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6 reasons why, despite being criticised, demonetization has failed to halt BJP’s victory march

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It’s been over six weeks since November 8, when the unthinkable happened. In one fell swoop, PM Modi delegitimised Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes in an audacious bid to curb black money. What has happened post that has been nothing short of chaotic. The RBI and the Finance Ministry have literally made up rules on the go, chopping up and changing one arbitrary decision after another. It has been a baptism by fire for them, trying to outdo money launderers and black money hoarders. Unfortunately, hardworking average Indians have been caught in the crossfire. The latest decision to scrutinise any deposit above Rs 5,000 (issued this Monday) has left even the most ardent supporters of demonetization baffled.The Opposition has gone hammer and tongs over PM Modi’s decision, with Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal almost indulging in a game to outdo each other by ramping up the rhetoric against the government. No one can disagree the common people have been greatly disadvantaged by currency swap and that the Opposition parties have tried their best to latch on to it. Yet, something curious seems to be happening in India’s political firmament. Across the states, the lotus continues to bloom unabated, notwithstanding the urban backlash BJP has received. The Maharashtra municipal poll results (till the third phase), by-elections in six states and the latest result from Chandigarh municipal corporation poll shows no signs of the BJP wave slowing down. If anything, it seems to have picked up after a momentary lull. What explains this dichotomy? Let’s look at some of the possible causes.PM Modi’s personal charisma‘Hum to fakir aadmi hai, jhola leke chal padenge’. To a large extent, this statement, made at a rally at Moradabad on December 3, explains Modi’s rustic charm and appeal among his core vote base. He is looked upon as an honest crusader against corruption, with no family to pass on wealth to or curry favour for. This is in stark contrast to the general dynasty-centric political norms in India, where often lineage and not ability dictates a person’s post in an organisation. The appeal of a quintessential outsider embarking on a Himalayan shake-up is too irresistible for a large section of the urban population, who had so far equated politicians with a staid pace of work and a penchant for amassing wealth. Modi offers a refreshing change in that regard and many are giving him the benefit of doubt for at least trying to change the system, notwithstanding the gigantic loopholes in the implementation. If the 2014 mandate demanded a big bang shake-up of the status quo, Modi has provided it via demonetization. Schadenfreude among common peopleThe German word ‘schadenfreude’ refers to the pleasure derived from someone else’s pain. The reaction to demonetization has been a textbook case of this. People have stood in line for hours and yet not complained, thinking that the wealthy must be suffering a lot more. The fault lines between the poor and the rich have always been stark, hence demonetization has been hailed as a great leveller. This is something PM Modi has managed to sell well by essentially branding the move as a pro-poor step meant to tighten the screws on the unscrupulous rich. Whether it has happened in reality or the rich have managed to give them a slip is immaterial. The perception lingers and that’s what matters in politics.‘Nation building’ in the age of hashtag activismIn another example of potent political messaging, the PM has managed to convey that all the hardships faced by the common man would not be in vain. In fact, it is an important path of nation building, a sacrifice of few hours for the greater good. To paraphrase PM Modi, this is the line to end all the queues of the past 70 years. At a time, when cyber warriors are in abundance, trolling people for not conforming to their set of beliefs, demonetization gives them the validation of not merely being hashtag activists. ‘If the soldiers can stand guard in Siachen, why can’t you stand in line?’ has been an oft-repeated argument in the last couple of weeks. For many who can’t ever think of joining the army or performing a similar level of sacrifice, standing in a queue for the sake of the nation is a quick path to patriotic nirvana.Shifting goalpost has helpedThe government has constantly shifted its goalpost about what exactly the main objective of demonetization is. From the initial thrust of eradicating black money and counterfeit currency, the focus has shifted to promoting digital economy. An aggressive PR campaign has meant that the real issues have been obfuscated. The government has managed to remain unscathed so far without quite revealing what it has gained from the entire exercise. Public reaction may take a turn for the worse when Q3 results of industries and other related economic indices are released in January 2017.Opposition’s unconvincing tiradeFrom day 1, some of the major allegations the Opposition has raised have been about how BJP workers and leaders were in the loop and how businessmen close to BJP were taken into confidence before the decision was announced publicly. Many accusations have been hurled but none have stuck so far, owing to the lack of any tangible proof. Merely calling demonetization a scam doesn’t make it one without any clear evidence. The Opposition may have lost out on a trick here by questioning the intent of demonetization rather than its merit. Sorry state of CongressThe present and future of the principle Opposition party, Congress, remains bleak like a moonless night. In many states, the party remains radar-less without an empowered state unit. With a top heavy structure providing no coherent leadership, Congress has islands of influence of local satraps. It doesn’t have any organised plan to counter BJP’s rampage. Congress was supposed to gain in Chandigarh, but fell by the wayside. In Maharashtra, BJP is making inroads in Congress’ deepest bastions. Punjab is its best shot in the next batch of elections, which will take place in 3-4 months. Yet the party looks wobbly, unsure of its next move. It has given BJP the breathing space to commit a few mistakes of its own without getting severely penalised. The BJP-SAD alliance is widely expected to lose Punjab and yet it managed to increase its numbers in the Chandigarh municipal polls. While it would be wrong to over-analyse the data, owing to the absence of AAP which didn’t take part in the elections, one thing is for sure. BJP-SAD is not a spent force in Punjab, and Congress and AAP can only ignore the ruling alliance at their own peril. In a border state like Punjab, where terrorism, drugs and counterfeit currency are big causes of concern, demonetization may even have a positive effect on voters as it is likely to crack down on these burning problems.Can BJP continue this momentum into the five state polls in 3 months time? A lot will depend on how quickly the system normalises post December 30. The PM asked for 50 days to get rid of black money. The citizens of India seem to have given its ‘pradhan sevak’ that grace period, but patience may run out soon.It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that demonetization hits a section of dedicated BJP voters badly— the trader community and the urban upper class. Yet PM Modi has used his courage of conviction to implement the scheme. Only the future will tell if he can upend all political calculations and end up with a new larger voting block, steadfastly supporting his decisions. That will be no less radical than the decision of demonetization itself.

Class X CBSE Board exams to be mandatory from 2018

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Board exams for Class X are set to become compulsory for all CBSE students from 2018, three language formula could be extended till Class X and foreign language might be treated as fourth and “elective”, according to decisions taken by the CBSE on Tuesday.At the meeting of CBSE’s Governing body, its members “unanimously” agreed that from the academic session 2017-18, compulsory Board exams should be introduced for all students of Class X, sources said.The decision will now have to be approved by the government before it is implemented. Currently, it is optional for CBSE students to choose either the Board exam or a school-based examination.HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar has in the past favoured making Board exam compulsory for CBSE students as is the practice in all state boards.The sources said while there is a view that for the Class X Board exams, 80% weightage will be given to the marks scored in examinations while 20% weightage will be given to school-based evaluation.In another key decision, the CBSE has decided to recommend to the HRD ministry that the three language formula, under which Hindi, English and Indian language are taught, should be extended to class IX and X as well from the current VI to VIII, a source said.Officials added that the Board also favoured sending a recommendation to the Centre that those languages which are listed in schedule VIII of the Constitution should be taught under the ‘Three language formula’ while languages which are “purely foreign” should be taught as a “fourth language as an elective subject.”In the past the HRD ministry run Kendriya Vidyalayas (KV) used to offer German as a third language, but the practice was later discontinued.The final call on these decisions will be taken by the government, a senior official said.

Yasin Bhatkal sentenced to death: All you need to know about the Indian Mujahideen co-founder

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Yasin Bhatkal, born as Mohammed Ahmed Siddibappa, and co-founder of banned terror outfit Indian Mujahideen was on Monday awarded death penalty by a special NIA court in Hyderabad in the February 2013 Hyderabad blasts case. The simultaneous detonation of two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) near the Dilsukhnagar bus stop on February 21, 2013, had killed 21 and injured 107.Yasin Bhatkal figured very high on the list of India’s most wanted terrorists. In 2013, he was arrested by Indian agencies near the border in Nepal. Here’s all you need to know about Yasin Bhatkal:
ALSO READ Dilkhusnagar blasts: NIA court gives death penalty to IM founder Yasin Bhatkal and four others 1. Yasin was born in Bhatkal, Uttara Kannada, Karnataka in 1983. He was educated at Bhatkal’s AnjumanHami-e-Muslimeen school. He speaks English, Hindi, Urdu and Kannada and is believed to be an engineering graduate. 2. As a teenager, he left for Pune. He was later introduced to other members of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) as a trained engineer. This is in contradiction to the findings of the Pune police which found no documentation suggesting he ever studied in the city. Instead, investigators say, he spent much of his time with a hometown childhood friend, Unani medicine practitioner-turned-Islamist proselytiser Iqbal Ismail Shahbandri. Another theory suggests that he dropped out of class 10. 3. The Shahbandari brothers – Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, who were activists of the Students Islamic Movement of India, allegedly indoctrinated Bhatkal. They later launched the IM. 4. The 2013 Hyderabad attack is not the only terror attack that Bhatkal has been linked with. He has been involved in several terror attacks in the country and killings of hundreds of people. He allegedly played an important role in the 2010 German Bakery bomb blast in Pune. 5. Bhatkal is also believed to have played an important role in the 2011 bombings at Zaveri Bazaar, Opera House and Dadar, killing 26 people and injuring 130.6. 12 different states claim that Bhatkal planted bombs in at least 10 of the blasts that rocked the country since 2008. Ahmedabad (2008), Surat (2008), Jaipur (2008), New Delhi (2008), Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi (2010), Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru (2010), German Bakery in Pune (2011), Mumbai (2011), Hyderabad (2013) and Bengaluru (2013) are the various places where he is said to have carried out blasts. Chargesheets have been filed by anti-terror agencies from all these places.7. Yasin is also believed to be an expert bomb-maker.8. It is also said that the reason why it took so long to nab Bhatkal was because he was a master of disguises.9. Bhatkal is one of the few criminals who reportedly did not use email. He used to live in rural areas and changed his address regularly. Additionally, according to the ATS he would discard both his SIM card and phone, immediately after making a call.

2012 Delhi gangrape: Has women’s safety improved since Jyoti Singh incident?

Come December and chances are that most of us Indians will mentally relive a suppressed impression of pain, horror and regret — even if in passing. The gangrape of Jyoti Singh on 16 December, 2012 that shook the country’s conscience and triggered massive outrage, is something that has been imprinted on our collective memory forever. The unfortunate event became a landmark for the issue of women’s safety, witnessing an unprecedented public outcry, countless debates, and the death sentence for the perpetrators. Government and other civil bodies were stunned and propelled into action immediately.

The Central government amended the Criminal Law Act in 2013 and also set up the Nirbhaya Fund to be utilised for safety and empowerment of women. In 2015, Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) was made the nodal agency for utilisation of the fund, with guidelines by the Central government for the process of appraising, reviewing and monitoring schemes given by ministries. Three Union Budgets later, the fund corpus stands at Rs 3,000 crore, of which a paltry Rs 200 crore has been utilised. The Ministry of WCD’s Rs 244-crore proposal to set up crisis centres was downsized by the PMO to Rs 18 crore, thereby allowing only one centre in each state, instead of in each district as originally planned.

As per a press release by Ministry of WCD in May 2016, one scheme called Universalisation of Women Helpline has been approved, and also another one called Emergency Response System. A total of nine proposals from the Ministries of Home Affairs and Railways, Delhi Police and Delhi Transport department have been appraised and recommended but further progress remains unknown. With things moving at this pace, which includes a scheme for compensation to victims, the Supreme Court in May 2016 rapped the Centre for its lack of clarity on disbursal of funds saying that this amounted to the fund itself becoming mere “lip sympathy”.

File image of protests in Delhi following the rape of Jyoti Singh in 2012. PTI

File image of protests in Delhi following the rape of Jyoti Singh in 2012. PTI

The long appraisal-approval process along with the usual hurdles of inter-ministerial coordination, combined with the already existing problems of insufficient police personnel and slow delivery of the criminal justice system — the conviction rate for rape in 2011 stood at a dismal 26.4 percent — make for low deterrence. It is no surprise that there’s been little difference in the rape figures that have on the other hand begun to increase.

