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Jayalalithaa’s health: US Consulate sends out ’emergency message’ for American citizens

Chennai: With Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said to be critical, the US Consulate in Chennai on Monday issued an “emergency message” for American citizens, asking them to review their personal security plans and remain aware of the local events.

“US citizens are reminded that even gatherings intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations,” the Consulate said in a message on its official website without any reference to any particular development.

“Review your personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates. Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security,” the message said.

Further, the Consulate General will operate with reduced staffing on Monday, it announced, adding, it has “temporarily suspended appointments for routine services to US citizens and visa applicants.”

“Applicants will be informed by email. The Consulate will provide updates when routine services are restored,” it added.

Jayalalithaa, hospitalised since 22 September, suffered a cardiac arrest last evening, prompting scores of party workers to throng Apollo Hospital where she has been admitted.

First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 16:00 IST

US-India relationship will gain more significance under Trump administration, says envoy Richard Verma

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>United States ambassador to India Richard Verma has expressed confidence in the US-India relationship which he feels will gain much more significance under the incoming Trump administration.Verma, who is on a six-day trip of Northeast India, arrived in Tripura capital Agartala on his maiden visit on Saturday.Verma said he is very optimistic about the development and future of US-India relations. “During the last few years, it has been wonderful as the US President and the Indian Prime Minister wanted it (ties) to improve. It is important for peace, prosperity, and economic opportunity,” he said.His trip was focused on improving connectivity, economic connectivity, trade, investment, infrastructure, education and building connections between the people of India’s northeastern states and the United States. He said that the US has arranged a two-day conference focusing on internal and regional connectivity at Kolkata to improve economic condition of people by providing opportunities of work.Ambassador Verma during his visit went to the Sundari Temple, the Tripura State Museum and the Indo-Bangladesh border at the Akhaura Integrated Check Post (ICP) to observe the beating retreat ceremony of the Indo-Bangladesh guards. He also called on Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and met the business community to discuss ways to improve bilateral trade and connectivity through Tripura.Representatives from all the northeastern states, the Union Government, US consulate in India, Nepal and Bangladesh are likely to discuss ways to improve regional connectivity at a two-day conference on December 14 and 15 to be held at the US Consulate in Kolkata.

US Consulate’s election bash ticks the right boxes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The US Consulate in Mumbai held a special live streaming of the election results at Worli’s Hard Rock Cafe on Wednesday morning. There were people dressed up as Uncle Sam, the Statue of Liberty and Rosie The Riveter—an American icon representing women who worked in shipyards and factories during World War II—at the event.As the US election results filtered in, there was as much anticipation and enthusiasm as in the US. People participated in a mock voting process, clicked pictures at selfie corners, got their sketches done, and posed with life-size cut-outs of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Though Clinton lost the election, she won by a considerable margin when the results of the mock voting were announced. Although she emerged as the clear favourite at the event, Trump managed to emerge victorious in the US. “I expected Hillary to win. Although Trump had the lead, it was neck and neck throughout,” said Saloni Vyas, a law student who attended the event. “For us, it was a learning experience. I have a module on international relations in college, and the election helped shape my political views,” said Bhushan Thakore, a student of civics and politics at the University of Mumbai.The guest list also featured staff from the consulate, and members from other consulates. “This is a great opportunity for us to meet people from other consulates,” said Juergen Isenberg, Airline Liaison Officer at the German Consulate.When the dust settles on the election, the important question to ask is how much of a bearing will it have on US-India relations. “No matter who occupies the Oval office, US-India relations will forge ahead in terms of trade and security. We share values and interests. I am convinced that there will be continued interest,” said Thomas Vajda, US Consul General in Mumbai.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurates UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram

Getting a visa to UAE is set to become hassle-free for Indians as a new dedicated visa centre opened in New Delhi along with a Consulate General in Kerala this week. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday inaugurated a UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram which will cater to the visa demand from south India.

People from south India, who wish to visit the United Arab Emirates, will now get their necessary documents processed at the new mission, to be headed by Consular General Jamal Hussein Al Zabi. The UAE government decided to set up the office here as a significant majority of Indian expats in the UAE hails from Kerala.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. PTIKerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. PTI

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday inaugrated the UAE Consulate General in Thiruvananthapuram. PTI

Currently, all those proceeding to the UAE from south India have to get their educational certificates and other documents certified by the UAE embassy in New Delhi or the consulate in Mumbai.

