.

“The NIA and police officials from different states are involved in the investigation. We will have to wait till the arrested persons are remanded to the police custody for interrogating them. We hope to get a chance by the end of this week,” the SP told the Firstpost. He said that the police did not know much about the Base Movement. He said that he also could not confirm whether members of the erstwhile Al-Umma were behind the new group until they investigated the matter thoroughly.

Highly placed sources said NIA would take over the investigation as there are striking similarities between all the recent blasts. The special investigation team formed by the Kerala police to investigate the blast had suspected some persons with links with Al-Umma behind the blast.

They include K P Noohu alias Mankave Rasheed, who has been absconding since the Coimbatore blast and Ooma Babu and S Kunjimuhammad, two of the accused in the blast case. All the three hail from north Kerala.

The sources believe that Abubacker Siddique alias Kakkam, who is declared as one of the 12 most wanted extremists, could have brought the different terror modules under the single banner of the Base Movement. A post graduate in English literature, he carries a reward of Rs.2 lakhs on his head.

Siddique, who hails from Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu, has seven cases pending against him, including the blast at Hindu Munnani office in Chennai in 1995, parcel bomb case in Nagapattinam in 1995, Trichy cantonment bomb case in 1999 and Chittoor bomb blast case in 2016.

A team of police officials from Malappuram had visited his house at Nagapttinam following the blast at the collectorate. Siddique who had received training in Pakistan and Afghanistan is suspected to be behind the letters that the Base Movement sent to various people.

Thrissur Range Inspector General of Police S Ajith Kumar, who is monitoring the investigation, said that only NIA would be able to say more about the links of various people with the terrorist outfit involved in the blasts. He said that the state police was rendering all required assistance to the agency in the investigation.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 19:38 IST

Demonetisation: Toll collection on National Highways to resume from 2 December midnight

New Delhi: The toll collection on National Highways, which was halted in the wake of withdrawal of high-value notes, will resume from the midnight of 2 December.

“The toll collection on National Highways will resume from 2 December midnight,” a Road Ministry official said. To ensure smooth traffic flow and reduce currency hardships, the government announced on 24 November that it has further extended the date for toll exemption on National Highways till midnight of 2 December.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The government had also earlier said the scrapped Rs 500 notes would be accepted at toll plazas on National Highways from 2 December midnight to 15 December.

As per the plan, sufficient swipe machines will be installed at toll booths with help from SBI and other banks in order to facilitate payments and easy flow of traffic.

The government had earlier announced its decision to keep the toll collection in abeyance till 11 November midnight, which was later extended to 14, 18, 24 November and later to 2 December.

The decision was taken to ensure smooth traffic flow across all National Highways and provide relief to the cash-strapped people lining up outside banks and ATMs after Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were scrapped.

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced ban on such notes to tackle corruption and black money, the government had on 9 November said no toll fee would be collected on NHs till 11 November midnight.

The government’s earlier decision to accept the withdrawn notes at the toll plazas led to chaos in the absence of adequate change, causing massive traffic snarls.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 19:24 IST

Samba terrorists could have crawled through a tunnel to infiltrate India: BSF

New Delhi: The three militants killed in Samba in Jammu might have crawled through an 80-metre-long tunnel under farm lands to cross the International Border (IB), the BSF chief said on Wednesday.

Addressing journalists on the eve of the Border Security Force’s 51st Raising Dayin Delhi, its chief KK Sharma said the paramilitary force had “strong inputs” about possible infiltration bids by terrorists from across the IB following the Indian Army’s surgical strikes on terror launch pads, and hence it was “in a position” to detect and neutralise the heavily-armed militants.

Security personnel after an encounter with millitants at Army camp in Nagrota. PTISecurity personnel after an encounter with millitants at Army camp in Nagrota. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“After the operation got over at the Chamliyal BoP (border outpost), we checked the fence and there was no breach. Then on Wednesday morning, we detected a small tunnel of the size of 2×2 metres… We had deployed ‘depth nakas’ across the fence and hence we could detect and neutralise the three militants. The tunnel was found in a field where farming is done and has soft soil.

“The tunnel is about 75-80 metres from the IB and about 35-40 metres from the fence,” he said.

The DG said the border guarding force would take up the matter with its counterparts — Pakistan Rangers, but added that due to increased hostilities, the other side is not “getting in touch” for quite sometime now.

