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Arunachal strife: PPA says Pario to be CM, BJP claims Khandu has numbers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As a politically tumultuous year in Arunachal Pradesh came to an end, the stage was set for another turmoil in the state assembly.Amidst reports that the ruling People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) had announced that Takam Pario would take over as Chief Minister, the BJP ruled out any change in the top post saying Pema Khandu had the backing of a majority of MLAs.Khandu’s term seemed set to be cut short on Thursday night when his party suspended him, his deputy Chowna Mein and five other MLAs allegedly for anti-party activities. However, uncertainty continued on Friday as fissures within the PPA surfaced.”It was a failed coup by the Takam Pario group. Khandu has the backing of 33 of the 43 MLAs in the 60-member assembly,” BJP state president Tapir Gao told DNA. Besides, the BJP’s 12 MLAs and two independents are also backing Khandu, taking the total to 47.The BJP, which was an ally of the PPA, made it clear that it would support Khandu, and that there would be status quo in Arunachal Pradesh assembly.Government spokeperson Bamang Felix said 35 of the 43 PPA MLAs have reposed faith in Khandu’s leadership. “Everything is going normally as usual and the Chief Minister is still enjoying absolute majority,” he said.However, a section of PPA chose Pario, the richest MLA in the assembly, as its candidate to replace Khandu, who left the Congress in September and joined PPA. Party president Kahfa Bengia said Pario will be the next CM.Bengia said the party will now go to any length to ensure that they are in power. “Khandu and some MLAs were plotting to become turncoats by joining the BJP by January 15. The next few days will be crucial; if Khandu’s faction does something unconstitutional, we will take a legal recourse and revoke them from the party,” Bengia said over the phone from Itanagar.The PPA, the only regional party in the state, is an alliance partner in the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA). The state has seen three different chief ministers in 2016.The political turf war began when Congress dissidents revolted against Nabam Tuki when he was chief minister. Congress rebel Kalikho Pul became CM with the support of 11 BJP MLAs. The Congress moved Supreme Court which restored Tuki government, only to be in power for a short term as he did not have the majority. However, MLAs backed Khandu instead of Pul, who committed suicide following which his wife won the election as BJP candidate.

Get in line: Friday is your last chance to deposit old Rs 500, 1000 notes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The 50-day deadline to deposit the old Rs 500/1,000 notes in banks comes to an end on Friday but the cash crunch and queues before ATMs are likely to continue for some more time as currency printing presses have failed to meet the huge demand for new bills.People, however, will still have time to exchange the currency notes at designated RBI counters till March 31 after giving valid reasons for not depositing defunct notes in their accounts by December 30.The government is also planning to come out with an Ordinance making possession of old Rs 500/1,000 notes beyond a specified limit for numismatic purposes illegal and punishable.Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a surprise announcement on November 8 declared the old Rs 500 and 1,000 notes invalid.The banks started accepting deposits in scrapped notes from November 10. However, a very few ATMs opened on November 11, as most of the machines had to be recalibrated, for people to get cash which was available in Rs 2,000 denomination.Saddled with cash crunch, banks resorted to rationing of valid currency notes and fixed a withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000 per account in a week. Although the overall situation at banks has improved, ATMs still have to do some catching up. Many cash vending machines are still out of cash even after 50 days since demonetization.The government move was sharply criticised by the Opposition parties led by Congress and TMC. With every passing day, the number of circulars from the government or the Reserve Bank kept on rising that led to confusion among bankers as well as the public.Bankers believe that restrictions on withdrawal of cash from banks and ATMs are likely to continue beyond December 30.After the demonetization, the government had fixed a limit of Rs 24,000 per week on withdrawal from bank accounts and Rs 2,500 per day from ATMs in view of the currency crunch.The government and the RBI has not specified when the restrictions will be withdrawn. Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa had said the withdrawal cap would be reviewed after December 30.

Railways announce 10% rebate on vacant train berths

Thu, 29 Dec 2016-10:21pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Worried over many unoccupied seats in Mail/Express trains, railways on Thursday announced 10% rebate for vacant berths after finalisation of the reservation charts from January 1.A passenger can avail 10% rebate in basic fare for availing the vacant berths in all reserved categories including AC and Sleeper class after the finalisation of the chart, according to a railway notification.The rebate will to be made effective from January 1, 2017 for six months.The 10% discount will be based on basic fare of last ticket sold in the train. However, all other charges like reservation and super fast will be levied accordingly.

Demonetisation ordinance explained in seven points: Here’s how it will impact you

In a bid to discourage holding of old denomination currencies beyond 31 March, 2017, the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved promulgation of an ordinance to impose a penalty, including a jail term, for possession of the scrapped 500 and 1,000 rupee notes beyond a cut-off.

Any currency note issued by the government is legal tender and the RBI has a legal obligation to make payment for the amount stated on the note. However, the ordinance does away with that legal obligation on the part of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

1) If you possess banned notes in Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denominations, you can only exchange it at select branches of the Reserve Bank of India.

2) If you hold over 10 notes of the banned currency after 31 March, 2017, you could be fined Rs 5,000 or worse, sent to jail for four years. If you transact in these notes, you could likely attract a penalty of Rs 5,000.

3) If you possess banned notes in denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 beyond March 31, 2017, you could be fined amounts in multiples ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000. You also have to give a declaration stating why you could not submit the money in the stipulated time frame until 30 December, 2017.

4) Just in case you cannot go physically to an RBI branch to deposit the banned notes, you can still do it by sending the money through insured post. You still will have to provide the aforementioned declaration on why you could not deposit the money.

5) If you have kept banned notes in hand for souvenirs, you can keep up to 10 notes and for numismatics upto 25.

6) Any citizen who is outside the country may authorise in writing enabling another person in India to deposit the notes into a bank account. The person so authorized has to come to the bank branch with the specified bank notes, the authority letter and a valid identity proof

7) Any payment towards tax, surcharge, penalty and deposit under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) can be made in old bank notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000. However, this can be done only until December 30. The PMGKY which began on 17 December, is open for declarations till 31 March, 2017

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 11:02 IST

Mixing locations by Air Traffic Controller led to planes’ near collision at Delhi: AAI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Air Traffic Controller inadvertently gave instructions to one aircraft to continue taxiing through a particular taxiway mixing its location with that of another plane that led to a near collision at Delhi airport on Tuesday, according to AAI.In a major safety lapse, two aircraft of IndiGo and SpiceJet came face-to-face barely 40 metres away on the same taxiway on Tuesday but providentially a disaster was averted after commanders of both the planes alerted the air traffic control and switched off their engines. Following the incident, the air traffic controller has been derostered pending investigation.While acknowledging that an air traffic controller mixed the locations of the two flights, AAI (Airports Authority of India) today also said SpiceJet flight did not question the incomplete ATC instruction for taxiing, adding that these human errors resulted in “traffic conflict situation”. In a detailed statement, AAI said IndiGo flight (6E-769) from Lucknow to Delhi after landing on runway-28 was taxiing via taxiway ‘E2’ for parking stand 12 as advised by ATC.The departing flight of SpiceJet (SG123) was not able to take off from runway 28 due to poor visibility and waiting to return to apron for parking, it said.Accordingly, the controller instructed SG123 to taxi via taxiway C and hold short of the taxiway ‘E2’ so that the two flights were not in conflict with each other. “The traffic density being high and complex, the controller inadvertently gave instructions to SG123 to continue taxi via E to stand 130, mixing its location with the location of SG263 which was holding on another taxiway ‘E’ for departure.”However, SG123 also did not question the incomplete ATC instruction for taxiing. These human errors resulted into traffic conflict situation. However, both aircraft stopped at safe distance and there was no risk to aircraft or passengers,” AAI said.Noting that the statement is being issued to avoid any fear among air passengers after yesterday’s incident, AAI said at times it may not be possible to eliminate human error. “At times it may not be possible to eliminate human error whether it is aviation or other industries but continuous efforts are being made by AAI to offset such human errors through Standard Operating Procedures, recurrent training to the controllers and introducing technology,” it said. Further, AAI said various reports appearing in the media are giving exaggerated version stating that the passengers had close shave, indicating a distorted interpretation that may create fear in the minds of air passengers. Safety record of ATC provided by AAI at Indian airports has been very good and comparable to best in the world, it added. PTI

Goa Elections 2017: Church to issue guidelines for members to help them decide ‘right candidates’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Goa Church will issue guidelines to Christians to help them decide “the right candidate” to vote for in the next year’s Assembly elections.The Church, however, clarified that it will not canvass for any candidate or the party. “Elections to the legislative Assembly are approaching and Church leadership in Goa will take up this duty bound task once again.”We do issue guidelines to our faithful on how to exercise their franchise and thus fulfill one of their sacred civic duties,” Archbishop of Goa and Daman Rev Fr Filipe Neri Ferrao said today here while addressing a customary reception on Christmas.He said though the guidelines are read out in churches, they never mention name of any candidate or any political party. The function was attended by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Goa Governor Mridula Sinha and Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar among others. However, the archbishop said the faithfuls are requested to vote as per their conscience. He lamented that “certain elements today accuse the church in India of being involved in conversions.” “Our institutions have been attacked, robbed, burnt down and the perpetrators of this crime often goes scot free.It is almost as if the tiny three percent is posing a serious threat for the disintegration of the whole nation,” Ferrao said. Referring to the illegal mining issue, the archbishop said the church is the trustee of this land.”It is our solemn duty to ensure that the value of the land is passed on to our future generation. All generation and all within a generation would benefit equally.”But what we see is extensive environmental and social damage to Goa which has generated rampant corruption and even weakened governance. It has been an assault on our community and our natural wealth, more distressingly it has been a loss to our children and our future generation,” he said.

Hyderabad: Conmen rob finance firm of 40 kg gold after posing as CBI officials

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A group of four persons posing as CBI officials struck at a private finance firm branch in neighbouring Sangareddy district of Telangana and made away with huge amount of gold, police said.Around four persons entered the branch at RC Puram area at around 9.30 am and posing as CBI officials they told the staff they are checking money exchange and later threatened them on gun point and robbed gold before fleeing away in a four-wheeler, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Madhapur Zone) Vishwa Prasad said.Preliminary reports said around 40 kg gold was robbed from the finance branch. However, police said they are in the process of collecting more details from the staff.”We are verifying…the exact quantity has to be ascertained,” Cyberabad Joint Commissioner Stephen Raveendra said. Further probe is underway.

Ratan Tata-Cyrus Mistry spat: Here’s the timeline of biggest corporate battle of 2016 in a graphic

The Ratan TataCyrus Mistry boardroom battle was easily the biggest corporate spat of 2016. It started on 24 October, when Tata in a surprise and unexpected move, dismissed Mistry as the chairman of Tata Sons.

Mistry was appointed as the chairman of the Tata group holding company in December 2012.

Ever since the ouster, the Tatas and the Mistrys of the closely held Shapoorji Pallonji group have been sparring in the public. While the Tatas have said Mistry was ousted, as the board of the company lost its confidence in him, Mistry has maintained that the Tatas were afraid of his clean-up drive which resulted in his dismissal. Mistry has also raised various corporate governance issues in the Tata Group since his expulsion.

The Tatas also called up extraordinary general meetings of the shareholders of the listed group companies to oust Mistry from their boards. However, Mistry himself resigned from the boards after TCS and Tata Steel shareholders voted him out.

However, a day after resigning from the boards of six listed Tata firms, he took the legal route by filing a suit in the National Company Law Tribunal against Tata Sons.

In response, Tata Sons on Tuesday slapped a legal notice on Mistry, alleging breach of confidentiality by making public sensitive company documents including minutes of board meetings, financial information and data.

One thing is clear, there is no end in sight to the boardroom battle.

