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Shiv Sena takes a dig at Narendra Modi for greeting Nawaz Sharif on his birthday

Mumbai: In a veiled dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for wishing his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on his birthday amid chill in relations between the two countries, Shiv Sena on Tuesday invoked Chhatrapati Shivaji saying the warrior king never extended such greetings to “the enemies of the nation.”

Significantly, the Sena’s barb at Modi came within days of his laying the foundation for a grand memorial to Shivaji in Mumbai.

The ally also voiced its displeasure over the BJP supporters chanting “Modi, Modi” during a public meeting addressed by the prime minister, which was also attended by Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.

File photo of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. PTI

File photo of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. PTI

“What is outstanding about Shivaji Maharaj’s thoughts is that he considered enemies of Swarajya as enemies of the nation. Shivaji Maharaj never extended birthday greetings to Aurangzeb, Afzal Khan and Shaista Khan,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said.

During the build-up to ‘jal pujan’ for the memorial, Sena did not hide its feeling that BJP has sought to “hijack” the event for claiming the legacy of the Maratha icon to secure political mileage.

“We only ask politicians not to use Chhatrapati to play low-grade politics. Those who claim rights on Chhatrapati will bite the dust in the end. They would do well to remember the history,” the editorial said on Tuesday.

“Ensure that the memorial does not get trapped in selfish politics, thereby forcing Shivaji Maharaj to use his sword against these self-centred politicians,” it said.

The ruling alliance partner, however, said it understood the importance of Modi in the BJP, and that his party is what it is today only due to the “Modi tonic”.

“While the Sainiks and Shivaji fans were chanting slogans hailing the Chhatrapati, BJP workers were shouting slogans in the name of Modi. Can anyone compare himself to Shivaji? Modi himself will not approve of this,” Sena said.

Notably, during the public meeting addressed by Modi here on Sunday, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s speech was interrupted for a while, apparently by BJP supporters present among the audience by chanting “Modi, Modi,”.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 14:30 IST

Jet Airways mishap: Prompt Navy response in evacuating on-board passengers helps avert ‘catastrophe’

Panaji: On Tuesday, Navy said its prompt response in rescuing passengers on-board the Mumbai-bound flight that veered off the runway at Dabolim Airport in Goa early on Tuesday morning, has averted the incident from turning into a “catastrophe”.

“The Navy responded within 15-20 minutes and all the passengers were evacuated safely out of the aircraft. It would have turned into a catastrophe had the Navy not acted promptly,” a Naval spokesperson said.

The incident took place at around 5 am when Jet Airways flight 9W 2374 that had arrived from Dubai and was bound for Mumbai, skidded off the runway while aligning for the take off.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The Goa airport is located in Indian Navy’s facility, INS Hansa in Vasco town, nearly 25 km from Panaji.

As many as 15 passengers suffered “minor injuries and fractures” during the evacuation process, Navy sources said.

“Few guests have sustained minor injuries during the evacuation process and medical assistance is being coordinated by the Jet Airways team and the airport authorities,” the airlines said in a statement.

Beside 154 passengers, there were seven crew members on board.

Meanwhile, the runway was made available for flight operations at 9 am, hours before the initial deadline of 12.30 pm.

Soon after the incident, Navy officials had cordoned off the aircraft that had tilted towards its front end, while the passengers were being alighted.

“After the passengers were evacuated, the operation to rescue the aircraft started. The damage to the runway was also accessed by a team of Indian Navy and Airport Authority of India officials,” the spokesperson said.

“There was lot of muck on the runway as the flight was grounded on the sides of the runway,” he said.

During the rescue operation hours, a chartered flight was diverted to Bangalore, while an Oman Air flight that was scheduled to arrive in morning, was diverted to Mumbai, he said.

A total of seven scheduled flights that were to land at the airport were cancelled, while one scheduled flight and another chartered flight remained grounded. The two aircrafts will take off later during the day.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 11:43 IST

Norway authorities should return Indian child Aryan to natural parents: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi: Ahead of its Ambassador’s meeting with authorities in Norway involving the custody of a child of a Indo-Norwegian family, on Tuesday India made it clear that it wants the five-and-a-half year boy united with his natural parents.

Taking a hard stance, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she refuses to accept that foster parents can take better care of the child than natural parents.

In a series of tweets, Swaraj said, “Our Ambassador in Norway is meeting the Norwegian authorities today regarding Aryan. I refuse to accept that foster parents can take better care of the child than the natural parents.

“The foster parents are totally ignorant of the Indian culture and our food habits. We want restoration of Aryan to his natural parents.”

Sushma Swaraj. PTISushma Swaraj. PTI

Sushma Swaraj. PTI

Indian national Gurvinderjit Kaur and her husband, who is a Norwegian national, have alleged that authorities in that country have taken away their son, also a Norwegian national, on a frivolous complaint of abuse.

Kaur had also written to the Ministry seeking help in getting back her son, who has been taken away by the Norway Child Welfare Services.

This is the third case since 2011 when children have been taken away from their Indian-origin parents by the authorities in Norway on the grounds of abuse.

In 2011, a three-year-old and a one-year-old were separated from their parents, prompting the then UPA government to take up the issue with Norway.

The Norwegian court later allowed the children to be reunited with their parents.

In December 2012, an Indian couple was jailed on charges of ill treatment of their children, 7 and 2 years. Later, they were sent to their grandparents in Hyderabad.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 11:07 IST

Income tax raids: Black money holders may have to pay up 137% in tax, penalty

There is more pain on the way for black money holders. The income tax department on Monday said they will have to bear taxes and penalties amounting to as high as 137 percent if they do not admit to or fail to explain the source of undisclosed income after being raided.

However, the total levy can touch 107.25 percent if the undisclosed income is admitted during search operations and that income substantiated, the department said in a release, adding the tax dodgers can come clean by paying 50 per cent on bank deposits post demonetisation.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

If one fails to admit his unexplained income during the course of search and in case, taxes are not paid and he does not substantiate the manner in which income is earned, then the tax incidence will be 137.25 percent, the tax department said in a release.

However, if undisclosed income is admitted during search, taxes are paid and return is filed before the specified date declaring this income and assessee substantiates the manner in which income is earned, then the tax rate will be 107.25 per cent, the release added.

“We are asking people to declare their undisclosed cash deposits in banks, post offices which have not been subject to tax earlier under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna, 2016 (the scheme),” Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (NWR) Rajendra Kumar said in Chandigarh on Monday.

This scheme which has come into effect on 17 December shall remain open for declarations up to 31 March, 2017, he said.

If the income is not admitted during search and the assessee is not able to substantiate the earning, it will attract 60 per cent tax, 60 per cent penalty, 15 per cent surcharge, 3 per cent education cess surcharge — amounting to 137.25 percent.

In case, the income is admitted during search and the assessee is able to substantiate the earning, it will attract 60 percent tax, 30 percent penalty, 15 per cent surcharge, 3 percent education cess surcharge — totalling to 107.25 percent.

The Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Act, 2016 has amended the penalty provisions in respect of search and seizure cases, the release said.

The existing slab for penalty of 10 per cent, 20 percent and 60 per cent of income levied under section 271AAB has been rationalized to 30 per cent of income, if the income is admitted and taxes are paid. Otherwise, a penalty at the rate of 60 per cent of income shall be levied, the department said in the release.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 07:42 IST

I-T department says, post raids, black money to attract over 137% in tax, penalty

Chandigarh: Black money holders will have to bear taxes and penalties amounting to as high as 137 percent if they do not admit to or fail to explain the source of undisclosed income after being raided, the income tax department said on Monday.

However, the total levy can touch 107.25 per cent if the undisclosed income is admitted during search operations and that income substantiated, the department said in a release, adding the tax dodgers can come clean by paying 50 per cent on bank deposits post demonetisation.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

If one fails to admit his unexplained income during the course of search and in case, taxes are not paid and he does not substantiate the manner in which income is earned, then the tax incidence will be 137.25 percent, the tax department said in a release.

However, if undisclosed income is admitted during search, taxes are paid and return is filed before the specified date declaring this income and assessee substantiates the manner in which income is earned, then the tax rate will be 107.25 per cent, the release added.

“We are asking people to declare their undisclosed cash deposits in banks, post offices which have not been subject to tax earlier under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna, 2016 (the scheme),” Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (NWR) Rajendra Kumar said in Chandigarh on Monday.

This scheme which has come into effect on 17 December shall remain open for declarations up to 31 March, 2017, he said.

If the income is not admitted during search and the assessee is not able to substantiate the earning, it will attract 60 per cent tax, 60 per cent penalty, 15 per cent surcharge, 3 per cent education cess surcharge — amounting to 137.25 percent.

In case, the income is admitted during search and the assessee is able to substantiate the earning, it will attract 60 percent tax, 30 percent penalty, 15 per cent surcharge, 3 percent education cess surcharge — totalling to 107.25 percent.

The Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Act, 2016 has amended the penalty provisions in respect of search and seizure cases, the release said.

The existing slab for penalty of 10 per cent, 20 percent and 60 per cent of income levied under section 271AAB has been rationalized to 30 per cent of income, if the income is admitted and taxes are paid. Otherwise, a penalty at the rate of 60 per cent of income shall be levied, the department said in the release.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 22:15 IST

Demonetisation: Govt mulling ordinance to penalise those holding junked notes beyond 30 December

New Delh: The government is understood to be mulling an ordinance to impose penalties on anyone possessing the junked Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes beyond 30 December when the deadline to deposit them in banks expires.

There was no official word on the move which is likely to come up before the Cabinet on Wednesday but sources said penalties may be imposed on anyone holding more than 10 notes each of the old currency after 30 December.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The ordinance may also extinguish the liability of the government and RBI towards the promise to pay the bearer of these notes their value because of a statutory requirement.

In 1978 a similar ordinance was issued to end the government’s liability after Rs 1,000, Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 notes were demonetised by the Janata Party government under Morarji Desai.

The government had while announcing the demonetisation of the old currency allowed holders to either exchange them or deposit in bank and post office accounts. While the facility to exchange the old notes has since been withdrawn, depositors have time till Friday to deposit the holding in their accounts.

For those depositing any accounted funds, or black money, it has offered them an amnesty provided they paid 50 per cent of it as tax and penalties and parked a quarter of it in a zero-interest bearing deposit for four years. Reports said that there could be a cap of holding no more than 10 notes of each after December 30 and violation of the rule could draw a fine of a minimum of Rs 50,000 or 5 times the amount in question — whichever is higher, but there was no confirmation.

Holders of such currency have an option to deposit them in RBI by March 31 but even that period may be curtailed, they said.

Out of the Rs 15.44 lakh crore worth of 500 and 1000 rupee notes in circulation on November 8, close to Rs 13 lakh crore have been deposited in accounts or exchanged for valid currency.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 21:50 IST

Kolkata: Suspected IS militant, Musa planned execution of foreigners at Mother House, says NIA

New Delhi: Alleged terrorist Mohd Mosiuddin was plotting Islamic State-style chilling execution of foreigners, especially those from the US, Russia and the UK, visiting the Mother House in Kolkata as it would be a “heart pleasing” experience for him, the NIA has claimed.

The NIA, in a charge sheet filed before a special court in Kolkata recently, claimed that Mosiuddin alias Musa was planning to stab and kill foreigners, a style frequently chosen by the IS to eliminate its targets.

The Mother House in West Bengal capital is the headquarters of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. In its charge sheet, the anti-terror probe agency has said Musa termed the militants operating in Kashmir as “Mujahids (holy warriors) with impure ideologies” who were fighting for Kashmiri land when they should have fought in support of Sharia, the Islamic canonical law based on the teachings of the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet
(Hadith and Sunna).

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The agency has provided Musa’s photographs in Kashmir to buttress its claim that the terrorist had visited the Valley.

NIA alleged it had proof of his having bought a big knife to commit the terror crimes before fleeing away. He also allegedly procured pepper spray from Snapdeal, an online marketplace to facilitate his proposed criminal acts as the intended target would be rendered temporarily blinded by it.

The charge sheet alleged that Musa discussed plans for conducting such attacks at the Mother House, which is frequented by foreigners from the US, Russia and the UK. Armed forces of these countries are locked in fierce battles with the IS in many nations.

Musa had discussed with some others the exact location of the Mother House and was claimed to have told them that foreigners, particularly Russians, Britishers and Americans often visited the place. He wanted them killed as the governments of their countries had bombarded the IS in Syria and Libya, the charge sheet alleged.

The NIA had taken over investigation in the case from Howrah police on 22 July.

During Musa’ arrest, a .38 bore six-chamber revolver, three rounds of ammunition, a knife, a Samsung mobile phone and other incriminating articles were seized. Subsequently, one Apple Macbook and a sword were seized from his residence at Tiruppur, Tamilnadu.

During investigation, two more accused, namely Saddam Hossain alias Kalu and Abbasudin Sk alias Amin were arrested by West Bengal CID.

“Mosiuddin was found involved in furthering the illegal activities of the IS in India and Bangladesh and had been in touch with Shafi Armar…and was also linked to the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) operatives in Bangladesh,” NIA had said in a statement.

Armar is a former Indian Mujahideen operative who was later claimed to have joined the IS. It was Armar who had radicalised him by sending the links of jihadi sites like Jihadology.net, Al-Shabab media and Just-Paste-it links, etc.

Armar also allegedly sent him videos released by Ansar Ut Tawid (AuT) which included footages of the war between the IS and Iraqi forces. The videos and speeches of ‘Anwar ul Awlaki’, a jihadist ideologue and preacher who was killed in a US drone attack in Yemen, were also sent to him by Armar, a native of Bhatkal in Karnataka and one of the main recruiters for IS in India.

Abu Suleiman, a Bangladeshi IS/JMB operative, visited India to meet Musa twice in March, 2015, and May, 2016. He encouraged Musa to use encrypted chat applications like Telegram, Surespot, Threema, Chatsecure, to communicate with him and other IS operatives, NIA has alleged.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 21:14 IST

Daman and Diu: Bombay HC orders UT to pay compensation to scribe who was handcuffed, paraded

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has directed the Union Territory of Daman and Diu to pay a compensation of Rs four lakh to a journalist who was handcuffed by the police and paraded on the streets after he was arrested on the charge of extortion in 2009.

“The Administration of the Union Territory has violated the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution by illegally handcuffing and parading him on 2 July, 2009,” said the High Court in its ruling on 22 December.

Bombay High Court. News18Bombay High Court. News18

Bombay High Court. News18

A division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and AA Sayed directed the Union Territory to pay the compensation to Satish Sharma within two months. Sharma had moved the HC questioning police’s action of handcuffing and parading him. It was illegal and violated the right to personal liberty guaranteed by the Constitution, he said.

Maintaining that he was an honest journalist and the whole episode had tarnished his reputation, Sharma demanded a compensation of Rs five crore.

The HC said that while it was ordering the administration to pay Sharma Rs four lakh, he was free to file another suit to demand additional compensation. The Administrator of the Union Territory can take steps for recovery of the compensation amount from the erring officers through a due process of law, the judges said.

The court also ordered the Union Territory to pay an additional Rs 25,000 to Sharma towards litigation cost. Further, the Administrator of the UT shall initiate inquiry for fixing the responsibility for the illegal action of police, the court said.