BSF officials said there is “ample proof” and indication to say that the militants crawled through the tunnel to reach this side of the border. Sharma said the Nagrota attack that took place on Tuesday at an army camp was “separate” and it was part of the investigation to find out if it had any connection with the Samba terror bid.

He said that since the increase of hostilities between the two sides, especially post the surgical strikes conducted by the army across the Line of Control, BSF has killed 15 Pakistani Rangers and 10 militants while it lost five troops.

“For the last 15 days there has been no shelling along the IB. Post the surgical strikes we knew that infiltration attempts and attacks would increase along the IB which we exclusively guard and hence anticipating trouble we have been prepared against such attempts,” he said, adding it was pitch dark last night hence picking up movements along the IB was difficult through naked eye.

Sharma said BSF had “strong inputs that infiltration can be attempted from around the IB area and that is why we were in a position to effectively neutralise the three” on Tuesday.

The DG said the three terrorists were carrying huge arms and ammunition like three AK-47s, 20 full magazines, 517 bullets, an 8mm pistol, 20 grenades and a GPS set along with other items on them.

The BSF chief said there are inputs of a “grave threat” to security establishments and hence the forces have beefed up and reviewed camp and perimeter security.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 19:22 IST

RBI eases cash balance requirements for banks | Reuters

By Suvashree Choudhury
| MUMBAI

MUMBAI The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will allow banks to use all their cash to meet the central bank’s new cash reserve ratio requirements, not just a certain amount of the money, in a technical but important move that could provide relief to the country’s banks.The RBI on Saturday had ordered banks to put all the deposits they accumulated between mid-September and mid-November under the central bank’s cash reserve ratio. The banks had been flooded with deposits after the government banned larger bank notes.That created problems for banks. Under India’s complicated rules for cash holdings, only a certain amount of the cash they hold in their vaults is eligible to be placed under cash reserve requirements. Those issues should now be resolved. The RBI in a statement on Wednesday widened the criteria for cash that can be included, including all the 500- and 1,000-rupee notes the government abolished this month.

“In the wake of deposits of specified bank notes in massive quantity and accumulations thereof, the above instructions have been revisited,” the RBI said.The move triggered a big rally in banking shares as well as bonds.Investors had worried that banks would have to scramble to get the cash required to place with the RBI under the more stringent cash reserve ratio requirements.

The 10-year benchmark bond’s yield fell 8 basis points to 6.24 percent on Wednesday, erasing almost all the losses on Monday after the RBI’s announcement. The yield rose as much as 15 bps to 6.34 percent then.The RBI said it will review the decision in the second half of February.

For RBI statement see bit.ly/2gjpZlK (Editing by Rafael Nam, editing by Larry King)

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

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 19:17 IST

Kashmir activist Khurram Parvez, detained under draconian Public Safety Act, finally set free

Prominent human right activist and coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir coalition for civil society, Khurram Parvez, walked out of jail on Tuesday morning, after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court quashed his arrest, made under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA).

Parvez, who was accused of being a “threat to peace in the Kashmir Valley”, was arrested in September. The state government had faced criticism, both locally and internationally, for booking the activist under PSA.

Khurram Parvez. Image courtesy: Twitter/@KhurramParvezKhurram Parvez. Image courtesy: Twitter/@KhurramParvez

Khurram Parvez. Image courtesy: Twitter/@KhurramParvez

Often called “lawless laws”, the PSA was introduced by popular Kashmir leader Sheikh Abdullah in 1978, to keep timber smuggling in check. However, its use has been often been criticised by people across the political spectrum; rights activists have called for its abrogation. But despite criticism, the J&K government not only continues to use it, but it also just set a new record during the ongoing agitation, booking more than 500 persons, including minors, under the Act.

Successive governments in the state have used the law to crush dissent and political opponents. Khurram, too, was arrested under the same Act, which allows police to detain any person without charge or trail, and hold him/her up to six months or even two years.

Finally, after 76 days of incarceration, Khurram’s name was finally cleared by the court on Friday. However, due to a clerical error — the date of issue of the PSA warrant — jail authorities refused to release him. He was only set free on Tuesday, and is currently in Jammu, and is likely to reach Srinagar on Friday, said Khurram’s colleague, Pervaiz Imroz. “The judgment is the vindication of the fact that his (Khurram’s) detention was illegal and unlawful,” Imroz, himself a well-known human right lawyer, told Firstpost.