Here’s a time line of the developments in one single graphic:


PTI graphic

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 13:33 IST

Suspicious movement in Valley, forces open fire at 2 places

Wed, 28 Dec 2016-12:20am , Srinagar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Security forces on Tuesday opened fire at two places in south Kashmir after noticing suspicious movement of people, police said.Security force personnel fired several rounds in the air at Jablipora in Bijbehara area of Anantnag district after noticing some suspicious movement of people in an orchard, a police official said. However, no casualty was reported in the incident, he said.In another incident, security forces fired a few rounds after a three-wheeler ignored a signal to stop during checking at a mobile checkpoint in Lassipora of Pulwama district, the official said. He said while the three-wheeler sped away, security forces have cordoned off the area and launched search operations.

Home Ministry cancels FCRA license of 20,000 NGOs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> FCRA licences of around 20,000 of 33,000 NGOs have been cancelled by the government after they were found to be allegedly violating various provisions of the FCRA, thus barring them from receiving foreign funds. This was conveyed to Home Minister Rajnath Singh during a review of the Foreigners Division of the Home Ministry in New Delhi on Tuesday.Giving a detailed presentation, Home Ministry officials said after cancellation of FCRA licences of around 20,000 NGOs, only 13,000 NGOs in the country are legally valid now to receive foreign funds. “The exercise of reviewing the working of the NGOs was started about a year ago and the process is still continuing. The cancellation of the FCRA licences of the NGOs done over a period of one year,” a Home Ministry spokesperson said.Among the 13,000 valid NGOs, around 3,000 have submitted applications for renewal while Home Ministry received 2,000 new applications for registration under the FCRA for the first time. An additional 300 NGOs are currently under prior permission category but not registered under the FCRA. However, FCRA licences of around 16 NGOs were renewed by the Home Ministry under the “automatic” route and all the cases were reviewed thoroughly and except in two cases, 14 NGOs have been put under the prior permission category while papers of the two NGOs are under examination.As per FCRA, if an NGO is put under prior permission category, it is barred to receive foreign funding from abroad without taking permission from the Home Ministry. A Home Ministry official tonight said of the around 33,000 NGOs registered under the FCRA, 27,000 were due for renewal this year. Of these 27,000 NGOs, around 19,000 NGOs have submitted applications for renewal under the FCRA.And of the 19,000 NGOs, FCRA licences of 15,500 NGOs were renewed. Among the total 27,000 NGOs, 8,000 have time till February for renewal of their licences under FCRA. The official said just FCRA licences of just 222 NGOs were cancelled in recent past

Home for reptiles: 70 snakes found from an apartment in Pune

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over 70 snakes mostly deadly Russell’s vipers and cobras illegally kept for extracting venom have been seized from a residential apartment in Pune where a man was living with his wife and children. Ranjit Kharage (37) was arrested along with his alleged accomplice, identified as Dhananjay Belkute (30), for allegedly keeping the snakes in wooden boxes and gunny bags for extracting and selling venom, police said on Tuesday.The seizure was made on Monday from the rented apartment of Kharage, where he was living with his family. “We recovered 41 Russell’s vipers and 31 cobras from one of the rooms in the flat and investigations have revealed that the duo allegedly extracted venom from these reptiles and used to sell or smuggle it,” said a police inspector, attached to Chakan Police station.A case has been registered against the duo under relevant sections of Wildlife Protection Act, he said. According to police, they received a tip off on Sunday that snakes had been kept in a flat in the outskirts of Chakan, following which a team of police raided the place. “When we went there, Kharage was not at home. However, his wife and children were present. We found that the snakes were kept in wooden boxes and gunny bags in the flat and even children knew about it,” said the police officer.Since it was dark, the search team evicted the occupants, locked the house and the next morning all snakes were seized. “Investigations revealed that the duo used to get snakes from jungles and even from snake catchers in the area for venom extraction and smuggling,” he said.Police also found some venom stored in small bottles in the possession of the two. All the seized snakes would be handed over to forest officials, police added.

Mahim subway reopens today for public use, to be guarded by BMC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The shuttered Mahim subway is open for public use from Tuesday, and this time with security guards provided by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).The 4,000 sq feet subway which connects Veer Savarkar Marg with Muhammad Ali Rogey Nakhuda garden at Lady Jamshedji Road junction, is the second subway in the city which has security guards. The subway is unshuttered in the morning by Advance Locality Management (ALM) members, residents of Mahim with of G-North ward officials. There are two security deployed by the civic body who will work shift wise, 12 hours shift each. However, BMC feels that the security guards for the subway will not serve the purpose. Taking consideration the high pedestrian volume on Lady Jamshedji Road, BMC constructed the subway in 2008. It was inaugurated in September, 2008, but was shuttered immediately for security reasons. In redux, it was opened in February 2016, however, was again shut a day later. The residents of Mahim have been demanding security at the subway.“In February when the subway reopened, the next day we saw the railing of staircase were destroyed. Thus, considering the safety of citizens, we decided that security is must for the subway. Accordingly, we met Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta, who then passed orders to provide security guards”, said Anwar Shaikh, chairman of Dargah street ALM.Irfan Machiwala, a social activist in Mahim said, “The BMC has taken loan of Rs 3 crore from World Bank for constructing this subway. If it is not ustilised by the public, what is the use of building it. We demanded for security as the area has many drug addicts which can be safety threat for the pedestrians. As the civic body has provided security, we are happy that the subway will be used by pedestrians now. The Lady Jamshedji Road has traffic issues, thus, this subway will be of great convenience, specially for school children”, he added.However, the Assistant Commissioner of G-North ward, Ramakant Biradar said that it is not BMC’s responsibility to provide security for subways, skywalks etc. If the residents feel insecure, then they have to ask police to provide security. “We have appointed security guards at Mahim subway just because the residents demanded. But, it is hardly of any use. In any criminal incident, the BMC security guard has authority to take any action. It will anyways be onus of the police”, Biradar told DNA.The Mahim subway which was planned almost a decade ago from Veer Savarkar Marg to Lady Jamshedji Road, Saint Micheal School, taking into consideration the traffic issues in the area and heavy pedestrian volume. However, less than the length of the planned subway was constructed in 2008, which was till Muhammad Ali Rogey Nakhuda garden on Lady Jamshedji Road junction. But due to the shoddy planning of BMC, the construction of the remaining stretch was left incomplete.

Shelling-proof bunkers to protect civilians in Jammu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is constructing underground bunkers in the border villages of Jammu as a life saving measure for the civilians to duck the Pakistani shelling.The move comes amid Pakistani forces’ new tactics of shelling in the civilian areas to instill fear among the local population. More than 12 civilians have been killed and over 80 others have been injured in Pakistani firing and shelling on the border villages in the Jammu division since the Indian army carried out surgical strikes on the terror launch pads in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir on September 29. Around 18 soldiers have also been killed by Pakistan army and Rangers along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir since surgical strikes.More than 87 critical villages have been identified along the LoC and the IB in Jammu district where the government has put the construction of the shelling-proof underground bunkers on fast track.”All the 87 critical villages have been given at least one bunker. We need at least five bunkers in one critical village. In the second round two more bunkers will be given to each critical village”, Simrandeep Singh, district development commissioner, Jammu, told DNA.Constructed at the cost of Rs 4.5 crore under two different government projects, the underground bunkers are being built in such a manner that those could withstand the shells and mortars fired by Pakistani forces.”These are shelling proof bunkers constructed inside the villages. They have double RCC slab which is covered with lot of earth. Each bunker can accommodate 20 people. During the recent cross border shelling 80 people had taken shelter in one bunker,” said Singh.Jammu and Kashmir government has set January 20 deadline for the completion of the bunkers in the first phase. “Around 97 bunkers are to be constructed under two projects, of which 80 have been completed so far. Rest of the 17 bunkers will be completed by January 20”, said Singh.Figures reveal that there are 35,000 to 40,000 people living in the villages which are the worst affected by the shelling from Pakistan. “During shelling, some of the villagers flee their homes for safety. However, some stay back to look after their cattle and other property. Those who stay back can use these bunkers. It is a safety measure because their houses may not be shelling proof”, he said.

Punjab: 9 women injured in acid attack after land dispute turns violent

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nine women, including the wife of a sarpanch were injured in an acid attack after a heated altercation over a Panchayat land turned violent, in Bhui village in Kapurthala district, here on Monday.The incident took place when Vinod Kumar, who is Sarpanch of Bhui village went to the land site alongwith his wife Reena and four other women for construction of a community centre. However, another family belonging to the same village had been locked in a conflict over the land and alleged that it belonged to them. When the family stood their ground on not allowing any construction activity on the land, it led to a heated argument between the two groups. The situation turned ugly, when some members of the family allegedly threw acid on the sarpanch’s wife and women accompanying her.All the injured were rushed to the Civil hospital, where they are currently admitted. However, the sarpanch’s wife, Reena had to be referred to a government hospital in Jalandhar with serious injuries.”It was a land dispute between the two groups. The Panchayat wanted to construct a community centre, which the other group opposed and it led to an argument between them. We have registered a case and investigation is on. One of the accused, who is the husband of the woman who allegedly threw acid has been arrested. We will arrest others, after recording statements of all victims, who are currently in hospital,” said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Kapurthala, Rajinder Singh while talking to DNA.SSP Singh said all the victims are undergoing treatment and are out of danger.

Sri Lanka to soon release 20 Indian fishermen

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sri Lankan Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera has said that the detained Indian fishermen will be released soon.In this regard, the Ministry has recommended to the Attorney General department to release 20 Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan custody at present, reports Colombo Page. However, the fishing vessels of the Indian fishermen will be returned upon their release.Amaraweera said that the Indian Government has already submitted a request for the release of the fishermen in Sri Lankan custody. “Once the recommendations reach the Attorney General, he will inform the court that there is no objection,” the Minister added.He added that the Indian Fisheries Minister is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka on January 2 for ministerial level talks on fishermen issue.”So this is essentially a sign of goodwill. Very quickly the fishermen will be released,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir: Identity certificates for Pakistani refugees cause communal rift

The decision of the Jammu and Kashmir state government to issue identity certificates to thousands of refugees from Pakistan (who are settled in Jammu and Kashmir since Partition in 1947) to help them get jobs in Central government departments has divided the state on communal lines.

While the Hurriyat Conference in Kashmir has objected to the move, which is seen by it as a ploy to settle down non-state subjects in Jammu and Kashmir to tilt the vote in favour of India on the event of any referendum on Kashmir, the National Conference has accused the PDP-BJP government of undermining the state subject laws. However, even as the PDP has chosen to stay away from the controversy stating that identity certificates will not confer state subject rights on West Pakistani refugees, BJP has demanded that refugees need to be given the rights to enable them to get jobs in the state.

File image of Mehbooba Mufti and Rajnath Singh. PTI

File image of Mehbooba Mufti and Rajnath Singh. PTI

Both the PDP and NC are trying to protect their respective votebanks in Kashmir, which remains a predominantly Muslim area, while the BJP is seeking to secure the large Hindu vote from the Jammu region. As per government figures, there are around 5,764 families who migrated from the then West Pakistan and are now living mainly in the Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts of Jammu division. The West Pakistan Refugee Action Committee (WPRAC) has said that the number has now soared to 19,960 families comprising of near one lakh people, mostly Hindus and Sikhs. It was during the partition of Punjab in 1947 that Hindus and Sikhs fled Pakistan, and Muslims went from India to Pakistan.

The issue of granting any state subject rights to West Pakistani refugees has, however, not only divided the state on regional and religious lines, but has the potential to spur the ongoing unrest in Kashmir. Although the separatists have provided a relaxation to the shutdown for five days a week, they lodged protests against the government’s decision to issue identity certificates to refugees and a recent decision of the Supreme Court to extend the SARFESI Act to the state. Some legal experts have argued that the extension of the SARFESI Act to the state will enable external banks to take the ownership of the properties of local people in lieu of their due loans, which will violate the state subject laws.