Earlier in the week, UAE Ambassador to India, Ahmed Al Banna inaugurated the dedicated consular and a visa service centre in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi at a programme chaired by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung.

The centres, which were housed in the UAE embassy earlier, will provide visa services, attestation works and all consular services for Indian nationals and citizens of the UAE who are in India.

Banna batted for enhanced strategic ties with India during the event and termed the prevailing bilateral relations as “historical”.

“Relationship between India and UAE is historical and quite great. Now our relationship is going to a further strategic level.

“After the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi (to UAE) last August and the visit of his Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi (to New Delhi) in February this year, there has been an understanding to look into strengthening that relationship,” he said.

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade next year.

UAE is home to around 2.6 million Indians who constitute nearly 30 percent of its population. It receives around 10,000 visa applications on a monthly basis.

With inputs from agencies

Man who fought for IS in Iraq held: Here is Subahani Haja Moideen’s tryst with ISIS

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has put under arrest a resident of Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district a year after he returned from northern Iraq’s –Mosul city. The Iraqi city has been occupied by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for more than two years. The 31-year-old Subahani Haja Moideen is suspected to have fought for the dreaded terror group as a foreign fighter and his arrest is likely to serve a fresh insight into the lives of foreign fighters joining the ranks of ISIS.Moideen claimed that he returned from Mosul where he was being held as a prisoner in a jail managed by the ISIS after he had detracted from the group along with some other foreign fighters. While Moideen has claimed that he and other foreign fighters detracted from ISIS withstanding the “violence and war misery in Mosul”, the NIA has said that a year after laying low and working at a gold shop, the 31-year-old was planning to collect explosives at the behest of his handlers.Moideen, according to the NIA, was summoned to the branch office in Kochi for examination after a search at his native home in Kerala’s Idukki district. His name had cropped up in the investigation of a recently busted ISIS module. The agency officials however were taken aback when Moideen told them that he had gone to Iraq in April last year to join ISIS and fight for the organisation.As per the preliminary examination, he was radicalised and recruited to ISIS by recruiters active over online social media platforms. He left India for Istanbul from on a visit visa. After reaching Istanbul, he crossed over along with others including people from Pakistan and Afghanistan to ISIS held territory in Iraq,” said NIA spokesperson Alok Mittal.According to agency investigators, Moideen told them that he was then taken to Mosul in Iraq, where he underwent detailed course in Shariya followed by combat training. “Moideen was sent to to the war zone in Mosul for security duties in ISIS held territory, which he performed for almost two-weeks,” the spokesperson said adding that the job assignment was given to him after his completion of combat training including training in the automated weapons.”He was being paid USD 100 per month as subsistence allowance by the ISIS along with common available accommodation and food without any additional charges,” said NIA.Imprisoned by ISISOn conveying his decision to quit the organisation, he was imprisoned by ISIS at Mosul and was subjected to extreme torture. He along with other similar deserting foreign fighters, was produced before a judge of the ISIS, following which he was again incarcerated at Raqqa in Syria. Later, for reasons yet to be ascertained, he was allowed to leave ISIS controlled territory and return to Turkey along with five other foreign nationals where he stayed illegally in Istanbul for about two weeks, before approaching the Indian Consulate, for returning to India. Sources said that Moideen had told the consulate that he had lost his passport.The agency believes that Moideen’s family sent him money for flight tickets to India after he contacted them and conveyed his decision to return home . The NIA said that Turkish Police issued a clearance certificate to Moideen followed an Emergency Certificate issued by Indian Consulate. He returned to India through Mumbai on 22nd September, 2015 and went to his ancestral place in Kadaynallur, Tirunelveli, where he was staying with his wife.”He got a job as a salesman in a gold jewelry shop at Kadayanallur. However, once back and settled, he again got in touch with ISIS handlers over internet and was planning to collect explosives and precursor chemicals from Sivakasi at their instance. He had travelled to Chennai, Coimbatore and other places to meet other local contacts in the conspiracy, collect money and procure explosives / precursor chemicals, for terrorist acts, as guided and motivated by the ISIS handlers,”the NIA said.