Despite release orders from the court, however, jail authorities had refused to release the activist; instead, he was taken by the counter-intelligence wing of the Kashmir police, who interrogated him at Meeran Sahib, Jammu.

The state government under chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has come under harsh criticism from the court, which termed Parvez’s arrest “illegal” and an “abuse of power”, and ordered the government to release him from prison immediately. Upon release, Khurram reportedly expressed gratitude to the local and international solidarity campaigning for his release.

Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, J&K High Court judge, while referring to the PSA during is pronouncement of the detention order, had said, “A society which catapulted itself to the highest position of democratic values and principles, may not accept the law like the Act of 1978.”

He added that Parvez’s detention order is not only illegal but the detaining authority has also abused its powers in ordering it. “The detaining authority has stated that activities of the detainee were highly prejudicial to the security of the Valley and maintenance of public order. However, they have not elucidated as to which activities were prejudicial to the security of the territory and which were against maintenance of public order,” the order said.

The court held that nothing was brought to its notice, either on grounds of detention or in the reply affidavit that in the investigation of the FIRs involvement of detainee surfaced as accused. “In absence of any such material having been brought to the notice of the court, at this stage, it has to be presumed that the detainee is not involved in any of these FIRs,” the court said.

It also raised serious questions about the police case against Parvez that led to his arrest initially, saying that police witnesses made “parrot-like statements” and failed to provide the content of the slogans the police had accused Pervez of raising and instigating people.

Before his arrest, Khurram was barred from travelling to Geneva to participate in a UN Human Rights Council session. As many as 52 activists, scholars, writers and lawyers had written an open letter demanding his immediate release.

Parvez, programme coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, he had often accused the government of gross human rights violation and failing the people of the Kashmir Valley. At the time of his arrest, he wasn’t given any reason, and was only slapped with a charge under PSA later.

Srinagar SSP described him as an “anti-social element known for his anti-national activities” and said he’d has “achieved a prominent position in separatist camps under the hidden cover of being a human rights activist”.

But the reasons for his detention, Kashmir observers say, was not connected with the ongoing unrest at all, but rather to a case of alleged molestation of a teenaged girl by an Army soldier in north Kashmir’s Handwara town earlier this year. Khurram has campaigned against the state government for its inability to protect the identity of the teenaged victim, and harassing her instead. His campaigning had caused a huge public outcry in the state.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 19:15 IST

Petrol to be costlier by 13 paise, diesel cheaper by 12 paisa from midnight

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Petrol price was on Wednesday hiked by a marginal 13 paisa a litre while diesel rates were cut by 12 paisa in line with global trends.The revision in rates announced by Indian Oil Corp (IOC), the nation’s biggest fuel retailer, is excluding state levies (VAT) and the actual change will be higher after considering them.Petrol in Delhi will cost Rs 66.10 a litre from Wednesday midnight, 17 paisa more than Rs 65.93 a litre currently. Similarly, a litre of diesel will cost Rs 54.57, 14 paisa lower than Rs 54.71 a litre currently.Prices were last revised on November 16 when petrol rate went up by Rs 1.46 a litre and diesel by Rs 1.53 per litre, excluding state levies. “The current level of international product prices of petrol and diesel and Rupee-US Dollar exchange rate warrant increase in selling price of petrol and decrease in selling prices of diesel, the impact of which is being passed on to the consumers with this price revision,” IOC said in a statement.It said the movement of prices in the international oil market and rupee-dollar exchange rate shall continue to be monitored closely and developing trends of the market will be reflected in future price changes.

BJP hails SC verdict on national anthem

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Welcoming the Supreme Court’s order on national anthem, BJP on Wednesday said it will strengthen the spirit of nationalism and the idea of ‘Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat’.The apex court today directed that cinema halls across the country must play the national anthem before the screening of a film and people should stand up as a mark of respect. “BJP welcomes this order and commend the court for this. It will strengthen the spirit of nationalism. National anthem and tri-colour unite us as a nation and this unity will be further strengthened,” party’s National Secretary Shrikant Sharma said. A strong national spirit will help India become a ‘vishwa guru’ (world leader), he said.BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said the order is a reminder to people that they should have affection and duty towards national institutions and symbols. “Its a welcome order. Of late, there has been certain controversies. People are not standing up in cinema halls when national anthem is being played. “The SC has adjudicated and passed an order in terms of it. That has to be welcomed. It is a reminder to people that we have to have affection and duty towards our national institutions and symbols,” Kohli said.The Supreme Court also directed that the national flag should be shown on screen when the anthem is played. “People must feel this is my country and this is my motherland,” a bench of justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy said while stressing that it is the duty of every citizen of the country to show respect to the national anthem and the flag.Directing that its order be shown in electronic and print media and be followed in letter and spirit, the court said, “Time has come when people should feel they live in a nation.”