On another front, the gruesome episode brought us under severe, unforgiving media glare, and India came to acquire blemish as one of the major countries leading the world in rape culture. Story after story emerged in the media and circulated in civil organisations, academia and NGOs about “India’s hatred of women”, patriarchy, misogyny and the resultant violence and abuse; many went so far as to link the depravity to India’s caste system and its history of communalism. The result was a blanket tarnishing of our national character: Indians were rapists, and therefore, tourists needed to be wary if making India travel plans; industry needed to reconsider setting shop in India, Indian students were to be denied admission.

True, we could counter the allegations by arguments backed by statistics: that rape is equally prevalent in the developed world; that India in fact, has among the lowest percentage of rapes; and that studies have shown that underreporting of sexual crimes is the norm across the world. Looked at another way, in India, our women go out to work, pursue hobbies and sports, shop, go to restaurants, work in farms and other places, are seen on the roads, even at late hours in the night. This should be evidence enough that ours is far from being a demonised society, where everyone lives in utter dread.

Further, one’s personal experience in travelling to the interiors of the country does not betray that perversion is the norm; on the other hand, one has always come back with a pleasant feeling, seeing the rural peoples’ authenticity, chattiness and helpfulness. To careful watchers, the people’s own interactions among themselves are straight-forward, with women speaking up clearly and being heard — no trace of fear. Patriarchy, yes, and maybe violence, but does that automatically translate to rape culture? This is purely talking about the feel of the country’s towns and villages. Also, the fact that women by and large have not stopped working or changed their dressing styles should normally go a long way to remove doubts about sexual abuse being India’s outstanding — or differentiating — quality.

One, therefore, would be more inclined to put the blame on a general increase in perversion, craziness and violence, which is on the rise everywhere, and has also seized Indian society. It has nothing to do with the so-called “Indian culture of misogyny and intolerance”. A clue to this lies in the fact that sexual crimes against young boys are equally on the rise, and cut across caste lines.
That said, it does not matter where we stand relatively. For a society known to venerate the feminine aspect as a goddess, or even one that claims to be based on a system of eternal humanitarian values, the figures that emerge are a matter of highest national shame — 35,000 rapes in 2015.

Apart from the harm it causes to our prospects for tourism, industrial investment, education and other potential advantages from a globalised world, karmically, we as a people and land incur the curse of the helpless, whether woman or child, each time they are violated.

Countering this violence has been on the agenda for even state governments, most of which have made piecemeal efforts. In fact, some of them are worth replicating — like the anti-harassment SHE Teams in Telangana since 2014, and the Women’s Power Line — 1090 in Uttar Pradesh, launched by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in 2013

The latter, in particular, developed in conjunction with IIM-Lucknow, already accounts for the potential weak links and incorporates features like confidentiality, determined pursuance and feedback. Additionally, it views crime from the lens of conditioning, not criminality, and hence, counselling is an important ingredient. Police functioning is bolstered by ‘Power Angels’ — schoolgirls who are special police officers and act as police messengers, thus effectively countering the problem of insufficient police personnel.

Certainly, cues can be taken from the above and other states can follow suit. However, factors such as paucity of funds and lack of political will are often hard to overcome at the states’ level. For the country as a whole to benefit, it will need to be taken up as a concerted and integrated exercise at the Central level.

The simplest place to begin is with our strengths, or what we already have. A pointer in this direction is the near-equal participation by men in protests against rape. “In India, the (Jyoti Singh) case has triggered a lively honest, sustained and very healthy public debate — a public debate of a quality that wouldn’t be possible in many other countries… Yesterday, we celebrated International Women’s Day at the German Embassy here in Delhi with many local activists including many men… women and men ardently committed to furthering women empowerment in India,” said the German Ambassador to India last year, in the context of an Indian student being denied admission to a German university. Wholehearted public participation can, thus, be one possible indigenous solution.

File image of protests following the December 2012 gangrape in Delhi. Firstpost/Naresh Sharma

File image of protests following the December 2012 gangrape in Delhi. Firstpost/Naresh Sharma

Apart from activists and civil organisations, a workable and sizable volunteer strength already exists in the form of the National Service Scheme (NSS), which could be harnessed to tackle this national emergency. Jawaharlal Nehru had mooted the idea of NSS in 1958, based on the international concept of service by students, and the organization was formed in 1969. Currently, this works through the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and has 3.2 million students, participating in activities such as blood donation camps, tree plantation, disaster management, etc across the country. If adequately trained and sensitised, these students could become the interface between police and public, in both urban and rural areas. Crucial aspects of women’s safety could be tackled by engaging NSS volunteers in: one, keeping vigil and patrolling in shifts, to supplement police manpower; and two, they could be engaged for crime victimisation surveys, to supplement data of the National Crime Records Bureau, which is gathered from police stations, so that a more accurate estimate of the number of cases is reached.

NSS activity could be made compulsory in schools or credits could be given for participation, as an incentive. The National Policy on Education, 1986 had suggested giving NSS volunteers credit for social work and also extra credit for rural areas. This kind of training would not only add value to the personality of students, lending the dimension of sensitivity, responsibility and active citizenship, but also help develop good citizens in the country.

Extended further, and if we are to address this issue in a comprehensive manner, social and religious organisations such as the RSS, Madrassas, Mutts, village panchayats could all be approached and asked for help, suggestions and volunteers. This would have a major advantage of being able to bring everyone close together to work towards a national cause, from which their kith and kin stand to gain, immediately and in the coming generations. Additionally, corporates could help by increasing their CSR allocations to include women’s safety, and industry associations like Ficci and CII can contribute to the funds regularly. Premier institutes of education in management and technology could also be roped in for their expertise.

There will of course, need to be coordination between the Ministries of Youth Affairs, Education and Women and Child Development, and then with the state and local governments. For this, a supra-ministerial authority could also be considered and created to act as the nodal agency, which would tie all ends and coordinate with all participants and stakeholders in the process.

Together, these would be able to take care of some of the constraints that prevent our governments from taking adequate measures and moving ahead. Police reforms to increase manpower and speedy delivery in the criminal justice system would be the two things that would complete the process, on the execution front. Deep reforms through social transformation would still have to be carried out simultaneously, through other means.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 10:13 IST

Dozens of Afghans deported from Germany as Merkel takes firmer line | Reuters

By Mohammad Aziz and Madeline Chambers
| KABUL/BERLIN

KABUL/BERLIN A group of 34 rejected Afghan asylum-seekers arrived in Kabul from Germany on Thursday, the German interior ministry said, the first to be deported under an agreement reached between the two countries this year.Their expulsion is in line with a tougher approach from the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has faced domestic criticism for letting in more than a million migrants since the start of 2015. As she prepares to run for a fourth term next year, she is throwing out those who do not qualify as refugees.”It was early morning and I was sleeping when four policemen came to my home and arrested me,” said Ali Madad Nasiri, one of the men on board a charter plane that landed in the Afghan capital from Frankfurt.”I didn’t have a chance to take my clothes, cellphone and laptop – all left behind,” added Nasiri, who said he had been living in Germany for three years.Afghans made up a fifth of all migrants entering Europe last year, the second biggest share after Syrians. The deportations are taking place under an agreement reached between Germany and Afghanistan in October. Making clear that more would follow, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in Berlin that granting asylum to those who need it and ensuring that others leave are two sides of the same coin.Only people who can prove they are refugees fleeing persecution, war or violence are eligible for asylum.

“These deportations are right and necessary to keep the asylum system functional,” said de Maiziere.He added that one-third of those deported were criminals convicted of offences, from robbery and drugs crimes to rape and homicide. Of the 50 men due on the plane, 16 had disappeared.

“WHAT SHOULD I DO?”
In response to criticism that returnees may face reprisals in Afghanistan, de Maiziere said that while the security situation was “complicated”, there were large parts of the country that were safe. More than 3,200 Afghans had voluntarily left Germany this year, he added.The Afghan Ministry of Refugees will help returnees get back to their homes, a ministry spokesman said, adding that about 10,000 Afghans had returned from Europe this year.The mass influx of migrants and refugees to Germany has raised concerns about security and integration. The arrest this month of an Afghan refugee suspected of raping and murdering a student in the southern city of Freiburg has caused outrage.

Anti-immigrant groups such as the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party have surged in popularity, while support for Merkel has waned.Afghanistan’s Western-backed government is battling militants who have stepped up attacks since the withdrawal of most foreign troops in 2014. Western military officials estimate the Taliban control or contest nearly a third of the country. Civilian casualties are near record high levels, with thousands killed and wounded every year. The government is also struggling to develop the economy.”Everyone loves his country. I also love my country but what should I do here?,” said Mati Ullah, 22, who said he had no job prospects in Afghanistan. “Do I have to go and join the Taliban or Daesh?” he asked, referring to Islamic State militants. (Writing by Randy Fabi, Michael Nienaber and Madeline Chambers; Editing by Robert Birsel and Mark Trevelyan)

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

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 21:28 IST

Thyssenkrupp leaves open possibility of keeping steel majority | Reuters

Thyssenkrupp leaves open possibility of keeping steel majority | Reuters

Nov 24, 2016 19:46 IST

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FRANKFURT Thyssenkrupp executives left open the possibility on Thursday that the German industrial group could keep the majority in any new entity formed by a merger of its European steel operations with those of a competitor.”The most important thing for us is that by a consolidation and by the underlying plan we can address the issues of overcapacity,” Chief Finance Officer Guido Kerkhoff told analysts on a conference call.”We have never stated consolidation, non-consolidation or discussed percentages and we don’t do that today either.”

He added that an initial public offering of the business without a merger would offer no solution to the underlying overcapacity issue.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan)

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

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 19:46 IST

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No special favours for Britain, EU lawmakers tell Brexit chief | Reuters

By Alissa de Carbonnel
| STRASBOURG

STRASBOURG European Parliament leaders told London’s Brexit negotiator on Tuesday that Britain should expect to be shut out of cooperation in areas it values once it leaves the European Union.David Davis met Guy Verhofstadt, the EU legislature’s lead Brexit negotiator, and Manfred Weber, a conservative ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who leads the biggest bloc in the parliamentThe European Parliament must approve Britain’s divorce deal.The meetings were part of preparations before British Prime Minister Theresa May triggers negotiations under Article 50 of the EU treaty, which she has pledged to do by March. They focused on procedure, but there were hints of clashes to come.Weber voiced impatience with a lack of clarity from May on what she will ask for.In notably harsh terms, he said a suggestion from Davis that Britain remain in or closely tied to the EU’s single market while rejecting free immigration by Europeans or the oversight of EU courts was not workable.”Brexit means Brexit,” he said in Strasbourg, echoing May’s famously opaque definition of what her government will ask for following the June referendum vote to leave the Union.”I see a British government that keeps saying where it wants to cooperate closely and not how it wants to leave the European Union,” he told reporters after meeting Davis.

He said Davis voiced an interest in maintaining economic ties and also close cooperation in areas such as justice and criminal affairs.”So I must stress again: Brexit means Brexit, that means leaving the European Union, that means cutting off relations … and not cherry picking, not special relationships,” Weber said.Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister and champion of much closer EU integration, again insisted that Britain could not enjoy the three freedoms of movement for goods, services and capital without the fourth, freedom of labour.He also insisted that the Brexit deal be wrapped up before the next EU legislative elections in May 2019.

UNDERSTANDING PROCESS
Davis, asked if he wanted single market membership, said: “What we are after is that which is in the interest of the Union and in the interest of the United Kingdom: trading interests, business, manufacturing and services and the aim is to make it as open as possible … That’s the clear overarching aim.”He said he found Verhofstadt “a very nice man”. In September, when asked about the Belgian’s appointment, he remarked to a British lawmaker “Get thee behind me, Satan!”