UNESCO portal to act as global directory of stolen antiquities

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>UNESCO has recently launched a portal amongst antiquity officials of several nations which will serve as a directory of stolen items. The portal, launched early last month, is accessible to only officials authorised by each country who have ratified the 1976 UNESCO convention on the means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property. In India, the Archeological Survey of India has been selected to access the portal to keep a loop on the items that have been stolen.The UNESCO also held a meeting on September 24 of officials from the 192 nations to discuss the idea. India sent officials from ASI and the MEA. The ASI official from India, however, could not attend due to the ongoing excavations of the 8,500 year old camping site at Ladakh.In the portal, officials from each country were given a username and a password to access the directory. In the directory, thousands of stolen items are listed. And, officials from member countries can access the item and plan to bring back the stolen items.As per the statutes of the convention, member nations must hand over items stolen from another member nation without any hassle. Since the Convention does not have an retrospective effect, in the case of items that were stolen before the UNESCO convention, which means that if any item was stolen from a country before 1976, then the statutes of the convention will not apply.”In that situation, the countries must individually negotiate among themselves and bring it back,” said an official from the culture ministry. For instance, the Kohinoor does not come under the purview of the convention.”Globally, countries are quick to send back items. Last month, we acquired some antiquities from the US. The officials sent a large number to the Indian Consulate’s office. We brought back what was genuine, and left the rest there,” said the official.

Istanbul airport attack: No Indian casualty reported, confirms MEA

There has been no report so far of any Indian casualty in the terror attack at the international terminal of Turkey’s Ataturk airport where three suspected Islamic State suicide bombers killed at least 36 people.External Affairs Ministry also said that the Indian Consulate has been in touch been touch with Istanbul governorate and has given emergency contact numbers for Indians requiring assistance.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>No reports so far of any Indian among the casualties, the ministry said.Issuing a statement, the ministry said the Indian Consulate and Embassy in Turkey have tweeted emergency contact numbers for Indians requiring assistance.No Indian casualty in Turkey terror attackThe ministry also informed that Turkish Air flights to Delhi and Mumbai departed Istanbul last night as scheduled. “Ataturk Airport operations at Istanbul have resumed but long delays are likely. Many flights are reported to have been diverted to Sabiha Gokcen International Airport. Delays are expected there as well,” the ministry said.

Retired government officer involved in Chhota Rajan fake passport case moves Delhi HC

A retired government official, who along with gangster Chhota Rajan is facing trial in a fake passport case, has moved Delhi High Court seeking quashing of criminal and corruption charges framed against her.The petition by the 62-year-old woman, a former public servant who worked in a regional passport office at Bengaluru, has sought quashing of the charges of cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy under the IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act framed against her by a trial court in New Delhi on June 8.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Similar charges have also been framed against two other public servants — Jayashree Dattatray Rahate and Deepak Natvarlal Shah — who have also been accused of helping Rajan procure a fake passport in the name of Mohan Kumar. The trial court had framed charges also under the Passport Act against all the accused, including the gangster. While Rajan is lodged in Tihar Jail here, the other three accused are out on bail.
ALSO READ Chhota Rajan, three others charged in fake passport caseGrounds of pleaLalitha Lakshmanan has said in her plea that the incident of alleged issuance of fake passport to Rajan occurred in Bangalore in 1998-99 and hence the trial court in Delhi does not have the jurisdiction to try the case. In her petition filed through advocate Satya Narayan Vashisth, she also contended that no sanction for prosecution was obtained under the Passports Act and Criminal Procedure Code prior to initiation of the proceedings against her.
ALSO READ Chhota Rajan used fictitious identity with help of fake passport: CBIShe has sought discharge from the case saying there was no material to proceed against her. The woman has claimed that back in 1998-99, checking of applications for passport renewal was done manually and she used to handle over 300 such applications every day between 2.30 PM to 4.30 PM, and at the most, she could only be accused of oversight. She has also claimed that under the Passports Act, she has “protection of good faith”.Rajan’s fake documents
ALSO READ Chhota Shakeel’s plot to kill arch rival Chhota Rajan foiled, 4 nabbed According to CBI, Rajan had got his first fake passport issued from Bengaluru on January 1, 1998 allegedly in connivance with the other accused persons. The CBI said Rajan had allegedly got his passport issued twice from Indian missions abroad on the basis of fake travel documents issued to him in the name of Kumar from the Bengaluru passport office in 1998.CBI filed a charge sheet for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery under the IPC and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Passport Act.It said these officers had allegedly ignored rules and regulations of verification while issuing the passport on fake identity and address. CBI claimed that on the basis of the passport issued in Kumar’s name, Rajan had allegedly got another passport issued on December 19, 2003 from High Commission of India at Harare, Zimbabwe, and a third one from the Consulate General of India in Sydney.Deported after being on the run for 27 years, the 55-year old gangster, who was once a close aide of fugitive terrorist and mob boss Dawood Ibrahim, was brought to India to face trial in over 70 cases of murder, extortion and drug smuggling in Delhi and Mumbai.Rajan was deported to India after his arrest in Bali in October last year.