On the move towards conferring state subject rights to West Pakistani refugees, separatists have termed it as against the interests of Kashmiri Muslims. “By settling refugees in Jammu and Kashmir, the historical and political reality of the Jammu and Kashmir will get jeopardised,” the statement said. The NC has toed a somewhat similar line stating that the PDP-BJP coalition “is working against the interest of majority Muslims”.

The National Panthers Party that corners a sizable amount of support in the Jammu region, has however accused the BJP of succumbing to the “pressure of separatist forces of Kashmir”. The Panther Party’s leader Harsh Dev Singh said that the “refugees of West Pakistan who had taken shelter in Jammu and Kashmir have been left in the lurch for the last 70 years or so”. He added, “The refugees are living in plight as they have not been granted PRCs, employment and other benefits.”

However, even as PDP leader and minister for education Naeem Akhtar has clarified that “an orchestrated and misleading campaign has been launched to create an impression that the government is changing the status of West Pakistani Refugees and they are being provided domicile certificates”, BJP leaders said that they are committed to providing the state subject rights to refugees. Senior BJP leader and party MLA from Samba, Devindar Manyal, in whose constituency a large number of West Pakistani Refugees live, said that the party was committed to safeguarding the rights of the people.

File image of Omar Abdullah. PTI

File image of Omar Abdullah. PTI

“We are in favour of granting refugees ownership rights. The BJP government both at the state and the Centre is committed to providing them the rights. We are in favour of giving them permanent resident certificates (PRCs),” said Manyal. Meanwhile, senior BJP leader and minister of state for relief and rehabilitation Ajay Nanda said that West Pakistani Refugees should have been granted state subject rights. “They have been settled in Jammu and Kashmir for a long time, but can’t get government jobs or vote in the Assembly elections, which is discriminatory,” he said.

President of the WPRAC, Labha Ram Gandhi, said that they had earlier brought to the notice of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh the fact that they are not getting state subject rights that deprive them of state government jobs. “An unnecessary controversy has been created over issuing identity certificates to us. These certificates only mention that we have come from Pakistan after 1947 and these have been issued for the past four months. These certificates are necessary for us to get government jobs,” said Gandhi.

However, even as the Ministry of Home Affairs had earlier directed that the voter ID cards that are used by the West Pakistani Refugees to cast the ballot in the parliamentary elections should be used as proof of identity for Central jobs, the state government has stoked a fresh controversy by issuing new identity cards to refugees for getting jobs in Central government departments, especially the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 13:44 IST

Elvis Gomes, AAP candidate for CM’s post in Goa, appears before ACB

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Aam Aadmi Party’s chief ministerial face for forthcoming Goa Assembly polls, Elvis Gomes appeared before state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Monday in connection with an inquiry into a land conversion ‘scam’.Gomes walked into the office of ACB at around 10.30 AM. Several AAP volunteers, displaying placards, stood outside in Altinho locality of Panaji.The 53-year-old AAP candidate, who would be contesting from Cuncolim in South Goa, has been announced as chief ministerial face of the party for the state Assembly polls due in early 2017.The AAP leader refused to talk to media as he walked into the ACB office. However, the party volunteers displayed placards asking people to chose between “non-corrupt Gomes” and BJP Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar.Gomes, who was then managing director of Goa Housing Board, and Nilkant Halarnkar, its chairman at that time, allegedly acquired about 30,000 sq m of land near Margao town, changed its ‘zoning’ (reservation) to residential which would have increased its market value, and later gave it back to the owner in 2011, as per the ACB’s FIR.The board had acquired the land for building residential units and allegedly got its zoning changed from ‘orchard’ to ‘settlement’.However, Gomes has refuted the allegations against him and said that the timing of summoning him for the inquiry is suspicious.

Watch: Sarabjit Singh’s sister Dalbir Kaur joins BJP ahead of Punjab elections

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dalbir Kaur, the sister of Sarabjit Singh, who died in a Pakistan jail in 2013, joined the BJP on Sunday. “She joined the party in the presence of BJP MLA and Punjab Minister Surjit Jyani at a conference organised by the party’s Kisan Morcha here,” Punjab BJP Kisan Morcha general secretary Gurwinder Singh said in Fazilka.When asked by reporters, Kaur confirmed that she had joined the BJP. Kaur had grown close to the BJP even in 2005, during her struggle to get her brother out of jail, and there were reports of her joining the party.Sarabjit died following an attack on him by inmates of a Lahore prison in April 2013. He was convicted for terrorism and spying by a Pakistani court and sentenced to death in 1991. However, the government stayed his execution for an indefinite period in 2008. Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh could not attend the Kisan Morcha’s conference because of inclement weather.

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

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

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

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

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

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

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

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

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

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

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

23-year-old techie from West Bengal hacked to death in Pune

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 23-year-old woman from West Bengal, who was working with an IT firm here, was allegedly hacked to death by an unidentified person on the outskirts of the city, police said on Saturday.Antara Das was attacked with a sharp-edged weapon at around 8 PM yesterday when she was returning home from work near Tathwade area, a senior police official of Dehuroad Police Station said.”Das was rushed to a nearby hospital. However, she was declared dead on arrival,” he said.According to the officer, robbery angle has been ruled out as the valuables the woman was carrying were intact.A case was registered in this regard, police said, adding a probe was underway.

Maharashtra: 8 more handsets seized from Nashik prison, 3 officers suspended

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eight more mobile phones have been recovered from barracks in the Nashik Central jail, days after some prisoners were shifted out following recovery of such gadgets, prison authorities said on Friday.Three jail officers have been suspended today in this connection by Deputy Inspector General (Prisons) Rajendra Dhamane, they said. With this, total 16 phones have been recovered from the prisoners’ barracks inside the jail in two weeks. During a search operation yesterday, eight mobile phones were found hidden at various places, including a washroom. However, the phones did not have the SIM cards, an official from Nashik Central Jail said.The jail authorities suspect that the prisoners used to talk on the phones. During the search carried out by senior jail officer Pramod Wagh and other staff, three mobile handsets were found hidden inside a wall while the other phones were recovered from a toilet and lofts in the barracks, officials said.Based on a complaint by a jail officer, the Nashik Road police late last night registered offences under relevant sections.Earlier, as many as 11 prisoners serving life sentence in the Nashik Central Jail were shifted to prisons in Pune and Navi Mumbai after mobile phones were found in some of their barracks.Following suspicion, a through search was carried out last week during which eight mobile phones were found in different barracks of the jail, an official had earlier said.

After Pak General, Chinese media suggests India to join CPEC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China will strongly oppose any attempt to label Pakistan as “supporting terrorism”, Chinese official media said on Friday and suggested India to accept the “olive branch” extended by a top Pakistani military General to participate in the $46 billion economic corridor. “Surprise aside (over General’s call), New Delhi should consider accepting the olive branch Pakistan has extended in a bid to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” said an article in the state-run Global Times.The comments came after Lt Gen Riaz, Commander of the Pakistan’s Southern Command which is based in Quetta, this week reportedly said India should “shun enmity” with Pakistan and “join the $46-billion CPEC along with Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries and enjoy its benefits”.”Such an opportunity could be transient. There is a possibility that the open attitude toward India joining the CPEC will quickly be overwhelmed by opposition voices from Pakistan if New Delhi does not respond in a timely manner to the General’s overture,” the article said. “The best way to reduce hostilities is by establishing economic cooperation based on mutual benefits to put aside what cannot be reached by a consensus,” it said.
ALSO READ India should ‘shun enmity’ and join CPEC: Top Pakistan GeneralIt said that India could boost its exports and slash its trade deficit with China via new trade routes that would be opened up by the CPEC. In addition, the northern part of India bordering Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir will gain more economic growth momentum if India joins the project, it said.Another article in the same daily said “Riaz’s invitation, which came as a surprise to New Delhi, is mainly intended as a gesture. While he hinted at India’s intervention in the CPEC, he welcomed India’s participation in the project, demonstrating Pakistan does not want to exclude India.” At the same time, it said, “if any country wants to label Pakistan as ‘supporting terrorism’ and discredit the country, then China and other countries who uphold justice will oppose such behaviour strongly”.The article said that since President Xi Jinping visited Pakistan in April, 2015, the CPEC has advanced considerably. “However, some international forces, and India in particular, are accustomed to look at the CPEC and the One Belt and One Road initiative from a geopolitical perspective.On one side, this is relevant to the geopolitical competition mindset they insist on, on the other, this is because of their excessive speculation on the strategic implications of the CPEC and the Belt and Road,” it said. “To ensure the smooth advancement of the CPEC, it is necessary for Pakistan to have a stable and peaceful domestic and periphery environment and a favourable profile,” it said.On anti-terrorism, the Afghanistan peace process, and the peace and stability of Kashmir, Pakistan is making efforts to show international society its wish to pursue peace, it said. “The CPEC is not only a bilateral cooperation, but also a multilateral project in the long-run, which aims at regional economic integration. So it’s open and inclusive, and China and Pakistan hope India, Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asian countries can participate and become stakeholders,” it added.

Damage to India’s economic growth will be bigger than RBI’s estimates: Report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Damage to India’s economic growth is likely to be bigger than the RBI’s estimates, as there could be a sharper slowdown in the near-term as cash shortage is likely to extend into the first quarter of next year, says a Nomura report.”We concur with the RBI’s view that the impact of demonetization is likely to be transitory. However, with the cash shortage spilling over into Q1 2017, our leading indicators are pointing to a sharper slowdown in near-term growth,” the Japanese financial services major said in a research note.Nomura further said, “As such, we expect the growth damage to be larger than the RBI’s estimates”.The report also said November’s CPI readings suggest that demonetization contributed 25-30 bps to the fall in headline CPI inflation via lower perishable item prices, slightly more than the RBI’s estimate of 10-15 bps, and most core inflation measures eased by 20 bps in November.”In this backdrop, and barring any major global disruption, we believe growth and inflation readings will be supportive of policy easing,” it said.Nomura expects the RBI to cut the repo rate by 25 bps to 6 per cent in February and stay on hold thereafter, once the transitory effects start to fade.On December 7, RBI kept interest rates unchanged despite calls for lowering it while it slashed the economic growth projection by half a per cent to 7.1 in the first policy review post demonetization.The next monetary policy meet is on February 8.

Demonetisation: Agri output may remain high, but subdued farm income to hit rural consumption

The impact of demonetisation on agriculture is an indirect one. There are two cropping seasons in India. The monsoon crop, which is kharif, was in the midst of harvesting while the winter crop, or rabi, was in the first stages of sowing when the announcement was made. A good monsoon ensured that the kharif crop across all commodities was good, while the moisture retention meant that the rabi crop would follow suit. The demonetisation exercise began on 8 November, which was at the confluence of these two phenomena and had implications for both the activities.

The kharif crop requires labour for harvesting and has to be supported by the logistics structures in the form of transportation and storage to the final selling point which is the mandi. As every link in this chain is almost entirely settled in cash, the absence of currency in the system has affected the overall post-harvest activity. Hence, while the harvest has been very good which will get reflected in the production numbers, the products have often been sold at a very low price thus affecting the incomes of farmers which in turn impacts spending power. The RBI did react to the situation once the impact was assessed and gave priority to the supply of cash to the rural areas with the limits being enhanced for these purposes. The problem was hence addressed to an extent.



The rabi crop has gotten impacted to begin with due to the non-availability of currency to buy seeds and fertilizers. While the use of kisan cards is fairly satisfactory, a substantial part is still dealt with cash as the kharif income is used for purchase of seed for the second season. Second, the logistics support in rural India has come to a standstill as while the RBI intervention has led to an easier flow of cash to the farmers, the same has not happened for the support services. Transport operators in particular were affected. Third, employing labour for sowing has also been a challenge for crops like wheat, chana and mustard, which are the main rabi crops. This has raised some concern on the future prospects of the crop.