“It is important to … first get to know each other, meet each other, get to trust each other and secondly to understand the structures,” he told Reuters after the meetings, a day after talks in Brussels with Michel Barnier, who will lead the overall negotiations run by the executive European Commission.Despite general efforts to maintain politeness on both sides, there were reminders in Strasbourg of the anger many European politicians feel toward Britain’s Brexit campaigners.Weber lashed out at Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for having told Turkey he would help it join the EU after he had used the prospect of Turkish accession to urge British voters to leave the bloc to avoid immigration by Turks.”It’s unbelievable, it’s a provocation and it’s arrogant,” he said.Verhofstadt derided both fellow European Parliament lawmaker and Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who suggested on Tuesday that May name Farage her U.S. envoy.”One clown in Washington is more than enough,” Verhofstadt told the chamber. (Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 23:38 IST

DNA Morning Must Reads: Updates on govt’s war on black money, Modi’s Japan visit; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. War on black money: Jewellers asked to surrender CCTV footage to govtI-T sleuths will look for customer movement in shops since 8 pm on Tuesday. Read more. 2. PM’s Japan visit: Modi meets Emperor Akihito; to meet Shinzo Abe later todayIndia and Japan will ink about 12 pacts and possibly sign a crucial civil nuclear deal on Friday. Read more.3. Blast rocks German consulate in Afghan city; 2 dead, several wounded​The bombing was claimed by the Taliban in retaliation for NATO air strikes last week​. Read more.4. Rio medallist Sakshi Malik’s noble future plans will only increase your respect for herSakshi Malik talks about changes in life after Rio bronze, Pro Wrestling League (PWL), future plans and impending marriage. Read more.5. Playing an Indian girl is what drew me to the part: Deepika Padukone​Playing an Indian girl is what drew me to the part: Deepika Padukone​. Read more.

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.

British PM should apologise for Jallianwala Bagh massacre: Shashi Tharoor

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A viable reparation formula for colonial exploitation by British is difficult but a British Prime Minister “bending on knees” asking forgiveness on the centenary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre will wash away in many ways the sense that there are wrongs that have not been acknowledged, feels Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.The issue of reparation came into limelight after Tharoor spoke at Oxford on the proposition ‘Britain Owes Reparations to Her Former Colonies’ last year and his speech went viral on social media and was hailed by fans and critics alike. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also had congratulated him for having said “the right things at the right place”.And now he has come out with a book ‘An Era of Darkness: The British Empire In India’ which discusses, in depth, the variety of ways in which the British nearly destroyed India during the heyday of the Empire.”You cannot quantify the wrongs done. What is far more important than financial reparation would be an apology. “People who are not responsible today for the wrongs done by their forebearers in the past era apologise nonetheless to people who are not the ones to whom wrong was done. But it is in a sense an entire society apologising to entire people,” Tharoor, MP from Thiruvananthapuram, told PTI in an interview. According to him, a viable reparation formula is difficult as a just sum would not be payable and a payable sum would not be just.Citing two examples of Willy Brandt, the German social democrat leader who was in no way related to the crimes of the Nazis, going on his knees at Warsaw ghetto and apologising, and more recently Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologising for the Komagata Maru incident though Canada did not actually kill anybody, he says these offer a model in the Indian context too. “These two apologies offer a model for a future British Prime Minister on the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre to come to that site, bend his or her knees and beg forgiveness for all sins committed in the past.”That I think will wash away in many ways the sense that there are wrongs that have not been acknowledged,” the former Minister of State for External Affairs said. In the book, he also writes, “David Cameron s rather mealy-mouthed description of the massacre in 2013 as a ‘deeply shameful event’ does not, in my view, constitute an apology.”Nor does the ceremonial visit to the site in 1997 by Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, who merely left their signatures in the visitors’ book, without even a redeeming comment.”Whoever the PM is on the centenary of that awful crime will not have been alive when the atrocity was committed, and certainly no British government of 2019 bears a shred of responsibility for that tragedy, but as a symbol of the nation that once allowed it to happen, the PM could atone for the past sins of his or her nation,” Tharoor said.The Jallianwala Bagh massacre had taken place in Amritsar on April 13, 1919. On hearing that a meeting of nearly 20,000 people was taking place at Jallianwala Bagh, Brigadier General R E H Dyer had ordered 50 riflemen to shoot at the crowd. More than 1000 innocent Indians were killed and over 1,100 injured. Tharoor, however, feels reparation is a bit of red herring.”I got into that debate because that happened to be the topic of the debate at Oxford that I was invited to. “It is not necessarily the principal theme that I would have chosen for the debate and is certainly not the principal theme of my book because it actually concludes in the brief discussion on reparation issue that almost any amount that would do justice to crimes and losses suffered would be unpayable.”He said his speech at Oxford was inspired by decades of reading and passion about engagements with history and based on what he thought he knew. On three most unpardonable things of the British, he names economic exploitation and ruination of India on the basis of which the colonial rulers built up their own property; cruelties and exaltation and glorification of those who perpetrated these; and racism and discrimination.He said his book, published by Aleph, is written as an argument and it is not a narrative history or a dry scholarly work.

Germany denies Pak newspaper report on surgical strikes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the German embassy in New Delhi have denied a Pakistani newspaper report on a purported conversation between its ambassador Dr Martin Ney and foreign secretary S Jaishankar, in which the latter questioned the veracity of the surgical strikes by the Indian Army’s Special Forces across the Line of Control (LoC) on September 29.The German Foreign Office in Berlin has sought a clarification about the report from the Pakistan embassy. The report attributed the news to Rukhsana Afzal, minister (political), in the Pakistan mission in Germany.“The report in News International Pakistan is baseless and without any truth,” said German embassy here.The Pakistani daily reported that India’s foreign secretary had “admitted” to the German ambassador in a recent meeting that the Indian Army did not carry out the surgical strikes. The report claimed that the German authorities shared this information with the Pakistan embassy officials in Berlin. The German Foreign Office in Berlin also issued a statement calling the report a “bluff”. It said the statement attributed to German Foreign Office was unfounded and without truth. “The German Foreign Office has asked the Pakistan embassy for clarification,” the statement added.The report also claimed that German authorities, during a recent official meeting with Pakistan embassy officials in Berlin, informed the Pakistan mission about conversation the between foreign secretary and the German ambassador.German authorities reportedly told this to Rukhsana Afzal, when she met senior desk officer of AfPak division, Simone Stemmler, and Karen Goebels and Jens Wagner from the German foreign ministry, the report said. Simmone confided with the Pakistani diplomat that during a formal meeting between the German ambassador to India and the foreign secretary on the ongoing India-Pakistan stand-off, the envoy was told that there was no surgical strike by the Indian Army inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup described the report as completely concocted and baseless. He said that the German ambassador was among a group of envoys briefed by the foreign secretary on September 29 on the surgical strikes. “They have had no further conversation since on this subject,” he said.Immediately after the strikes, the German envoy supported the Indian contention and defended its right to hunt terrorists across the borders. Dr. Ney said that under international law, every state has the legal obligation to make sure that no terrorism emanates from the territory it controls and also every state has the right to defend itself against international terrorism. He said that Germany stands with India as it has a strategic and ongoing bilateral cooperation on counterterrorism.

MEA terms Pak newspaper’s report on Army’s surgical strike as ‘concocted and baseless’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday released a statement terming Pakistani newspaper News International’s report on the surgical strikes as ‘concocted and baseless’.In a report titled, ‘Indian FS admits surgical strike was a bluff’ the newspaper alleged that India’s Foreign Secretary had admitted that no surgical strikes had been undertaken across the Line of Control by the Indian Army. The report claims that the admission by India was made during a recent meeting with German ambassador in New Delhi.On Friday morning, MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup released a statement, saying, “News International Pakistan’s story titled “Indian FS admits surgical strikes was a bluff” is completely concocted & baseless. German Ambassador Dr Martin Ney was in group of foreign envoys briefed by Foreign Secy on Sep 29 on the surgical strikes. They have had no further conversation since on this subject.”News International reports that the conversation came to be when Minister Political Ms Rukhsana Afzal from the Embassy of Pakistan, Berlin, visited the Foreign Office to meet with Senior Desk Officer of AfPak Division, Ms Simone Stemmler, and Ms Karen Goebels and Mr Jens Wagner from the German Foreign Ministry. The report details the conversation that took place —”When Ms Rukhsana raised the issue of Uri’s false flag and the so-called ‘surgical strike’, Ms Simmone confided with the Pakistani diplomat that during a formal meeting on the issue of ongoing India-Pakistan stand-off between German Ambassador to India Dr Martin Ney and Indian FS Subramaniam Jaishankar in New Delhi, “the Indian Foreign Secretary has categorically denied and said that there was no ‘surgical strike’ undertaken by Indian army inside Azad Kashmir, Pakistan.”The report also quotes an official source as saying, “With the so-called mantra of surgical strike, the BJP government wanted to achieve many objectives such as to prove to the world that Pakistan is a terror sponsoring state and India has the military muscle to put it under restrain, Kashmir’s freedom movement is nothing more than Pakistan’s sponsored terrorism, to satisfy its populations’ demand of avenging Uri attack and to create an unrivaled political space ahead of UP’s state elections.”In a well-calibrated operation, which started on the intervening night of September 28 and 29, the Indian army moved across the LoC and smashed terror launch pads. This was in response to the September 18 attack on the army base in Uri that killed 19 Indian soldiers.Pakistan has denied any part in the attack on the Uri army base and also continues to deny that any surgical strikes took place, saying there was only cross-border firing that is relatively common along the frontier.

KGB suspected Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose of being British spy: Declassified files

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Declassified Netaji files released on Friday by Cultural Ministry secretary N K Sinha reveal that the Ministry of External Affairs in 1994 under the P V Narasimha Rao government had formed a committee to investigate Russian claims that Netaji was a British spy.The committee was formed after the then Prime Minister’s Office asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to prepare a Cabinet paper on the allegations.The committee claims that the articles are based on certain “facts”, including the “fact” that Netaji’s close aide Bhagat Ram, who owned a small shop in Kabul, “was a professional British secret agent” and that he was an agent of “four masters — USSR, Britain, Germany and Italy”.The committee mainly looked at a series of articles, based on declassified KGB archives, alleging that Netaji was an MI-6 agent, and that one of his close aides was a KGB agent. The KGB documents were published in Moscow in the bi-monthly magazine “Asia and Africa Today”. The committee also takes into account Netaji’s birth centenary which was to occur three years later in 1997.The committee used the articles to conclude that Netaji had indeed died in the crash in 1945.The articles were titled ‘The Secret Behind the Death of Subhas Chandra Bose’ by A Raikov, and ‘Whom Subhas Chandra Bose Fought Against During the Second world War Years’ by V Touradjev. The files also reveal that India believed that Netaji died in a plane crash in August 18, 1945, and that Ajay Malhotra.Also that the then Indian Ambassador in Moscow, knew about the contents of the two articles almost a year before they were published.The files show that Malhotra even met Touradjev, but “did not specifically urge Touradjev to have the articles withdrawn since it was evident that he would not do so in any case”.Touradjev quotes a few documents from declassified KGB files, including a certificate that mentions that “after the Japanese capitulation in the first half of September, 1944, TASS,quoting British sources, informed from Tokyo that Subhas Chandra Bose, staying in Japan, died.” The article also says that the KGB files on Netaji were closed after this.The article also claimed that Netaji “cooperated with the British Secret Service MI-6”, and that he was “a British plant in the heart of the Axis powers”. The article claims that during his stay in Berlin, Singapore and Tokyo, Netaji “did not conduct struggle against Great Britain; he fought against Germany and Japan”. It also claims that the British introduced him in the heart of fascist Germany “with a very reliable and convincing ‘legend’”. It also claims that Netaji’s activities to develop an underground network for espionage and sabotage was “an illusion adroitly created by Soviet and British secret services”.According to the files, Raikov, who was a prominent Indophile, wrote about a Japanese twin engine fighter plane with 11 passengers on board that crashed immediately after taking off from the Matsuyana Air Force Base in Taiwan on August 18, 1945. It was bound for Manchuria, and had on board the Chief of Staff of the Burmese Air Command, Lt General Sidei, eight Japanese military officials and two Indian officials – suspected to be Netaji and his close aide Habibur Rehman.The files also recount Netaji’s escape from his (then) Calcutta home to evade arrest by the British. According to the committee, Netaji’s escape route stretched from Calcutta to Kabul, and thereon to Japan “in a German submarine in March, 1943” and that his transfer “from the German to a Japanese submarine was known to the British in detail while he was still on his journey”. The files also reveal that the British government had a wireless operator in Berlin who connected them to Netaji in Tokyo.