DNA Evening Must Reads: SC asks theatres to play national anthem before films, Yuvraj-Hazel wedding, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>National anthem to be played in theatres before movie plays, orders SCThe Supreme Court on Wednesday directed that cinema halls across the country must play the national anthem before the screening of a film and people should stand up as a mark of respect. Read more herePetrol to be costlier by 13 paise, diesel cheaper by 12 paisa from midnightPetrol price was on Wednesday hiked by a marginal 13 paisa a litre while diesel rates were cut by 12 paisa in line with global trends. Read more hereIndia’s GDP grows 7.3% in second quarter of 2016-17As per CSO, India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at a healthy rate of 7.3% in the July-September quarter i.e Q2 of the fiscal year 2016-17. Read more here Demonetization: BJP slams Rahul Gandhi for accusing govt of helping black money hoardersHitting back at Rahul Gandhi for accusing the government of helping black money hoarders with the amendment to I-T law, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday asked the Congress leader to give such a statement inside Parliament and wondered whether his party is “interested in debate or rules of debate”. Read more hereCyclonic storm ‘Nada’ to cross Tamil Nadu coast on December 2A depression over Bay of Bengal is likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm and cross the north Tamil Nadu coast early on December 2, bringing heavy rainfall in its wake, the weather office said on Wednesday. Read more here See pictures: Yuvraj Singh, Hazel Keech look stunning in their wedding attiresThe entire cricket fraternity gave the couple their best wishes. Read more here

Pakistan asks UN to intervene in resolving Kashmir issue with India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan on Wednesday asked the UN to play a role for peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue, saying it is the responsibility of the world body to implement its resolution, despite India deploying over one million troops in the Valley.Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said that “despite Pakistan’s concern, the presence of over one million troops in Kashmir which is the highest concentration of troops in the world is a hurdle in implementation of the United Nations resolution”.He said that the UN should “play its role” for peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue as it is the “responsibility” of the world body to implement its resolution. “Indian troops are killing innocent people and violating basic human rights in Kashmir since past four months,” he told Radio Pakistan’s Current Affairs Channel. He asked India to immediately stop “bloodshed” in Kashmir, underlining that Pakistan believes in peaceful resolution of every outstanding issue with India.Zakaria said that Pakistan would participate in Heart of Asia Conference being held in India this week because it was related to Afghanistan. He said that peace in Afghanistan was vital for regional stability. He said Pakistan firmly believes in peace and stability in Afghanistan. The spokesperson also condemned India’s “ill intentions” to sabotage Indus Water Treaty.

Manohar Parrikar discusses military, security ties with Bangladesh

Dhaka: India and Bangladesh on Wednesday discussed military and security cooperation as Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday held talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s security adviser to strengthen bilateral strategic ties.

Parrikar, the first Indian defence minister to visit Bangladesh in the last 45 years, held a meeting with Hasina’s security adviser Major General (Retd) Tariq Ahmed.

No official statement was issued after the meeting but officials familiar with the talks said they discussed security cooperation between the two countries.

A file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTIA file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

A file photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Parrikar, who arrived here Wednesday on a two-day visit leading an 11-member high-powered delegation, will meet the top civil and military leadership to strengthen defence ties between the two countries.

Parrikar, who is accompanied by the Vice Chiefs of the Army and Air Force, Deputy Chief of Navy besides Coast Guard chief, will meet President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who holds the defence portfolio in the cabinet.

The vice chiefs of India’s army, navy and air force, held talks with Bangladesh’s three services’ chiefs at their office in Dhaka cantonment, a defence ministry official said.

“During the meetings, they discussed issues related to the existing good relations and cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries,” an official statement said.

Top Defence Ministry officials in New Delhi had said the focus of Parrikar’s trip was to deepen security ties and firm up a defence cooperation agreement that is likely to be signed when Hasina visits India next month.

Parrikar is scheduled to visit Bangladesh Military Academy (BMA) near the southeastern port city of Chittagong on Fr iday.

Alongside India, Bangladesh has strong defence cooperation with China especially in military hardware.