The area under cultivation under rabi crops is higher at 519 lakh hectares compared with 490 lakh hectares at the same point last year. For all the three main crops, wheat, oilseeds and pulses, area under cultivation this year so far till 16 December has been higher and would not under normal circumstances provoke concern. However the non-availability of currency for these transactions has raised some apprehension even though the final sowing numbers would be better than last year.

In particular wheat prospects have been monitored quite closely as it is expected that with the absence of rains in winter the progress of the crop will be affected. This in turn can affect the final output, which is a problem considering that private estimates have put the output for 2015-16 to be lower than 2014-15 thus leading to decline in stocks. The official numbers put 2015-16 output higher by 7 million tonnes though procurement was 5 million tonnes lower, which is unusual. This is one reason as to why the government has withdrawn the duty on import of wheat so that overall stocks are augmented.

The farm sector was to witness a turnaround this year on account of a good monsoon with growth of around 5 percent expected after two years of drought. The story had been progressing according to plan but the distortion caused by demonetisation, which meant the drying up of cash in the rural economy, has cast a cloud over this optimal situation. While overall growth will definitely continue to be high at probably between 4-5 percent which is only marginally lower than expectation, the lower value of the crop due to lower prices for kharif output in case of pulses and horticulture would impact the income of farmers.

It may also be pointed out that it was expected that the rural spending contribution to growth would be significant after two years of negative growth. Now, the cash crunch has compounded the problem as it has resulted in lower realisations for farmers as they have received lower prices on account of distress sale at the mandis. The implication is that there will be a hiatus between rural and urban spending and the lag can be one or two quarters.

The demonetisation scheme has affected agriculture and linked activities not just in terms of affecting output at the margin, but also lowering potential income as this sector is almost fully cash driven. Until such time that the situation normalises, which will take between 3-6 months before cash is freely available, the farmers would be under stress. This will show not just in consumption demand for industrial goods but also linked activity like transport, packing, labour used in planting and harvesting. There would hence be a multiplier effect on income and consumption.

The writer is chief economist, CARE Ratings. Views are personal.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 10:55 IST

Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi meets Manohar Parrikar, officials term it ‘courtesy call’

New Delhi: Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, who was superseded along with another senior officer in selection of the new army chief, met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday, amid speculation that he may seek premature retirement or will be given a new role by the government.

Defence Ministry officials termed the meeting as a “courtesy call”.

They said the meeting was sought by Lt Gen Bakshi, contrary to initial claims by army sources that Parrikar had sought the meeting. Lt Gen Bakshi also met with Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag after meeting Parrikar.

Lt General Praveen Bakshi. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Lt General Praveen Bakshi. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Dalbir Singh is set to visit the Eastern Command in Kolkata shortly as part of his farewell tour. The army chief will hang his boots on 31 December.

A section of military experts feel that Lt Gen Bakshi may seek premature retirement. However, the process may take a month or two, sources said, adding that during this period he may go on leave.

Lt Gen Bakshi was initially the front runner for the post of the army chief. However, keeping aside the trend of seniority being the lone criteria, the government appointed Vice Chief of Army Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, a batch junior to Lt Gen Bakshi, as the new chief.

Lt Gen Rawat, an infantry soldier, was found best suited among three officers to deal with challenges like cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and the situation with Pakistan, both areas which the government felt will be under focus for the next two-three years.

Another section of military experts claimed that Lt Bakshi may become the new Chief of Defence Staff, a post that has been hanging fire for the last many years.

While the creation of such a post is in “active consideration” of the government, it is unlikely that it will happen soon, they claimed.

The Centre had on 17 December appointed Lt Gen Rawat as the new army chief superseding his two senior officers — Lt Gen Bakshi and Southern Command Chief Lt Gen PM Hariz.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 20:11 IST

IIT-Kharagpur students gherao director, registrar & dean over sudden hostel fee hike

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Students of IIT Kharagpur gheraoed the director, registrar and dean of the institution overnight over the sudden hostel fees hike. The gherao is still on.The students have been protesting for over 24 hours at India’s elite institution after they were informed of a 20% hike in hostel fees even before the GST comes into place.The students said that they were going to gherao the authorities till the fee hike decision was withdrawn.”At the time of the admission, we were not informed of any hostel fees hike. This sudden hike comes in the middle of the semester. The PhD scholars receive a small sum as stipend. From the stipend, the scholar has to send some amount at home and rest is given as hostel fees and food expenses. Without any increase in the stipend, it is difficult for the scholar to manage the hostel fees hike,” said a student.The authorities have refused to speak to the media. However, sources in IIT Kharagpur reveal that no other IIT in the country has hiked its hostel fee.

PM attributes Chandigarh civic poll win to ‘good governance’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday attributed the victory of Akali Dal-BJP combine in Chandigarh municipal polls to “good governance” and thanked people and workers of the two parties for it.”Thank you to the people of Chandigarh for supporting @BJP4India & @Akali_Dal_. This shows the importance people attach to good governance,” he tweeted. “Congratulations to BJP & Akali Dal Karyakartas for working with remarkable determination on the ground and serving people. @BJP4Chandigarh,” Modi said. Akali Dal and BJP got a shot in the arm ahead of Punjab assembly polls as the alliance defeated Congress in the Chandigarh municipal corporation elections in which demonetisation had emerged as a key issue.BJP won in 20 wards out of 26, its ally SAD bagged one, four wards fell in the kitty of Congress and one ward was won by an Independent in the elections held on Sunday, an election office spokesman said.Congress had majority in the Municipal Corporation after the previous three elections. However, in the mayoral election in January this year, the BJP candidate had won. Today’s result is the biggest ever victory for any single political party in the body since its inception in 1996.

When I was treated with suspicion for depositing my mother’s rainy day savings: An open letter to Arun Jaitley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dear Mr Jaitley,When PM Modi asked citizens of the country to give him 50 days, we supported him because he claimed that we would get a better future. We were led to believe that there was a proper plan in place, and we’d be able to deposit our old notes without too much of a hassle. Time and again, we were assured that we had till December 30. Of course, given the number of rule changes till this point, it was optimism to the file of foolishness. On Monday morning, RBI announced that an amount exceeding Rs 5,000 can be deposited in the bank accounts only once till the December 30, quite contradictory to your earlier announcement. Later the same evening, you clarified that “No questions will be asked if any amount of junked currency is deposited in one go,” and we believed in you again.
ALSO READ Inquisition for Rs 5000: Why Modi govt is making it very hard to support demonetizationHowever, reality was a little different as I realised when I went to deposit my mother’s savings. Like any other Indian woman she liked to keep some money aside for a rainy day and hoped to deposit the money once the queues had thinned. Upon hearing the Dec 19 announcement, she freaked out and asked me to deposit the money as soon as possible. As much as I hated waiting in queue to deposit some cash whose existence my mom didn’t remember for ages now, I was mentally prepared to come across at least 40-50 other hassled people who would have come to deposit their ‘old currency’.
ALSO READ Govt will come with structured response: RS Prasad goes into damage control over Rs 5000 deposit announcementHowever, to my surprise there wasn’t a long queue, with only 5-7 people waiting to deposit and withdraw cash. I thought that the process would be fairly simple when the security guard handed me a form to fill and directed me towards the queue. In the form, I just had to fill basic information such as my account details and the value of currency (I didn’t even need to fill my PAN card details because the amount was less than Rs 50,000). I thanked my stars that I won’t have to wait in the queue till the end of the year.
ALSO READ New Rs 5000 deposit rule an influential step to curtail misuse: MoS Finance Gangwar I had assumed I would be done in 10-15 minutes. However, that wasn’t the case. Mr Jaitley, I am sure you’re trying your best to help all the individuals out there, but I must say that the ground reality is slightly different.Firstly, the person at the deposit counter was already hassled because he hadn’t found time to have lunch till 4.30 PM, and then he had to deal with a person who didn’t have stamp on his cheque and me and the person behind me who had old currency of the value more than Rs 5000.He asked me if I had made a deposit yesterday, I denied and stated that this is my first deposit in all the days. I further went on to explain that you had assured that we can deposit more than Rs 5000 without being questioned, he told me I could deposit a ‘huge amount such as Rs 6,500’ only if I submitted an acknowledgment and presented an original identity proof.I was then asked to meet one of his seniors, who asked me to fill another form wherein I had to give my account details, details and a copy of identity proof along with an address proof and the reason for depositing the amount late. The senior checked all the original identity proofs and signed the acknowledgment, and called his colleague to do the same, who choose to sign it ‘later’.To add to it, the colleague mocked me for finding Rs 6,500 in a purse. He even thought I was the most innovative of the lot he had met ever since morning.Unfortunately, by the time I was done, the deposit counter was shut but since I was in queue earlier, they were kind enough to let me deposit the money. What was truly galling during the entire process was the fact that I was made to feel like a petty criminal.Why do I need to explain where the money came from? Rs 6500 isn’t a huge amount,. Both the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister of the country had assured me that I had all the time in the world to deposit my money. Does the FM and PM’s words have no value at all?But I guess I should soldier on, because all this is for the betterment of the country? Isn’t feeling frustrated for 45 minutes, being late for office, being treated like a petty criminal to deposit a small amount of my mother’s savings all justified for the greater good of nation? Of course, we are willing to soldier on because we believe, but it’d nice if we weren’t treated like criminals. Thank you,Another citizen waiting for ‘acche din’

Mumbai: Fire breaks out in Air India building in Nariman Point, no casualties reported

A fire broke out early morning on Tuesday at the Air India building in Nariman Point, according to reports.

When Firstpost contacted the Mumbai Fire Department, an official said that it received a call from the Air India building early on Tuesday morning. “We received a call at around 6.41 am that a fire had broken out on the 20th floor of the building,” he said.

The fire brigade has sent 10 fire tenders to the spot to douse the fire. “Rescue work is in progress,” he said.

Although, no known casualties have been reported so far, ambulances have also been sent to the spot. Given that it is a commercial building filled with offices, it is likely that there were very few people in the building at that hour.

The cause of the fire is not known yet, and investigations are own.

According to ABPLIVE, the 23-storey building used to serve as the corporate headquarters for Air India till 2013. The company had moved out of the building as part of an asset-monetisation drive. However, it retains the 21st, 22nd and 23rd floors in the building. Each floor has at least 10,800 square feet of space on each floor, it said.

Further details are awaited.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 08:21 IST

Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi reaches out to minorities urging them to go cashless

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The inaugural ‘cashless chaupal’, an initiave of the Centre aimed at helping minorities connect with cashless economic system post demonetization, was organised in Moradabad on Monday with Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi pitching for Muslims to join the campaign against “cancer of corruption”.During the chaupal, held in the district’s Dalpatpur tehsil, the Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) informed the attendees about benefits of digital transactions, propagating it as an “effective mission” to establish transparent economic system to fight black money.Bank officials helped people present at the event in downloading various mobile applications related to digital payment, net and mobile banking and also made presentation on digital payment system, a statement said. “Digital transaction campaign is aimed at establishing an economic system which is based on less cash and maximum digital payment.”Na nakad na udhar, karen digital len den aur karobar (neither in cash nor on credit, let’s do digital transactions and business),” he raised the slogan while lauding the system, according to the statement.”The Muslim and other sections should join this campaign and help eradicate the cancer of corruption,” Naqvi said, adding the weaker sections of the society will benefit from the government’s decision.Stating that electronic voting system could attain 100% success in world’s largest democracy, Naqvi exuded confidence that digital transaction, online and mobile banking too will be successful. He claimed that cashless system will help farmers and small traders as he averred that e-payment and mobile banking can be helpful in places where banking system is not available.Citing example of direct benefit transfer (DBT) system used by the Minority Affairs Ministry to dispense scholarships to students from minority communities, Naqvi emphasised that digital system can help remove middlemen and ensure benefits reach the deserving individuals. He said the Minority Affairs Ministry has so far disbursed scholarships worth Rs 6,715 crore to 3 crore students into their bank accounts through DBT. The Union Minister said digital transactions will strengthen taxation system as more people will become part of it.Stating that several countries such as Sweden, France, Canada, Britain and Australia have become cashless economy, Naqvi said such a system can be implemented in India “easily”.In India, there are about 103 crore mobile phone users, 50 crore internet users, 144 crore bank accounts (figures include multiple accounts held by one person) and 25 crore Jan Dhan accounts. Besides, there are over 14 lakh Point of Sale (PoS) machines and 73 crore credit/debit cards in use, he claimed. However, the statement quoting the Union Minister, did not mention source of the statistics.The second edition of the chaupal will be held in Delhi on December 21.