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

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

Retail gold buyers take profits in bullion after Brexit price surge | Reuters

LONDON Retail gold investors are booking profit on metal bought to hedge against Thursday’s decision by British voters to leave the European Union, while an initial surge in buying slackened off on Monday.

The chief executive of online platform BullionVault said on Monday that while buying had risen sharply in the last session, its users had overall been net sellers since the Brexit vote became apparent on Friday, liquidating a quarter of a tonne of gold.

“Our users bought a lot of gold going into this crisis, and some are selling to bank substantial profits from Friday’s shock,” Paul Tustain said.

Wolfgang Wrzesniok-Rossbach, chief executive of German bullion dealer Degussa, and Pieter Boumeester of Dutch precious metals vendor Doijer & Kalff, said they had also received several enquiries about selling gold.

In New York, gold dealers reported their busiest day in months, as phones rang off the hook with new orders.

But after a surge in the business on Friday, “over the weekend, and our online shop is open 24/7, we have seen only the usual business,” Degussa’s Wrzesniok-Rossbach said.

Edward Kay, president of Buyers of New York, said he had received 25 calls during the first few hours of Friday morning as news of Brexit sank in, compared to around 5 to 8 on a normal day.

    “We received non-stop phone calls of people trying to sell their gold, their bullion, their jewellery,” Kay said. “We had a whole full waiting room of people.”

Uncertainty and high prices dampened the initial jump in gold demand from retail investors, who flocked to bullion after the Brexit news unleashed a slide in stocks, sterling and the euro.

UK buyers snapped up bars and coins, while dealers as far afield as the United States, France, Germany and Singapore reported surging demand.

“The first news on Friday led to good demand, but people are giving it a second thought now,” Degussa’s Wrzesniok-Rossbach said. “People are uncertain whether Brexit will actually take place in the short term… the stock markets have come off, but we’re not talking about a meltdown. I think that’s why people didn’t rush to buy more gold.”

WAIT AND SEE

European bank stocks and the pound were set for their biggest two-day slides on record on Monday as Britain’s vote shook up global financial markets for a second day.

Nonetheless, Richard Hayes, chief executive of the Perth Mint, said its customers were sticking to “wait and see”.

“If the price rise is sustained, then we’ll see additional demand come to the market, but what people don’t want is to buy at these prices, then a week from now, it’s $50 bucks lower,” he said.

Singapore-based precious metals retailer Silver Bullion Pte Ltd said its sales of gold and silver normalised over the weekend after surging more than 600 percent in its four-hour peak sales window on Friday.

In India, which vies with China for the title of the world’s biggest gold market, high prices on Monday are putting off some potential buyers. Many Asian consumers dislike higher prices because they see gold as a long-term store of wealth, rather than a speculative investment.

Dealers in India were offering a record discount up to $57 an ounce to the global spot benchmark on Monday, against $30 on Thursday. Indian gold prices peaked at 31,925 rupees per 10 grams on Friday, the highest since September 2013.

“Demand is very dull. Consumers think prices will not be sustained at higher levels,” Mukesh Kothari, director at bullion dealer RiddiSiddhi Bullions in Mumbai, said. “(Buyers) are postponing purchases.”

Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong, agreed that high prices were likely to put off its customers. “Unless it comes below $1,300, we won’t see too much demand at this level,” he said.

(Reporting by Jan Harvey in London, Gus Trompiz in Paris, Josephine Mason and Luc Cohen in New York, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Michael Hogan in Frankfurt, Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam, Melanie Burton in Melbourne and Koustav Samanta in Bengaluru; Editing by Veronica Brown and Ruth Pitchford)

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

Mercedes in turmoil after Hamilton and Rosberg collide | Reuters

BARCELONA Formula One championship leader Nico Rosberg’s hopes of an eighth win in a row disappeared on Sunday after a collision with Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Britain’s triple world champion Hamilton had started on pole position, with Rosberg alongside on the front row at the Circuit de Catalunya.

The German, aiming to make it five successive wins for the season, passed Hamilton around the outside of turn one and the Briton was then squeezed on to the grass as he tried to regain the lead at turn three.

His car skewed sideways and smashed into Rosberg’s, with both drivers ending up in the gravel and the safety car deployed.

Watching Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche shook his head in dismay, while Hamilton threw his steering wheel out of the car.

The pair returned to the paddock on scooters and trudged up the stairs for a debrief with Mercedes team bosses, motorsport head Toto Wolff hot on their heels. The drivers were also summoned to see the stewards after the race.

The team’s non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, a triple world champion himself, blamed Hamilton before going to see the drivers.

“It is stupid, we could’ve won this race,” the Austrian told the BBC. “Lewis is too aggressive. I need to talk to them and hear their explanation and then we will see what happens.”

Wolff, who has had to bang heads together before now, was more cautious than his compatriot.

“Niki has a driver’s opinion and it’s fair enough. As a driver you see it in black and white,” he said.

“From a team’s perspective we’ve looked at the pictures and the data and it’s not clear cut. Nico had a really good turn one and turn two, Lewis tried to dive in, Nico closed the door.

“I’d say let’s wait and see what the stewards say. It’s not a situation where you can attribute 100 percent of the blame.”

Rosberg still has a comfortable lead in the championship standings, being 43 points clear of closest rival Hamilton before Sunday’s race.

However, the collision ended Mercedes hopes of extending the team’s winning run to 11 races and equalling McLaren’s 1988 record streak of success.

Only one driver in the modern era has won eight consecutive races — Germany’s Sebastian Vettel, with nine in a row in 2013 for Red Bull — but Rosberg had hopes of continuing his run after winning at the circuit last year.

Victory would also have made him only the third F1 driver after compatriot Michael Schumacher and Britain’s Nigel Mansell to win the first five races of a season.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

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

Almost two-thirds of Germans think Islam doesn’t belong to their country – poll | Reuters

BERLIN Almost two-thirds of Germans think Islam does not “belong” to their country, a survey showed on Thursday, indicating changing attitudes following militant Islamist attacks in Europe and the arrival of more than a million, mostly Muslim, migrants last year.

Former German president Christian Wulff sparked controversy in 2010 when he said Islam belonged to Germany, a comment repeated by Chancellor Angela Merkel last year.

Six years ago, 49 percent of Germans agreed with Wulff and 47 percent did not.

Thursday’s poll, carried out by Infratest dimap for broadcaster WDR, showed that the mood has shifted, with 60 percent now saying that Islam does not belong to Germany. It showed 34 percent thought it did belong.

Scepticism about the religion was greatest among older people, with 71 percent over the age of 64 believing Islam does not belong to the country.

Germany is home to around four million Muslims, about five percent of the total population, and unease over the religion is on the rise, especially in the wake of deadly Islamic State attacks in Brussels and Paris.

Earlier this month members of the anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) backed an election manifesto that says Islam is not compatible with the constitution and calls for a ban on minarets and the burqa.

Just over half of Germans are concerned that the influence of Islam in Germany will become too strong due to the influx of refugees, the Infratest dimap poll showed.

Fears about an Islamist terrorist attack in Germany are also rife, with almost three-quarters of Germans worried about the possibility.

The survey of 1,003 Germans was conducted between May 2 and May 3.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Toby Davis)

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

Bengaluru: This quadruple amputee will take part in 10K run this Sunday

Due to a rare bacterial infection, Shalini Saraswathi, 37, lost her limbs and faced multiple organ failure, including a miscarriage. But nothing could break the spirit of this quadruple who will be participating in the TCS World 10K this Sunday, the Times of India reported. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Life was good to Shalini till four years ago when she was diagnosed with Rickettsial with Morts, a bacterial infection that affects one in a million. Fighting physical and mental trauma after being confined to the ICU, Shalini had no option but to go for amputation after falling prey to gangrene.She is now getting trained under coach BP Aiyappa and gearing up to participate in the 10K run which she hopes to complete in 90 minutes. Shalini will be competing in the race wearing cotton-fibre blades loaned to her for the match by Ottobock, a German company producing blades. She has still has not found a replacement for her hands which she had to get amputated three years ago. Shalini wrote about her traumatic experience in her blog , ‘Soul Survived Intact’, of going to the hospital for amputating her legs wearing bright purple nail polish on her blog. She wrote that if her legs were going, they better go in style. Shalini hopes to inspire people enough to support her and help her afford the blades she uses to run.

396-year-old Mughal Dewan-e-Khaas comes alive in a new avatar

The 396-year-old Dewan-e-Khaas in the historic Shalimar garden has been restored to its old glory. Thanks to German Embassy, the ancient Dewan-e-Khaas was formally opened for public viewing on Monday. From providing the technical expertise to financial support, the German ambassador to India Dr Martin Ney pulled out all stops to help in restoring the Mughal monument.This came three years after Zubin Mehta-led Bavarian State Orchestra held Ehsaas-e-Kashmir (feeling of Kashmir) concert in the Shalimar garden sparking off massive protests. Four people were killed when CRPF fired at bikers at Gargran-Shopian on September 7, 2013.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Organised and sponsored by the then German ambassador to New Delhi Michael Steiner, the Ehsaas-e-Kashmir show had generated a lot of heat on the political front with separatists and civil society urging him not to “legitimize occupation via a musical concert”.Fast forward to 2016, Germany’s new ambassador to India Dr Martin Ney inaugurated the first phase of the restoration of Dewan-e-Khaas at Shalimar garden on Monday.”Since 1981 Germany has spent more than Rs400 crore on 2,650 projects aimed to preserve cultural heritage in 144 countries. In India alone more than 50 such projects have been undertaken and Rs 22 lakh Dewan-e-Khaas project has now been added to the renowned list of such heritage sites in India,” Dr Ney said.Built by Emperor Jahangir (1605-27 AD), the magnificent Shalimar garden was opened in 1620 AD. The 31 acre garden, which is on the tentative list of UNESCO world heritage site since 2010, also houses Deewan-e-Aam and Deewan-e-Khaas that was used by Mughal royals to meet the people and their spouses.Located on the fourth terrace in the erstwhile zennana (women) quarter of the garden, the Dewan-e-Khaas is positioned in the middle of the terrace amidst a pool of water replete with an array of as many as 120 fountains. The pavilion is single storey, square in plan and has four large openings or vistas, one each on all sides.”The ceilings and naqashi (design) work in both Dewan-e-Aam and Dewan-e-Khaas, had over a period of years deteriorated. The wall naqashi has been periodically redone, most of the time inappropriately, resulting in interventions that have impacted the authenticity of the forms, materials and colors. Further, significant damage has taken place due to seepage of rain water from the roof of Dewan-e-Khaas due to damage to wooden roof”, said Saleem Beg, convenor Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), J&K chapter.Alarmed by the damage, the INTACH Kashmir Chapter had submitted a proposal to German Embassy to help and support a restoration project for Dewan-e-Khaas in 2014. The proposal comprised mainly of restoring the papier mache ceiling and to the extent possible, the wall mouldings, which consequently led to the funding of the papier mache ceiling work in the Dewan-e-Khaas.After receiving approval, the restoration work was started and completed in December 2015. “Prior to taking up onsite conservation of the panels, the conservators were trained in the Art Conservation Centre of INTACH Delhi initially and then at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts,(IGNCA) Delhi”, Beg said.INTACH, Kashmir Chapter undertook the conservation of the ceiling panels in March 2015 and a specialised conservation lab was established on site. “The panels were suffering from a host of conservation issues like material decay, wood rot, loosening up of supports, deterioration of fabric, insect and fungal damages and previous inappropriate repairs,” he said.On tentative list of UNESCO world heritage siteBuilt by Emperor Jahangir (1605-27 AD), the magnificent Shalimar garden was opened in 1620 AD. The 31 acre garden, which is on the tentative list of UNESCO world heritage site since 2010, also houses Deewan-e-Aam and Deewan-e-Khaas that was used by Mughal royals to meet the people and their spouses. Located on the fourth terrace in the erstwhile zennana (women) quarter of the garden, the Dewan-e-Khaas is positioned in the middle of the terrace amidst a pool of water replete with an array of as many as 120 fountains. The pavilion is single storey, square in plan and has four large openings or vistas, one each on all sides.