Bangladesh Navy this month acquired its first submarines from China, as Dhaka sought to boost its naval power in the resource-rich Bay of Bengal.

Bangladesh Navy chief Admiral Muhammad Farid Habib during his recent visit to India had said Dhaka wants to work with the Indian Navy as there are many “non-traditional threats” in sea, a reference to piracy, floating armouries among others.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 18:58 IST

‘Duty of every citizen to respect National Anthem’: Read full text of Supreme Court’s order

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that the National Anthem must be played in public theaters across the country before a movie, minus any dramatisation. It also ordered that the national flag be shown on screen when the anthem is played.

Supreme Court directed the Centre that the order should be given effect in a week’s time and be circulated to all the states and Union Territories. A bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Amitava Roy said that this would instill a feeling of constitutional patriotism and nationalism. “It is the duty of every citizen to abide by the ideals ingrained in the Constitution and as such show respect to the National Anthem and the national flag,” the bench said.

“People must feel this is my country and this is my motherland,” a bench of justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy said while stressing that it is the duty of every citizen of the country to show respect to the national anthem and the flag.

“At the root of protocol for national anthem, is respect for national identity, integrity and constitutional patriotism,” the bench said while directing the Centre that the order should be given effect in a week’s time and be circulated to all States and Union Territories through chief secretaries.

It also said no person should take commercial benefits by playing the anthem and that it should not be dramatised.

Read the full text of the Supreme Court order here:

Supreme Court of India by Firstpost on Scribd

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 18:48 IST

Strategic rail lines along China and Pakistan border to come up

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government has decided to construct strategic rail lines along the borders with neighbouring countries including China and Pakistan, the Lok Sabha was informed on Wednesday. The proposal for construction of railway lines along China, Nepal and Pakistan borders has been initiated by the Defence Ministry as a strategic line, Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain said in a written reply.A total of 14 strategic lines have been identified, out of which four strategic lines — the 378km Missamari-Tenga- Tawang line, the 498km Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line, the 227km Pasighat Tezu-Rupai line, and the 249km North Lakhimpur-Bame- Silapathar line — have been decided to be taken up in the first phase.However, he said, none of these projects has been sanctioned. Since all these projects pass through very difficult terrain of the Himalayas, stability, geology, constructibility, maintainability and safety issues are to be examined, he said. Accordingly, the Final Location Survey (FLS) has been taken at a cost of Rs 345 crore. For the year 2016-17, the Ministry of Defence has provided Rs 87.18 crore.

Army chief Suhag visits Nagrota; combing operation still on

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag on Wednesday visited the Nagrota-based 16 Corps headquarters and was briefed about yesterday’s terror attack in which seven officers and jawans were killed, even as combing operation to flush out any remaining militant continued.Three militants were killed by security forces personnel and combing operation to sanitise the area was nearing end. Gen Suhag arrived in Nagrota in the afternoon and was briefed by the top commanders on the terror attack at an army artillery unit. He was also briefed about the combing operations. He reviewed the security aspect post terror attack and paid tributes to those killed in the strike. “Combing operation resumed this morning at the camp. The area has to be cleared… Operation is on to see whether there is presence of any other militant in the area. We cannot take chances,” a senior army officer said.’Blinds’ (unexploded shells) were destroyed at the site of the terror attack by a bomb disposal team during the combing operation. Jammu was rocked by two terror attacks yesterday in which seven army personnel, including two Major-rank officers, were killed and eight other securitymen, including a BSF DIG, were injured, before six heavily-armed terrorists were eliminated in the separate fierce encounters. In one incident, a group of heavily-armed terrorists in police uniform stormed an army unit in Nagrota, about three kms from the Corps headquarters on the outskirts of Jammu city.Seven army personnel, including two officers, were killed in this attack before three terrorists were killed in an armed stand-off which also involved a hostage-like situation with 12 soldiers, two ladies and two children being held captive. All were rescued. Three terrorists were gunned down by BSF in Ramgarh area of Samba near the International Border after an encounter that lasted several hours and was followed by intense cross-border firing by Pakistani troops. Four security personnel, including BSF DIG, were injured in this incident.

Cyclone Nada to cross Tamil Nadu coast on 2 December, ‘very heavy’ rainfall predicted

Chennai: A depression over the Bay of Bengal is likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm and cross the north Tamil Nadu coast early on 2 December, bringing heavy rainfall in its wake, the weather office said on Wednesday.