Sharma, editor of the daily Savera India Times, was arrested by the police in Daman after a case of extortion and criminal intimidation was filed against him.

He alleged it was a vindictive action as his newspaper had exposed misdeeds of the then Administrator of the Union Territory, other officials and the police. The Administrator had filed a police complaint against him.

Sharma was arrested in Diu, brought to Daman by police in a bus, and forced to walk while handcuffed to the police station through a crowded market, according to the petition.

The Press Council of India had ordered an inquiry by a sessions judge into Sharma’s allegations. The judge confirmed that he was indeed handcuffed and paraded by the police.

Advocate MK Kocharekar, petitioner’s lawyer, cited several Supreme Court decisions to argue that handcuffing was illegal and amounted to a gross violation of fundamental rights.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 20:49 IST

Demonetisation: Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu says problems caused by note ban easing out

New Delhi: Problems caused by demonetisation are “easing out” and the move will eventually benefit the nation, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said on Monday, days after he said the decision was not as per “our wish” and that he had to “break his head” to find solutions.

Naidu, who heads the 13-member committee formed by the Centre to look into note ban-related issues, also sought to allay apprehensions over cyber security, saying the country is “very strong” in the sphere and information technology.

“Nowadays, it is easing out. More and more cash is coming, Rs 500 currency note is in circulation. Naturally, it will ease out. The problems are there temporarily. Ultimately, it (demonetisation) is going to benefit the nation,” he told reporters here.

To a question whether the inconvenience caused by note ban will end by 30 December, Naidu said one has to consider “plus or minuses” and that the sacrifices are being made for long-term gains.

File photo of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. AP

File photo of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. AP

“It is going to provide future for people. Sometimes for long term gains, you have to sacrifice something, that is what is happening today. Yesterday, situation was different, today it is different, tomorrow it is going to be much more different,” he said.

On apprehensions about cyber security as the Centre pitches for turning the country into a less-cash economy, stressing more on digital transactions, Naidu said “all over the world” countries are following digital economy.

“We are very strong in cyber security and also in information technology. Our people are heading Google, Microsoft. That is the caliber India has,” he said.

The 13-member committee is expected to meet on 28 December again.

Speaking at a party workshop in Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada on 20 December, Naidu, who had initially supported demonetisation, said the 8 November move was not as per “our wish” and that a “lot of problems” still remain without any solution in sight.

“I am breaking my head daily but we are unable to find a solution to this problem,” he had said. A day later, Naidu had said his comments were “distorted” but acknowledged that currency problems continued.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 20:24 IST

‘Internet connectivity still out of reach for 950 mn Indians’: Assocham-Deloitte study

New Delhi: India may have the world’s second largest internet user base, but connectivity remains out of reach for nearly 950 million citizens, a report said today.

“Even with the internet data plans in India being among the cheapest in the world and the average retail price of smartphones steadily declining, connectivity is still out of the reach of nearly 950 million Indians,” according to the Assocham-Deloitte joint study. India currently has about 350 million internet users, second only to China.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Internet penetration is increasing in India and the access to affordable broadband, smart devices and monthly data packages are required to spread digital literacy to make their ends meet, the study titled ‘Strategic national measures to combat cybercrime’ said.

Existing government infrastructure assets should be further leveraged for provision of digital services at remote locations, it said.

The study added that digital literacy needs to be increased by providing institutional trainings in schools, colleges and universities. It pitched for accelerating
partnerships with global technology leaders and using the workforce trained under Skill India to impart trainings.

An integrated approach between Digital India and Skill India needs to be constructed to design programmes and impart training, it said.

The report called for incentivising private sector players for developing infrastructure, providing services and promoting digital literacy as part of the Digital India programme.

“Start-ups should be involved to create and customise apps to local needs to increase adoption of digital technology,” it said adding that a framework needs to be defined for participation of private sector in skill development programs defining their role, expectations in terms of investments, content and job guarantees.

Besides, integration of local language and technology is also required to drive digital literacy.

The report said fear of cybercrime and breach of privacy have been deterrents in adoption of digital technologies in the country.

In order to encourage people to switch to digital means, it is important to provide awareness and education on cyber security, risks and safeguarding of information on the internet, it said.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 19:31 IST

India, Bangladesh border to be completely sealed by mid 2018: Rajnath Singh

Guwahati: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday the security of the more than 200-kilometre-long Indo-Bangladesh border was a priority for the BJP government and it will be completely sealed in next one and a half years.

“We are committed to sealing the 223.7-km Indo-Bangladesh border and the process is on. It is expected to be completed within the next year and a half,” Singh said addressing BJP workers in Guwahati.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

“Bangladesh is our neighbouring country and we share a good and warm relation, which we will continue to pursue and remain committed to in the future,” he said.

The Union minister, without referring to the issues of illegal migration and granting of citizenship to Hindu refugees, assured the people of Assam that BJP was committed to protect the interests of the indigenous population of the state as per Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.

“We are committed to Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and will protect it even if we have to amend the Constitution,” he said.

Referring to the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, Singh said the process is underway and the state government should complete it soon.

The Union minister said the Centre will make no compromise on the issue of insurgency as he claimed that violence has considerably come down in the state.

“If any people or group have any grievances, problems or issues, we are ready to talk to them… We are ready to embrace them and talk. But if there is violence, there will be no compromise,” he added.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 19:20 IST

Chennai I-T raid: Son of ex-TN chief secy P Rama Mohana Rao summoned in ‘tax evasion’ case

Chennai: Widening its probe, the Income Tax Department has summoned the son of former Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao in connection with its tax evasion investigation against sand mining operators of the state where one of the biggest seizures of cash and gold was made by the taxman in the aftermath of demonetisation.

Officials said while Rao’s son Vivek Papisetty was first summoned to join investigations last week, after searches were carried out against him and his family on 21 December, and now fresh reminders have again been sent to him in this regard.

They said Vivek has informed the Investigating Officer of the case that he would join the probe soon and has cited his wife’s illness as the reason for not being able to do so till now.

The department, it is understood, wants to confront and question Vivek regarding a number of seizures of documents made by the sleuths from his and his kins’ locations and from the premises of Shankar Reddy after searches were first carried out against the latter here earlier this month.

P Rama Mohana Rao. Wikimedia Commons

P Rama Mohana Rao. Wikimedia Commons

Reddy was arrested by CBI last week.

“Vivek has said he would be joining I-T investigations in a day or two. His questioning is vital in the case,” they said, adding that three other associates searched in the case are also being questioned by the department.

I-T officials had earlier claimed that Vivek had “admitted to a total unaccounted income of about Rs 17 crore”, a day after I-T raids were carried out at the top bureaucrat’s house and other premises linked to his kin.

Last week, the department had launched searches on atleast 15 premises related to Vivek and others and had claimed to have seized Rs 30 lakh in new currency and five kilogrammes gold.

The Tamil Nadu government, on the very next day of raids on 22 December, had replaced Rao from the top bureaucratic post and had appointed senior IAS officer and Additional Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan as the new Chief Secretary.

The I-T case emerges from the to biggest cash haul of new notes post demonetisation after the department raided some sand mining operators of Tamil Nadu.

Over Rs 142 crore unaccounted assets have been recovered so far by the department in this case apart from seizure of Rs 34 crore in new notes.

The total cash seizure in this instance was over Rs 170 crore and this has become the single largest case of disclosure of undisclosed assets post the note ban.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 18:50 IST

US woman gang-rape case: Delhi police arrests four, including driver and cleaner

New Delhi: Four persons have been arrested in connection with the alleged gangrape of a US national in a five-star hotel in Delhi earlier this year.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The four accused arrested include the tour guide, driver, cleaner and a hotel staff, said a senior police officer. The officer, however, refused to reveal the names of the arrested persons as police will be conduct an test identification parade.

The US national arrived in Delhi a few days ago to join the probe and recorded her statement in front of a judicial magistrate where she reiterated the charges she had made in her complaint.

Earlier, she had said that she was not “satisfied” with the probe and was ready to come to India to identify the accused. On 8 December , the tourist guide, accused of raping the woman, along with his accomplices, was questioned by police after his arrival from Nepal.

Police had identified the man and had contacted him while he was in Nepal. The tour guide had denied his “involvement” in the matter and told police that the victim had given him a “positive feedback” in the forms.

The woman had alleged that she was raped by the men for two days. They also threatened her with dire consequences if she reported the matter to anybody.

She had also stated that the accused had made a video of the act and had threatened to make it public if she reported the matter to                                                                                                                        anyone.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 18:48 IST

Watch: Father Tom, Indian priest abducted from Yemen, appeals to Pope, Centre to secure his release

Kochi: An Indian Catholic priest abducted from Yemen this year appealed to Pope Francis and the Union government through a purported video to secure his release from his captors.

“If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously. I am from India. I am perhaps not considered as of much value,” said priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil in a weak voice in the video, aired by news channels in Kerala.

“Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a father please take care of my life. I am very much depressed. My health is deteriorating,” he said in the video, a day after Christmas. Father Uzhunnalil, who looked very weak, appeared to be reading out from a text placed before him.

The veracity of the video, which was uploaded from You tube and Facebook, could neither be independently verified nor was the period when it was shot known.

Father Uzhunnalil, who hails from Kerala, was abducted in March by terror group Islamic State which attacked an old-age home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in city of Aden in southern Yemen.

He claimed his captors have made many contacts with the Government of India — President and Prime Minister.

“I am very sad that nothing has been done seriously in my regard,” he said.

He said reports had said everything has been done to get his release, “but in reality nothing” has been done. Father Uzhunnalil said a news reporter abducted in the Middle East was released as she was from France.

“I am from India and not considered. Dear people, I pray you all, ask you all, beg you all to do your might to help me to save my life. I need hospitalisation soon. Please come to my help quickly,” he said.

The Union Government has said efforts are being made to secure Uzhunnalil’s release, but such attempts take time. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had informed Parliament that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has spoken to various countries through which contacts can be established in Yemen.

Swaraj had said it takes more time to secure release of people who are held captive and asked the MPs to keep “faith” in government’s efforts to trace the abducted priest.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 18:31 IST

Manipur violence: Centre rushes 4,000 additional paramilitary personnel

New Delhi: The Centre has rushed additional 4,000 paramilitary personnel to Manipur in its efforts to reopen a national highway which has been blocked for nearly two months by a Naga group.

With this, the total number of central security personnel deployed in the sensitive northeastern state for assisting the local administration for maintaining law and order has gone up to 17,500.

“Our top priority is now to reopen the National Highway-2 connecting Manipur (to Nagaland). While the other highway (NH-37) is reopened, we want to reopen the NH-2 too as early as possible,” a senior home ministry official said.

The security personnel were sent to the northeastern state keeping in view the security situation in the wake of violence following the economic blockade imposed by the Union Naga Council (UNC) on the National Highways since 1 November.

File photo. Reuters

File photo. Reuters

The UNC has imposed the economic blockade on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH 37 (Imphal-Jiribam) that serve as lifelines for the landlocked Manipur.

Curfew has been clamped in Imphal East district for the last fortnight after a mob torched and vandalised 22 passenger vehicles on the Imphal-Ukhrul road, while curfew in Imphal West district was imposed from evening to dawn.

In a stern message, the Centre had on Friday told the Manipur government that it can’t escape responsibility for the “humanitarian crisis” arising out of the 52-day economic blockade by a Naga group and must work to end it, while making it clear that nobody will be allowed to take political advantage out of it.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who was on a day-long visit to Congress-ruled Manipur as a central emissary, said it is completely unacceptable to have such kinds of blockades in which thousands are suffering and both the central and Manipur governments will work together to end it.

“The state government has not been able to end the blockade. It must end as soon as possible as law and order is the responsibility of the state government. Nobody will be allowed to take political advantage out of a humanitarian crisis where common people are suffering,” he had said.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 18:11 IST

Committed to sealing border with Bangladesh in next year and half, says Rajnath Singh

Guwahati: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said the security of the more than 200-kilometre-long Indo-Bangladesh border was a priority for the BJP government and it will be completely sealed in next one and a half years.

“We are committed to sealing the 223.7-km Indo-Bangladesh border and the process is on. It is expected to be completed within the next year and a half,” Singh said addressing BJP workers in Guwahati.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

“Bangladesh is our neighbouring country and we share a good and warm relation, which we will continue to pursue and remain committed to in the future,” he said.

The Union minister, without referring to the issues of illegal migration and granting of citizenship to Hindu refugees, assured the people of Assam that BJP was committed to protect the interests of the indigenous population of the state as per Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.

“We are committed to Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and will protect it even if we have to amend the Constitution,” he said.

Referring to the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, Singh said the process is underway and the state government should complete it soon.

The Union minister said the Centre will make no compromise on the issue of insurgency as he claimed that violence has considerably come down in the state.

“If any people or group have any grievances, problems or issues, we are ready to talk to them. We are ready to embrace them and talk. But if there is violence, there will be no compromise,” he added.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 16:59 IST

Sabarimala temple row: Activist Trupti Desai won’t be allowed inside, says Kerala govt

Sabarimala (Kerala): The Kerala government on Monday said that the entry of Bhumata Brigade chief Trupti Desai will not be allowed in the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala, even as the activist plans to lead 100 odd women to the famous hill shrine.

There are restrictions for the entry of women between 10-50 years of age in the temple.

Trupti Desai. PTI file image

Trupti Desai. PTI file image

“The Sabarimala temple is administered by Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) and its traditions and rules are applicable to everyone,” Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran told reporters in Sabarimala.

“The matter with regard to entry of women of all age groups is already before the supreme court. There will be no change in the tradition and customs,” until a decision is taken by the supreme court, he said.

The CPM-led LDF government’s stand comes after it had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court last month informing that it favoured the entry of women of all age groups in the Sabarimala temple.

Trupti Desai had recently stated that she would be visiting the Lord Ayyappa temple next month with 100 odd activists and there was no change in her plans.

Desai had earlier campaigned for the entry of women at the Shani Shingnapur, Trimbakeshwar Shiva temple and Haji Ali dargah.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 16:52 IST

Kerala: Opposition demands resignation of LDF minister MM Mani charged in murder case

Kochi: Stepping up its attack against Electricity Minister MM Mani after he rejected Opposition’s demand to quit following a court’s refusal of discharging him from a 34-year-old murder case, Congress on Monday alleged that his presence in the CPM-led LDF government would weaken the trial into the charges against him.

“Mani is an accused in a murder case. He must quit. It is necessary to ensure proper justice in the case,” KPCC Chief V M Sudheeran told reporters here.

He alleged that Mani’s presence in the government would help him “pressurise” witnesses and Investigating Officers.

“We strongly believe that there will be efforts to influence the witnesses,” Sudheeran said.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Mani has rejected opposition Congress and BJP’s demand that he quit after a court in Thodupuzha refused to discharge him as an accused in the 34-year-old murder case, saying he would fight the case both “legally and politically”.

Noting that Mani is the second accused in the case related to the murder of Youth Congress leader Anchery Baby in November 1982, Sudheeran said that his continuation in the Ministry raises “moral, ethical and legal” questions.

“So the chief minister should seek his resignation from the Ministry or he should be sacked,” the KPCC president said.