Jammu and Kashmir unjustly compared with other conflict zones, says Mehbooba

Srinagar: Favouring a rethink on travel advisories imposed by several European countries for tourists visiting Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said the state is “unjustly” compared with conflict zones in other parts of the world, where magnitude of violence is huge.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. Reuters

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. Reuters

“We seek your indulgence in changing this negative perception which is taking a heavy toll on our tourism sector, the mainstay of our economy,” she told Martin Ney, German ambassador to India.

She said Kashmir can also benefit hugely from German intervention in adventure tourism, where the valley holds great potential, especially in terms of increasing footprint of foreign travellers.

“We look forward to some of your experts coming over and contributing in our efforts to promote adventure tourism big time,” she suggested.

Mehbooba urged the international community to recognise the huge potential and talent of the youth of Jammu and Kashmir and tap their knowledge and expertise in key areas for a robust growth of tourism in the state.

“I expect major youth-oriented interventions from the international community to give wings to the ambition of our talented youth,” she stated.

Batting for greater exchange of ideas between the youth of J&K and those from overseas, Mehbooba said, “our small baby steps need a big push from countries like Germany, which have a
wealth of expertise in the fields of skill development, biotechnology, animal husbandry and horticulture.”

“Unfortunately, our success stories are sparingly highlighted and even these get drowned in the din of violence as and when it rears its ugly head,” she said.

“It is in the interest of both the sides if youth engage and share knowledge and expertise in key areas of skill development, in which Germany has made giant strides,” she added.

Describing Kashmir as one of the most beautiful places on the earth, Ney said he is visiting the valley as part of Germany’s Management Training Programme, in collaboration with CII (Confederation of Indian Industry).

He said he will be attending an apple clinic with some young entrepreneurs in Shopian tomorrow to see how they can help in transfer of technology and best practises.

Rosberg makes it seven wins in a row | Reuters

SOCHI, Russia Formula One championship leader Nico Rosberg chalked up his seventh win in a row at the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday with team mate Lewis Hamilton fighting back from 10th on the grid to seal a Mercedes one-two finish.

In a race that started with chaos, and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel being shunted into the wall by Red Bull’s Russian Daniil Kvyat, Rosberg had an untroubled afternoon from pole to chequered flag for his 18th career win.

The German equalled the achievement of compatriot Michael Schumacher in winning seven successive races, with only Vettel (nine in 2013 with Red Bull) and the late Italian Alberto Ascari ahead of them.

Only champions Schumacher, Britain’s Nigel Mansell and Brazilian Ayrton Senna had won the first four races in a season before Rosberg joined them.

“It felt very special out there,” said the happy winner, who led all the way and also set the fastest lap, after being congratulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Triple world champion Hamilton was 25 seconds behind Rosberg with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen finishing third after winning a battle with fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas, who started on the front row, in the Williams.

The podium was Ferrari’s 700th since the championship started in 1950.

Rosberg, who won the last three races of 2015 and now the first four of 2016, leads Hamilton by 43 points in the standings with 17 races remaining and the Briton facing an increasingly daunting challenge.

“Lewis is going to come back of course, he’s on it and as motivated as ever,” said Rosberg. “We’ll just take it race by race.”

Hamilton had reduced the gap between him and Rosberg to seven seconds by the 36th of the 53 laps but his challenge was then slowed by a water pressure problem.

“There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I could win it, I had the pace, but then I had a problem with the engine again and had to back off,” said the champion.

Mercedes switched the power unit in his car after it failed in qualifying, flying parts out from Britain overnight by private jet to avoid a penalty that would have forced Hamilton to start from the pit lane.

Starts have been the Briton’s big weakness this season, despite two pole positions, and he had yet to get through the opening lap without problems but he stayed out of trouble as those around him collided.

Vettel, starting seventh, was hit twice from behind by Russian Kvyat’s Red Bull into turns two and three while Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Manor’s Rio Haryanto both retired.

As Rosberg sped away, Raikkonen seized second place with Hamilton fifth as the safety car was deployed to allow debris to be cleared.

Brazilian Felipe Massa was fifth for Williams with Fernando Alonso sixth for McLaren, who had their first double points finish since Hungary last year when Jenson Button crossed the line in 10th place.

Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen took Renault’s first points of the season in seventh place with Frenchman Romain Grosjean continuing his remarkable form with newcomers Haas in eighth place. Force India’s Sergio Perez was ninth.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ian Chadband)

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Ajmer: German woman levels false molestation charges against police after being ‘annoyed’ by them

A German woman staying with a Rajasthani man for nearly a month in Ajmer accused policemen of molesting her but later confessed she had hurled “false charges” because she was “annoyed” with them over frisking her, police said today.The incident of alleged molestation took place a couple of days back in Pushkar town of Ajmer when the woman was going to a nearby place with the man on a motorcycle. The motorbike was stopped by a patrolling party which checked the woman’s credentials which annoyed her, Pushkar SHO Nandu Ram Bhadu said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Next day, she came to the police station and complained about the behaviour of the policemen who had stopped the motorcycle. She alleged that the policemen had molested her,” the SHO said.He said when the policemen were called and the matter probed, the woman confessed she had levelled false charges.The woman gave a written statement on the issue and no complaint was registered and no action taken, Bhadu said. The woman was not available for her comment.

Dominant Rosberg extends win streak in China | Reuters

SHANGHAI Nico Rosberg claimed a dominant win in an action-packed Formula One Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday to extend his championship lead over Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton, who battled up toseventh with some feisty driving after starting last.

Rosberg crossed the line a mammoth 37.7 seconds ahead of German compatriot Sebastian Vettel, who recovered after colliding with his Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen at the first corner, to claim his third win from three races this season.

The German now leads Hamilton by 36 points in the standings and is firmly in control of the championship with 18 rounds of a record 21-race season remaining.

He certainly has history on his side with the winner of the first three races of the season having gone on to win the title each time.

“Well, it’s too early to make any summaries,” Rosberg told reporters.

“It’s three races now and they’ve gone really well for me but it’s the longest season in F1 history with 21 races.

“Of course I’m happy with the way it’s gone and I’m feeling good and the car’s there but I don’t want to say more than that.”

Sunday’s win was the 17th of Rosberg’s career and extended his streak of race victories to six, dating back to last November’s Mexican Grand Prix.

Only three other drivers have ever put together a run of six or more wins in a row. Vettel managed nine with Red Bull in 2013 and Michael Schumacher seven with Ferrari in 2004. The other was Italian Alberto Ascari in the 1950s.

ANGRY VETTEL

Daniil Kvyat finished third to score Red Bull their first podium finish since September’s Singapore Grand Prix but the Russian had to defend himself after the race when an angry Vettel blamed him for the collision between the Ferraris.

Hamilton, who had started from dead last after failing to set a time in Saturday’s qualifying session due to an engine problem, finished seventh, running into further trouble at the start when he lost his front wing in a first-corner collision.

The Briton used some good-old fashioned racing nous to work his way up to third at one stage. But his challenge faded later in the race as he attempted to battle through with a damaged car that he likened to a “four-poster bed”.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth. The Australian rocketed off the line from second on the grid and shot past Rosberg into an early lead.

But an early puncture and subsequent safety car cost him any chance of a podium place.

“As soon as I got on the straight, basically I could feel the car start to wobble and then I looked in the mirror and the tyre went,” Ricciardo said.

“With the safety car, that put us even further back so that was like a double whammy which felt like getting punched in the stomach by a heavyweight.”

Raikkonen, who came off worse in the first-corner collision with Vettel, was sixth ahead of Felipe Massa of Williams.

Max Verstappen was eighth ahead of Toro Rosso team mate Carlos Sainz while Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top 10 for Williams.

The early safety car led to a chopping and changing of the order with some drivers choosing to pit even as others stayed out. That put a mix of tyre strategies into play, producing a close battle for position behind the leader with plenty of exciting racing through the field.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Germany gurudwara explosion: Sikh priest among 3 injured, MEA in touch with local authorities

A Sikh priest was among three persons injured when a “violent” explosion ripped through a gurudwara in Germany’s western city of Essen with police suspecting that the blast was caused deliberately.Eyewitnesses have spoken of “a kind of bomb” that exploded at the entrance of the gurudwara around 7 pm local time on Saturday where a wedding had taken place.Reacting to the incident, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the Indian mission here is following it up with German authorities.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Distressed to hear of an explosion in a gurudwara in Essen in Germany. Our Mission is following up with local authorities on ground situation,” he tweeted.A 60-year-old suffered serious injuries and had to be hospitalised while two 47- and 56-year-old men had minor injuries, the Bild newspaper reported, but did not specify if all of them were Sikhs.
ALSO READ Explosion at Sikh Gurdwara injures 3 in western Germany The injured included a priest on whom the whole pane of glass had fallen due to the impact.A police spokesman said that the explosion was probably caused deliberately.A masked man wearing dark clothes fled in an SUV, according to several witnesses from the scene.A part of the wedding party was still in the building, the other part in the adjacent ballroom. The explosion was so violent that windowpanes of adjacent buildings were broken.The building was heavily damaged, the report said.Three men were arrested following the explosion over suspicion that they were in the black SUV, which had previously been seen in the vicinity of the crime scene.

Protests show strength of German attachment to steel | Reuters

DUISBURG, Germany Half of Germany’s steelworkers poured onto the country’s streets on Monday in protest against the dumping of Chinese steel, EU climate regulations and industry consolidation they fear will cost them their jobs.

More than 40,000 downed tools to take part in protests against a backdrop of on-and-off steel merger talks between Thyssenkrupp (TKAG.DE), the country’s biggest steelmaker, and Tata Steel (TISC.NS), which is retreating from Europe.

Workers fear they could face a similar fate to their peers in Britain, where Tata has put its entire steel business up for sale, endangering thousands of jobs.

The size of the demonstrations, organised by powerful trade union IG Metall and supported by Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, showed the depth of Germany’s attachment to steel and the strength of likely opposition to any merger.

“Consolidation, if it is necessary, can’t happen only in Germany,” Gabriel told a rally of 17,000 at Thyssenkrupp Steel’s headquarters in the city of Duisburg in Germany’s Ruhr Valley industrial heartland.

“It can’t be that we worry nervously about consolidation, we are the ones who lose the jobs and others don’t even take part.”

Thyssenkrupp has sought a way to exit steelmaking since Heinrich Hiesinger took over as chief executive in 2011, presiding over a retreat from the United States where the group had sunk billions in an ill-fated expansion.

At first quietly and then more explicitly, with activist investor and 15 percent shareholder Cevian in the background, top management has signalled its keenness to shed steelmaking to concentrate on steadier and more profitable businesses like elevators and car parts.

Now, events including the taking of full control of its Brazilian steel plant and Tata’s planned sale of all of its loss-making UK steel activities gives the German industrial group a unique chance to do just that.

SECRET DIPLOMACY

IG Metall-backed labour representatives are already preparing for a fight.

“We know that our top-paid managers are engaged in a kind of secret diplomacy and are forging plans for consolidation,” Guenter Back, head of Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe’s central works council, told workers at the rally in Duisburg. “We are not prepared to be bystanders.”

Without support from politics and labour, Thyssenkrupp will find it almost impossible to push through any merger.

Unlike in Britain, in Germany steel is still a critical part of the economy.

The industry employs about 87,000 directly and 3.5 million indirectly, supporting key industries such as automaking and generating about 40 billion euros ($46 billion) in turnover in 2014, roughly 1.4 percent of gross domestic product.

“Moving from one conglomerate with a very strong track record and history in German steel (Thyssenkrupp) to another with a weak history in EU steel (Tata) with absolutely no affiliation to the Thyssen or Krupp name and legacy we think could be a very tough sell,” Credit Suisse analysts wrote in a note on Monday.

The bank rates Thyssenkrupp stock “outperform”.

One in three German steelworkers are employed at Thyssenkrupp, which has 200-year-old roots in the industry.