The cyclonic storm has been named Nada, S Balachandran, Director, Area Cyclone Warning Centre, told reporters.

The weather office said the depression over southeast Bay of Bengal moved west-northwestwards and intensified into a deep depression and lay centred about 830 km of southeast Chennai, 780 km east-southeast of Puducherry and 490 km east-southeast of Trincomalee in Sri Lanka.

“The system is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards and intensify further into a cyclonic storm [Nada] during next 12 hours. It is very likely to cross north Tamil Nadu coast between Vedaranyam and Chennai close to Cuddalore by early hours of 2 December,” it said.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

In its warning, the weather office forecast heavy to very heavy rainfall over Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on 1 and 2 December.

“Squally winds would commence to prevail along and off Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts from 1 December morning,” it said and asked fishermen not to venture into the sea.

Those out in the sea were advised to return immediately.

In the next 24 hours in Tamil Nadu beginning 0830 hrs on Wednesday, rains will commence along coastal parts and gradually move to inner districts, Balachandran said.

In Chennai, rains are expected to start early Thursday morning and intensify gradually, he said, adding, spells of heavy to very heavy rain are likely in the city.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) held a review meeting with Tamil Nadu government officials, including Chief Secretary P Ramamohana Rao on the preparedness to face the impact of the north east monsoon.

NDMA member Lt.Gen. N C Marwah, visited Chennai on 29 and 30 November to “review the preparedness measures undertaken by Government of Tamil Nadu to meet the impact of North East Monsoon,” a state government release said.

Commissioner of Revenue Administration K Satyagopal made a detailed presentation on various preventive and mitigation measures undertaken and preparedness measures carried out by the state government, it said.

He also explained new initiatives taken by the state government such as vulnerability mapping and analysis, formation of Inter Departmental Zonal Teams in vulnerable areas, Institutional arrangements, restoration of water bodies and water courses and community participation, it added.

Marwah also held detailed discussions with Rao in a meeting attended by other senior officials including Revenue Secretary B Chandramohan.

He “conveyed his appreciation and satisfaction over the initiatives taken by the Government of Tamil Nadu based on the experience gained during flooding in the state during 2015,” the release added.

Chennai and its suburbs in neighbouring Kancheepuram and Tiruvallore districts witnessed record rainfalls in the first week of December last year, resulting in a deluge.

Cuddalore District administration said elaborate precautionary measures had been taken to meet any eventuality in view of the cyclone expected to cross the district coast.

Officials of all departments had been put on high alert, District Collector TP Rajesh told reporters in Cuddalore.

The district had been divided into 79 zones and each of it would be assigned to a 21-member team of officials who would oversee relief works.

VHF network based walkie-talkies had been given to 1,728 safety officials and cyclone shelters kept ready in 51 fishing villages to accommodate people, he said.

Protected drinking water mixed with chlorine had been filled in all overhead tanks across the district.

All rivers flowing through and tanks and ponds in the district had already been desilted utilising Rs 179 crore sanctioned by the state government and Rs 30.77 crore contributed by Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) to gear up for meeting this year’s monsoon, the Collector said.

Special canals had been dug in the NLC to protect the three lignite mines from possible flooding, he added.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 18:28 IST

Ahead of Sartaj Aziz’s visit, India says no bilateral meeting request from Pakistan

New Delhi: Just two days ahead of Pakistan foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz’s visit, India on Wednesday clarified that it has not officially received a request for any bilateral meeting from Islamabad.

File photo of Sartaj Aziz. Reuters

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Foreign Policy Advisor Sartaj Aziz. File photo. Reuters

“Pakistan has not requested for any bilateral meeting so far,” Gopal Baglay, who heads the Ministry of External Affairs division dealing with Pakistan, said at a media briefing.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Foreign Policy Advisor Sartaj Aziz is scheduled to visit Amritsar, Punjab, on 3 December to attend the Heart of Asia Conference.

The conference, which will be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, will see the participation of over 40 countries.

This would be the first high-level visit from Pakistan after the announcement of Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue in December last year, which never took off in the wake of terror strikes, including the Pathankot airbase attack, and subsequent incidents which led to intense tensions between the two countries.

Ties between India and Pakistan have soured after the terrorist attack on an army base in Uri town of Jammu and Kashmir in September that left 19 soldiers dead and many wounded.

India has blamed Pakistan based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad for the attack.