Sudheeran also asked the CPM central leadership to explain their stand on the issue.

The state unit of CPI(M) heading the LDF regime, has rallied behind Mani, saying the demand for his resignation was “politically motivated”.

“The demand is politically motivated. The case existed when Mani contested the state Assembly elections. There is nothing new in the court verdict. The demand for his resignation has no basis and he can continue as Minister,” CPM State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had said, soon after the verdict on Saturday.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 15:54 IST

Demonetisation: Fake notes of new Rs 2,000/500 worth Rs 26.10 lakh seized; 2 held in Gujarat

Rajkot: Two persons were arrested on Monday with counterfeit currency in the denominations of newly introduced Rs 2,000 and Rs 500, having a face value of Rs 26,10,000, police said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“Acting on a tip-off, the city crime branch sleuths intercepted a car at Hanuman Madhi area and arrested two persons with fake currency notes of Rs 2,000 with face value of Rs 26 lakh, and of Rs 500 with face value of Rs 10,000,” Rajkot Commissioner of Police Anupam Singh Gehlot told mediapersons here.

The arrested persons were identified as Hruday Jagani and Lakshman Chauhan, both hailing from Ahmedabad, he said.

The notes were kept inside the speaker box of the car in which they were travelling, Gehlot said.

He said a high quality colour printing machine was also seized from their possession which was used to print the currency notes.

The cover of notes’ bundles bore the tag and seal of a public sector bank to make them look like original, he said.

“Hruday used to work as a printer and has a sound technical know-how of printing and cutting notes with perfection so that they look like original,” Gehlot said.

“The mastermind was identified as one Jignesh Shah, who is a land broker in Ahmedabad. Jignesh would find customers looking to exchange their old currency notes, and would order printing of notes after he struck a deal with his customers,” the senior police officer said.

A search is on to nab Shah.

He said the accused might have supplied several such notes since demonetisation came into effect on November 9.

“They would bring such notes into circulation in different ways. They’d hide duplicate notes in the bundle of original notes so that it was supplied easily, and would earn around Rs 15,000-20,000 on supply of Rs 2 lakh,” Gehlot said.

“Another modus operandi was to hide blank notes below the Rs 2,000 lookalike duplicate notes,” he said.

Gehlot said ever since demonetisation came into effect, around Rs 2 crore worth of old notes and Rs 70 lakh of new notes were seized from Rajkot alone.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 15:48 IST

Delhi govt to make digital payments for transactions above Rs 5,000

New Delhi: The Delhi government has asked all its departments to make electronic payments to suppliers, contractors and institutions if the order value exceeds Rs 5,000.

The Finance Department of the Delhi government has issued an office memorandum deciding to implement the recent order of the Union Finance Ministry in this regard to promote e-payments.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

In the memorandum, the department has asked that payments should be made to contractors, suppliers and institutions through Real-Time Gross Settlement Systems (RTGS), National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) and Electronic Clearing Service (ECS).

“It has been decided to implement the instructions (of the Union Finance Ministry)…in the departments, autonomous institutions, public sector undertakings and Corporations of Government of NCT of Delhi.

“Accordingly, all payments to the suppliers, contractors, grantee/loanee institutions etc. above Rs 5,000 may be made through electronic mode i.e RTGS, NEFT and ECS with immediate effect,” the Finance Department said in the memorandum.

The city administration’s move comes in line with the Centre’s decision to promote digitisation of payments following the announcement of demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes on 8 November.

Earlier this month, the Centre had lowered the threshold for making such payments from Rs 10,000 to Rs 5,000, a move that was aimed at attaining the goal of complete digitisation of government payments.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 15:22 IST

2004 Tsunami: Tamil Nadu observes 12th anniversary of tragedy

Chennai: The 12th anniversary of the killer tsunami that caused massive destruction in Tamil Nadu in 2004 was observed across the state with people mourning the dead and fishermen keeping off the seas.

Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar and Handloom Minister OS Manian paid tributes in Chennai and at Nagapattinam, respectively.

Special prayers and floral tributes besides remembering the loved ones by pouring milk into the sea marked the day, even as many recalled that fateful day on December 26 when tidal waves swept away their loved ones along the coast.

Prayers and tributes were held in Chennai and Nagapattinam, with the latter bearing the brunt of the killer waves, besides others, including Cuddalore and Kanniyakumari.

Women poured milk into the sea as a mark of respect to the departed ones while candle light and floral tributes were paid by people for their relatives who were consumed by the sea.

While many remembered their surviving the ordeal, others recalled how the waves swept away their close relatives.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Fishermen did not venture out to sea for their vocation on Monday.

At Nagapattinam, when the clock struck 9:17 a.m, people rose to observe a minute’s silence to pay homage to the persons who lost their lives in the tsunami.

District Collector S Pazhanisamy and other officials participated in silent marches, candle processions and floral tributes.

At Vailankanni, a special mass was conducted at the Shrine Basillica in memory of the tsunami victims. A silent procession was also held.

At Nagore, tributes were paid to those who were buried in the land owned by the Dargah. The graveyard of the dargah of Saint Hazrath Syed Shahul Hameed Quadir Wali at Nagore, which is more than 500 years old, witnessed mass burials 12 years ago.

Memorials were also held in neighbouring Karaikal.

Hundreds of fishermen from 12 affected villages in the district took out silent processions,placed wreaths and lit candles at the memorial sites. Puducherry Agriculture Minister Kamalakannan,District Collector P Parthiban and other officials paid floral tributes at Nandalar memorial site.

In fishing hamlets such as Pattinacherry, Karaikalmedu and Kottucherrymedu, people hoisted black flags in memory of the departed and decorated photographs of victims with flowers.

Triggered by earthquake in Indonesia, a massive tsunami struck the Tamil Nadu coast on December 26 morning, a Sunday, causing massive damage to life and property across the state.

Nagapattinam faced the maximum fury of the natural disaster even as other coastal districts like Chennai, Cuddalore and Tiruvallore suffered.

Nearly 7,000 people died on that fateful day.

The government later rolled out series of rehabilitation schemes for the affected people.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 14:59 IST

Jammu and Kashmir 2016 review: Curfew, Mehbooba Mufti, Burhan Wani and surgical strikes

Srinagar: The year 2016 saw Mehbooba Mufti taking over as the first woman chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Army for the first time carrying out surgical strikes on militant camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) while violent protests for months hit hard normal life and resulted in shutdown of schools and death of 86 people.

The government had also to grapple with the NIT unrest, mysterious school burning incidents and blinding due to pellet gun firing issues.

The only silver lining during all this mayhem was that the annual Amarnath yatra to south Kashmir Himalayas went on, though with some interruptions due to authorities’ stopping the pilgrims from travelling during day to avoid any casualties.

In fact, local residents of Bijbehara town defied curfew to help a group of Amarnath pilgrims to hospital after their vehicle met with an accident.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

7 January – Mufti Mohammad Sayeed passes away

The year, however, started with Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who had cobbled up an unimaginable coalition government between his PDP and the BJP a year earlier, losing his battle against illness at AIIMS in Delhi on 7 January.

Following Saeed’s death, a smooth transition of power was expected to his daughter and political heir Mehbooba Mufti but the PDP president refused to take charge for over two and half months. As the days passed, it seemed increasingly difficult for the two parties to come together again with the PDP setting some conditions like initiation of the confidence building measures by the Centre.

4 April – Mehbooba sworn in as first woman CM of Jammu and Kashmir

Finally, Mehbooba was sworn in as the first woman chief minister of the state on 4 April.

No sooner had she assumed office, Mehbooba faced her first real test. An unrest began at NIT Srinagar where students from outside the Valley were accused of beating local students following a tiff over an India-Pakistan cricket match.

However, the outside students alleged they were tortured by police inside the campus, sparking off a massive crisis that hogged national headlines for several days. The authorities had to shut down the institute for some time to allow the frayed tempers to cool down.

The NIT dust was yet to settle down when Mehbooba’s government faced with two more controversies. The reported plans to set up Sainik colonies and exclusive colonies for migrant Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley drew severe criticism from mainstream Opposition parties as well as separatist groups, which threatened to launch an agitation over these issues.

The government on several occasions, including during the Budget Session of the assembly, stated that it had no such plans.

8 July – Burhan Wani encounter

As it appeared that the worst was over for the PDP-BJP government, Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani — who had become the poster boy of militancy in Kashmir — was killed in an encounter with security forces on 8 July.

Kashmiris carry the body of Burhan Wani, a separatist militant leader, during his funeral in Tral, south of Srinagar. Reuters

Kashmiris carry the body of Burhan Wani, a separatist militant leader, during his funeral in Tral, south of Srinagar. Reuters

As the news of his death spread, there was an unprecedented outpour of outrage on the streets of the Valley as rumours were abound that the 21-year-old militant was killed when he was unarmed. The security forces dismissed the allegations.

However, violent street protests and clashes between protestors and security forces across the Valley over the next several months left 86 people dead and hundreds — including 5000 security forces personnel — injured.

For the first time in the past 26 years of turmoil in Kashmir, over 300 people were blinded as security forces fired pellet guns to quell the protests, leading to calls from various quarters to ban its use.

Authorities imposed curfew across Kashmir valley, snapped mobile and Internet services, banned newspapers for three days and took several news channels off air in an attempt to end the street violence but protests continued unabated.

The separatists, sensing an opportunity, jumped in and started issuing weekly agitation calendars as they did in 2010.

Almost all separatist leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik were either arrested or put under house arrest. More than 8000 people were also arrested on the charges of stone-pelting or incitement to violence.

Curfew and shutdowns brought life in Kashmir valley to a standstill as schools remained closed, businesses shut and transport off the roads.

18 September – Surgical Strikes 

The deadly attack at Uri, close to Line of Control, on 18 September prompted perhaps the strongest peacetime reaction from the armed forces against the militants.

As many as 19 soldiers were killed at Uri before the Army eliminated the four intruders, who had crossed the LoC just a day before launching the attack.

The special forces crossing the LoC into PoK and destroying several militant camps in which over 40 ultras and their sympathisers were killed was a departure from the traditional policy of exercising restraint after every ceasefire violation or an attack on security installation.

As the Valley was going through its worst unrest in 26 years, there was an increase in hostilities along the LoC between armies of India and Pakistan. Both sides accused each other of violating the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir along the LoC and the international border.

The surgical strike led to more skirmishes and exchange or artillery fire between the two sides till November, leading to fears among people here of outbreak of full blown war between the two countries.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited the Valley several times to assess the situation. In the month of September, Singh led an all-party delegation of national parties in an attempt to reach out to all sections of the society to end the street protests.

A splinter group of delegation including Sitaram Yechury and Assadudin Owaisi tried to meet the separatist leaders including Geelani but they shut their doors on them saying the visitors did not have the mandate to resolve Kashmir issue.

Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha led a delegation of “concerned citizens of India” and met people from all sections of the society here. This time separatists met them and conveyed their viewpoint.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Curfew was lifted after the visit of the all-party delegation from many parts of Kashmir but the shutdown continued with no end in sight.

The shutdown not only affected the livelihood of the masses but also put a question mark on the future of the students.

The government announced that board examinations will be held in November but promised to make it easy for the students. The examinations were held in November with thousands of students appearing and the government keeping its word by giving 50 per cent relaxation in the syllabus.

While the unrest is dying out, the educational infrastructure suffered massive damage in the Valley as more than 32 schools were gutted in mysterious fire incidents.

The frequency of burning of schools prompted the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to take suo moto cognisance and initiate PIL proceedings, directing the state government to take steps for ensuring safety of the school buildings.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 11:22 IST

Agni-V: India’s first indigenously built ballistic missile to be tested today

Balasore (Odisha): India is set to test its indigenously developed intercontinental surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile ‘Agni-V’ from the Wheeler Island off Odisha coast on Monday.

Range co-ordination has reached its final stage for the fourth test of Agni-V missile, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) sources said.

If everything goes according to plan, the missile may be test launched on Monday, they said.

Representational image. CNN-News18

Representational image. CNN-News18

The three stage, solid propellant missile is to be test-fired from a mobile launcher from the launch complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR), the sources said.

It will be fourth developmental and second canisterised trial of the long range missile. While the first test was conducted on April 19, 2012, the second test was carried out on September 15, 2013 and the third on January 31, 2015 from
the same base.

The indigenously-developed surface-to-surface missile, Agni-V, is capable of striking a target more than 5,000 km. It is about 17-metre long, 2-metre wide and has launch weight of around 50 tonnes. The missile can carry a nuclear warhead of more than one tonne.

Unlike other missiles of Agni series, the latest one ‘Agni-V’ is the most advanced having some new technologies incorporated with it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine.

Lot of new technologies developed indigenously were successfully tested in the first Agni-5 trial. The redundant navigation systems, very high accuracy Ring Laser Gyro based Inertial Navigation System (RINS) and the most modern and accurate Micro Navigation System (MINS) had ensured the Missile reach the target point within few metres of accuracy.

The high-speed on board computer and fault tolerant software along with robust and reliable bus guided the missile flawlessly, an official said.

India has at present in its armoury of Agni series, Agni-I with 700 km range, Agni-II with 2,000 km range, Agni-III and Agni-IV with with 2,500 km to more than 3500 km range. After some few more trials, Agni-V will be inducted into the services, sources said.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 10:30 IST

Mumbai: 3.5 year-old girl abducted, killed by two 16-year-old boys for ransom

Mumbai: In a shocking incident, a three-and-half-year-old girl was allegedly abducted and murdered by two minor boys for a ransom of Rs 1 crore in South Mumbai, police said on Sunday.

The incident came to the fore on Saturday mid-night after the girl’s body, which was cut into pieces, was recovered from Kazipura, Haji Kasam Chawl in Nagpada area.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The two accused were also placed under arrest in the wee hours, they said.

According to police, the victim had gone missing since 5 December and a case was registered by her parents in this regard with the J J Marg police station.

Victim’s parents had received a call from unidentified persons, demanding Rs 1 crore as ransom. Unable to shell out such a huge amount, the father agreed to pay Rs 28 lakh to the alleged kidnappers, DCP (Zone 1), Manojkumar Sharma said.

The abductors had later asked the girl’s father to come with ransom sum at Kalwa in neighbouring Thane.

During the course of investigation, a 16-year-old boy, who lived in the neighbourhood of the girl and had passed on the information of kidnapping to the parents, was detained and quizzed by the police.

Further interrogation revealed that the boy and his accomplice, also aged 16, had abducted the girl on 5 December and later strangulated her with a cell phone charger wire on the very same day, the official said.

Both the accused were arrested in the wee hours and further investigations were on, Sharma said, adding that the body has been sent for postmortem.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 10:18 IST

NRI couple in Norway lose child’s curtody: Mother writes to govt; MEA to take action

New Delhi: The Indian woman, whose son has been taken away by the Norwegian authorities, has approached the Indian Embassy in Oslo seeking government’s intervention, following which the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said it will now chalk out the future course of action in the case.

Gurvinderjit Kaur has approached the Indian government with the “formal written” request in this regard, BJP leader Vijay Jolly said.

Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. File photo. AFPUnion External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. File photo. AFP

Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. File photo. AFP

Kaur and her husband, who is a Norwegian national, have alleged that authorities in that country have taken away their 5-year-old son Aryan, also a Norwegian national, on a frivoulous complaint of abuse.