India is committed to Afghanistan’s economic prosperity and security: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi: India is committed to security and economic prosperity of Afghanistan and will stand like a “rock” with it, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Wednesday.

“We want to convey this to the people of Afghanistan through Osmani Sahab (Afghanistan Minister) that India will stand like a rock with them. We are committed to your economic prosperity and security,” she said.

Swaraj made the remarks at an event organised by the Water Resources Ministry to felicitate its personnel and workers who successfully completed the construction of India-Afghan Friendship Dam in Herat province.

Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti and Afghanistan’s Energy and Water Minister Engineer Ali Ahmad Osmani also attended the event.

Swaraj noted the dam was built in “very difficult and hostile” conditions by WAPCOS Ltd, a public sector undertaking under the Water Resources Ministry, even as Indian nationals were attacked in Afghanistan. She likened the “valour and determination” shown by the personnel working on the project to that of soldiers guarding country.

A file photo of Sushma Swaraj. AFPA file photo of Sushma Swaraj. AFP

A file photo of Sushma Swaraj. AFP

Referring to the recent bomb blast in Afghanistan in which two Indians were killed, Swaraj said the Indian Consulate, rest houses and Indian nationals were attacked 16 times and 24 Indians have so far been killed in such attacks.

“This is not an ordinary dam…attacks keep taking place on our consulate there, blasts occur…amid such a situation, if an organisation like WAPCOS says it will construct the dam, it reflects the determination and valour which our soldiers show…several Afghan security forces personnel too were killed, but they were determined,” she said.

Lauding the tradition of Chishti Sufism, she said it came to India from where the dam has been built in Afghanistan.

The Minister said the dam, funded entirely by the central government, will contribute heavily to the economic growth of Afghanistan.

Bharti described the dam “as an example of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s efforts aimed at pushing development agenda at international-level too”.

“Before Modiji became Prime Minister, there used to be politics of division. But he made a pitch for development. Internationally too, he is pushing the agenda of development. This dam is example of that,” she said.

The dam was built keeping in mind the needs of local people. It will help irrigate swathes in Afghanistan and generate electricity, she said.

Osmani said his country received a lot of funds over the past 15 years from international donors but India’s cooperation was “very effective” and hoped other countries will follow India’s model.

He lauded India for supporting development activities in Afghanistan and constructing the dam at a time when “some countries are supporting terrorism” in his country.

“Surely, the history and the people Afghanistan will remember these two types of actions. This time terrorists and their supporters were disappointed. We proved that friendship succeeded and terrorists failed. The completion of the dam shows terrorists cannot stop our development,” he said.

Special Secretary in Water Resources Ministry Amarjit Singh, WAPCOS CMD R K Gupta and other government officials, Sufi saints from Afghanistan were also in attendance at the event.

Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani had on 4 June jointly inaugurated the Rs 1775-crore dam.

The multipurpose project, constructed on Chist-e-Sharif river in Heart province of Afghanistan, is expected to irrigate 75,000 hectares of land and generate 42 mega watt power, besides ensuring water supply and other benefits to local people.