CULTURE CHANGE

Steel was so crucial to the German First and Second World War efforts that a law was passed in 1951 giving mining, iron and steel workers special rights in the co-determination of their companies’ strategy with management.

Unlike for other German companies, where the chairperson – appointed by the capital side – has a casting vote in the case of an impasse between capital and labour on the supervisory board, for companies in these sectors absolute parity rules.

A neutral arbitrator must be agreed by both sides to decide any issue where they cannot agree.

To bring workers on board with management strategy and avoid outright conflict – as well as to address past compliance issues – Hiesinger made it his mission to change Thyssenkrupp’s culture when he became CEO.

With the aim of building mutual trust, respect and a performance culture after a difficult period in the company’s history, Hiesinger instigated company-wide surveys about Thyssenkrupp’s direction and values and held managers to public account when their team members flagged problems.

The exercise – important for a company that is dominant in the Ruhr Valley and has only 1-2 percent annual staff turnover in Germany – has had some success, according to a straw poll of demonstrators on Monday.

“There are some positive things,” said Joerg Kallweit, a 59-year-old production coordinator at Thyssenkrupp Steel in Duisburg who has been with the company for almost 30 years.

“Thyssenkrupp wants to understand itself more as a technology group. Steel isn’t viewed that favourably,” he said. “At least current management is dealing with it more openly.”

(Editing by Susan Fenton and Susan Thomas)

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Nico Rosberg romps untroubled to fifth win in a row at Bahrain F1 Grand Prix | Reuters

MANAMA Germany’s Nico Rosberg romped to his fifth win in a row for Mercedes on Sunday and ended Formula One champion team mate Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of a third successive Bahrain Grand Prix victory.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, whose team mate Sebastian Vettel failed to start after his car’s engine let out a plume of smoke on the formation lap, finished 10.2 seconds behind to repeat last year’s second place.

Hamilton, a distant third and never in a position to challenge Rosberg, made a slow getaway from pole position and tangled with the Williams of Valtteri Bottas at the first corner as the Finn tried to go past on the inside.

Rosberg stretched his lead over Hamilton at the top of the standings to 17 points after two races. The win was the 16th of the German’s career and the eighth in a row for champions Mercedes.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)

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Australian Grand Prix: Rosberg wins dramatic season-opener in Melbourne | Reuters

MELBOURNE Nico Rosberg won a dramatic Australian Grand Prix on Sunday after a bungled tyre strategy dashed Sebastian Vettel’s chances of a season-opening triumph and Fernando Alonso survived a spectacular crash that left his McLaren wrecked.

Rosberg’s 15th Formula One victory was also his fourth in succession after the German Mercedes driver won the final three races of last season.

Pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton battled back to secure a Mercedes one-two after the defending world champion recovered from a chaotic start that pushed him back to sixth at the first turn to finish eight seconds behind his team mate.

Four-times world champion Vettel came third for Ferrari after leading for much of the race, but the German’s victory hopes faded with an aggressive tyre strategy that fell flat after the race was halted due to Alonso’s crash.

“The strategy was crucial today, so I’m really thankful the team did a good job on that,” ecstatic German Rosberg told reporters.

“The car’s just been unreal today… We’ve got to keep an eye on the red guys (Ferrari), they are very close as you saw today.”

Ferrari enjoyed a brilliant start, with Vettel able to carve through the front-row occupying Mercedes duo on the run to the first turn.

His Finnish team mate Kimi Raikkonen also got off to a flyer and he darted up the side to claim second place as Rosberg’s rear left tyre made contact with Hamilton’s front wing.

COMPOUND ISSUES

Vettel appeared poised for an unlikely win but the race turned on its head when Alonso crashed into Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez at high speed going into turn three of the 18th lap.

The Spaniard’s car careened into a barrier and was smashed to pieces before it flipped, rolled and flew end-over-end into another barrier.

Alonso walked away from the wreckage but the red flag came out to halt the race for around 10 minutes as track staff swept away debris and repaired the barriers.

During the break, Mercedes opted to run both cars on medium compound tyres and rode them to the finish, while Ferrari took the more aggressive route, sticking with their super-softs, which were quicker but ultimately required another stop.

The mistake proved costly and was compounded when Vettel’s next tyre change was botched, while Raikkonen’s race was over on lap 23 when an engine failure forced him out and he reached the pits with flames shooting out of the top of his car.

“Obviously the red flag didn’t help us,” Vettel said.

“We went for the aggressive route but maybe with hindsight we may have gone with something else,” the German added of the tyre strategy.

New team Haas, the first American-owned F1 outfit to race in 30 years, celebrated points on debut, with Frenchman Romain Grosjean finishing sixth behind Red Bull’s fourth-placed Daniel Ricciardo and Felipe Massa in a Williams.

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, and the Toro Rosso duo of Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen completed the top 10, with Renault rookie Jolyon Palmer narrowly missing out on a point on debut.

Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat was among six cars that failed to finish including Manor Racing’s Indonesian rookie Rio Haryanto.

Haryanto’s team mate and fellow debutant Pascal Wehrlein was last of the 16 finishers.

(Editing by John O’Brien)

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Suicide bomb kills five, wounds 36 in Istanbul shopping district | Reuters

ISTANBUL/ANKARA A suicide bomber killed himself and four others in a central Istanbul shopping and tourism district on Saturday, wounding at least 36 people in the fourth such attack in Turkey this year.

The blast sent panicked shoppers scurrying into side alleys off Istiklal Street, a long pedestrian avenue lined with international stores and foreign consulates, a few hundred metres from an area where police buses are often stationed.

The attack will raise further questions about NATO member Turkey’s ability to protect itself against a spillover of violence from the war in neighbouring Syria.

Turkey faces threats from Kurdish militants, whose insurgency has spread from the largely Kurdish southeast and who Ankara sees as closely linked to a Kurdish militia in Syria, and from Islamic State fighters, who have also recently targeted it.

Germany shut down its diplomatic missions and schools on Thursday, citing a specific threat. Meanwhile, U.S. and other European embassies had warned their citizens to be vigilant ahead of Newroz celebrations this weekend, a spring festival largely marked by Kurds which has turned violent in the past.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, which two senior officials said could have been carried out by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), fighting for Kurdish autonomy in the southeast, or by an Islamic State militant.

Both groups have targeted Turkey in recent months. A PKK offshoot claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings in the capital Ankara over the past month, which killed a total of 66 people. Islamic State was blamed for a suicide bombing in Istanbul in January which killed at least 12 German tourists.

One of the officials said the bomber had planned to hit a more crowded location but was deterred by the police presence.

“The attacker detonated the bomb before reaching the target point because they were scared of the police,” the official said, declining to be named as the investigation is ongoing.

Another official said investigations were focusing on three possible suspects, all of them male and two of them from the southern city of Gaziantep near the Syrian border. There was no further confirmation of this.

Armed police sealed off the shopping street where half a dozen ambulances had gathered. Forensic teams in white suits searched for evidence as police helicopters buzzed overhead.

“I saw a body on the street. No one was treating him but then I saw someone who appeared to be a regular citizen trying to do something to the body. That was enough for me and I turned and went back,” one resident told Reuters.

Istiklal Street, usually thronged with shoppers at weekends, was quieter than normal as more people are staying home after a series of deadly bombings.

Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu confirmed that 36 people had been wounded, seven of those were in serious condition and at least 12 of them were foreigners.

Three Israeli citizens may be among those killed and 11 were injured, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said, adding Israel was sending a plane to bring back some wounded.

Turkish officials said one Iranian and one Israeli were among the dead.

Ireland said “a number” of Irish were hurt, while broadcaster NTV said two Icelandic citizens were also injured.

INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNATION

Turkey is still in shock from a suicide car bombing last Sunday at a crowded transport hub in the capital Ankara which killed 37 people and a similar bombing in Ankara last month in which 29 died. A PKK offshoot claimed responsibility for both.

However, the Istanbul suicide bombing, which killed German tourists in January, struck at its historic heart and was blamed by the government on Islamic State.

The latest attack brought widespread condemnation.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, on an official visit to Istanbul, said it showed “the ugly face of terrorism”, while France condemned it as “despicable and cowardly”.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg described the attack as “another terrorist outrage against innocent civilians and ally Turkey” on Twitter, while Germany urged tourists in Istanbul to stay in their hotels.

Turkey’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a Kurdish-rooted opposition party, condemned the bombing.

“Just as in the Ankara attack, this is a terrorist act that directly targets civilians,” the HDP said in an e-mail.

Turkey is a member of the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. It is also battling the PKK in its own southeast, where a 2-1/2-year ceasefire collapsed last July, triggering the worst violence since the 1990s.

In its armed campaign in Turkey, the PKK has historically struck directly at the security forces and says it does not target civilians. However, recent bombings suggest it could be shifting tactics.

One of the Turkish officials said the PKK was looking to carry out attacks during the Newroz holiday.

The PKK’s umbrella group said in a statement its movement opposed targeting civilians and condemned attacks on them.

At the height of the PKK insurgency in the 1990s, the Newroz festival often saw clashes between Kurdish protesters and security forces.

(Additional reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley, Asli Kandemir, Humeyra Pamuk and Daren Butler in Istanbul, John Irish in Paris, Paris Hafezi in Ankara, Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem, Hans-Edzard Busemann in Berlin; Padraic Halpin in Dublin; Writing by David Dolan and Nick Tattersall; Editing by Tom Heneghan and Alexander Smith)

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

Suicide bombing kills five, wounds 36 in central Istanbul | Reuters

ISTANBUL/ANKARA A suicide bomber killed himself and four others in a central Istanbul shopping and tourism district on Saturday, wounding at least 36 people in the fourth such attack in Turkey this year.

The blast sent panicked shoppers scurrying into side alleys off Istiklal Street, a long pedestrian avenue lined with international stores and foreign consulates, a few hundred metres from where police buses are often stationed.

The attack will raise further questions about NATO member Turkey’s ability to protect itself against a spillover of violence from the war in neighbouring Syria.

Turkey faces threats from Kurdish militants, whose insurgency has spread from the largely Kurdish southeast and who Ankara sees as closely linked to a Kurdish militia in Syria, and from Islamic State fighters, who have also recently targeted it.

Germany shut down its diplomatic missions and schools on Thursday, citing a specific threat. Meanwhile, U.S. and other European embassies had warned their citizens to be vigilant ahead of Newroz celebrations this weekend, a spring festival largely marked by Kurds which has turned violent in the past.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, which two senior officials said could have been carried out by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), fighting for Kurdish autonomy in the southeast, or by an Islamic State militant.

Both groups have targeted Turkey in recent months. A PKK offshoot claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings in the capital Ankara over the past month, which killed a total of 66 people. And Islamic State was blamed for a suicide bombing in Istanbul in January which killed at least 12 German tourists.

One of the officials said the bomber had planned to hit a more crowded location but was deterred by the police presence.

“The attacker detonated the bomb before reaching the target point because they were scared of the police,” the official said, declining to be named as the investigation is ongoing.

Another official said investigations were focusing on three possible suspects, all of them male and two of them from the southern city of Gaziantep near the Syrian border. There was no further confirmation of this.

Armed police sealed off the shopping street where half a dozen ambulances had gathered. Forensic teams in white suits searched for evidence as police helicopters buzzed overhead.

“I saw a body on the street. No one was treating him but then I saw someone who appeared to be a regular citizen trying to do something to the body. That was enough for me and I turned and went back,” one resident told Reuters.

Istiklal Street, usually thronged with shoppers at weekends, was quieter than normal as more people are staying home after a series of deadly bombings.

Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu confirmed that 36 people had been wounded, seven of those were in serious condition and twelve of the wounded were foreigners.

Broadcaster NTV said six of the wounded were Israeli tourists and two others were from Iceland. Israel’s foreign ministry confirmed some of its citizens were among the wounded, as did Ireland, which said “a number” of Irish were injured.

INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNATION

Saturday’s blast came as Turkey is still in shock from a suicide car bombing on Sunday at a crowded transport hub in the capital Ankara which killed 37 people. A similar bombing in Ankara last month killed 29. An offshoot of the PKK claimed responsibility for both bombings.