Confirming that Kaur has approached the government, MEA officials said they were now “empowered” to pursue the matter with the Norwegian authorities and they will chalk out the future course of action in the case.

The Indian couple had first sought Jolly’s help in getting back the custody of their child, after which he wrote to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who had said that India will provide them help.

In its response, the Norwegian Embassy here had asked for “restraint” in the case, assuring that it is being handled with “complete sensitivity and awareness”.

According to Jolly, the Indian Ambassador “is slated to meet highly placed Norwegian officials in Oslo on 27 December”.

Jolly also maintained that according to the mother, the child is being “daily served porridge and bread while he is fond of Indian food”.

This is the third case since 2011 when children have been taken away from their Indian-origin parents by the authorities in Norway on the grounds of abuse.

In 2011, a three-year-old and a one-year-old were separated from their parents, prompting the then UPA government to take up the issue with Norway. The Norwegian court later allowed the children to be reunited with their parents.

In December 2012, an Indian couple was jailed on charges of ill treatment of their children, 7 and 2 years. Later, they were sent to their grandparents in Hyderabad.

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 21:37 IST

Pune: 23-year-old woman techie hacked to death metres away from her office

Pune: A 23-year-old woman software engineer working with an IT firm in Pune was hacked to death by an unidentified assailant barely some metres away from her office on the outskirts of the city.

Antara Das, who hailed from West Bengal, was attacked with a sharp-edged weapon at around 8 pm on Friday night when she was returning home from work near Tathwade area, a senior police official of Dehuroad Police Station said.

“Das was rushed to a nearby hospital. However, she was declared dead on arrival,” he said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

According to the officer, robbery angle has been ruled out as the valuables the woman was carrying were intact.

A case was registered in this regard, police said, adding a probe was underway.

According to a statement given by her company Capgemini to the police, Das left the office at 8 pm on Friday night and decided not to travel by the office cab.

The woman mentioned in the office register that she would be taking an auto to get back home, police said.

The attack took place barely some metres from her office and she was rushed to hospital by passers-by.

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 15:24 IST

PM Modi’s Mann ki Baat: Law against ‘benami’ properties to be operationalised soon

New Delhi: Vowing to carry forward the war against corruption and black money post-demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that the government will soon operationalise a strong law to effectively deal with ‘benami’ properties and this was just the beginning.

Making his last monthly address this year in his “Mann ki Baat” programme, he defended the frequent changes in the rules of demonetisation, saying these have been done to reduce the people’s problems and defeat such forces who are out to thwart his government’s fight against black money and corruption.

Modi sought the cooperation of public in making the “war on corruption” a success and said the wrongdoings of some are being caught only with the support of common people who are coming forward with concrete information about hoarders.

“I assure you that this is not the end. This is just the beginning in our fight against corruption. We have to win this war against corruption and black money. There is no question of stopping or going back in this fight,” he said.

The Prime Minister also lamented the logjam in Parliament that evoked displeasure from the President and the Vice President besides all-round public indignation and ire, saying he wanted a good discussion on this campaign as well as on political funding, had both Houses run properly.

He said some people who are spreading rumours that political parties enjoy all concessions and exemptions “are wrong and all are equal before law” and they have to abide by it.

“It was my earnest wish that the ongoing campaign against corruption and black money, including the realm of political parties and political funding, be discussed extensively in the Parliament. Had the House functioned properly, there would have been comprehensive deliberation.

PM Modi. APPM Modi. AP

PM Modi. AP

“Some people are spreading rumours that political parties enjoy all kinds of concessions. These people are absolutely in the wrong. The law applies equally to all. Whether it is an individual, an organisation or a political party, everyone has to abide by law and one will have to,” he said, adding that people who cannot endorse corruption and black money openly resort to searching for faults of the government relentlessly.

Giving a push to his plea for cashless economy, Modi also launched two new schemes for traders and customers that will dole out 15,000 prizes every day to those making digital transactions.

Defending the frequent changes being made in rules after demonetisation, Modi said “the government, being a sensitive government, amends rules as required, keeping the convenience of the people as its foremost consideration, so that citizens are not subjected to hardships.”

Terming this war against corruption as “an extraordinary one”, he said the forces involved in “this murky enterprise of perfidy and corruption” have to be defeated as they are devising new tactics to thwart government’s efforts every day.

“To counter these new offensives, we too have to devise appropriate new responses and anti-dotes. When the opponents keep on trying out new tactics, we have to counteract decisively since we have resolved to eradicate the corrupt, shady businesses and black money,” he said.

Lauding the public for their support in exposing the wrong-doings of some, who are devising “newer wily ways and means” to counter the fight against corruption, the Prime Minister sought more public support.

“Everyday many new people are being taken into custody, currency notes are being seized, raids are being carried out. Influential persons are being caught. The secret is that my sources of such information are people themselves.

“Information being received from common citizens is many times higher than that being obtained through government machinery,” he said, adding that people were taking risks to expose such elements. He asked them to share such information on e-mail address of the government as also on the MyGov App.

Modi also talked about the Benami Property law that came into being in 1988, but neither its rules were framed, nor was it notified and laid dormant for years.

“We have retrieved it and turned it into an incisive law against ‘Benami Property’. In the coming days, this law will also become operational. For the benefit of the nation, for the benefit of the people, whatever needs to be done will be accorded our top priority,” he said.

The Prime Minister, however, lauded both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for passage of the Disabilities Bill to secure the rights of disabled and also their honour and dignity. The new law, he said, is in consonance with the spirit expressed by the United Nations.

He also wished the people on Christmas and remembered former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on his birthday while wishing him good health and long life.

Modi also congratulated the Indian Cricket team for its emphatic 4-0 victory over England, as also the performances of some young players like Karun Nair who scored a triple century, K L Rahul for scoring a brilliant 199, besides the leadership provided by Captain Virat Kohli and off-spin bowler R Ashwin. He also complimented the Junior Hockey Team for lifting the World Cup and the Indian Women’s Hockey Team that won the Asian Champions Trophy.

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 13:41 IST

Cashless economy: RTO offices in Delhi set to accept digital payments in 2017

New Delhi: Regional Transport Offices in the national capital are set to go cashless from January when fees for all services including driving licence, auto permit and fitness certificate can be paid electronically.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The Transport Department has started installing Point of Sale (PoS) machines at its zonal offices and the trial run of the cashless transaction system is being carried out at some places.

“From January, people coming to RTO offices can pay fee of various services — permits, driving licence, fitness certificates – using their debit, credit cards. Applicants won’t be required to make payments in cash,” a senior government official said.

There are 14 zonal offices of the Transport Department in the city. The official said that the move would ensure hassle-free services for the people of Delhi.

The step is in line with the Delhi government’s plan to bring all departments under cashless transaction system.

“At present, e-PoS machines are being installed at all zonal offices. Besides, computer software of the department is also being updated in view of the cashless transactions,” the official said.

Earlier this month, Transport Minister Satyendar Jain had directed his department to start accepting fees and payments in the form of bank drafts and pay orders for all transport services in view of cash crunch after demonetisation.

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 12:24 IST

Demonetisation: Over Rs 51 lakh in 2,000 denomination notes seized in Kerala

Kannur (Kerala): Unaccounted cash to the tune of Rs 51.86 lakh, almost all of them in Rs 2,000 denomination, was seized on Sunday by Kerala Excise officials from two passengers of a bus coming from Bengaluru at nearby Irrity, in the second major haul of currency in the last three days in the state.

They found Rs 51.80 lakh in Rs 2,000 notes and Rs 100 notes for Rs 6,300 in the bags of Ranjith Salangi (24) and Rahul Adhik alias Rahul Ghatoo (22).

Representational imageRepresentational image

Representational image

The duo, in their early 20s and hailing from Maharashtra, were found carrying the cash without any supporting documents after which they were detained. The haul came just two days after police seized Rs 39.98 lakh in Rs 2,000 denomination at Tirur area in Malapuram district.

Excise officials said Sunday’s seizure was made when a special Excise squad, acting on a tip-off, intercepted the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus heading to nearby Payyanur around 3.30 am.

They were taken into custody and would be questioned by Income Tax officials in Kerala.

Busting a currency exchange racket involving Rs 2,000 notes, police had on Friday seized Rs three lakh from Shoukath Ali, already facing a hawala case, and, based on information provided by him, recovered Rs 36.98 lakh from the residence of a businessman.

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 12:13 IST

Kept under house arrest due to Modi’s visit,’ claims Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam

Mumbai: Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam, who planned to lead a ‘silent’ march of party workers to the venue of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s public meeting in Mumbai on Saturday, claimed he had been placed under “house arrest” by police which denied the charge.

Mumbai Police said the personnel deployed outside Nirupam’s residence were only part of the security arrangements made across the city in view of the PM’s visit for launching some major projects.

“The area outside my house is under heavy police bandobast and I am being prevented from stepping out,” Nirupam told PTI,

“In the present democratic set up Opposition leaders are being virtually kept under house-arrest,” he alleged.

File photo of Sanjay Nirupam. AFP

File photo of Sanjay Nirupam. AFP

Asked about Nirupam’s allegation, Mumbai Police spokesperson, DCP Ashok Dudhe. said, “We have deployed policemen across the city especially on the route of PM’s convoy to maintain law and order as well as to avoid any untoward incident during his visit.”

Nirupam said the morcha was planned as a peaceful march to highlight some live issues.

“We have a lot of questions for the PM. He should answer graft allegations made by our Vice President Rahul Gandhi instead of mocking him. Modi should also answer when the people will get back their right to deposit and withdraw their own hard earned money from banks. It is more than a month. Since demonetisation citizens are still suffering due to cash crunch,” he said.

AICC General Secretary in-charge of Maharashtra, Mohan Prakash accused the police of curbing the democratic rights of political rivals, which he alleged was being done at the behest of the government.

“Earlier, the government put restrictions on citizens’ rights to access their money and now there are restrictions on freedom of expression as well,” he said.

Condemning the “house arrest” of Nirupam, MPCC spokersperson Sachin Sawant said, “It is indeed, a black day for Indian democracy. This act confirms the fact that the BJP government has a sadist and fascist mindset, which denies the citizen’s basic fundamental constitutional right to protest peacefully.”

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 11:48 IST

Modi says necessary decisions in the past would have avoided discomfort

Pune: In a veiled attack on Congress for opposing demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the “sins” of benami properties would not have happened and people would not be standing in queues now had necessary decisions been taken in the past.

“In 1988, Parliament passed Benami Property Act but it never got notified and implemented. The papers had got lost somewhere in a stack of files. It was me who re-opened it. Sins of benami properties would not have happened had the law been implemented,” he said after the inauguration of Pune metro.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image courtesy PIBPrime Minister Narendra Modi. Image courtesy PIB

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image courtesy PIB

“Should I let the situation be as it is or should I change it? Should the wrongdoings be undone or not? If decisions were taken years ago, I would not have had to make people stand in queues. I have taken this step because I made a promise to save the country,” the Prime Minister said.

Modi warned those possessing black money to come clean now or they will stand no chance to save themselves.

“Some people thought all governments are the same and this government of mine will be no different. They thought they can put their black money in banks and convert it into white. Money did not become white but their faces turned black,” he said.

“There is still time where laws can help you. Come on the right path and sleep peacefully. If not, I will not sleep. I have started this war against corruption, black money, terrorism, naxalism with a lot of ‘jigar’ (heart),” he said.

The Prime Minister said that due to the demonetisation decision, income of urban bodies have increased by 200-300 percent and people, who were used to breaking rules at one point of time are now made to stand in queues.

Modi said that urbanisation is taking place at a fast pace today and stressed on generating employment and improving the quality of life in villages to stop migration to cities.

“Only then will the run from villages to cities will slow down. If we think in pieces and for immediate political gains, we can never overcome problems,” he said.

Modi said the Centre has started with a ‘Rurban’ mission which focusses on ensuring that that villages close to cities have the soul of a village and facilities of a city.

“Our Digital India campaign is not just meant for cities but for rural areas as well. We have decided to launch metro projects in more than 50 cities. Had we done so in bits and pieces, projects would have become costlier, more problems would have arisen and the projects would have had lagged even after we putting in money,” he said.

Modi said benchmarks of development need to become modernise and transform with changing times.

“Infrastructure is not just roads, rail and air transport but also highways and I-ways (information ways), for which we need an optical fibre network. We need to work on water grid, digital network, gas grid and space technology,” he said.

Modi said Pune Metro should have been visualised and implemented much earlier. “Previous governments have left a
lot of work for me to do,” Modi said.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 22:45 IST

Fortunate to be Assam’s tourism ambassador: Priyanka Chopra

Guwahati: Bollywood actress and newly-appointed Assam’s tourism brand ambassador Priyanka
Chopra on Saturday said that she would show the world how “awesome the state is”.

“I am fortunate that the government of Assam has appointed me as the tourism ambassador of the state and I will take the state, its people, food, wildlife, greenery, culture and food to the global stage and truly show the world how awesome Assam is,” Chopra told reporters in Guwahati.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal presents a memento to Bollywood actress and Brand Ambassador of Assam Tourism Priyanka Chopra during a meeting  in Guwahati on Saturday. PTIAssam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal presents a memento to Bollywood actress and Brand Ambassador of Assam Tourism Priyanka Chopra during a meeting  in Guwahati on Saturday. PTI

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal presents a memento to Bollywood actress and brand ambassador of Assam Tourism Priyanka Chopra during a meeting in Guwahati on Saturday. PTI

“The true essence of Assam and the North East is not appreciated fully in India and maybe even the world does not
know much about it, but I am committed to present the incredible part of Assam’s diversity and unity to the outside world in the right perspective,” she said.

“I may not have been born in Assam but I am an Indian and take incredible pride in my country. Assam is a part of India and I am as much a part of this state as any other part of the country…. As such, I can claim to be an Honorary Assamese,” the Padmashri awardee said.

Asked whether due to her busy schedule she can justify her commitment to the cause, Chopra said that she has not ever let anyone down and takes her responsibility and commitments very seriously.

“My managers plan my schedules well and I have kept my commitments so far. I am committed to discover Assam and show my discovery to the world,” she said.

The actress, who had portrayed the protagonist in the Bollywood film Mary Kom, said that the Northeast is the crowning glory of India and the seven sister states are its jewels.

Though each may have a different essence yet all are beautiful in their own way, she said.

“I have travelled with Mary to Manipur and had earlier come to Guwahati when my uncle was posted here and also after becoming Miss India for different fashion shows. The experience in Manipur and Assam are different but both have been beautiful,” the “Bajirao Mastani” actor said.

Priyanka, who visited the Kamakhya Temple earlier in the day said she was moved and inspired to be blessed by Ma
Kamakhya at the end of the year and was looking forward to experience the Brahmaputra, wildlife, particularly rhinos, trekking, mountaineering and rafting.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 22:33 IST

DRI sleuths seize Rs 2.60 crore in cash, 95 kgs of gold and silver from Noida-based firm

New Delhi: A total of Rs 2.60 crore in cash and 95 kg of gold and silver have been seized and four persons have been arrested by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in connection with its probe into alleged diversion of duty free gold worth about Rs 140 crore, imported under a special concession scheme, by a firm operating from a Noida-based SEZ.