Funded by Indian government, the project work was completed in over 10 years by 1,500 Indian and Afghan engineers and other professionals.

India will stand like a rock with Afghanistan: Sushma Swaraj

India is committed to security and economic prosperity of Afghanistan and will stand like a “rock” with it, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday said.”We want to convey this to the people of Afghanistan through Osmani Sahab (Afghanistan Minister) that India will stand like a rock with them. We are committed to your economic prosperity and security,” she said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Swaraj made the remarks at an event organised by the Water Resources Ministry to felicitate its personnel and workers who successfully completed the construction of India-Afghan Friendship Dam in Herat province.Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti and Afghanistan’s Energy and Water Minister Engineer Ali Ahmad Osmani also attended the event.Swaraj noted the dam was built in “very difficult and hostile” conditions by WAPCOS Ltd, a public sector undertaking under the Water Resources Ministry, even as Indian nationals were attacked in Afghanistan. She likened the “valour and determination” shown by the personnel working on the project to that of soldiers guarding country.Referring to the recent bomb blast in Afghanistan in which two Indians were killed, Swaraj said the Indian Consulate, rest houses and Indian nationals were attacked 16 times and 24 Indians have so far been killed in such attacks.”This is not an ordinary dam…attacks keep taking place on our consulate there, blasts occur…amid such a situation, if an organisation like WAPCOS says it will construct the dam, it reflects the determination and valour which our soldiers show…several Afghan security forces personnel too were killed, but they were determined,” she said.Lauding the tradition of Chishti Sufism, she said it came to India from where the dam has been built in Afghanistan. The Minister said the dam, funded entirely by the central government, will contribute heavily to the economic growth of Afghanistan.Bharti described the dam “as an example of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts aimed at pushing development agenda at international-level too”.”Before Modiji became Prime Minister, there used to be politics of division. But he made a pitch for development. Internationally too, he is pushing the agenda of development. This dam is example of that,” she said.The dam was built keeping in mind the needs of local people. It will help irrigate swathes in Afghanistan and generate electricity, she said.Osmani said his country received a lot of funds over the past 15 years from international donors but India’s cooperation was “very effective” and hoped other countries will follow India’s model. He lauded India for supporting development activities in Afghanistan and constructing the dam at a time when “some countries are supporting terrorism” in his country.”Surely, the history and the people Afghanistan will remember these two types of actions. This time terrorists and their supporters were disappointed. We proved that friendship succeeded and terrorists failed. The completion of the dam shows terrorists cannot stop our development,” he said.Special Secretary in Water Resources Ministry Amarjit Singh, WAPCOS CMD R K Gupta and other government officials, Sufi saints from Afghanistan were also in attendance at the event. Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani had on June 4 jointly inaugurated the Rs 1775-crore dam.The multipurpose project, constructed on Chist-e-Sharif river in Heart province of Afghanistan, is expected to irrigate 75,000 hectares of land and generate 42 mega watt power, besides ensuring water supply and other benefits to local people. Funded by Indian government, the project work was completed in over 10 years by 1,500 Indian and Afghan engineers and other professionals.

Parrikar reaches China for first official visit, may discuss veto on Masood Azhar

Beijing: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday arrived in Beijing on his first official visit to China for high-level talks with top military officials to consolidate ties between the armed forces of the two countries.

Parrikar arrived from Shanghai by a special aircraft and will hold talks with top Chinese officials, including Defence Minister Gen Chang Wanquan and Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) Gen Fan Changlong on Sunday. He is also due to call on Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Later, he would visit China’s recently integrated western command military headquarters which has jurisdiction over border with India.

Parrikar is accompanied by senior officials from army and navy, besides the defence ministry.

Manohar Parrikar. File photo. IBNLiveManohar Parrikar. File photo. IBNLive

Manohar Parrikar. File photo. IBNLive

Indian officials said the visit is aimed at further consolidating the defence relations between the two countries which showed considerable improvement in the last few years with periodic high-level interactions between the two armed forces.

Parrikar’s five-day visit will be immediately followed by a visit by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, who is scheduled to hold the 19th Boundary Dialogue with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi later next week.