The Istanbul suicide bombing which killed German tourists in January struck at its historic heart and was blamed by the government on Islamic State.

Saturday’s attack brought condemnation from around the globe.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, on an official visit to Istanbul, said it showed “the ugly face of terrorism”, while France condemned it as “despicable and cowardly”.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg described the attack as “another terrorist outrage against innocent civilians and ally Turkey” on Twitter, while Germany urged tourists in Istanbul to stay in their hotels.

Turkey’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a Kurdish-rooted opposition party, condemned the bombing.

“Just as in the Ankara attack, this is a terrorist act that directly targets civilians,” the HDP said in an e-mail. “Whoever carried out this attack, it is unacceptable and inexcusable.”

Turkey is a member of the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. It is also battling the PKK in its own southeast, where a 2-1/2-year ceasefire collapsed last July, triggering the worst violence since the 1990s.

In its armed campaign in Turkey, the PKK has historically struck directly at the security forces and says it does not target civilians. However, recent bombings suggest it could be shifting tactics.

One of the Turkish officials said the PKK was looking to carry out attacks during the Newroz holiday.

At the height of the PKK insurgency in the 1990s, the festival was often marked by violent clashes between Kurdish protesters and security forces. It coincides with the spring thaw, a time when in previous years PKK fighters re-entered Turkey from mountain hideouts in northern Iraq.

(Additional reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley, Asli Kandemir, Humeyra Pamuk and Daren Butler in Istanbul, John Irish in Paris, Paris Hafezi in Ankara, Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem, Hans-Edzard Busemann in Berlin; Padraic Halpin in Dublin; Writing by David Dolan and Nick Tattersall; Editing by Tom Heneghan and Alexander Smith)

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

Bombay HC quashes Himayat Baig’s death penalty in Pune German bakery blast

In a reprieve to the lone convict Himayat Baig in 2010 Pune German Bakery blast, the Bombay High Court on Thursday quashed the death sentence awarded to him due to lack of evidence and the prosecution’s failure to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.A division bench of Justices N H Patil and S B Shukre while pronouncing the judgement in the blast case that came as an embarrassment to the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), however, confirmed 35-year-old Baig’s conviction and life sentence imposed on him for possession of explosives (RDX). According to the prosecution, the investigating agency had recovered around 1,200 kg of RDX from Baig’s Latur residence after his arrest in September 2010.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The High Court quashed and set aside Baig’s conviction under various sections of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), under sections 120(B) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC, and under some sections of the Explosive Substances Act. Baig’s conviction under section 5 (b) of the Explosive Substances Act for possession of explosives was confirmed by the high court today. He was sentenced to life under this section by the trial court in Pune.The High Court also confirmed Baig’s conviction under section 474 of IPC, for submitting forged documents while procuring mobile phone SIM cards. He was awarded a seven-year sentence by the trial court under this section. The High Court also confirmed his conviction under sections 465 (forgery), 467 (forgery of valuable security) and 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) of IPC. Dressed in a black shirt and blue jeans, Baig was present in the court when the judgement was pronounced.The court said the period already undergone by Baig in prison from his arrest till date shall be considered as part of the sentence. The High Court further said that it need not pass any order on the applications filed by two witnesses in the case, as it has acquitted Baig of the charges. When Baig filed his appeal in the High Court challenging the death penalty, two witnesses in the case had also filed an application seeking for their evidence to be recorded again as their statement was taken under duress.Baig, who the ATS said was a member of the terrorist outfit Indian Mujahideen, was arrested in September 2010 for involvement in the blast at German Bakery, a popular eatery in Pune’s Koregaon Park area, which killed 17 persons and injured 58, including some foreign nationals. In 2013, a sessions court in Pune convicted him and awarded him the capital punishment. Under UAPA, Baig has been acquitted under sections 16(1)(a) (terrorist act which results in death of persons), 10(a) (member of unlawful association), 10 (b) (committing act to promote unlawful association), 20 (punishment for being member of terrorist gang), 18 (punishment for conspiracy), 13(1)(b) (abetting unlawful activity) and 13(2) (assisting unlawful activity). Under IPC, Baig has been acquitted under section 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy), section 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 453 (punishment for trespassing) and section 153 (a) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race).Under Explosive Substances Act, Baig has been acquitted under sections 3(b) (unlawfully causing explosion likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to a person) and section 4 (a) (b) (attempt to cause explosion). There are total eight accused in the case, of whom six are wanted. Besides Baig, another accused Qateel Siddiqui was also arrested, but he died in Pune’s Yerawada jail following a scuffle with other inmates.The other wanted accused in the case are–IM operatives Yasin Bhatkal, Mohsin Choudhary, Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Ismail Bhatkal, Fayyaz Kagzi and Sayyad Zabiuddin Ansari. According to prosecution, the bomb used in the blast was assembled at Baig’s internet cafe. Thereafter, he travelled to Pune by bus with Mohsin Choudhary and planted the bomb.However, Baig’s lawyer Mehmood Pracha had earlier argued that Baig was not even present in Pune at the time of the blast, and that he was attending a wedding in Latur. According to Pracha, it was Qateel Siddiqui who along with Yasin Bhatkal went to Pune.When Baig filed his appeal in the high court challenging the death penalty, two witnesses in the case filed an application in HC seeking that their evidence be recorded again as their statement was taken under duress. Former journalist Ashish Khetan had also earlier filed a PIL, alleging that Baig was falsely implicated and the case should be probed afresh by NIA.

Pune German Bakery blast case: Bombay HC to pronounce ruling on death penalty for convict

The Bombay High Court is likely to deliver its verdict on confirmation of death penalty awarded to Himayat Baig, the lone convict of 2010 Pune German Bakery blast case, on Thursday.A division bench of Justices N H Patil and S B Shukre is expected to pronounce the verdict on the confirmation petition of Maharashtra government and the appeal filed by Baig challenging his conviction and the death sentence.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Baig will be produced before the High Court when it pronounces the verdict. Baig, who the police said was a member of the terrorist outfit Indian Mujahideen, was arrested in September 2010 for involvement in the blast at German Bakery, a popular eatery in Pune’s Koregaon Park area, which killed 17 persons and injured 58 including some foreign nationals.In 2013, the sessions court in Pune convicted him and awarded him the capital punishment.

UN chief cites murder of Indian journalist, raises concerns over mediapersons’ safety

United Nations: Citing the murder of Indian journalist Karun Misra, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said every time a journalist is killed anywhere in the world and the press is silenced, the rule of law and democracy get weaker.

“Across the global agenda, the media are critical. Yet journalists face growing efforts to silence their voices –through harassment, censorship and attacks. Journalists are not criminals. But they are often mistreated or even killed because they have the courage to expose criminal acts,” Ban said in his remarks upon receiving the German Media Prize in Baden Baden in southwestern Germany on Monday.

He said last year alone, 105 journalists lost their lives and while the murders of Western journalists by Islamic State and other violent extremists claimed global attention, 95 per cent of the journalists killed in armed conflict are locally based.

United Nations. File photo. ReutersUnited Nations. File photo. Reuters

United Nations. File photo. Reuters

“Last month, Mexican journalist Moises Dagdug Lutzow was killed in his home in the city of Villahermosa. Elvis Ordaniza, a crime reporter in the Philippines, was shot. So was Karun Misra, a district bureau chief at the Jan Sandesh Times in India.”

“Each time a journalist is killed, each time the press is silenced, the rule of law and democracy get weaker. I encourage you to participate in the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists,” Ban said.

Misra, the district bureau chief of Hindi language daily Jan Sandesh Times in Ambedkar Nagar, was shot in February by unknown assailants in the city of Sultanpur in the Uttar Pradesh.

Misra’s 13 February murder was condemned by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova as well as by nonprofit organisation The Committee to Protect Journalists.

Ban stressed that during the past nine years as Secretary-General, he has been working hard to defend the press, both publicly and behind the scenes through discreet diplomatic efforts to free journalists who have been unjustly detained.

“We must all do our part to preserve the freedom of the press, civil society and human rights defenders to do their work,” he said.

PTI

German woman’s rape case: DCW defends its action of not acting upon rape complaint

Amid allegations of sitting over a rape complaint for 15 days filed by the German national, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) on Monday said that it was verifying the veracity of the complaint before forwarding it to the police as the email it received was unsigned and did not have the phone number of the victim.The Commission, instead, has now issued a notice to Delhi Police seeking to know the reason for the delay in registering an FIR which it claimed was leading to harassment of the victim as she was having to continue her stay in Delhi to ensure the same.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Commission had received a brief email from the victim on February 5, 2016 and the email was unsigned and did not have the phone number of the victim. In order to verify the veracity of the complaint, the Commission with great effort was able to identify the mobile number of the victim,” said the Commission Chairperson Swati Maliwal.The Commission further said that a DCW Counsellor then spoke to the victim and made efforts to clear her apprehensions and encouraged her to report the facts to the Commission and the Delhi Police.After several calls, the victim finally informed the Commission that she would come to the Commission on February 19 and requested the Commission that her complaint be registered with the police…and reveal the complete facts to the Commission, said Maliwal.”Immediately, the Commission sent the girl to the police station along with a DCW Counsellor. The girl’s medical examination was also done. However, the police did not register an FIR and instead, on the third day after reporting the incident to them, the police handed over a long questionnaire consisting of around 150 questions to the victim,” said Maliwal.”Registration of FIR is mandatory under Section 154 of the Code if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation,” she said.The Commission issued a notice to the police to explain why an FIR was not being registered.”Delay in registering an FIR was leading to harassment of the victim as she was having to continue her stay in Delhi to ensure the same. It was sad that the Commission is being blamed for ‘sitting on a complaint’ when it is because of the persistence of the Commission that the victim was able to properly and comfortably report her case to the Police,” Maliwal said.

dna Morning Must Reads: From Sachin Tendulkar celebrating India’s win to shocking mass murder in Maharashtra

1. Let’s go all the way!!!: Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar celebrates India’s win over PakistanWith India clinching a five-wicket victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in a low-scoring Asia Cup thriller, Indian fans on Saturday took to the streets to express their joy and exhilaration. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Maharashtra: Man kills 14 members of his family, takes his own life in ThaneThe incident took place in Warekar family at Kasarvadavali in Thane district of Maharashtra. Read more here3. Time has come to audit government’s performance, says Chief Justice TS ThakurChief Justice of India T S Thakur was on Saturday critical of the government for the delay in law enforcement and appointment of high court judges, saying the time has come to audit its performance by some process. Read more here4. Hillary Clinton wins big in South Carolina primary on way to ‘Super Tuesday’US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton crushed rival Bernie Sanders at the South Carolina primary on Saturday. Read more here5. I never imagined a career past 40: Meryl StreepActress Meryl Streep, appointed 2016 International Jury President at the recently-concluded Berlin International Film Festival, was the cynosure of all eyes in the German capital. Read more here

87 World War Two bomb shells discovered in Manipur

87 bomb-shells, believed to be from the World War 2 period, have been found at the border town of Moreh during excavation work for construction of a power sub-station.A senior police officer said the bombs were dug out by labourers on Sunday at Chanou locality of Moreh, bordering Myanmar, and is believed to be dating back to the World War 2 period when Japanese troops came to the country in 1944.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Further digging was immediately called off and state forces were guarding the site since Sunday night. The digging resumed this morning after bomb experts rushed from Imphal. The recovered explosives were taken to Moreh police station to be defused, the officer said. The ‘Battle of Imphal’ was a decisive victory for the allies (British India) against the Japanese forces in 1944.Read: Italy closes route over Brenner mountain pass to defuse World War Two bombAlso Read: World War II bomb discovered at German airport, 7 flights cancelled