Demonetization: Number of depositors, deposits reduce by 80-85% across Maharashtra, Goa

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cash crunch continued to hit the people in Mumbai over 40 days after the demonetization move, even as the queues for depositing the old scrapped notes at the banks eased. However, the people are irked as ATMs at many places continue to run out of cash. “There is a short queue for withdrawal and almost no queue for the deposits. You can see it here,” said a senior executive of a leading private bank in Fort area.A senior officer at Department of Post, Maharashtra and Goa Circle, said, “The numbers of depositors as well the amount of deposits across the five regions in the circle have reduced by over 80 to 85% and so is the case with opening new accounts.” However, some people in the city complained that the note ban has increased their difficulties.Sheetala Prasad, a grocery owner from suburban Kandivili, said, “These days have been the worst days for my business. We are facing a lot of problems for want of cash.” He expressed unhappiness over the Rs 50,000 withdrawal limits for current account and Rs 24,000 for savings account.Expressing his anguish over the ATMs running out of cash, Ramesh Tripathi, a trainer at a gym in South Mumbai, said, “The ATMs have virtually become defunct. The ‘ATM Closed’ boards are now a permanent feature.” “But, we are able to withdraw money from banks. I got Rs 10,000 from a bank in Worli today in less than 5 minutes,” he added.A real state broker from suburban Mulund, on condition of anonymity, said, “The deals in real estate sector have dropped drastically. Even the deals which were made before the demonetisation move, have got cancelled now.” He also said that the note ban is expected to cause a dip in real estate prices in the coming months.

Leopard trapped in wire fence at LoC rescued

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A six-year old leopard was trapped in a multi-layer razor wire fence on Line of Control (LoC), while trying to cross over. The Army sprung in to action and sent an SOS to the wild life authorities to save the animal in distress.The male leopard had injured his leg when it tried to cross the LoC fence in the Poonch sector a few days ago. The fence is an effective anti-infiltration obstacle system established by the Army to prevent the ingress of militants into Indian side from the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). It was not immediately known whether the leopard was trying to infiltrate or exfilitrate into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir”We got a call from the Army that leopard has been trapped in the fence. We immediately rushed a rescue team to the area. They found leopard trapped in the fence. Its leg had got stuck in between the wires and the animal was trying hard to pull it out. In that process the animal suffered injuries,” Nain Chand Sharma, Wild Life Warden, Rajouri-Poonch range, told DNA.Wild life rescuers pulled out the animal from the fence in a meticulously planned operation. A veterinarian was immediately summoned who administered first aid to the animal before it was shifted to the Jammu zoo for specialised treatment.”Our veterinary doctor at zoo examined the animal and administered injection. After check up, he declared animal fit for releasing in the wild. We later took animal back and released it in its natural habitat near Mughal Road,” said Sharma.What added an interesting feature to the whole saga was that the concern shown by the Army troops who dutifully informed the wild life authorities to rescue the animal in distress.”They did not fire at the animal. Had they fired the animal would have died. In the morning troops when troops saw the animal trapped in the fence they immediately called us up,” said Sharma.Wildlife authorities said the population of leopards have increased manifold in the upper reaches of Poonch where the LoC is located. However the authorities have not been able to conduct any census since the area is highly sensitive.”It happens in this area quite often that wild animals like leopards try to cross the fence. It is not an untold story. It is a forested area. There is no fence at the zero line. At some places fence is half a kilometer ahead of the zero line in our area,” said Mohommad Harun Malik, deputy commissioner of Poonch.

Madhya Pradesh: Rs 1 crore deposited in labourer’s a/c; bank says it’s ‘mistake’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A whopping Rs 1,00,10,000 (one crore ten thousand) were deposited in a dormant account of a labourer at Khidiya branch of Bank of India in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh after demonetization. Bank officials said it was a “clerical mistake”.Asaram Vishwakarma, the labourer, learnt about the fortune sitting in his account with the Bank of India branch when he received an Income Tax notice dated November 30, seeking explanation.Vishwakarma at first did not understand the notice as it was in English. A school teacher translated it for him.The notice, signed by Ashok Kumar Mangnani, Assistant Director of Income Tax, Bhopal, reads, “IT department is in possession of information that you have entered into financial transactions of Rs 1,00,10,000 between November 9, 2016 and November 17 without quoting your Permanent Account Number (PAN).”However, BOI branch manager Vinod Jalodia today said, “Vishwakarma had deposited Rs 10,000, but by mistake a clerk made a wrong entry of Rs 1,00,10,000 in his account.”He deposited 20 notes of Rs 500 denomination but by mistake the entry showed that he deposited 20,000 currency notes of Rs 500,” the manager said.”We have informed the IT officials about the error after Vishwakarma came to us,” he added.IT officials could not be contacted for more information.Sources said the IT office in Bhopal has issued notices to around 1,000 account-holders in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh seeking explanation about suspicious transactions in their accounts post demonetization.

Pakistani troops violate ceasefire, target army posts, civilian areas in Poonch

Poonch (J&K): After a lull of over three weeks, the ceasefire on the LoC was violated again with Pakistani army on Friday, resorting to heavy cross-border firing at Indian posts and civilians areas in Balakote sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district.

“Pakistani army violated ceasefire, targeting Indian positions along the Line of Control in Balakote sector. The firing started at 0900 hours continued till 1000 hours. Our soldiers gave a befitting reply,” an army official said.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The ceasefire breach comes after a lull of over three weeks. Two BSF jawans were injured in shelling by Pakistani troops along the LoC on 23 November, a day after three Indian soldiers were killed and the body of one of them was mutilated in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.

A senior police officer said shells fired by the Pakistani troops landed in civilian areas in the sector. However, there was no report of loss of life or injury to anyone.

The Pakistani army said one civilian was killed and four school children were injured on their side in the exchange of fire.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 15:41 IST

Chhattisgarh: Naxal killed in gun-battle with security forces

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Naxal was gunned down in an encounter with security forces on Friday in the insurgency-hit Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh, police said. The skirmish took place in the morning in the forest of Metapal village under Gangaloor police station when a joint team of security forces was out on a counter-insurgency operation, Bijapur Superintendent of Police K L Dhruv told PTI.”A composite squad of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and District Reserve Group (DRG) had launched the operation in the interiors of Gangaloor, around 450 kms away from the state capital,” he said.When the party was advancing through Metapal forest, they came under heavy fire from Maoists that led to a gun-battle between both the sides, the SP said. However, the ultras soon fled from the spot.During the search conducted later, body of a rebel and a 12-bore gun were recovered from the spot, the SP said adding that the identity of the deceased Maoist was being ascertained. On Thursday, two coammnder-rank ultras, one of them carrying a reward of Rs 8 lakh on his head, were killed in a gun-battle with security forces in Bijapur.

Wrong to nominate ‘Chinnamma’ as AIADMK gen secy, she tried to kill Jayalalithaa: Sasikala Pushpa

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expelled Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) parliamentarian Sasikala Pushpa has said it would be wrong to nominate Sasikala Natarajan as the general secretary since she was expelled by late chief minister J Jayalalithaa for conspiring against her.”It would too wrong to nominate Sasikala Natarjan as the general secretary of the party. Because nowhere madam (Jayalalithaa) has mentioned her name. She has not even given her a councillor or an MLA seat. It shows that political life is not fit for her. She was earlier expelled by Amma for conspiring against her and trying to kill her,” Pushpa told ANI.By citing a by-law of the AIADMK, Pushpa said, “There is a rule in Class-30 sub clause-5 that a person being a primary member for five consecutive years can contest the elections. However, if this is implied, then, Sasikala is not fit to be the general secretary.”Pushpa demanded a judicial inquiry into the death of Jayalalithaa “since the time she was admitted into the hospital, there was no transparency about the status of her health.””What happened to Jayalalithaa is something everybody is questioning. Even the cadres feel the same,” she added.Sasikala said she has filed a case in the Madras High Court stating that the election of general secretary of the AAIDMK be done in a democratic manner.The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on Thursday said Sasikala Natarajan, the confidante of Jayalalithaa, will be the party’s next general secretary. “It is clear that Chinnamma (Sasikala) will be the next general secretary of the party,” said AIADMK spokesperson C Ponnaiyan.

Watch: RBI governor Urjit Patel heckled by Congress workers at Kolkata airport

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After being shown black flags by Trinamool Congress supporters, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor, Urjit Patel was allegedly heckled by Congress supporters at the Kolkata International Airport. Surrounded by an infuriated mob comprising Congress supporters, Patel had to be escorted by CISF personnel inside the airport. The Congress supporters were also seen sporting black flags.Earlier in the day, Patel was shown black flags by Trinamool Congress supporters. Shouting slogans like ‘Go back Urjit’, party supporters put up a protest outside the regional RBI office in Kolkata.He was in the city to conduct the central board meeting following demonetisation, when was shown black flags by Trinamool Congress supporters outside the regional RBI office in the city.Even the Left had put up a demonstration outside the RBI office. Patel met senior officials of RBI for taking a stock of the situation prevailing post-demonetisation in eastern and north-eastern states.On Thursday morning, Patel’s meeting at the RBI regional office was scheduled for 10am. However, he reached the office ahead of the scheduled time and entered through the ‘out’ gate of the office to prevent any interaction with the media.Around 3.30pm Patel met the West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee to discuss issues faced by the banks in the state.

Hand baggage tags not necessary in airports; CISF does away with security feature

Mumbai: It has been announced that hand baggage will not need tags at seven airports — four metro cities, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad — from Thursday as part of trials to scrap security stamping procedure.

The move follows a decision by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which handles the security at airports, to do away with stamping of cabin baggage tags. “We have taken a conscious decision of doing away with the process of stamping handbag tags from Thursday. We have this system of stamping boarding pass and hand baggages (since 1992). This is an unique system only in India,” director general of CISF OP Singh told reporters.

The security stamping indicates that the baggage was thoroughly checked and is safe to be carried into the aircraft cabin.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“Aviation sector is expanding and we are set to become the third largest in aviation by 2020 and may be the largest in 2030. So in order to make it more hassle free and convenient for passengers and without compromising on security, we will have a trial run for a week or ten days, at six metro airports and Ahmedabad,” Singh said.

Besides Ahmedabad, the other airports where the trial will be conducted are Chennai, New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.

Singh, who was in the city for the first time after becoming CISF DG, said, “If the experiment is successful, we will go in for the second phase and do away with the system of stamping boarding pass as well.” “We are protecting vital installations whether it is shipping sector or coal sector or aviation. Only yesterday the government has sanctioned 35,000 more personnel for the agency,” he said, adding, two new battalions have also been sanctioned by the government.

The official said CISF is undertaking various steps to make airport security fool-proof and one such step is installation of full body scanner at Delhi airport. “We have installed a full body scanner at Delhi airport. However, since there can be questions related to privacy we are doing it on a voluntary basis. Over 3,000 people have been subjected to the full body scan as of now,” he said. “You don’t have to go through exhaustive check. It just takes four seconds to scan the body. This is a parameter of international security standards,” the DG added.

“One issue that we have deliberated upon, but haven’t come to conclusion is implementation of one person, one hand baggage rule. I am not committing, but in due course of time we may have to go for that, looking at the volume of traffic that airport handles,” he explained.