Doval and Yang, who are designated Special Representatives for boundary talks, also have a mandate to discuss entire gamut of bilateral issues.

The contentious issue of China blocking India’s attempts in the UN to ban Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e- Mohammad’s chief Masood Azhar is expected to figure in their talks.

Before leaving for Beijing, Parrikar visited Urban Planning Exhibition Centre in Shanghai where he was briefed by the Chinese officials on the urban planning achievements in China’s biggest metropolis which has a population of over 22 million. The briefing focused on use of innovative technologies and smart city transportations, Indian Consulate in Shanghai said in a statement.

He also addressed members of the Indian community at a meeting held at the Shanghai Consulate where he spoke of his government’s “steadfast commitment” at securing interests of Indians living abroad.

The defence minister said there was a significant momentum in India’s economy, which had been successful in attracting large investments under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

He also answered questions from the audience on issues ranging from India’s self-reliance in defence production, education to high-end technologies and retaining skilled talented students, the statement said.

Watch: This video of US consulate kids singing the national anthem will make every Indian proud

The American children of the diplomats working at the United States Consulate in Mumbai learnt the Indian National Anthem “Jana Gana Mana” to perform at the recent National Day reception in Mumbai.The video of the children singing the national anthem was uploaded by the Mumbai US Consulate on Friday. All the kids participating in the event were between age 3 to 14. Watch the video here:

Jalalabad: 8 civilians, one security personnel dead in attack near Indian consulate in Afghanistan

In the fourth attack since 2007, heavily-armed terrorists, including suicide bombers, struck the Indian Consulate in Afghanistan’s Jalalabad city on Wednesday, killing nine persons including an Afghan security personnel and causing damage to the chancery.External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi said all Indians in the mission were safe and six terrorists, who carried out the attack, were dead. While two terrorists blew themselves up, four militants were killed by the Afghan National Police.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Indian Consulate in Jalalabad has been attacked. All Indians in the mission are safe but one ANP officer was killed during the gunfire. One suicide bomber blew himself up in front of the mission while another blew himself up along with the car which carried the attackers. Four terrorists were killed by the Afghan securitymen,” MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in New Delhi.He also said that the Consulate was damaged in the attack. The ministry has received an initial report of the attack and subsequent developments by the Afghan Army.Eight civilians have been killed in the crossfire, the Indian security sources said based on primary reports from the attack site. They said there were as many as 1,320 explosions including bomb and grenade blasts during a nearly two-hour gunbattle. The initial onslaught was countered by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) which was later joined by the Afghan securitymen.According to Provincial Police Chief Fazel Ahmad Shirzad, one suicide bomber detonated his explosives near the front gate of the Consulate to open the way for other attackers. “Four other attackers were killed after half an hour clashes with the security forces,” he was quoted as saying by the TOLO news.Today’s attack is fourth in the series of terror strikes on the Indian Consulate in Jalalabad. It was attacked twice by hand grenades in 2007 and in 2013, it was attacked by three suicide bombers. In 2015, an attack on it was thwarted by the Afghan security forces.Two months ago, heavily-armed terrorists carried out an attack on the Indian mission in Mazar-e-Sharif which lasted for over 25 hours with all the attackers who attempted to storm the building getting killed by the Afghan forces. Soon after that also in January, Islamic State jihadists claimed responsibility for a deadly gun and bomb siege targeting the nearby Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad.

Info on Chhota Rajan’s fake passport cannot be given: Indian Mission

The Indian Consulate in Sydney has refused to make public records related to alleged fake passport issued to Chhota Rajan which enabled his stay in Australia, citing four exemption clauses from the RTI Act without giving any reason to substantiate them.Venkatesh Nayak of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative had sought from the Indian High Commission in Australia details of the passport issued to Rajan on the basis of forged identity.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The application was forwarded to the mission in Sydney where the travel document was issued to Rajan.The Mission refused to divulge the details citing Sections 8(1)(a), (e), (g) and (h) of the RTI Act.”… The First Appellate Authority has sent the email that the CPIO rejected my RTI application under Sections 8A, 8E, 8G and 8H. There is no attachment or email form the CPIO that was supposedly sent to me. To which email address, I am not sure,” Nayak claimed.Section 8(1)(a) alone covers seven grounds to deny information — sovereignty and integrity, defence, strategic, scientific, economic interests and foreign relations of the state and incitement to commission of crimes. Section 8(1)(e) relates to fiduciary relationship, 8(1)(g) exempts information from disclosure which may endanger the life and safety of any person and 8(1)(h) the disclosure impede the investigation, prosecution process or arrest of the offenders.Several high courts have given orders that mere invoking exemptions is not enough and the public authority must give sufficient reasons to justify denial of information.”This reply from the Sydney Consulate amounts to shielding officers who may have issued the passport without due diligence or perhaps even through corrupt means. The CBI has already registered an FIR under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against unnamed officials in this case.So there is a great amount of public interest in making the identity of these officials public instead of protecting them,” Nayak alleged.