Representational image. APRepresentational image. AP

Representational image. AP

The DRI sleuths from Lucknow zonal unit carried out the searches for two days on the premises of M/s Shri Lal Mahal Limited and the residences of company officials as part of their anti-black money operations after demonetisation, the agency said in a
statement.

Four people associated with the firm were arrested late evening after questioning, a DRI official said. “It is found that the unit has illegally diverted and sold 430 kg (valued at about Rs 140 crore) of duty free gold in the market. Cash amounting to Rs 2.60 crore (Rs 2.48 crore in old currency notes, and Rs 12 lakh in new notes) has been seized.”

“80 kg of unaccounted silver was found in the factory. Further, 15 kg of gold jewellery has been seized from the premises of the firm,” the statement added.

The DRI alleged that the firm had also “transferred huge amounts of money through RTGS (funds transfer through banking
channels) to a firm operating from their premises to purchase gold coins or bars of 24kg after 8 November (the day Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes were demonetised) from MMTC, India’s largest public sector trading body, also to sell in the market for old
demonetised currency”.

Earlier, the agency had said that directors of the firm were either admitted to the hospital or were avoiding investigations, and as a result, two persons had been detained for questioning.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 21:49 IST

Modi warns “dishonest” of ruin, says market participants should pay more taxes

Mumbai: Warning of “ruin” for the “dishonest” after 30 December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi
on Saturday said his government will not shy away from taking difficult decisions in the interest of the country and favoured more taxes from capital markets.

Addressing public events, he also asked the dishonest not to underestimate the mood of the country against corruption.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi  addressing at the inauguration of new campus of National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM), at Patalganga, in Mumbai on 24 December 2016. Image courtesy PIBPrime Minister Narendra Modi  addressing at the inauguration of new campus of National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM), at Patalganga, in Mumbai on 24 December 2016. Image courtesy PIB

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing at the inauguration of new campus of National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM), at Patalganga, in Mumbai on 24 December 2016. Image courtesy PIB

“Dishonest people, you should not underestimate the mood of 125 crore people. You will have to be afraid of it… Time has come for ruin of dishonest people. This is a cleanliness campaign,” Modi said just with a week to go for the expiry of the December 30 deadline when the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes can be deposited in banks.

“After 50 days (from 8 November), the troubles of honest people will start to reduce and the problems of dishonest people will begin to increase,” Modi said at MMRDA ground in the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai after laying the foundation of various big-ticket infrastructure projects.

Earlier in the day at a Sebi function, Modi promised more “sound and prudent economic policies” which would be “not for short-term political point-scoring” but for “larger national interests.

“Let me make one thing very clear: This government will continue to follow sound and prudent economic policies,
to ensure that we have a bright future in the long-run. We’ll not take decisions for short-term political point-scoring. We’ll not shy away from taking difficult decisions if those decisions are in the interest of the country,” Modi said.

He favoured increasing the tax contribution from various market participants in a “fair, efficient and transparent way”.

Asking the regulators and taxmen to think about the contribution of market participants to the exchequer, Modi
said, “The low contribution of taxes may be due to the structure of our tax laws. Low or zero tax rate is given to certain types of financial income.”

The Prime Minister’s remarks assume much significance ahead of the Budget to be presented on 1 February.

“We took a big decision against black money and corruption on 8 November and 125 crore Indians endured pain
but did not stop supporting me. I want to assure people of the country that this battle won’t end till we win it,” he said.

Hitting out at parties opposing demonetisation, he said, “This is not a simple battle. Those who have consumed
malai (cream) did not leave any stone unturned to foil this (demonetisation).”

Modi said, “The corrupt have made all efforts to defeat the decision (demonetisation). They even thought of managing bank officials to get their black money converted into white. And that’s how many of them got caught.”

“I said there will be pain for 50 days (after demonetisation announcement),” he said, adding people are ready to bear the pain in the country’s interest.

The Prime Minister inaugurated a new campus of capital markets regulator Sebi’s National Institute of Securities
Markets (NISM) at Patalganga on the outskirts of Mumbai at an event also attended by functionaries of the Maharashtra government led by the governor and the chief minister, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Sebi chairman UK Sinha.

Describing the 8 November announcement of cancelling as much as 86 percent or Rs 20.51 trillion worth of currency in circulation as a “difficult decision”, he said, “Demonetisation has (brought about) short-term pains, but it
will bring in long-term gains.”

On the need to increase levies on the capital markets in the light of amendments to the many of the bilateral
investment and taxation treaties, Modi said, “Those who profit from financial markets must make a fair contribution to nation-building through taxes…. We should consider methods for increasing it in a fair, efficient and transparent way.

“… Now it is time to re-think and come up with a good design which is simple and transparent, but also fair and
progressive,” Modi said, adding for various reasons, contribution of tax from those who make money on the markets
has been low due to illegal activities and frauds or due to the structure of our tax laws which offers low or zero tax rate is given to certain types of financial income.

The Prime Minister said his government has brought back the economy to good health from the brink when it was saddled with high fiscal and current account deficits and high inflation and falling rupee, since he took over in May 2014.

He further said that when the global economy is fighting lingering slowdown, “India is being seen as a bright spot.

“Our growth is projected to remain among the highest in the world.”

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 20:54 IST

Demonetisation: Currency racket busted in Kerela, Rs 39.98 lakh in 2,000 notes seized

Malappuram: Busting a currency exchange racket, police have seized Rs 39.98 lakh in Rs 2,000 denomination notes at Tirur area in the district and arrested a man, already facing a hawala case, in this connection.

Representative image. PTI

Representative image. PTI

While Rs three lakh was seized from 63-year-old Shoukath Ali at the bus stand in Tirur, Rs 36.98 lakh in Rs 2,000 notes was recovered from the residence of a businessman, police said, noting the seizure and arrest were made yesterday.

Ali, hailing from Palakkad district, was produced before a magistrate’s court and remanded in judicial custody today, police said.

A search was on for businessman Shabir Babu, who had allegedly given the Rs three lakh to Ali to exchange scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

Babu had also allegedly distributed new currency notes to nine other persons in exchange for scrapped notes, they said.

Ali had been arrested six months ago on charges of hawala transactions and is out on bail, police added.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 16:21 IST

LIVE: Narendra Modi lays foundation for Shivaji Memorial in Mumbai, arrives at BKC

Dec 24, 2016

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    PM Modi talks on demonetisation ​PM Modi assures that the government will take sound economic decisions, will not shy away from difficult decisions which are in the interest of the country. He said, “Demonetisation is an example. It gives short term problems but long time gains.” He said, “India is been seen as bright spot. To see how far we’ve travelled we should look back to 2012-13 when the currency was falling sharply.”

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Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a day’s visit to Maharashtra on Saturday, where he will lay foundation stones for the grand memorial of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the metro rail projects in Mumbai and Pune.

Modi will inaugurate the newly-built campus of the National Institute of Securities Management in MIDC Patalganga in neighbouring Raigad district.

He will then proceed to the site in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai coast, where the state government is planning to build a mega memorial for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

The Prime Minister’s visit assumes political significance as the high-stake elections to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are just a few months away.

Narendra Modi. PTINarendra Modi. PTI

Narendra Modi. PTI

The main feature of the Shivaji memorial, slated to cost Rs 3,600 crore, will be a 192-metre-tall statue of the iconic Maratha king. The site is a rocky outcrop, roughly 1.5 km from the Raj Bhavan shore.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently said the ‘Shiv Smarak’ will not only be the tallest memorial in the country, but in the entire world. He had thanked Modi for “making it possible.”

Later, Modi will address a public function at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) ground in suburban Bandra, after laying foundation stone for two Metro rail projects, Elevated Rail Corridors Project and Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL).

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, whose party is an ally of ruling BJP, is expected to share the dais with Modi at the MMRDA event.

The PM will then leave for Pune, where he will lay the foundation stone of the Pune Metro Rail project. NCP leader Sharad Pawar will share the stage with Modi at this event.

The memorial project has been facing stiff opposition from fisherfolk and environmentalists, who have alleged that it would affect marine life and ecology of the Arabian Sea.

A rally was flagged off at Chembur on Saturday, where representatives from various districts gathered with collections of sand and soil from Chhatrapati Shivaji’s forts across the state.

The rally led by a ‘Shivaji chariot’ will conclude at the Gateway of India, where the Chief Minister will receive the vase carrying water and soil from all districts of the state. This will then be handed over to the Prime Minister and carried to the memorial site.

For the MMRDA event, the government has sent out invitation to over 3,000 VVIPs and dignitaries, including members of the royal family and Shivaji historians.

Ever since it came to power in Maharashtra in October 2014, BJP has been quietly trying to usurp the near-monopoly that bickering ally Shiv Sena has held over the 17th century Maratha king for the last many years.

Ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly election in 2014, BJP had used the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji for electoral gains, with a famous tagline seeking to evoke Shivaji’s blessings.

The government and BJP are trying to make the memorial event a success with hoardings at important places of all districts and also through campaigns in print, TV and social media.

Meanwhile, an official said those who would accompany Modi in the hovercraft to the jalpujan and bhumipujan venue off Mumbai coast, will include Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Chief Minister Fadnavis, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, NCP’s Satara MP Udayanraje Bhosale and BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP from Kolhapur Sambhaji Raje Bhosle.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 16:03 IST

Odisha: Maoists kill one, torch seven vehicles in Koraput

Odisha: Maoists kill one, torch seven vehicles in Koraput

Dec 24, 2016 14:38 IST

#Koraput #Maoist #NewsTracker #Odisha

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Koraput (Odisha): Maoists murdered the husband of a naib sarpanch in Odisha’s Koraput district and torched at least seven vehicles engaged in road works, police said on Saturday.

A group of Maoists attacked G Appa Rao’s house at Kotubu village, bordering Andhra Pradesh in Pottangi area late on Thursday night and dragged him out charging him to be a police informer.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

They then reached the road construction and set seven vehicles on fire, the police said adding Rao’s body was found on Friday.

Police recovered few Maoist posters of Koraput-Malkangiri-Srikakulam division of CPI (Maoist) in Odia and Telegu from the site.

The Maoists through the posters opposed the construction of a 4.5 km PMGSY road from Upper Goloru to Pedapadu in the area and warned three villagers of dire consequences if they supported the work.

Brushing aside allegations that the killed person was an informer, Koraput SP Charan Singh said probe into the incident is on.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 14:38 IST

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Boat capsizes in Powai lake, 3 died and 5 saved in search operation

Five people were saved and three are feared dead after a boat capsized in Powai lake in Mumbai late on Friday night, reports said.

Search operations were started immediately after the boat capsized. While some reports said the three boys are feared dead, search operations are still going on in the lake.

A DNA report said that a police official confirmed that the boat lost balance after colliding with a bamboo, and because the boat was close to the shore, locals could rush to the spot to help the people in the boat.

Fire officials have confirmed that they got the news at 11.30 pm and rushed to the spot to help the boys.

The people in the boat were going to for a party, Maharashtra Times report said.

On 13 December, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had issued notice to 17 houseboats to stop their business in Powai lake as they had not bothered to reply to the earlier notices by the municipal corporation, as reported in The Times Of India.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 14:25 IST

LIVE: Demonetisation is short term pain for long term gain: Narendra Modi in Mumbai

Dec 24, 2016

  • 14:26(IST)

  • 13:18(IST)

  • 13:13(IST)

  • 13:07(IST)

    PM Modi talks on demonetisation ​PM Modi assures that the government will take sound economic decisions, will not shy away from difficult decisions which are in the interest of the country. He said, “Demonetisation is an example. It gives short term problems but long time gains.” He said, “India is been seen as bright spot. To see how far we’ve travelled we should look back to 2012-13 when the currency was falling sharply.”

  • 13:06(IST)

  • 13:02(IST)

  • 12:52(IST)

  • 12:32(IST)

  • 12:31(IST)

  • 12:06(IST)

  • 10:36(IST)

  • 10:34(IST)

  • 10:13(IST)

  • 10:06(IST)

  • 10:05(IST)

Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a day’s visit to Maharashtra on Saturday, where he will lay foundation stones for the grand memorial of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the metro rail projects in Mumbai and Pune.

Modi will inaugurate the newly-built campus of the National Institute of Securities Management in MIDC Patalganga in neighbouring Raigad district.

He will then proceed to the site in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai coast, where the state government is planning to build a mega memorial for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

The Prime Minister’s visit assumes political significance as the high-stake elections to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are just a few months away.

Narendra Modi. PTINarendra Modi. PTI

Narendra Modi. PTI

The main feature of the Shivaji memorial, slated to cost Rs 3,600 crore, will be a 192-metre-tall statue of the iconic Maratha king. The site is a rocky outcrop, roughly 1.5 km from the Raj Bhavan shore.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently said the ‘Shiv Smarak’ will not only be the tallest memorial in the country, but in the entire world. He had thanked Modi for “making it possible.”

Later, Modi will address a public function at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) ground in suburban Bandra, after laying foundation stone for two Metro rail projects, Elevated Rail Corridors Project and Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL).

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, whose party is an ally of ruling BJP, is expected to share the dais with Modi at the MMRDA event.

The PM will then leave for Pune, where he will lay the foundation stone of the Pune Metro Rail project. NCP leader Sharad Pawar will share the stage with Modi at this event.

The memorial project has been facing stiff opposition from fisherfolk and environmentalists, who have alleged that it would affect marine life and ecology of the Arabian Sea.

A rally was flagged off at Chembur on Saturday, where representatives from various districts gathered with collections of sand and soil from Chhatrapati Shivaji’s forts across the state.

The rally led by a ‘Shivaji chariot’ will conclude at the Gateway of India, where the Chief Minister will receive the vase carrying water and soil from all districts of the state. This will then be handed over to the Prime Minister and carried to the memorial site.

For the MMRDA event, the government has sent out invitation to over 3,000 VVIPs and dignitaries, including members of the royal family and Shivaji historians.

Ever since it came to power in Maharashtra in October 2014, BJP has been quietly trying to usurp the near-monopoly that bickering ally Shiv Sena has held over the 17th century Maratha king for the last many years.

Ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly election in 2014, BJP had used the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji for electoral gains, with a famous tagline seeking to evoke Shivaji’s blessings.

The government and BJP are trying to make the memorial event a success with hoardings at important places of all districts and also through campaigns in print, TV and social media.

Meanwhile, an official said those who would accompany Modi in the hovercraft to the jalpujan and bhumipujan venue off Mumbai coast, will include Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Chief Minister Fadnavis, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, NCP’s Satara MP Udayanraje Bhosale and BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP from Kolhapur Sambhaji Raje Bhosle.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 13:09 IST

PM Modi in Maharashtra for inauguration of Shivaji memorial, Mumbai and Pune metro

Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a day’s visit to Maharashtra on Saturday, where he will lay foundation stones for the grand memorial of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the metro rail projects in Mumbai and Pune.

Modi will inaugurate the newly-built campus of the National Institute of Securities Management in MIDC Patalganga in neighbouring Raigad district.

He will then proceed to the site in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai coast, where the state government is planning to build a mega memorial for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

The Prime Minister’s visit assumes political significance as the high-stake elections to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are just a few months away.