Singh said CISF also provides services to eight establishments in private sector and have received over Rs 132 crore in this regard. “Right now, we are giving security to eight private sector undertakings, including Reliance and Infosys. We have got over Rs 132 crore for services provided to them,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 11:14 IST

Senior Karnataka minister HY Meti quits over alleged sex CD scandal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hit by an alleged sex CD scandal, Karnataka Excise Minister HY Meti resigned, saying he has quit to avoid embarrassment to the Siddaramaiah government while denying any wrongdoing on his part.As the controversy snowballed with the Opposition demanding his exit, Meti met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and submitted his resignation.”Excise Minister HY Meti has resigned. I have recommended to Hon’ble Governor to accept the resignation. I have also ordered a probe,” Siddaramaiah tweeted. “I have resigned on my own volition to avoid any embarrassment to the government and the chief minister,” Meti told reporters after he met the Chief Minister. “I have done nothing wrong. I have requested the Chief Minister to hold an inquiry,” said 71-year-old Meti, who has been rubbishing the allegations against him. The minister landed in a row after an RTI activist Rajashekar Mulali claimed that he was in possession of a CD containing Meti’s alleged indecent act with a woman who approached him for a favour. The activist had also claimed that some supporters of Meti had threatened him over the CD, which had not been released till the minister’s exit. However, an audio tape had surfaced in connection with the alleged sex CD, where a man claiming to be a supporter of Meti is heard threatening the RTI activist. “…All the reports that are coming on TV channels are false. I don t know who that RTI activist is, I only saw him on TV today. Also none of my supporters have threatened anyone, the language they are using is not the one spoken in north Karnataka,” Meti had said earlier after the row erupted. Meti had also said he did not know who was behind the CD as “I don t have any enemies..” but added that he did not intend to lodge a police complaint, saying, “let them produce the video and prove the allegations first, after that I will take required action, whether to file a police complaint or whatever needs to be done.”

National Anthem verdict: 20 arrests made in two days after Supreme Court ruling

About 20 people have been arrested after the Supreme Court made it mandatory for all cinemas across the country to play the National Anthem before every movie screening and that all audience members should stand in respect.

Before the latest order, the playing of the National Anthem was only compulsory in the state of Maharashtra, home to the Bollywood film industry, and standing was optional. There were, however, a number of reports of cinemagoers being attacked for failing to stand, even before the court gave its ruling, as for instance in October, a wheelchair-user was assaulted in a Mumbai cinema by fellow members of the audience.

In its 30 November order, the apex court had said that “love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National Anthem as well as to the National flag. That apart, it would instill the feeling within one a sense committed patriotism and nationalism”.

And all 20 arrests after the ruling have taken place in the span of just 48 hours, according to the Financial Express report.

On Monday, 12 people were taken into custody for showing disrespect to the National Anthem during the International Film Festival of Kerala when they refused to stand up while ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was being played, the police have said, adding that cases under IPC section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) had been registered.

“They were formally arrested and later released on bail,” said Sparjan Kumar, police chief of Thiruvananthapuram.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

Kumar said six of the 12 had been assaulted after refusing to stand, but that no charges would be brought against the attackers. However, he said that the cinemagoers had been charged with various related offences, including contempt of court.

“We are yet to receive a complaint over the assault. There is no investigation in (that) incident,” he told AFP by phone.

After this happening, a group of people staged a protest in front of a theatre in Thiruvananthapuram. “The National Anthem is not a digital song. National flag is not an audio visual. Cinema is primarily an entertainment. Cinema hall is a place to sell entertainment,” a placard held by protesters at Tagore Theatre, the main venue of the ongoing festival, said.

“Please don’t degrade my National Anthem,” another placard said, held by protesters who said, “We love Bharat. Nationalism cannot be imposed.”

However BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekhanran said, “A section of people were trying to create an impression that nationalism is obsolete and raising objection against it is progressive…Those who find fault with the Supreme Court directive on National Anthem should fight it legally, rather than showing insult to it in the street.”

Another eight people were arrested on Sunday at a cinema in Chennai after being assaulted by a group of 20 men during the interval for allegedly refusing to stand up. They were reportedly charged under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act and can face up to three years in jail if found guilty.

These arrests comes after the incident at Chennai’s Kasi Theatre in Ashok Nagar, where violence broke out during the interval of a Tamil film and twenty men assaulted three students, including two women for allegedly taking selfies when the Anthem was being played, according to a Firstpost report.

The Supreme Court has not specified a penalty for failure to stand, or indicate who was to take charge of monitoring rule-breaking and assigning punishment. The Supreme Court did, however, modify its order on the National Anthem and exempt physically handicapped persons from standing for the Anthem on 9 December, and also clarified that doors of theatres need not be bolted when the National Anthem is played. It said that those who may be physically disabled were to conduct themselves in a manner commensurate to that of standing up for the Anthem and the ingress and egress of crowds were to be regulated appropriately during the playing of the National Anthem.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 15:01 IST

Demonetization: Delhi BJP to give a laddoo to those standing in long queues

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In what seems to be an attempt to soothe frayed nerves of people who have to stand in long queues to get cash following the demonetization move, the Delhi BJP has decided to give one laddoo per family to ‘thank them for their patience’.As per a report in the Indian Express says that the party wants to express its gratitude to the people for patiently bearing the inconvenience caused by demonetization and for supporting the move.Newly appointed Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said, ““Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched this revolutionary step to tackle black money and people supported the move. Now, it is our turn to thank them and show our appreciation and respect for their patience.”He said that BJP cadres would be urged to distribute laddoos from January 1 to January 10 in their areas. “If people can stand in queues and not complain, can’t we give them a laddoo as a token of our appreciation,” Tiwari said. He said the party will request the workers to buy atleast one laddoo for their neighbour. However, sources within BJP’s core unit also told the daily that the feedback for the demonetization move is not as good as it is being made out to be. The core unit meets every Tuesday to discuss the exercise and has found that the implementation for the move has ‘hurt good intent’.

Kerala: Six people arrested for not standing during national anthem, later released

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During one of the screenings of International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala on Monday evening, six men between the age of age group of 25-30 and a 52-year-old man refused to stand for the national anthem.At the screening of an Egyptian movie at the Kannakakunnu Nishagandhi Auditorium, an open air theatre, the national anthem was played as per Supreme Court’s November 30 order. However, according to the police report these men did not budge even when they were requested to stand by the policemen present at the hall. According to a NDTV report, IFFK organisers and Director of Chalachitra Academy also asked them to stand, but they refused.Thus, a police case was filed against them and they arrested. However, they were later released on bail. In another incident that took place in in Kasi Theatre in Chennai, a youth and two students were beaten up in a theatre for not standing up when the national anthem was being played.
ALSO READ Chennai: Three youths beaten up for not standing during national anthem in theatreAccording to the Supreme Court order of November 30, all movie theatres must play the anthem before screenings and everyone must stand. There was amendment added to it later wherein the theatre management was asked to shut the door, but not bolt it when the anthem is playing.

Demonetization is ‘vasectomy’ of black money hoarders: Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘notebandi’ decision has resulted in ‘nasbandi’ for anti-national elements and hoarders of black money.”To control the menace of terrorism, separatism and Naxalism, the Prime Minister took the demonetisation decision.”However, some people are making fun of it by terming it as ‘nasbandi’ (vasectomy). If we have cut anyone’s ‘nas’, it is that of terrorists, Naxalites and people who hoard black money,” Rajnath said.He said the decision had been taken in the larger interest of the country, and appealed to people to cooperate with the move.”Prime Minister has stated that he needs 50 days and after that the situation would improve,” Rajnath said.The Home Minister also stressed that the nation would always stand united, in the face of any external adversity, leaving behind caste and religion.”There is no dearth of people in India who want to sacrifice their life for the country. No power in the world can think of harming the integrity of the nation,” he said.On the occasion, Singh also remembered the sacrifice of freedom fighters who laid down their lives in service of the country.

National Herald case: Court order on Dec 26 on summoning Cong documents

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Patiala House Court on Friday reserved its order in the National Herald case after BJP leader Subramanian Swamy filed an application, seeking documents and ledger books from the Congress party and the Associated Journals Limited (AJL). The court is likely to pronounce an order on December 26.Swamy in his petition alleged that Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi got hold of Associated Journals through “dishonest means” which pertains to “criminal misappropriation and criminal breach of trust.” However the defence counsel, appearing for Gandhi, said Swami filed a complaint in July 2013 which has no reference regarding the loan borrowed from the Congress.They said neither Swamy made the Congress an accused nor he alleged that no office bearers were authorised to lend the loan.The counsel argued that the details of loan were never mentioned in the returns and the documents Swami asked are not necessary for this case. However, Swamy refuted the claim saying that his case has merit. “They have been saying that I don’t have a case, how can that be when the court has issued summons for them. So they are buying time and delaying, but they will not escape it,” Swamy said.Swamy further alleged that he revealed a correspondence between Sardar Vallabha Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru where the former alleged that Nehru had indulged in corrupt practices by collecting money for National Herald by giving away government contracts to undesirable parties. “The National Herald is being used by the Nehru family to collect funds and aggrandise them. I wanted to know whether Sonia and Rahul Gandhi got hold of Associated journals limited by honest means or dishonest means, My allegations is that they acquired through dishonest means which is criminal misappropriation and criminal breach of trust,” he said.Swamy had filed an application in 2012 accusing Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others associated with Congress of conspiring to cheat in a land deal.In his complaint, Swamy had alleged that the Congress granted an interest-free loan of Rs 90.25 crore to the AJL, owner of the National Herald newspaper, established by Jawaharlal Nehru, which was either not repaid or repaid in case. This is in violation of Section 269T of the Income Tax Act, 1961.In August, the court issued notices to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and five others on Swamy’s application seeking presentation of certain documents from Associated Journals Pvt. Ltd (AJL) and Indian National Congress (INC) in connection with the National Herald case.

Cyclone Vardah: Andaman requests air sorties to evacuate tourists in Havelock island, send supplies

Port Blair: With the deep depression over Southeast Bay of Bengal intensifying into cyclonic storm “Vardah”, the Andaman and Nicobar administration on Thursday requested the Defence Ministry to provide air sorties to expedite the movement of tourists trapped in the islands and ensure essential supplies.

In view of the inconvenience faced by the tourists who are held up in Havelock and Neil Islands mainly due to inclement weather, Andaman and Nicobar Lt Governor Jagdish Mukhi has directed all hotel owners in the two islands to provide accommodation and food to the stranded tourists free of charge for the period of extended stay both as a humanitarian gesture and as part of Corporate Social Responsibility.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

According to ANI, Mukhi said that approximately 1,000 tourists are stranded due to bad weather, out of which 320 are foreign nationals by Friday morning. The agency had reported the number of stranded tourists to be around 1,400 on Wednesday.

Rescue halted in Havelock Island

Meanwhile, as we reported on Thursday, the four ships despatched by the Indian Navy for rescuing the 800 trapped tourists in Havelock Island were waiting outside the harbour, unable to start the operation due to inclement weather.

“The ships will hold position and return only after picking up the tourists,” said a Defence Ministry spokesperson in Kolkata.

On Thursday, Mukhi held a detailed meeting with the administrative officials and other stakeholders including tour operators’ association, hotel owners and directed the Directorate of Shipping Services to make all possible efforts to send boats to Havelock and Neil Islands once the sea conditions improved.

The administration has also asked the tour operators not to take any tourist towards North and Middle Andaman as a precautionary measure, till the weather improved.

The Directorate of Tourism is coordinating with all airline agencies for the smooth and timely return journey of the tourists to their respective hometowns, a release from the Andaman and Nicobar administration said.

High rainfall expected

However, the MET Office has forecast heavy rainfall and wind at a speed of 45-55 kilometres per hour during the next 24 hours. The tourists have been advised to stay in their rooms and stay away from coastal areas until further notice.

The cyclonic weather witnessed in the Islands since Tuesday has resulted in the uprooting of trees, disruption of the power supply and flooding of some of the low-lying areas. However, there is no report of any loss of life, from any parts of the Islands so far.