US keen on multi-sectoral investments in Maharashtra, says CM Fadnavis

Having invited investments and attention of several foreign nations at the Make In India (MII) week in Mumbai the Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government says it has also been able to charm the multi-billion dollar industry of the US.Fadnavis, who successfully muscled MoUs to the tune of Rs 8,00,000 crore in the MII programme, claimed that investors from Uncle Sam were keen on investing in various sectors of the state.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the Chief Minister several rounds of bilateral meetings took place between a diaspora from the US and officials from the Maharashtra government. “We had several good sessions and discussions with delegates from USA. I also had a meeting with the US Consulate in Mumbai as well as representatives from their Chamber of Commerce,” Fadnavis said.He added that around 30 companies from the US had expressed interest in investing in multi-sectoral projects in Maharashtra, including agro, food processing, packaging, fruit processing and fisheries.Claiming big investment was on its way to Maharashtra from both the east and west coast of the US, Fadnavis said that his government has already started working on fructifying the signed MoUs into real-time numbers. “Few MoUs that have been signed are now been processed by a task force to ensure the project implementation,” Fadnavis said. Back in 2015, Fadnavis first forged bonds of state with the US. He formed the organisation Friends of Maharashtra that launched the US-Maharashtra Development Council (US-MDC) aimed at contributing towards various development projects in the state.The state government had then said that the US-MDC would be anchoring bilateral activities to promote international investments in Maharashtra. For more such stories, visit iamin.in.

Super MEA: Sushma Swaraj helps Indian woman stuck in refugee camp in Germany

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj stepped in to help a distressed Indian woman in Germany who wanted to come back to India. The woman, Gurpreet, posted a short video on Twitter, alleging she and her seven-year daughter had been kept in a refugee camp in Germany by her husband’s family. “Gurpreet – I have got the report from our Embassy in Germany,” Swaraj tweeted.In another tweet, Swaraj said the Indian Consulate General in Frankfurt is handling the matter and he has even spoken to her father also. “We will help you,” Swaraj said. Gurpreet, hailing from Faridabad, said she and her daughter want to go back to India as soon as possible and claimed that she was taken to Germany by her inlaws in a “fraudulent” way. She, however, did not mention where she is staying now.Swaraj is known for ensuring prompt help to distressed Indians abroad. Recently, she had tweeted that Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh will handle the problems of the diaspora. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Bengaluru: French embassy receives threat letter against President François Hollande’s Republic Day visit

The French Consulate in Bengaluru has received a threat letter warning against French President François Hollande’s visit to India. French President Francois Hollande’s is set to visit as chief guest of Republic Day celebrations. Announcing Hollande’s visit, the Embassy had issued a release saying he will travel to India on January 26 on a state visit, where he will be the Chief Guest of Republic Day celebrations. “This visit will also follow on from the Paris Climate Conference, at which India played a decisive role in reaching an ambitious agreement,” the release said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meanwhile, four youth were arrested in Uttarakhand yesterday for allegedly plotting attacks during Ardh Kumbh. There was also an infiltration attempt by three people reported near the Pathankot border, one of whom was shot down and two others managed to flee.