Narendra Modi. PTINarendra Modi. PTI

Narendra Modi. PTI

The main feature of the Shivaji memorial, slated to cost Rs 3,600 crore, will be a 192-metre-tall statue of the iconic Maratha king. The site is a rocky outcrop, roughly 1.5 km from the Raj Bhavan shore.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently said the ‘Shiv Smarak’ will not only be the tallest memorial in the country, but in the entire world. He had thanked Modi for “making it possible.”

Later, Modi will address a public function at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) ground in suburban Bandra, after laying foundation stone for two Metro rail projects, Elevated Rail Corridors Project and Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL).

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, whose party is an ally of ruling BJP, is expected to share the dais with Modi at the MMRDA event.

The PM will then leave for Pune, where he will lay the foundation stone of the Pune Metro Rail project. NCP leader Sharad Pawar will share the stage with Modi at this event.

The memorial project has been facing stiff opposition from fisherfolk and environmentalists, who have alleged that it would affect marine life and ecology of the Arabian Sea.

A rally was flagged off at Chembur on Saturday, where representatives from various districts gathered with collections of sand and soil from Chhatrapati Shivaji’s forts across the state.

The rally led by a ‘Shivaji chariot’ will conclude at the Gateway of India, where the Chief Minister will receive the vase carrying water and soil from all districts of the state. This will then be handed over to the Prime Minister and carried to the memorial site.

For the MMRDA event, the government has sent out invitation to over 3,000 VVIPs and dignitaries, including members of the royal family and Shivaji historians.

Ever since it came to power in Maharashtra in October 2014, BJP has been quietly trying to usurp the near-monopoly that bickering ally Shiv Sena has held over the 17th century Maratha king for the last many years.

Ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly election in 2014, BJP had used the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji for electoral gains, with a famous tagline seeking to evoke Shivaji’s blessings.

The government and BJP are trying to make the memorial event a success with hoardings at important places of all districts and also through campaigns in print, TV and social media.

Meanwhile, an official said those who would accompany Modi in the hovercraft to the jalpujan and bhumipujan venue off Mumbai coast, will include Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Chief Minister Fadnavis, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, NCP’s Satara MP Udayanraje Bhosale and BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP from Kolhapur Sambhaji Raje Bhosle.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 09:02 IST

Passport rules: Sadhus, sanyasis can now mention names of gurus instead of parents

New Delhi: Sadhus and sanyasis can now mention names of their spiritual gurus instead of biological parents under new passport rules announced in New Delhi on Friday which also eliminate the mandatory requirement of the birth certificate as the proof of date of birth (DOB).

The rules, which were announced by Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh, also provides a provision for
government servants, who are not able to get “no objection certificate” from their respective ministries/departments.

Easing passport norms. AFPEasing passport norms. AFP

Easing passport norms. AFP

In order to streamline, liberalise and ease the process of issue of passport, the ministry has taken a number of steps in the realm of passport policy which is expected to benefit the citizens of India applying for a passport, Singh noted.

In case of proof of DOB while filing application, it has now been decided that all applicants of passports can submit any one of the documents — transfer/School leaving/Matriculation Certificate, PAN card, Aadhaar Card/E-Aadhaar having the DOB of applicant, copy of the extract of the service record of the applicant, driving licence, Election Photo Identity Card (EPIC) or LIC policy bond.

Birth Certificate issued by the Registrar of Births & Deaths or the Municipal Corporation or any other prescribed
authority whosoever has been empowered under the Registration of Birth & Deaths Act, 1969 to register the birth of a child born in India can also be given as DOB proof.

As per the extant statutory provisions of the Passport Rules, 1980, all the applicants born on or after 26 January 1989, had to mandatory submit the birth certificate as the DOB proof to get a passport.

The government has also accepted the demand by the sadhus/sanyasis that they should be allowed to write names of
their gurus instead of names of their parents, Singh said, adding but they have to provide at least one public document such as EPIC, PAN card, Adhaar Card, etc wherein the name of the guru has been recorded against the column(s) for parent(s) name(s).

In case of government servants, who are not able to obtain the Identity Certificate/ No-Objection Certificate from their employer concerned and intend to get the passport on urgent basis can now get the passport by submitting a self-declaration that he/she has given prior Intimation letter to his/her employer informing that he/she was applying for an ordinary passport.

A report of a inter-ministerial committee with members from MEA and Women and Child Development ministry to examine issues pertaining to applications where mother/child has insisted that the name of the father should not be mentioned in the passport and also relating to children with single parent and to adopted children has also been accepted.

Based on the report, policy changes have been made which include no mandatory requirement of a marriage certificate for married applicants as also provide name of the only one parent and not both. This would enable single parents to apply for passports for their children and to also issue passports where the name of either the father or the mother is not required to be printed at the request of the applicant.

Under the new rules, total number of Annexes prescribed in the Passport Rule, 1980, has been brought down to 9 from the present 15 and all the annexes that are required to be given by the applicants would be self-declaration on plain paper.

“No attestation/swearing by/before any Notary/Executive Magistrate/First Class Judicial Magistrate would be henceforth necessary,” as per the new rules, which also do not require the applicant to provide the name of her/his spouse in case of separated or divorced persons.

Such applicants would not be required to provide even the Divorce Decree.

Orphaned children who do not have any proof of DOB such as Birth Certificate or the Matriculation Certificate or the declaratory court order, may now submit a declaration given by the Head of the Orphanage/Child Care Home on official letter head of the organisation confirming the DOB of the applicant.

For children not born out of wedlock, the applicant should submit only self-declaration form while submitting the
application and in case of issue of passport to in-country domestically-adopted children, submission of the registered adoption deed would no longer be required.

Asked about the rules applicable to get a passport for a child born through surrogacy, Chief Passport Officer Arun K Chatterjee said there was a specific list of documents required as per the Indian Council For Medical Research regulations.

Since the bill dealing with surrogacy is still pending before the Lok Sabha, changes can only be carried out
after it is passed, he added.

Singh also said the necessary notifications would soon be published in the Official Gazette to give effect to these changes. Instructions are also being issued to the Passport Issuing Authorities in India and abroad on these revised regulations.

“MEA expects that the changes in the Passport Rules would further ease the process for passport applicants in
getting their Passport.

“At the same time, it would enable this Ministry to continue to deliver passport related services to the citizens
in a timely, transparent, more accessible, reliable manner and in a comfortable environment through streamlined processes and committed, trained and motivated workforce,” ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

Singh also said the ministry was examining a pilot project under which the head post offices could be used to
provide passport services.

On when will the passport services like ‘Tatkal’ can become cashless, Chatterjee said they have done a tie-up with SBI and were getting machines to make the service totally cashless and expressed hope it will start functioning in next fortnight or so.

He also mentioned that currently there were 89 passport seva kendras apart from 38 passport offices and seven passport centres in the country.

Responding to a separate query on demonetisation and the update on the reccomendations of the inter-ministerial task force, Swarup said it was still under the preview of the Department of Economic Affairs.

“We continue to pursue with them and we hope that very soon we will have some recommendations…Government will take a considered view in the matter,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 23:01 IST

Income Tax Department’s investigation wing: Deployment of CRPF personnel during search operations are as per law

Kolkata: The investigation wing of the Income Tax (IT) Department on Friday said the deployment of CRPF personnel during searches is as per the law, which West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has termed as “unconstitutional and illegal”.

File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee addresses media after her party's win in the Assembly elections at her Kalighat residence in Kolkata on Thursday. PTI Photo by Swapan Mahapatra(PTI5_19_2016_000262B)

File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee. PTI

“The number of search operations being carried out now have increased manifold and this is why we are taking help of CRPF personnel,” a senior official of the IT investigation wing told PTI.

To a query, he said the investigation wing was also getting cooperation of West Bengal Police.

“As per law, we are authorised to seek the help of paramilitary forces, Customs, PSU banks and CISF personnel during search operations,” the official said.

“This is nothing new and we are doing it everytime.

“It is well known that we are carrying out such action day-in and day-out. So it is necessary to take the help of other central agencies besides the state police,” he said.

Mamata Banerjee on Friday objected to the Centre’s move to deploy CRPF personnel for providing security to Income Tax officials during search operations in the state and has also shot off a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanding withdrawal of the decision.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 22:35 IST

CBI asks Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat to appear for preliminary enquiry to probe sting operations

New Delhi: CBI has asked Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat to appear before it on 26 December in connection with a probe into the purported sting operation involving him.

This is the second time that Rawat has been summoned by the CBI on a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) registered by it in last seven months. He had earlier appeared before the agency on 24 May during which he was questioned for nearly five hours.

The agency had registered a preliminary enquiry in connection with the alleged sting operation on April 29 purportedly showing Rawat offering bribes to rebel Congress lawmakers to support him during a floor test in the Uttarakhand Assembly.

This may be a unique case where a sitting Chief Minister has been summoned by the CBI during its probe of a PE.

The PE is the first step during which the agency verifies the facts in the complaint received by it. During a PE, the agency usually only “requests” a person “to join the probe” and does not summon him, carry out searches or make any arrests.

File photo of Harish Rawat. PTI

File photo of Harish Rawat. PTI

If verification of facts shows need of further probe, it may register an FIR or else close the PE.

The CBI probe focuses on Rawat’s relations with the owner of a news channel, alleged bribe proposal made to one dissident MLA by him and a minister in his previous cabinet, besides his claims on the purported sting video.

The reason for summoning him against, according to the sources, was because Rawat had not furnished full and complete details on many issues.

The case was registered on the reference received from the state government (during President’s rule) and subsequent notification from BJP-led central government.

Rawat has denied the allegation and called the video fake after it was released by the rebel Congress legislators but later admitted that he was on camera in the sting operation.

After Rawat’s victory in the floor test, the state cabinet had met on 15 May and withdrawn the notification recommending a CBI probe into the sting operation involving him.

Instead, the state cabinet decided to constitute a Special Investigating Team to probe the case as it was a state subject.

CBI had said the notification was rejected after taking legal opinion, which said there was no ground for its withdrawal and it was “not legally tenable”.

The chief minister had failed to get a reprieve from Uttarakhand High Court also which had refused to quash the ongoing CBI probe into the sting operation.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 21:29 IST

India will provide help to the mother whose boy has been taken away by Norway: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday said India will provide help on the request of the mother of the boy, who has been taken away by the Norway authorities even as Norwegian embassy here asked for “restraint” in the case, assuring that it is being handled with “complete sensitivity and awareness”.

Swaraj’s reaction came a day after she had asked the Indian Ambassador in Oslo to send a report on the allegations made by the couple that the Norwegian authorities took away their five-year-old child on frivolous complaint of abuse. While father and son are Norwegian nationals, the mother is an Indian citizen.

“I have received the report. Father and son are Norwegian nationals. We will represent on request of the mother, who is an Indian national,” Swaraj tweeted.

Reacting to the case, the Spokesperson in Norwegian Embassy said the mission is aware and understands “the concerns on the ongoing child welfare case involving an Norwegian/Indian family in Norway”.

File photo of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

File photo of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

“The Embassy would like to reiterate that child welfare cases are handled in accordance to the Norwegian Child Welfare Act, which includes directions from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“The Act applies to all children in Norway, regardless of their background, residential status or citizenship. The basic principle of the Act is that the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

“Since child welfare cases are highly sensitive, the cases are therefore subject to a strict duty of confidentiality. The Embassy, therefore, requests restraint and assures that the Norwegian authorities are dealing with the case with complete sensitivity and awareness. When available and permissible, updates on the case will be provided to the media and the general public.”

This is the third case since 2011 when children have been taken away from their Indian-origin parents by the authorities in Norway on the grounds of abuse.

In 2011, a three-year-old and a one-year-old were separated from their parents, prompting the then UPA government to take up the issue with Norway. The Norwegian court later allowed the children to be reunited with their parents.

In December 2012, an Indian couple was jailed on charges of ill treatment of their children, 7 and 2 years. Later, they were were sent to their grandparents in Hyderabad.

Later, briefing reporters, MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the Indian Embassy in Oslo is following up the matter.

“Our Ambassador has already established contact with the father who is a Norwegian citizen as is the child. The mother, however, is an Indian passport holder. Following the custody of the child by Norway’s Child Welfare Services (CWS), legal proceedings are currently underway regarding the continuation of such custody,” he said.

The ministry has been informed that the father has engaged a Norwegian lawyer to pursue the matter in the court, Swarup said.

“Given the seriousness of the issue, should we receive a formal representation from the mother, who is an Indian national, our Embassy remains fully prepared to engage with local authorities to impress upon them that this is a humanitarian issue and that the separation of a child from his parents is a matter of distress to the entire family,” he added.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 20:55 IST

Rajasthan cop shoots woman, dead, kills self

Jaipur: An additional superintendent of police of the Anti-terrorist squad of Rajasthan Police allegedly shot himself dead after killing a woman on the outskirts of the city, police said on Friday.

Representational image. IBNlive

Representational image. IBNlive

Before killing himself from his service revolver, Ashish Prabhakar also allegedly shot dead a woman in his car.

The bodies were recovered from his car last night in Shivdaspura area, police said on Friday.

Prabhakar was disturbed for the last few days and left office early on Thursday evening and went to Shivdaspura area, they said.

Prima facie, Prabhakar shot the woman dead after some quarrel before allegedly committing suicide inside the car.

He had also made a call to the police control room, saying two bodies were lying in a car, before taking the extreme step.

Efforts are on to identify the woman.

The bodies have been shifted to a hospital for postmortem and the matter is being investigated, the police said.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 20:24 IST

RBI truck carrying new notes penalised by RTO for overloading

Mumbai: A container truck hired by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to carry demonetised currency notes from Bhilai in Chhattisgarh to Nagpur, was stopped at Deori border check-post in Gondia district and penalised for overloading, by the Regional Transport Office (RTO).

The action was taken on Tuesday night and Rs 30,000 fine was collected from the driver, an RTO official said.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“The container had the capacity to carry 16 tonnes of load, but we found that the it was carrying 21 tonnes. The vehicle was filled with scrapped notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination, which it was transporting to RBI’s currency chest in Nagpur,” Vijay Chavan, Deputy Regional Transport Officer of Gondia district told PTI on Friday.

The vehicle was stopped by local officials posted at Deori check-post.

“The vehicle papers and other necessary documents were verified. We received a communication from Transport Commissioner based in Nagpur that the vehicle can be released after the payment of fine,” Chavan said.

“As per the calculation, the driver was asked to pay a fine of Rs 30,000, as the container was carrying five tonnes above the permissible limit. The officials issued a receipt of the fine payment and the vehicle was let off,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 19:55 IST

Green Tribunal dismisses plea to ban Christmas tree, Santa Claus costumes

New Delhi: Communal issues cannot be raised in the garb of environmental concerns, the National Green Tribunal has said while junking a plea for banning the use of Christmas trees and prohibiting the making of Santa Claus costumes.

The green panel, however, asked the Delhi government to ensure that there is no violation of environment laws and no pollution is caused due to the festivities.

Representational image. Getty images

“We do not see any dispute arising about the relevant provisions of Environment (Protection) Act. Law is the same for everyone without any discrimination on basis of caste, creed or religion.