All the Emergency Operation Centres across the islands are functioning round the clock and are on high alert. The situation is being monitored at the highest levels round the clock.

Cyclone Vardah to hit Andhra Pradesh by 12 December

According to a press release issued by India Meteorological Department on Thursday at 2 pm, Cyclone Vardah “is very likely to move nearly northwards for some more time, then northwestwards and cross Andhra Pradesh coast between Nellore and Kakinada around forenoon or noon of 12 December 2016.” However, there is a possibility of slight weakening of the system before landfall, it said.

The IMD release also advised fishermen not to venture into sea along and off Andhra Pradesh coast from 10 December onwards. Meanwhile, N Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of Andhra Pradesh requested all citizens on Twitter to remain indoors.

The IMD release also warned light to moderate rainfall at many places with isolated heavy falls over coastal Andhra Pradesh from 11 December evening, and warned fishermen not to venture into sea along and off the Andaman Islands and adjoining sea areas during next 24 hrs and Nicobar Islands and adjoining sea areas during next 12 hrs.

With Agency inputs

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 10:50 IST

Bihar topper scam accused Diwakar Prasad found dead under mysterious circumstances

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bihar topper scam accused Diwakar Prasad was found dead on Thursday under mysterious circumstances. Prasad was lying dead on the road in front of his house in Panchwati Nagar which comes under the jurisdiction of Kotwali police station, says a Telegraph report. However, his family alleges that the police, who had come to arrest him, pushed him off the roof of the house. The police have denied the charges saying that he jumped from the roof after realising that the cops coming to arrest him. The Kotwali police have said that they had gone to arrest him over irregularities in floating tender for supply of answer sheets of the Intermediate examination to BSEB. His printing press in Patna City called the Smrit Printing Mill was raided by the Special Investigation Team (SIT). Patna SSP Manu Maharaaj said that a case has been registered at the Bahadurpur police station based on Prasad’s family members’ complaint against a sub-inspector and five other policemen who had gone to arrest the Bihar topper scam accused. CCTV footage from buildings nearby has been obtained.

1400 tourists remain stranded in Andamans, no casualties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the cyclonic weather condition persisting in the Andamans, around 1,400 tourists remained stranded in two islands on Thursday and naval ships deployed for evacuation were unable to enter the habour due to strong winds.There were, however, no reports of any casualty from either Havelock or Neil islands hit by the cyclonic weather since Monday.The rains have stopped since morning but the wind is still blowing hard. “The weather continues to be bad. Navy ships which were deployed for evacuation have not been able to enter the harbour because of strong winds and choppy seas,” a Defence official said.In the morning, two ships from the administration had sailed from Port Blair but could not berth in the jetty of the islands due to strong winds and rough seas, administration officials said.Speaking to the media after a meeting with Lt Governor Jagdish Mukhi, Deputy Commissioner of South Andamans Udit Prakash Rai said, “A decision has been taken that hotels where tourists are stranded will not take any room rent from them, besides giving them food and water for free.” “The administration will make all arrangements to send tourists back home once they are rescued,” he said.
ALSO READ 1,400 tourists stranded in Andamans due to cyclonic weatherFlight operations are normal since morning on Thursday. “Today we are hopeful that the stranded tourists will be brought back to Port Blair. There is no need to panic as everyone is safe,” the administration official said.The official said that there was no report of any loss of life or major damages to property. However, trees in the islands have been uprooted and electric posts twisted. Besides the tourists, 600 of whom are from West Bengal, local population in ten villages of Havelock and Neil islands has been affected due to limited supply of essential commodities.

INS Betwa mishap: Mortal remains of sailor consigned to flames

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The mortal remains of sailor Ashutosh Pande, who lost his life in the INS Betwa mishap in Mumbai, were consigned to flames with full military honours at his hometown here.His body was brought by a Navy plane to Dhana airstrip near here and then was taken to his home in Sadbhavna Nagar in a military vehicle for the last rites. His kin and a large number of people were present for the cremation which took place on the 10th Battalion cremation ground yesterday. However, reportedly no senior official from the district administration attended the cremation.Responding to this, Sagar district in-charge collector Kaushlendra Singh said, “If nobody from the administration reached there, then it was a big mistake and it will be ensured that in future such things won’t happen.” Ashutosh’s younger brother Akhilesh lit the funeral pyre.The Navy has ordered a Board of Inquiry (BoI) into the tipping over of guided missile frigate INS Betwa during undocking at Naval Dockyard in Mumbai that killed two personnel and injured 15 others.The 3850-tonne ship, having a length of 126 metres, tipped over while it was being undocked. The mast of the ship hit the dockyard ground, a Naval official had said.

On 2nd day, Navy yet to carry out evacuation ops at Havelock Island due to bad weather

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Four ships deployed by the Indian Navy for the evacuation of as many as 800 stranded tourists are standing outside the harbour at Havelock Island for the second day in a row due to bad weather.In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, four ships — INS Bitra, Bangaram, Kumbhir and LCU 38 — were deployed to carry out the evacuation operations by the Indian Navy after the Andaman and Nicobar administration sought help from them. But, the rough sea and torrential rains have barred these ships from entering the harbour.Sources in the Indian Navy say that ships can make any further movement only after weather improves. However, the Met office has predicted that the deep depression will further intensify into a cyclonic storm making the evacuation operations even tougher.On the other hand, the union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh requested the stranded tourists to not panic and that the government is making all arrangements for safe evacuation.”The government will launch the rescue operations immediately after the intensity of the cyclone reduces. The teams are ready in Port Blair,” he wrote on Twitter.

‘Jan shakti’ is above ‘Raj shakti’: Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As demonetization overshadowed the Winter Session of Parliament, PM Narendra Modi devoted his third consecutive speech at the BJP’s parliamentary party meeting to the issue. On Wednesday morning, he castigated the Opposition holding it responsible for stalling debate and said it should have instead suggested ways to plug loopholes.Modi asked his party MPs to create awareness about digital transactions, saying this would make it faster for the current situation to come under control.Indicating that the decision was not taken keeping in mind electoral considerations, he said that policy-making was earlier election-oriented. However, he said schemes like giving up subsidy on LPG cylinders and demonetization showed that “Jan shakti (people’s power)” was supporting the government. “Jan shakti should be above Raj shakti (state power),” sources quoted him saying at the meeting.He compared elections, which political parties fought on different agendas but shared common factors like voters list and motivating voters to booths, with demonetization saying parties had not demanded a roll back. According to him, the ideal thing for the Opposition would have been to suggest ways and means for smooth implementation and plugging loopholes. Modi said that instead the Opposition was ‘unfortunately’ neither involved nor discussing the issue either inside or outside Parliament. He said though he was present in Rajya Sabha, the Opposition was not ready for discussion.Later, the BJP parliamentary party issued a resolution saying there was no “end to the competitive disruption” of Opposition parties and accused them, particularly Congress and TMC, of making “unsubstantiated allegations holding up proceedings of the House.”Exuding confidence that there was support for demonetization, Modi reiterated that he had sought 50 days from people and reassured that things will change after that.

No plans for quota to economically weak in general category: Government

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government is not considering any proposal to provide reservation for general category people belonging to economically weaker sections, the Lok Sabha was informed on Wednesday. “At present, there is no proposal under consideration to provide reservation for economically weaker sections among general category people,” Minister of State for Social Justice Krishan Pal Gurjar said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.The minister’s reply assumes significance as earlier his colleague in the same ministry — Ramdas Athawale — had pitched for reservation to the poor belonging to general category.Athawale had said the reservation limit should be raised to 75 per cent from existing around 50 per cent, giving the additional 25 per cent quota to economically weak people of general castes. However, the change should be made without tinkering with the current reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs, the RPI(A) chief had said.At present, according to the Constitution, 15 per cent seats are reserved for SCs, 7.5% for STs and 27% for OBCs in central government-funded higher education institutions, jobs and even in elections.

Universities, protests and dissent: The importance of ‘quiet’ politics must also be considered

Student-led agitations grew by over 148 percent in the five-year period between 2009 and 2014, an analysis from the Ministry of Home Affairs data on police organisations shows. In general, the country witnessed a 55 percent rise in protests in the same period, amounting to an average of 200 protests each day.  The analysis posits a correlation between literacy rates and incidence of protests, with Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra accounting for more than half of the protests. The ‘underdeveloped’ states such as UP and Bihar, on the other hand, account for less than one percent of the protests in the five-year period.

What stands out from these numbers is the rise in student-led protests. The data seems to have captured the rumblings of a phenomenon that exploded post the 2014 general elections, especially with Narendra Modi government’s interventions in the arena of higher education. It is only over the last two years that we have come to realise the full force of this movement, from Hokkolorob protests at Jadavpur University, Occupy UGC movement to the protests in wake of Rohith Vemula’s suicide, and subsequently, the response to the crackdown on JNU students. However, the surge in the number of student-led agitations in the preceding years points to much deeper socio-economic causes, to which adequate attention has not been paid. The unfolding of student politics in India in recent times, especially now in the much more dramatic context of global politics, warrants careful analysis.

In April 2015, when a fledgling student group at IIT-Madras issued a pamphlet announcing a lecture to commemorate the birth anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, little did they know that it will attract national limelight (the institute student body recently banned the distribution of pamphlets in the campus ostensibly due to environmental reasons). Quoting from Annihilation of Caste, it said, “Ambedkar proposed to annihilate caste by destroying Hinduism. He says, ‘You must destroy the Religion of the Shrutis and the Smritis. Nothing else will avail’. ‘Hinduism is a veritable chamber of horrors and it must die for caste to vanish’”. Consequently, an anonymously written letter undersigned by ‘Students, IIT Madras’ reached Smriti Irani-led MHRD. The letter accused the concerned student group Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle (APSC) of “creating hatred among student in the name of caste and trying to polarise the ST, SC students (sic)” and “trying to create hatred against the Honourable Prime Minister and Hindus”. The ministry swung into action and sought comments from the institute in an official letter, which included handwritten notes, as reported by The Telegraph: “Unfortunate. IITs were never used for such purposes. Pl get comments”.

File image of Kanhaiya Kumar. PTI

File image of Kanhaiya Kumar. PTI

Ideologically on the same page as the ruling dispensation, the Dean of Students acted to “de-recognise” the student group. In the days that followed, the IIT-M campus resembled a fortress with protests by students inside as well as different ideological groups outside. The de-recognition of APSC led to the group being catapulted to the centre of a sharply polarised national discourse. Similar groups sprang up at other universities overnight, in solidarity, and much of this battle was waged on social media. It is important to note that this happened at an institution which takes pride in its “apolitical” credentials. Politics of any sort indeed triggers deep anxiety among the IITs which have constantly sought to distance themselves from the political spaces that exist in institutions such as JNU, with the underlying assumption that they somehow exist outside politics.

And yet, it ought to be recognised that one would be hard-pressed to find one singular imagination of student protests or student movements. Even in institutional spaces that are deemed explicitly political and within movements deemed explicitly progressive, new arrangements, alliances, and tensions have taken shape. For instance, the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA) at JNU was born out of the failure of organisations such as SFI and AISA to take up issues around caste. However, even amidst the fragmented landscape of social movements, student groups have found common ground to express their political creativity and unsettle totalising narratives.

What the APSC case does is that it provides an instance of the polarising context that set in leading up to the 2014 general elections and thereafter, and against which we could read the data on student protests. Interestingly, the 2014 Lok Sabha elections witnessed increased voting by young people. The turnout among the ‘first-time voters’ (18-22) and ‘other young voters’ (23-25) was 68 percent, 1.4 percent above the national voter turnout, a Centre for the Study of the Developing Societies (CSDS) analysis shows. The number is significant as the turnout among young voters remained below the national average in the past. It would, however, be naïve to treat the polarised context in itself as a possible cause. The history of social movements in India that drew heavily on student politics — ranging from the anti-Hindi struggle to the anti-Emergency movement — point to the layered socio-economic circumstances that resist easy reductions. It is then pertinent to look at some of the characterisations of student politics in the country in recent times.