PM Modi lauds historic detection of gravitational waves which fulfills Einstein’s prophecy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday expressed his happiness over historic detection of gravitational waves and lauded the role of Indian scientists in the project. ‘Historic detection of gravitational waves opens up new frontier for understanding of universe. Immensely proud that Indian scientists played an important role in this challenging quest,’ Prime Minister Modi said in a tweet.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>’Hope to move forward to make even bigger contribution with an advanced gravitational wave detector in the country,’ he added. Meanwhile, in an unprecedented revolution which could be the key to new understanding of the universe, a team of physicists announced on Thursday that they had heard and recorded the sound of two black holes colliding a billion light-years away, possibly the biggest breakthrough in physics in a century which can fulfil the last prophecy of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, the New York Times reported.The ripples in the fabric of space-time which Einstein predicted nearly a century ago, has been proved right by that faint rising tone that physicists claim as the first direct evidence of gravitational waves. It is a ringing confirmation of the nature of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits from which not even light can escape, which were the most foreboding part of Einstein’s theory. On a broader aspect, the news signifies that scientists have finally tapped into the deepest register of physical reality, where the weirdest and wildest implications of Einstein’s universe become manifest. (ANI)It took a century, but the theory from Albert Einstein handwritten neatly on paper that is now yellowing has finally been vindicated. Israeli officials today offered a rare look at the documents where Einstein presented his ideas on gravitational waves, a display that coincided with the historic announcement that scientists had glimpsed the first direct evidence of his theory. “Einstein devised this with pen and paper, but it took humanity 100 years to develop the tools to catch a glimpse of it,” said Roni Grosz, curator of the Albert Einstein Archives at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, pointing to two pages. One was the first document in which Einstein fully presented his theory of gravitational waves, while the other was a page from his 46-page theory of relativity, written in 1916 and 1915 respectively.They were written neatly in German, with corrections made within the text. The theory of gravitational waves was developed by the German physicist 100 years ago. In a landmark discovery for physics and astronomy, international scientists announced in Washington today that they had glimpsed the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time. Einstein’s theory states that mass warps space and time, much like placing a bowling ball on a trampoline.Other objects on the surface will “fall” towards the centre — a metaphor for gravity in which the trampoline is space-time. Gravitational waves do not interact with matter and travel through the universe completely unimpeded. It was a central pillar of Einstein’s theory of gravity, but had never been proven. “(The discovery) is a very moving moment,” Grosz said, wearing a tie with a picture of Einstein and his familiar bushy hair. “A smile from heaven after exactly 100 years.” Einstein himself doubted gravitational waves would ever be detected given how tiny they are. Barak Kol, head of physics at the Hebrew University, explained the size of their impact can be as small as “one thousandths of the nucleus of an atom”. Kol, who had worked on trying to prove the theory, said the discovery was a historic day for scientists and those concerned with Einstein’s legacy. “It is the end of a part of the journey that took 100 years since it started with the idea of one person,” he said.”(But) it will open a new window to the universe. It will enable us to see processes in the universe.”

Kerber stuns Williams to win Australian Open title | Reuters

MELBOURNE Angelique Kerber became the first German to win a grand slam title since her childhood idol Steffi Graf in 1999 when she upset world number one Serena Williams 6-4 3-6 6-4 to clinch the Australian Open on Saturday.

The 34-year-old American had been seeking her seventh Melbourne Park title and 22nd overall, which would have moved her into a tie with Graf for the most grand slam singles titles in the Open era.

The seventh seeded Kerber, however, was not overawed by the occasion of her first grand slam final, breaking twice in the first set as Williams made 23 unforced errors.

Williams cut down on the errors to send it into a third, which Kerber, who had the opportunity to serve it out while leading 5-3 only for the American to battle back, clinched when Williams hit a volley long in the next game.

The opening salvo had looked ominous as Williams raced through the first game to love and then put pressure on the German, who was down 15-30 after a double fault but managed to suppress any demons she may have had and held on.

The 28-year-old German then played superb defensive tennis against the powerful Williams, scrambling to force her to play an extra shot that ultimately contributed to 23 unforced errors from the American in the first set.

Those errors and a lack of timing on several potential winners enabled the German to break again in the seventh game and then seal the first set in 39 minutes when Williams made another unforced error.

The pair held serve in the opening two games of the second set before Williams began to get her timing back and made less errors as she raced out to a 4-1 lead, though the concerned look she shot her supporters in the players’ box suggested she had been battling to work the German out.

Williams sent the match into a decider when Kerber hit an easy forehand into the net to clinch the second set.

Both players suffered early breaks in the third set but the championship appeared to have tipped in the German’s favour in a marathon sixth game when she finally converted her fifth break point to take a 4-2 lead.

She extended that to 5-2 and was serving for the title at 5-3 before Williams fought back, though the inspired German was able to clinch her first grand slam and then collapse onto the court in jubilation.

(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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

Indian honoured for ‘bravely standing up’ for human rights by Amnesty International

Activist and lawyer Henri Tiphagne has been named the winner of the eighth Human Rights Award by Amnesty International Germany for “tirelessly and bravely standing up” for human rights in India.Tiphagne, the People’s Watch founder who campaigns against discrimination and the use of torture, will be presented the award on April 25 at the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin.”Henri Tiphagne and his organisation People’s Watch, while fighting to ensure the rights of others, are themselves being harassed and hampered in their work by the authorities. And there are other civil society organisations in India that are in a similar position,” said Selmin aliskan, director of Amnesty International Germany.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The award is therefore meant to send a strong signal of support to the whole of the Indian human rights movement,” aliskan said.Tiphagne has been named for the award for “tirelessly and bravely standing up for human rights,” the rights group said.People’s Watch has been researching and documenting human rights violations, as well as providing legal representation to those affected for over 20 years, the group said. The organisation also actively supports human rights education.In 1997, Tiphagne founded an institute offering training for teachers as well as mentoring around school human rights education programmes. So far, they have managed to reach out to around 500,000 children in 18 Indian states.Through the award, Amnesty aims to honour and support the awardees’ exceptional human rights commitment and raise awareness of their work amongst the German public.The award comes with 10,000 Euros (USD 10,876) provided by Amnesty Germany’s foundation Stiftung Menschenrechte, F rderstiftung Amnesty.Former award recipients include: Monira Rahman from Bangladesh (2006), Women of Zimbabwe Arise from Zimbabwe (2008), Abel Barrera from Mexico (2011) and Alice Nkom from Cameroon (2014).

Netaji’s daughter wants DNA test of ashes kept in Renkoji temple

New Delhi: Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s daughter Dr Anita Bose Pfaff wants a DNA test to be conducted to establish whether the ashes kept in a Japanese temple are her father’s, but believes that the 1945 aircrash in Taipei was the “most likely cause” of his death.

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Reuters

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Reuters

“I believe that the plane crash is the most likely cause of his death,” Pfaff said when asked whether she believes in the theory that her father died in an air crash near the Taihoku aerodrome in Taipei on August 18, 1945.

However, she said she wants a DNA test of the ashes kept in an urn at a Buddhist temple in Tokyo to ascertain whether the remains belong to the freedom fighter.

“A DNA test could provide proof, provided that the bones are not too badly charred for extracting DNA,” Pfaff, the only child of Subhash Bose and Emilie Schenkl, told PTI in an interview from her home in Stadtbergen, Germany.

Bose family sources said the 73-year old German economist, who is likely to visit India next month, may urge the government here to talk to Japan for conducting DNA test of the remains kept in the Renkoji temple in Tokyo.

On whether the recently declassified documents sufficiently proved Netaji’s death in the aircrash, Pfaff said “while I have only looked at a few files, I get the impression that a death certificate is not contained.”

Asked about her opinion that Bose was not treated with as much respect as were leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, Pfaff said: “That certainly seems to be the case for the official treatment.

“But the general public, the so-called man in the street, however, seem to have kept his memory alive in a very touching way. It was a shame how the Indian government treated the INA veterans for decades.”

To a question about Nehru’s approach towards Bose, she merely said, “Since their relationship lasted over many years, it was multi-faceted, I imagine. In many aspects they held similar views, in others their views differed.”

Asked about her reaction to Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s recent remark that Netaji’s death has been used for “petty politics”, Pfaff said, “On the part of some people this is true, according to my opinion.

“However, many of his relatives such as my uncles and my mother very genuinely wished that he might have survived the crash or not been in it. Their love for him made the acceptance of his death too hard to bear.”

Reacting to the declassification of Netaji files by the Centre and West Bengal government and whether these documents would help solve the mystery behind the legendary freedom fighter’s “disappearance”, she said was “indeed happy”.

“It was high time. Most likely we shall find out that for 90 percent of the files there has been no reason whatsoever not to declassify them decades ago. I rather doubt that the declassified files will reveal anything very spectacular about my father’s death,” she said.

She said she agreed with the view that declassification should have been done much earlier.

On whether Netaji’s birthday should be declared a national holiday, she said, “I believe there are better ways of keeping Netaji’s memory alive than a national holiday.”

On whether she has any plan to pen a book on her father, she said, “I did not have the good fortune to know him personally beyond the age of four weeks. I cannot say much about him. But together with my niece and other women in our family, I have plans to write a book about my mother.”

Anita, a former Professor of Economics at the University of Augsburg, is married to Prof Martin Pfaff, who was a member of German Parliament Bundestag, representing the SPD or the Social Democratic Party. They have three children – Peter Arun, Thomas Krishna and Maya Carina.

PTI

Archaeologists discover dinosaur fossils in Gujarat’s Kutch district

A team consisting of a German archaeologist and two Indians discovered dinosaur fossils during an ongoing research in Gujarat.Archaeologists claimed that the fossils found in the Kaas Hills near Kutch city were 16 billion years old. They also claimed to have discovered more than 150 geological sites adding it might be possible to find more fossils and other ancient relics in the future.”We are getting the fossils of dinosaurs from the time when dinosaurs lived in the coastal areas. This couldn’t be found earlier. 15 years ago, we had collected fossils, then the ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) collected fossils of dinosaurs. And now again, we have discovered the fossils of the dinosaurs,” said an archaeologist, DK Pandey.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The scholars were researching on the possibilities of ancient fossils in the Kutch city for the last 25 years.One of the largest dinosaurs ever found was in 2014 in Argentina’s Patagonia region, where titanosaurs roamed the forests about 100 million years ago.Birds evolved from small feathered dinosaurs. The oldest-known bird, warm blooded, crow-sized Archaeopteryx, lived about 150 million years ago.The researchers had earlier evaluated the metabolism of 21 dinosaur species using a formula based on their body mass, as revealed by the bulk of their thigh bones, and their growth rates, indicated by growth rings in fossil bones akin to those in trees.

Army dogs all set to march down Rajpath after 26 years

Indian Army’s dogs, who have helped the forces in numerous counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations, are all set to take part in the Republic Day Parade after a gap of 26 years.The Army has selected 36 canines to march down Rajpath on January 26 this year along with their handlers.”We have come for the Republic Day parade with 36 army dogs and army handlers. Our contingent is coming to the parade after a long gap,” said one of the handlers Naik DK Sahu.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Captain Rishi Sharma expressed delight over being a part of the parade and said the Army’s dogs are highly trained in bomb detection and mine detection.”It is an honor and pride to march at Rajpath. We have come here for the January 26 parade with the Army dogs,” he said.The Army has around 1, 200 Labradors and German Shepherds, which are trained for specialised jobs like explosive detection, mine detection, tracking, guarding and assaulting.Army’s dog training school was instituted in Meerut on March 1, 1960.

FTII students manhandled and detained by police yet again

The banners put up by the students are being removed by the staff before arrival of Chauhan. Students sit in the institution premises with black bands to continue protest while their fellow students are detained. The students were given a notice last night by the police that if they agitate they would have to face actions.

Anvi Mehta

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All religions teach us truth and non-violence: Mohan Bhagwat

“To become fearless one does not only need physical strength, but the strength of humility. The real strength of India is its culture. All religions in our country teach us to adopt truth and non-violence,” he said. The RSS chief said that to make the nation “truly great”, the youth of India should be developed accordingly. “India can show the way forward to the world. We have to develop the youth of the nation to make India truly great. Youth need to be taught lessons in ethics. For this, the teachings of our great saints should first be inculcated in one’s own life, then in one’s homes before being spread outside,” Bhagwat said.

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Tamil Nadu elections: Jayalalithaa’s take on alliance is a climb down, says Karunanidhi

Criticising Jayalalithaa again over the release of surplus water from Chembarambakkam Reservoir in Chennai, he asked why the government swirled in discomfort when a judicial inquiry was sought. “Answer us,” he demanded.

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