“However, communal colour is being given in the name of schedule-I Act to the apparent grievances raised in the present application. We hope and trust Delhi government shall ensure implementation of Schedule I of National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. Hence, dismissed,” a bench headed by Justice UD Salvi said.

The order came on a plea filed by a religious group Ojasvi Party seeking directions to the Delhi government to prohibit the use of Christmas trees to save the environment from degradation claiming it involved plastic. It had sought a ban on the making of Santa Claus dresses to save wool and cotton from being wasted.

The petition had also sought prohibition on noise pollution which may be caused due to bursting of crackers on the eve of New Year and the use of loudspeakers after 10 pm.

A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer like pine or fir or an artificial tree of similar appearance, associated with the celebration of Christmas.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 19:41 IST

Civil Aviation Minister Raju: Biometric systems for passengers at airports are a good idea

New Delhi: Fliers may soon be able to use biometric details for security checks at airports as the government works on putting in place such systems after receiving ‘good feedback’ for a pilot project.

Giving strong indications, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said that having biometric systems for passengers at airports appear to be a good idea. The innovative idea, close on the heels of authorities doing away with tagging requirement of hand baggages at select airports, comes at a time when efforts are being made to ensure that aviation security procedures are more efficient and less intrusive. “Biometric access was experimented at Hyderabad (airport).

The feedback was good… Biometric system is appearing to be a good system security-wise,” Raju told PTI in an interview.

Without much fanfare, authorities have carried out a short duration pilot project using biometric system at Hyderabad international airport recently. The exact details on how it is used could not be immediately ascertained.

File photo of A Gagapathy Raju. PIB

File photo of Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju. PIB

When asked whether the project for biometric systems would be rolled out at various airports, Raju said a framework has been put up for the authorities concerned. “Modernisation is a continuous process and they will keep at it. I am not at BCAS or DGCA… We have to give them the policy frame (work). That is what we have done and we are working,” the minister said.

Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) is responsible for security of the sector while Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is the sectoral regulator. Asserting that “safety and security” of the aviation sector can never be compromised, the minister said efforts on the cyber security front is a continuous process and keeps evolving.

“(With regard to) cyber security, what was acceptable a decade ago is not acceptable a decade later,” he noted. Airports Authority of India (AAI) has awarded a contract worth over Rs 110 crore to public sector undertaking BECIL for providing biometric access control system at 43 aerodromes.

This contract basically pertains to access for employees through biometric systems. As part of efforts to ensure hassle-free movement of air passengers, the trial run of non-stamping of baggage tag has started at various airports, including Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Kolkata.

On the initiative, Raju said it would be gradually extended to other airports. “We took time to convince our people…, world over, it is happening. On an experimental basis, they have started it in the country. There is no earthly reason why it should fail. That is why I think it will slowly go to all other airports,” he said.

Striking a cautious note, the minister said BCAS should also be comfortable in implementing the initiative. “Our security guys, the BCAS should be comfortable giving it. Like, if we keep overruling them, it does not make sense. So we need to take them along,” he noted.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 19:37 IST

IAF gets nod for acquiring C17 transport aircraft

New Delhi: The government on Friday gave the go ahead to the IAF to purchase one more C17 heavy transport aircraft and also gave the nod to the Coast Guard’s proposal to acquire six multi-mission maritime aircraft for Rs 5,500 crore.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minster Manohar Parrikar, also reviewed the working of the DRDO besides giving the go ahead for the procurement of 1,500 indigenously designed and developed Nuclear Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare protection system for the infantry combat vehicle for Rs 1,265 crore.

Another proposal of the army and the IAF for the procurement of 55 low level light weight radar was also cleared by the DAC for Rs 419 crore.

c17 Image courtesy Boeing

C17 heavy transport aircraft. Image courtesy Boeing

Two “classified” proposals for the acquisition of arms and ammunition for the Special Forces and another related to the Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) is also understood to have been cleared.

The aircraft likely to be shortlisted for the Coast Guard is the C295, which is already been negotiated as a replacement for the Avro transport fleet of the air force.

Asked why the IAF is purchasing just one additional C17 aircraft besides the already 10 in possession, sources said this is because that was the only lone aircraft available with Boeing.

The IAF seems to have taken too long to push through the original proposal to buy three new C-17 aircraft. The American manufacturer had already pledged four of the last five C-17s in its production line to Qatar.

As per the 2011 contract worth $4.7 billion, India had an option clause to purchase six additional C-17s but paucity of funds meant that the follow-on order got delayed.

Talking about the NBC system, sources said the infantry combat vehicles are currently fitted with a manual system and the news ones will be automatic.

Sources said the six aircraft to be purchased by the Coast Guard will be fitted with state of the art “mission suite”, designed and developed by the DRDO.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 19:16 IST

Najeeb resignation: Wanted to quit earlier but PM Modi asked me to continue, says Jung

New Delhi: Najeeb Jung on Friday called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a day after springing a surprise by tendering resignation as Delhi’s Lt Governor even as he said that he had wanted to quit earlier but was asked by the PM to continue.

Jung reached the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) at South Block here around 11.30 am and spent a little over an hour inside. Sources said it was a courtesy meeting. On Thursday, in his brief resignation statement, Jung had thanked Modi for his help and cooperation.

Rejecting speculation that he quit as pressure was mounting on him, Jung was quoted as saying by NDTV that there is no politics behind his decision and that he wanted to quit earlier as well.

“I had offered to resign as I had been appointed by the previous UPA government, but the PM asked me to carry on. After three years, I requested the PM to relieve me but he asked me to carry on,” he said.

“After three and a half years, I requested the PM again on Tuesday that I would like to resign on personal grounds,” Jung was quoted as saying. Jung also said that he would like to write a book.

File photo of former Delhi Governor Naseeb Jung. Reuters

File photo of former Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung. Reuters

Over the last two years, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has time and again taken on Jung over his perceived closeness to Modi.

Earlier in the day, Kejriwal had an hour-long meeting with Jung over breakfast during which the latter reminisced their nearly two-year-long association in governing the city besides discussing other issues.

The Delhi chief minister said he was invited by the Lt Governor for the breakfast meeting that came a day after Jung’s sudden resignation from the post. Sources said Jung and Kejriwal spoke about the bitter- sweet times and spent some light moments.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also called on Jung. Asked why Jung quit, Kejriwal said, “He resigned due to personal reasons.” Though publicly Kejriwal had made stinging attacks on Jung on many occasions, both of them are known to share a cordial relationship at personal level.

Asked about his meeting with Jung, Sisodia said, “We had a very good chat. He shared memories of the last two years and also of his days as a bureaucrat. He said that he was mulling quitting over the last one year.

“He wants to spend time with his family and focus on academics. He said that he could not quit due to things like chikungunya (outbreak                                                                                                              in the city).”

Sisodia said he shared a “good rapport” with Jung and thanked him for his cooperation especially in areas of education. “We will work for the people if Delhi irrespective of circumstances be that easy or tough.”

On who could be next LG of Delhi, the Deputy Chief Minister said many names are doing the rounds but nothing official has come up.

Sources close to Jung had said yesterday his resignation has nothing to do with his acrimonious relationship with the AAP government over matters of jurisdiction and he was contemplating to quit for last few months. The Chief Minister was in Ranchi yesterday when the news of Jung’s resignation broke.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 19:09 IST

Former Kerala CM Oommen Chandy on solar scam: ‘Charges on role wrong; committed no crime’

Kochi: Holding his ground on the solar panel scam, which had rocked Kerala during the Congress-led UDF rule, former chief minister Oommen Chandy on Friday said that he had not committed any crime. “I have already rejected all the charges. I am fully confident that I have not committed any crime,” he said while deposing before a judicial commission probing charges in the solar panel scam, allegedly linked to his staff.

In his second deposition before the commission, headed by retired High Court judge Justice Sivarajan, the senior Congress leader claimed that all the charges levelled against him were legally proved wrong.

“Many things which had been said targeting me (in the solar scam) have already been proved wrong legally as also in the minds of the public,” he said during the cross-examination.

The commission had directed Chandy to be present for the cross-examination today.

He was cross-examined by the commission in January last in Thiruvananthapuram, when he was the Chief Minister.

Former CM of Kerala Oommen Chandy. AFP

Former CM of Kerala Oommen Chandy. AFP

During his deposition today, Chandy maintained that he had not interfered in the police probe into the case when he was Chief Minister.

Noting that no changes were made in the police team probing the case by the newly formed LDF government, which came to power seven months ago, Chandy said this suggested that police had been carrying out a free and fair probe even during UDF rule.

“The new government has not expressed any doubts about the approach of the probe team (appointed by the then UDF government),” the former Chief Minister said.

“I have not interfered in any stage of the investigation. In this case and other cases also. I have never done so. Free and fair investigation should be carried out in all investigations,” he said.

On being asked whether he had received telephone calls from a lawyer representing main accused (in solar scam) Saritha S Nair during the peak of the controversy, Chandy said he had not attended any of his calls.

The state government had appointed Justice Sivarajan to head the one-man commission on October 23, 2013, to probe the scam pertaining to alleged duping of investors by one Biju Radhakrishnan and his partner Saritha S Nair, who allegedly collected crores of rupees for a solar power project.

The two had allegedly canvassed the business by using top-level names, including that of Chandy.

While Saritha was granted bail after remaining behind bars for about nine months, Radhakrishnan is still in jail in connection with the alleged murder of his wife.

Chandy also rejected allegations by his former gunman Salim Raj that solar scam prime accused Saritha S Nair and the former CM used to talk to each other using his mobile phones.

Deposing before the panel, Salim Raj, a controversial police officer who was part of Chandy’s security, had alleged that a majority of calls from Saritha to his two phones were to talk to the then Chief Minister.

Chandy also rejected Saritha’s allegations that he had taken a bribe from her to set up solar projects, and said he had not taken bribe from anyone in his 50-year-long public life.

During her deposition before the panel, Saritha had alleged that she had paid a bribe of Rs 1.90 crore to Chandy through his personal aides to set up mega power projects in Kerala.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 18:51 IST

Demonetisation: PM Modi looting poor and serving the rich says Rahul in Almora rally

Almora: Escalating the attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi on Friday said his note ban decision is not a fight against black money or corruption but is an “economic robbery”.

Addressing a public rally at the University Campus College Grounds here, the Congress vice president said the Prime Minister has put “99 percent people” in the country to hardships and not targeted the “1 percent super rich” who “held all the black money”.

He said his party wants to eradicate corruption and if “Modiji takes any step against the menace, Congress party will lend its hundred percent support”.

“But this note ban step is not a decision against black money and corruption. This note ban is an economic robbery. It is an attack on the pooor of the country,” he said.

File photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

File photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Gandhi asked the Prime Minister to name those “thieves” who own the black money stashed in Swiss banks.

“The Swiss government has provided the list of all black-money holders to the Modi government. Why does he not place the list of thieves before the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha? We want to know who are these thieves. You should put their names before the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha,” he said.

“Why didn’t you bring back (Vijay) Mallya and Lalit Modi from London?” he asked.

Gandhi accused Modi of snatching away the hard-earned money of the country’s poor and giving them to banks to write off bad loans. He said demonetisation was introduced to waive Rs 8 lakh crore loans the “super rich” owe.

“Gareebon ka paisa kheencho, amiron ko seencho. 99 percent imaandaar ka paisa kheencho, 50 pariwaron ko seencho. Yeh hai notebandi ki sachhai, (Take away the money from the poor and help the rich. Take away the money from the 99 percent honest people and help the 50 super-rich families. This is the truth of note ban).” he said.

He used an Amitabh Bachchan song to attack Modi and said his motive is “Ram naam japna, garibon ka maal apna”.

“Suck the poor and serve the rich – this is the reality of the suit-boot wali sarkar,” he said.

He also accused the central government of being callous to people’s suffering and claimed the Opposition was not even allowed to mourn the “death of 100 people due to demonetisation”.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 18:44 IST

Delhi court appearances: Arvind Kejriwal, Vijay Mallya and more made appearances in 2016

New Delhi: The year saw trial courts here dealing with high-profile cases involving Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and liquor baron Vijay Mallya while the attack on JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar by men in black robes also made news.

The image of the judiciary was dented when a woman judge was trapped by CBI for allegedly taking bribe for a deal in which her lawyer husband was also arrested.

Kumar, who was slapped with sedition charge for taking part in a controversial event in JNU campus where anti-national slogans were allegedly raised, was roughed up by advocates inside the Patiala House court complex, with the incident leaving a black spot as Delhi Police failed to produce the student leader unharmed in the court.

Besides Kumar and some other students, sedition charge was also invoked against former Delhi University lecturer SAR Gilani, exonerated in the 2001 Parliament attack case, who was arrested for organising an event where too alleged anti-India slogans were raised days after the JNU incident.

The CBI was caught in a peculiar situation after top bureaucrat B K Bansal committed suicide along with his son just a month before his retirement, blaming the agency in the suicide note for harassing the family during investigation in the corruption case against him.

As the case was being heard in the court, Bansal, Director General (Corporate Affairs), took the extreme step days after his wife and daughter also committed suicide following his arrest.

Mallya, who is in UK, was not spared by the judiciary and in a double whammy, two non-bailable warrants were issued against him, with a judge observing that “he neither has any regard for law, nor any intention to return to India.”

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Names of famous Bollywood celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan also cropped up in the Delhi courts, where singer and music composer Mika Singh too made his appearance in a criminal case filed against him by a doctor.

Besides this, the city courts also dealt with terror-related matters including ones related to Indian Mujahideen’s key operative Abdul Wahid Siddibapa and Khalistani Liberation Force chief Harminder Singh Mintoo, while several other suspects were arrested for their alleged links with ISIS.

While the Kejriwal government and Delhi Police were at loggerheads on various issues including appointment of state prosecutors, several AAP legislators faced cases of heinous crimes ranging from rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, threat to women, attempt to murder and abatement of suicide of woman party worker during the year.

Though Kejriwal made headlines at regular intervals for criminal defamation cases lodged against him by Union minister Arun Jaitley, BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri and Amit Sibal, son of Congress leader Kapil Sibal, the AAP government was left embarrassed when one of its ministers Sandeep Kumar was sent to two months in jail after a CD containing alleged sex scandal surfaced. Kumar was immediately expelled by AAP and removed from the government.

The AAP government was also pushed to the backfoot after CBI arrested and named in a charge sheet Kejriwal’s close aid and principal secretary Rajendra Kumar in a graft case.

While AAP leader Somnath Bharti was slapped with domestic violence case, another party leader Alka Lamba and assembly speaker Ram Niwas Goel faced cases of assault.

DCW chief Swati Maliwal was also named in a charge sheet in a special court by the Anti-Corruption Branch in a case of alleged irregularities in recruitment in the women’s panel.

While AAP leaders made news from all the six trial courts of Patiala House, Tis Hazari, Karkardooma, Dwarka, Saket and Rohini, Congress too had anxious moments when former IAF chief S P Tyagi, arrested in connection with the Rs 450 crore VVIP chopper bribery case, sought to drag the Prime Minister’s Office for the Rs 3,600 crore deal finalised in 2010.

BJP leader and former junior minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, Dilip Ray, was also summoned as accused in a coal scam case.