US man’s death in Goa: Inhalation of mud led to his death, says post-mortem

‘Inhalation of mud’ led to the death of US national Caitanya Lila Holt after he fell down in a paddy field while being chased by villagers upon suspicions of being a thief, his post-mortem report has provisionally concluded.”The provisional cause of death has been identified as aspiration of grey-brownish matter. There are multiple injuries on the body, but they are non-fatal,” a senior doctor from the Goa Medical College and Hospital said on Sunday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The post-mortem was conducted on Saturday evening at GMC. 30-year-old Holt on Tuesday died after he fell down in a sludgy paddy field while being chased by some villagers in Korgao who mistook him for a thief.When contacted, Superintendent of Police (North Goa), Umesh Gaonkar, refused to divulge further details of the post- mortem, saying that the case is under investigation.Meanwhile, sources at the GMC’s Forensic Science Department said they have preserved the viscera samples of Holt and the same will be sent for further examination. US Consulate officials are already in Goa as the investigation is on into the case. They had yesterday visited the place where Holt died as also the Pernem police station, where they were apprised of the inquiry.

US national death: Consulate team in Goa to oversee probe

A team from the US consulate in Mumbai has arrived in Goa to oversee the probe into the death of an American national in the coastal state earlier this week.The team visited Pernem police station which is probing the death of 30-year-old Caitanya Lila Holt and also went to the spot where he was found dead.”The US Consulate officials were briefed about the investigation. They will also be present in Goa Medical College when postmortem on the body of Holt would be performed,” Umesh Gaonkar, Superintendent of Police (North), told PTI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said though the investigation into what actually happened before Holt fell in the field is still on, the preliminary inquiry has shown that the crowd had mistaken him to be a thief.Earlier police had confirmed that Holt died after falling in the field when he was running to save himself from an irate mob which was chasing him in the village of Korgao on January 12. The US Consulate had said that it was in touch with the family of the American tourist who died in Goa two days ago.”I can confirm that we are aware of this case. Our consular staff has been in contact with the family and is actively working with the Indian government and police officials,” Heidi Hattenbach, spokesperson of the US Consulate General in Mumbai, had said in a statement.

Indian Consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif was target of terrorist attack, says MEA

Confirming that the Indian Consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif was indeed the target of a terrorist strike, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday said the reports received from the Afghan authorities on January 6 indicate that the armed terrorists attacked with heavy ammunition.MEA official spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel guarding the Consulate, located in Balkh Province of Northern Afghanistan, kept the attackers at bay till the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) arrived at the scene to neutralise the terrorists.Divulging details of the operation, Swarup said it lasted till the night of January 4 when the ANDSF were able to eliminate the four terrorists, who had been holed up in a building near the Consulate. “In the operation, one Afghan Police personal lost his life, while nine ANDSF personnel were injured,” he said.”The Afghan Government authorities and its various agencies, and also the provincial authorities of Balkh displayed tremendous coordination in foiling the attempt of the terrorists to attack the Indian Consulate. We salute the exemplary courage and admirable resilience shown by the ANDSF personnel during the operations, which resulted keeping the Consulate official out of harm’s way,” he added.President Ashraf Ghani had earlier this week briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the terrorist attack at the Consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif during a telephonic conversation. The Prime Minister thanked the Afghan President for ensuring the security of the Indian Consulate General and its personnel. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Indian consulate in Afghan city Mazar-i-Sharif attacked, two attackers killed

Explosions and gunshots were heard near the Indian consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Sunday and an unknown number of gunmen attempted to enter the compound, a spokesman for the local governor said.No details were immediately available on any casualties or damage or on the number of attackers and there was no immediate claim of responsibility. According to reports, two attackers have been killed. Muneer Ahmad Farhad, a spokesman for the Balkh province governor, said insurgents had hidden in a house near the consulate and struck after darkness fell. He said attackers had tried to enter the consulate but had so far not been able to. “Right now our security forces are fighting them,” he said.An Indian official said there had been no reports of Indian casualties so far and it was not certain that the consulate itself was the target of the attack. “Details are very sketchy at this point in time,” he said. The incident occurred while Indian security forces were still trying to suppress an attack on an air base in Pathankot, near the border with Pakistan that has killed at least seven military personnel and wounded 20 others. It came amid renewed efforts to reduce longstanding tensions between India and Pakistan and restart peace talks with the Afghan Taliban as part of a broader drive to improve stability in the region.With agency inputs<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>