India also recently boycotted the Saarc summit, scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November, citing continuous cross-border terrorism from Pakistan.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 18:25 IST

Demonetization is a despotic action that undermines trust: Amartya Sen attacks Modi govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has called Modi government’s demonetization move “despotic action that has struck at the root of economy based on trust”.”It (demonetization) undermines notes, it undermines bank accounts, it undermines the entire economy of trust. That is the sense in which it is despotic,” Sen told NDTV. He further said his immediate point of view on demonetization is on its economic aspect. “It’s (demonetization) a disaster on economy of trust. In the last 20 years, the country has been growing very fast. But it is all based on acceptance of each other’s word. By taking despotic action and saying we had promised but won’t fulfil our promise, you hit at the root of this,” Sen, also a Bharat Ratna awardee, said.Noting that capitalism has many successes that have come from having trust in businesses, he said if a government promises in promissory note and breaks such promise, then it is a despotic act. “I am not a great admirer of capitalism. On the other hand, capitalism has many successes… It’s despotic in the sense that if a government promises in promissory note that when given, we will give you this amount of compensation for it and to break such a promise is a despotic action,” Sen, who is currently Thomas W Lamont University Professor at Harvard University, said.The demonetization issue has also rocked Parliament as both Houses have been witnessing disruptions and adjournments due to noisy protests by Opposition parties for the past several days.

Nagrota attack: Indian Army Chief visits site; similarities with Uri attack, say reports

To flush out any remaining militants, combing operations resumed at the army camp in Nagrota, where seven defence personnel were killed in a terror attack on Tuesday.

The army recovered a huge catchment of arms and ammunition from the site of the encounter, according to ANI.

The combing operations are yet to conclude and the intelligence agencies are yet to reconstruct the chain of events that led to the major security breach, however, media reports are citing evidence to suggest several similarities between the Nagrota attacks and Uri attacks, the worst in last 26 years on an Indian Army base.

Indian TV channels reported that various incriminating documents were also seized, along with huge cache of firearms, which prove Pakistan’s complicity in the attack . Times Now reported that some evidence recovered from the site points towards Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) links of the terrorists. JeM is the same organisation that has allegedly been responsible for a slew of untoward incidents in Jammu and Kashmir, including the 18 September Uri attacks, wherein 20 soldiers lost their lives.

Security personnel stand guard during the search operations following the militant attack on Nagrota Army camp, near Jammu. PTI

Security personnel stand guard during the search operations following the militant attack on Nagrota Army camp, near Jammu. PTI

CNN-News 18 states that one of the slain terrorists in the Nagrota attack was complicit in the Uri attacks as well. The TV channel, however, said the precise role that the terrorist played could not be ascertained.

The Economic Times reported another major security breach along the International Border, in the Samba (around 40 km away from Nagrota) attacks, which were staged around the same time as the attack in Nagrota.

The report quotes the Border Security Force (BSF) as saying that a cross-border tunnel along the International Border (IB) in Samba was found, which was probably used by the terrorists to infiltrate into India. The BSF, however, in a prompt response, cornered the three infiltrators and gunned them down after a brief gunbattle. The BSF director general stated, according to the report, that the tunnel was approximately 80 metres long, stating that there is no equipment to detect such tunnels.

Following the attacks, Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag visited the Nagrota Corps headquarter on Wednesday to review the situation.

Jammu was rocked by two terror attacks on Tuesday in which seven army personnel, including two major-rank officers, were killed and eight other security men, including a BSF DIG, were injured, before six heavily-armed terrorists were eliminated in the separate fierce encounters.

In one incident, a group of heavily-armed terrorists in police uniform stormed an army unit in Nagrota, about three kms from the corps headquarters on the outskirts of Jammu city, triggering an intense gunbattle that lasted for hours.

Seven army personnel, including two officers, were killed in this attack before three terrorists were killed in an armed stand-off which also involved a hostage-like situation with 12 soldiers, two women and two children being held captive. All were rescued, army spokesman said.

In another incident, three terrorists were gunned down by BSF in Ramgarh area of Samba near the IB after an encounter that lasted several hours and was followed by intense cross-border firing by Pakistani troops. Four security personnel, including BSF DIG, were injured in this incident.

The two terror incidents in Jammu came on a day General Qamar Javed Bajwa took over as Chief of Pakistan Army from General Raheel Shareef.

(With inputs from agencies)

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 18:05 IST

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