Congress continued to battle in Patiala House Court the National Herald case with its top leaders including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi securing a minor relief of exemption from personal appearance, but BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who is the complainant in the case, left no stone unturned as he resorted to all legal tactics.

The ghost of coal block allocation scam continued to haunt the Congress with some of its leaders like Naveen Jindal, Dasari Narayan Rao and Vijay Darda facing the heat of the special court, which concluded two cases of Jharkhand Ispat Private Limited and Rathi Steel and Power Ltd (RSPL) by convicting all accused awarding varying jail terms.

Congress also had an unpleasant moment when its 70-year-old leader from northeast, P K Thungon, was held guilty in a 22-year-old graft case and awarded three-and-a half year imprisonment.

Similar was the case of former Haryana Speaker and INLD leader Satbir Singh Kadian, who was awarded the maximum sentence of seven years in a 20-year-old Indian Farmers FertilisersIFFCO graft case.

Other bigwigs who had a tough time in various trial courts included DMK leader and former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran and his businessman brother Kalanithi Maran who were named in a charge sheet in Aircel-Maxis money laundering case.

The recent amendment in the law allowing trial of children between 16-18 years as adults in cases of heinous offences was also heard by the court after a teenager allegedly ran over a 32-year-old marketing executive while rashly driving his father’s Mercedes.

Crime against women saw filmmaker of “Peepli Live” fame Mahmood Farooqui going to jail for seven years for raping a US national and death sentence to two killers — Ravi Kapoor and Amit Shukla — in the infamous Jigisha Ghosh murder case of 2009.

The trial court in Tis Hazari delivered life sentence till death to five vagabonds for raping a Danish national in 2014, with the judge making a hard-hitting observation that the incident brought “disrepute” and “shame” to the country. Even as decorated environmentalist and academician R K Pachauri struggled to defend himself in sexual harassment case.

The year-end saw the contentious demonetisation issue reaching the doors of the court as two Axis Bank managers and another person being arrested for their alleged role in a money laundering probe into purported illegal conversion of demonetised notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 16:26 IST

Demonetisation: Narendra Modi ‘wants to destroy farmers’, says RLD chief Ajit Singh

Demonetisation: Narendra Modi ‘wants to destroy farmers’, says RLD chief Ajit Singh

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Muzaffarnagar: Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh in a rally on Thursday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s motive behind the demonetisation decision was to destroy farmers.

File photo of RLD chief Ajit Singh. PTI

File photo of RLD chief Ajit Singh. PTI

“Demonetisation has created great problems for farmers and comman man. Modi’s policy is anti-farmers and he wants to destroy the farmers,” Singh said while addressing an election rally in Charthawal area of the district on Thursday evening.

Modi first failed to fulfill his promise of bringing black money from abroad and then came up with demonetisation. “And now has scrapped import duty on wheat to destroy the farmers,” he said.

Singh alleged, BJP was tring to divide farmers on communal lines and creating communal tension to get benefit in polls.

He appealed the people to beat BJP in UP assembly polls next year.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar, JD(U) leaders Sharad Yadav and K C Tyagi also addressed the rally and attacked the NDA government’s policies.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 14:46 IST

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Homoepathy Council chief Ramjee Singh gets bail in graft case

New Delhi: President of Central Council of Homoeopathy (CCH) Ramjee Singh, arrested on 22 October for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 20 lakh for giving clearance to a college in Gujarat, was granted bail on Friday by a special court in New Delhi.

Special Judge Parveen Singh also granted the relief to suspected middleman Harishankar Jha, who was arrested along with Singh by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The court granted bail to both the accused on a personal bond of Rs two lakh each and one surety of like amount.

court-representational-ibn-380 copy

The probe agency recently filed a charge sheet against the accused for the alleged offences of criminal misconduct by a public servant, receiving illegal certification and criminal conspiracy under the IPC.

The CBI had arrested Singh, who also runs GD Memorial Homeopathy Medical College in Patna, and Jha on 22 October.

According to CBI, Jha was allegedly receiving the bribe amount, which was a part payment for the total amount agreed upon, from a hawala operator in Karol Bagh area.

A CBI official had said that a private university based in Rajkot (Gujarat) had applied for setting up a new Homoeopathy college.

“It was alleged that…the vice president of the said University was in regular contact with both the president of CCH and a private person for getting inspection carried out by such team of inspectors of CCH who would give favourable inspection report,” the agency had said.

Others named in the FIR include RD Patel, assistant director, Homeopathy Department, Gujarat Government; Denish Patel, vice president of RK University, Bhavnagar, which was setting the Homoeopathy college; members of inspection team comprising Jabalpur-based Professor Rahul Shrivastava; Ashok Konar of National Institute of Homeopathy, Kolkata; and Ashwini Arya of JR Kissan Homoeopathy college in Rohtak.

It said RK University wanted to set up the homeopathy college for which mandatory clearance was needed from CCH, a statutory body for regulating education in the field, which accords it after inspection and deliberation among its various committees.

It was alleged that Denish Patel roped in RD Patel to get this done. RD Patel in turn approached Singh through Jha.

Singh allegedly deputed a team — comprising Shrivastava, Konar and Arya — which conducted the inspection in September, the agency had said.

The president of CCH had demanded illegal gratification and the part amount of which Rs 20 lakh was to be delivered in New Delhi and the same was to be collected from a hawala operator, the FIR alleged.

Jha had obtained an alleged bribe of Rs 20 lakh on behalf of the then president of CCH, CBI alleged in the FIR.

“Searches were conducted at Delhi, Rohtak, Gurgaon, Rajkot, Gandhinagar, Jabalpur and Kolkata, including (at) the official and residential premises of accused persons and others which led to recovery of incriminating documents.

“A sum of Rs 21.5 lakh (approx) was also recovered from the residence of a private person in Gurgaon,” the agency had said.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 14:16 IST

China urges India to accept Pakistan’s ‘olive branch’, join CPEC

Beijing: China will strongly oppose any attempt to label Pakistan as “supporting terrorism”, Chinese official media said on Friday and suggested India to accept the “olive branch” extended by a top Pakistani military General to participate in the $46 billion economic corridor.

“Surprise aside (over General’s call), New Delhi should consider accepting the olive branch Pakistan has extended in a bid to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” said an article in the state-run Global Times.

The comments came after Lt Gen Riaz, Commander of the Pakistan’s Southern Command which is based in Quetta, this week reportedly said India should “shun enmity” with Pakistan and “join the $46-billion CPEC along with Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries and enjoy its benefits”.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“Such an opportunity could be transient. There is a possibility that the open attitude toward India joining the CPEC will quickly be overwhelmed by opposition voices from Pakistan if New Delhi does not respond in a timely manner to the General’s overture,” the article said.

“The best way to reduce hostilities is by establishing economic cooperation based on mutual benefits to put aside what cannot be reached by a consensus,” it said.

It said that India could boost its exports and slash its trade deficit with China via new trade routes that would be opened up by the CPEC. In addition, the northern part of India bordering Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir will gain more economic growth momentum if India joins the project, it said.

Another article in the same daily said “Riaz’s invitation, which came as a surprise to New Delhi, is mainly intended as a gesture. While he hinted at India’s intervention in the CPEC, he welcomed India’s participation in the project, demonstrating Pakistan does not want to exclude India.”

At the same time, it said, “if any country wants to label Pakistan as ‘supporting terrorism’ and discredit the country, then China and other countries who uphold justice will oppose such behaviour strongly”.

The article said that since President Xi Jinping visited Pakistan in April, 2015, the CPEC has advanced considerably.

“However, some international forces, and India in particular, are accustomed to look at the CPEC and the One Belt and One Road initiative from a geopolitical perspective.

On one side, this is relevant to the geopolitical competition mindset they insist on, on the other, this is because of their excessive speculation on the strategic implications of the CPEC and the Belt and Road,” it said.

“To ensure the smooth advancement of the CPEC, it is necessary for Pakistan to have a stable and peaceful domestic and periphery environment and a favourable profile,” it said.

On anti-terrorism, the Afghanistan peace process, and the peace and stability of Kashmir, Pakistan is making efforts to show international society its wish to pursue peace, it said.

“The CPEC is not only a bilateral cooperation, but also a multilateral project in the long-run, which aims at regional economic integration. So it’s open and inclusive, and China and Pakistan hope India, Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asian countries can participate and become stakeholders,” it added.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 13:32 IST

Body of Delhi man to be brought back from Tokyo on Saturday: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi: On Friday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the mortal remains of a man from Delhi, who died of cardiac arrest in Tokyo two weeks ago, will be brought back home on Saturday, days after his family sought government’s help citing financial constraints.

Last week, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) had sought Swaraj’s intervention after Radha Debi, wife of deceased Gopal Ram, approached it seeking help, saying his poor family was unable to bring the body back.

Responding to the request, Swaraj had said government will bring back the body without delay and bear the expense.

“The mortal remains will reach New Delhi by ANA flight from Tokyo on 24 December at 2400 hrs,” Swaraj tweeted on Friday.

Sushma Swaraj. AFPSushma Swaraj. AFP

Sushma Swaraj. AFP

The External Affairs Minister is known for her prompt response in addressing problems of distressed Indians abroad.

48-year-old Gopal Ram, a resident of Ambedkar Nagar, had gone to Tokyo in September last year looking for greener pastures.

He died of a cardiac arrest in the Japanese capital on 10 December.

“The family is severely distressed and needs your kind support. As we all aware you have been extremely pro-active in resolving such matters. Therefore, I am forwarding the representation along with this letter for your kind perusal. Hoping for your support in this matter,” DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal had said in a letter to Swaraj last week.

Gopal was working in Tokyo as a cook in a hotel and according to a family member he was fired within three months after which he started working in some local shop.

His financial condition was bad because of which he was in distress, he said.

On 10 December, the family received a call from a person who worked with Gopal, saying that he has passed away following a heart attack.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 11:54 IST

Shivaji memorial: Fishermen withdraw stir against statue, ahead of Modi’s Mumbai visit

Mumbai: Fishermen in Maharashtra protesting against a proposed Shivaji Maharaj memorial off Mumbai coast have decided to withdraw their agitation, a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays the foundation
stone.

“Fishermen have agreed to withdraw their agitation against Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial Bhoomipujan,” a senior official said, after a meeting between Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and fishermen association leaders in Mumbai on Thursday night.

Fadnavis assured fishermen that the government will look into their concerns.

Narendra Modi. PTINarendra Modi. PTI

Narendra Modi. PTI

“At the meeting, it was decided to constitute a joint committee to resolve their issues. The CM thanked fishermen associations,” the official said.

The main feature of the memorial will be a 192-metre-tall statue of the Maratha king. The site is a rocky outcrop
roughly 1.5 km from the Raj Bhavan shore of Mumbai.

Members of Akhil Maharashtra Machhimar Kriti Samiti (AMMKS), an association of fishermen from Cuffe Parade, Machhimar Nagar, Geeta Nagar (near Navy Nagar), near Raj Bhawan and Backbay Parade, had said they will fly black flags on their boats and homes as a sign of protest.

Fisherwomen were to form a human chain from Nariman Point to Girgaum Chowpatty, holding black flags, ahead of Modi’s arrival for the inauguration, said AMMKS leader Damodar Tandel.

The livelihood of 1.5 lakh fishermen residing across five villages in south Mumbai, who have 1,500 large boats and 450 small boats, will be affected by the construction, he had claimed.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 09:21 IST

Close to 70 lakh income tax non-filers for 2014-15 identified by authorities

The Income Tax Department has identified an additional 67.54 lakh potential non-filers who carried out high value transactions in 2014-15 but did not file return of income.

The Non-Filers Monitoring System (NMS) was initiated by CBDT, the policy making body of I-T Department, for identification of non-filers with potential tax liabilities.

“The Income Tax Department has conducted the fifth cycle of data matching which has identified an additional 67.54 lakh potential non-filers who have carried out high value transactions in the financial year 2014-15 but did not file return of income for the relevant assessment year i.e. AY 2015-16,” CBDT said in a statement.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

Non-filers have been identified based on data analytics carried out by the Systems Directorate of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) about whom specific information is available in the Annual Information Return (AIR), Central Information Branch (CIB) and TDS/TCS databases.

“While the government urges all tax payers to disclose their true income and pay taxes accordingly, the Department would continue to pursue the non-filers vigorously till all the high potential non-filers are covered,” the statement said.

CBDT has made available in the ‘Compliance Module’ on the e-filing portal of the Income Tax Department the information relating to the identified non-filers.

The information will be visible only to the specific PAN holder when they log into the e-filing portal at https.//incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in.

“The PAN holder will be able to respond electronically and retain a copy of the submitted response for record purpose,” CBDT added.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 08:25 IST

CISF to get 37,000 more troops to boost airport, metro security

New Delhi: Augmenting the manpower of CISF guarding critical infrastructure like airports and
assets in the nuclear domain, the government has sanctioned raising the strength of the force with 37,000 more troops in order to bolster security at these facilities.

A CISF personnel. Reuters.A CISF personnel. Reuters.

A CISF personnel. Reuters.

The force has been seeking enhancement of its manpower, from the existing 1.45 lakh, for quite some time now as it is being increasingly entrusted with security duties like with the expansion of the Delhi Metro network in the national capital and transfer of more civil airports and private sector units under its cover.

The Union home ministry recently approved raising the strength of the force to 1.80 lakh, by having 35,000 more
personnel, with sanctions to raise two more battalions (about 2,000 personnel) once the new strength is achieved fully in about two years time.

“This has come as a shot in the arm for us. Our tasks are increasing gradually and the enhancement in our strength will act as a great boon to ensure better operational preparedness, faster promotions and effective supervisory control,” CISF Director General OP Singh told PTI while confirming the development.

He added the force will soon begin recruitments to fill up these sanctioned numbers.

“We are also going for a full cadre review of the force. The new strength will also help in undertaking a better
organisation of posts and services,” the DG said.

Central Industrial Security Force officials said that with the government making clear its intention of entrusting more and more civil airports to it and an increasing task in the domain of VVIP security, the force required more numbers.

While the CISF guards 59 civil airports in the country as of now, it also has an elite VVIP security wing under its command called the Special Security Group (SSG).

At least 3,000 personnel, they said, are only required to cater to the security needs of the transport lifeline of the national capital, the Delhi Metro, which is not only expanding its network but is also witnessing an increasing passenger load from the current about 27 lakh commuters per day.

Some manpower is also required to beef up security at sensitive aerospace and nuclear installations in the country and the new manpower when raised, will also be sent to these locations.

After it was tasked to secure vital infrastructure in the private domain post the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, the
forces’ role in this domain is also increasing with eight facilities already under it command and manpower for the ninth is set to be deployed soon.

Early this year, the government had ordered deployment of about 35 CISF personnel to guard Baba Ramdev‘s Patanjali Food and Herbal Park Private Limited in Haridwar.

The other seven private sector units being guarded by CISF are: Electronics City in Bengaluru and Infosys campuses in Bengaluru, Mysore and Pune, Reliance Refinery and Petrochemicals in Jamnagar, Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd project executed by the Tata group in Mundra and the Tata Steel project based in Odisha’s Kalinganagar.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 22:27 IST

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