An important strand of argument looks at student politics primarily in response to the “neoliberal” reconfiguration of our universities and the economy at large. It is a structural feature of the Indian economy that sectors that contribute the most to productivity in terms of GDP do not provide the proportionate number of jobs. Unemployment, and youth unemployment in particular, has been a persistent feature of the economy with successive governments failing to address the issue. This is in addition to cuts in public sector jobs. There could be as many as 10000 applications for a single government job, as Craig Jeffrey reports, as part of his research, published in The Guardian. With the continued prioritisation of capital intensive industries accompanied by the agrarian crisis, the problem is unlikely to go away, says Delhi based researcher, Thomas Crowley in Jacobin Magazine. Economic instability, the arguments goes, does not only have a bearing on youth aspirations, unemployment and access to education, but it also compels the state to engage in repressive measures to create distractions. These measures include the kind of crackdown on student leaders like Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid. Student politics in this sense comes to be defined as a response to a repressive state.

Additionally, the changed composition of universities following the implementation of affirmative action policies is treated as an opportunity, even though they remain inherently exclusionary as argued by Satish Deshpande and Mary E John in The Hindu. Furthermore, the “neoliberal university” becomes “less a space for critical engagement, debate and inquiry, and more a skills factory for the technocratic workplaces owned by transnational capital.” The administrators act in nexus with state-capital to discipline different forms of activism. The reconfiguration of spaces of learning then generates disillusionment, and such spaces are to be rescued through student activism. As an example, the Occupy UGC movement sought to protest the discontinuance of fellowships for MPhil/PhD — among the reasons for the move are budgetary cuts for higher education and the likely opening up of education to international trade, as pointed out by Ayesha Kidwai.

I would argue that looking at student politics solely in terms of a “neoliberal” development is an easy critique, one that we must stretch. This has implications for how we look at student protests in contested times. First, taking the incidence of protests as the sole indicator of political dynamism risks reducing the nature of our political engagements to some predetermined schema. It also implies that we contest correlations such as that between ‘underdevelopment’ and protests, and go beyond them. Bihar and UP may account for only one percent of the registered protests between 2009-2014, but ethnographic literature has mapped the complex linkages between larger macroeconomic shifts, gendered youth cultures, and students’ political engagement — sometimes good, sometimes bad. The lack of protests doesn’t take away from the political richness of the dynamics in the region which could be as potent as any protests.

Second, while overt crackdown on dissent is a feature of the current political regime, we should also remember that a lot of our institutional spaces are interstitial in nature. It means that spaces for negotiation and engagement do exist albeit in the interstices of power and surveillance. We should, therefore, also consider the importance of ‘quiet’ politics in addition to protests and demonstrations.

Finally, as a conceptual alternative, the notion of ‘precarity’ offers a useful way of looking at student politics, and here I draw on Wanda Vrasti’s essay, Struggling with Precarity: From More and Better Jobs to Less and Lesser Work, The Disorder of Things.  Precarity usually refers to a sense of uncertainty mixed with anxiety. It is usually used to denote some sense of betrayal, either by the state or the society. However, as different scholars have argued, precarity is a consistent feature of life under capitalism. This is a problem as well as an opportunity. In terms of the latter, it is imperative that we re-appropriate ‘precarity’. We then look at precarity not just in terms of loss and betrayal but as a series of contingencies that offer opportunities to build solidarities and seek common ground, however shifty it may be.

The author is a fellow at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), Bengaluru. 

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 13:19 IST

Beating plastic with plastic

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The world’s annual consumption of plastic materials has increased from around 50 lakh tonnes in the 1950s to nearly 10 crore tonnes today. According to the Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated in India every day, out of which 9,000 tonnes is collected and processed, while 6,000 tonnes is not collected. It was this problem faced by ordinary citizens that disturbed Ashwath Hegde, a Mangalore-born but now Qatar-based NRI entrepreneur.In order to beat the plastic woes plaguing the world, Hegde, through his company EnviGreen, developed a biodegradable plastic bag made out of natural starch and vegetable oil derivatives — products that are non-toxic and can consumed by plants and animals. The bags can dissolve in room temperature water in 24 hours and dissolves in 15 seconds if placed in boiling water. The bags also take 180 days to biodegrade, which means people can discard them without worrying about the environment. However, the bags are still not available in India, although they are being distributed in Qatar and Abu Dhabi. The price of the bag is Rs 3. In contrast, a plastic bag is Rs 2, while a cloth bag is anything between Rs 20 and Rs 70.In previous interviews with various media organisations, Hegde has said that he wants to set up enough manufacturing facilities before the bags are distributed to customers and kirana shops. “We have already started supplying to corporate retail chains like Metro and Reliance, which will start using the bags from December this year,” says Hegde.According to The Better India, Ashwath has now set up a factory in Bengaluru that produces 1,000 metric tonnes of bags every month. “We had this unique idea of empowering farmers in rural Karnataka by sourcing all our raw materials from them. We are also planning to distribute seeds to help them produce the amount of materials required to make the bags,” he says.

Through thick and thin: Sasikala stands beside Jayalalithaa as people pay homage

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Clad in a black saree, a sombre-looking Sasikala Natarajan, who remained a wall of support for Jayalalithaa through thick and thin, remained beside the casket of the departed leader as people filed past it paying their homage.Intermittently standing up and touching Jayalalithaa’s face, which was kept in state at Rajaji Hall, Sasikala looked lost even as she acknowledged the condolences of visitors.Jayalalithaa’s demise is seen as a personal loss for the 59-year-old Sasikala who was probably one of the few occupants of the Chief Minister’s Veda Nilayam residence at Poes Garden besides assistants and officials.Ever since Jayalalithaa was hospitalised on September 22, Sasikala remained with her, giving the ailing AIADMK supremo much needed emotional support.The relationship between the two had kicked up many a storm during Jayalalithaa’s three decades of political career with some blaming her proximity to Sasikala for the AIADMK’s electoral defeats on some occasions.Both were accused in the infamous disproportionate assets case and were convicted by a trial court in Bengaluru, though the Karnataka High court later reversed the lower court order.Incidentally, Jayalalithaa had twice fallen out with Sasikala a few years ago for alleged anti-party activities.She and some of her family members had been expelled from the party and asked to vacate Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence. However, the separation between the two was short-lived as they patched up in no time.Sasikala then continued to accompany Jayalalithaa at various functions including the latter’s election campaigns in her special vehicle, earning the sobriquet of ‘Jayalalithaa’s shadow’ by detractors.Sasikala would usually be seen seated in the rear seat of the vehicle, merely watching Jayalaithaa’s electoral addresses, and providing her ‘akka’ (sister) with assistance.She had come in contact with Jayalalithaa in the 80s as a video company owner, getting the leader’s various events covered.Hailing from a humble background from Mannargudi in south Tamil Nadu, ‘Chinnamma’ as Sasikala was known in her circles gradually gained acceptance in the Veda Nilayam residence, and even wielded influence in AIADMK at one point of time.

EC looks to change the way elections are fought

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Looking to play a bigger and more effective role in elections, the Election Commission (EC) is hoping to get green signal from the government on various of its proposals to comprehensively review the election laws that will help it to decriminalise politics and cleanse political funding.Among the key amendments that EC is looking forward to carry out are – bringing down the amount of non declared donations to political parties from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2,000; punishment of two years imprisonment to candidates who furnish wrong or conceal information in election affidavits; and debarring candidates charged with cognisable offences from contesting elections.Sources in election commission said, though they do not accept these changes to come into effect before the crucial state assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and etc. in 2017-18 as after getting government nod these would require Parliament to amend Representation of Peoples’ Act, 1961, they are hopeful of having more powers at their hands when country goes for Lok Sabha polls in 2019.At present, the upper limit of election expenditure per candidate for state assembly constituency is Rs 16 lakh and for a parliamentary constituency is Rs 40 lakh. However, there is no cap on the expenditure of political parties that defeats the whole purpose of expenditure limit.”There are various loopholes in section 77 of the Representation of People’s Act that allow the candidates to go scot-free by using the expenditure made by their political parties. This does not allow the honest candidates, who cannot spend huge amounts, to be on an even keel,”said an official.Moreover, the Rs 20,000 limit to take unaccounted donations is being abused by the political parties, as in most cases the majority of cases barring Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the political parties take most of their donations in denomination lesser than Rs 20,000 to evade scrutiny.Besides, the election commission is also looking at ways for state funding of elections and holding parliamentary elections and state assembly elections together to absolutely do away with the practice of political funding that is considered to be the fountainhead of black money generation.Addressing the all party meet before the start of winter session of Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also broached this subject of state funding of elections to curtail the generation of black money. Unaccounted spending by political parties during elections, be it parliamentary, state assembly and even for municipal corporation or panchayat are considered.However, commission thinks that a major reform like state funding would need a lot of brainstorming to bring about a consensus and massive exercise would be needed to go into the details of it.”It is the best case scenario. But it may take several years to devise ways and solve the economics of state funding and bring all political parties on the one single platform and consensus. Until then we need certain basic reforms that give us more teeth, to bring in at least some semblance of cleanliness in elections,”said an official of the election commission.BRAINSTORMINGElection Commission thinks that a major reform like state funding would need a lot of brainstorming to bring about a consensus and massive exercise would be needed to go into the details of it.”It is the best case scenario. But it may take several years to devise ways and solve the economics of state funding and bring all political parties on the one single platform and consensus. Until then we need certain basic reforms that give us more teeth, to bring in at least some semblance of cleanliness in elections,”said an official of the election commission.

Mumbai: Three drunk men misbehave with Finance Ministry officer in train

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A senior law officer in Union Finance Ministry has lodged a complaint stating that three co-passengers allegedly misbehaved with her when she objected to their consumption of alcohol inside a train, the GRP said on Monday.The alleged incident occurred last night in the Mumbai-bound Amravati Express, as per the copy of the complaint made available on Monday. According to the complainant, the personal assistant of a state minister asked her not to file a complaint against the trio saying they are “our men.”The complainant stated that she noticed the three men drinking alcohol inside the coach and creating nuisance. She alleged that when she tried to stop them, they started abusing her. She said one of the men threatened her saying he is a relative of a minister in the state government. The trio were identified as Arvind Lawande, Yogesh Sriram and Pramod Gaikwad.The woman alleged that she received no help from RPF helpline, following which she pulled chain of the train, after which though the RPF personnel visited her coach, they did not take any action against the men.A non-cognisable offence has been registered against Lawande, Sriram and Gaikwad at Dadar GRP (Government Railway Police) here under sections 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC. However, the designation of the woman officer and exact bogie where the incident occurred is not mentioned in the complaint copy.

2K vacant faculty positions in IITs, 3K in NITs: MoS HRD

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over 2000 faculty positions in the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are lying vacant while over 3000 positions are to be filled up in the National Institutes of Technology (NITs). The vacancies at Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) stands at 212, Minister of State for Human Resource Development ​ Mahendra Nath Pandey said in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha.Out of the sanctioned 5,073 faculty positions in IITs, 2,671 are vacant and 3,183 are vacant out of 5,428 positions in the NITs. The sanctioned strength in IIMs is 703. “There is no adverse effect on studies in the institute due to shortage of faculty, as the same is adequately compensated by the research scholars, contract, adjunct and visiting faculty,” the reply said.As regards to SC/ST category (non-faculty) posts in IITs, over 350 are vacant as against the total capacity of around 1,500. “IITs make efforts to fill all the reserved posts by conducting special recruitment drive through adverstisements. However, due to non-availability of suitable candidates from these categories, some posts remain vacant,” another reply said.

Supreme Court to hear NDTV India appeal against ban today

Mon, 5 Dec 2016-09:56am , New Delhi , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court will on Monday hear the appeal filed by NDTV against the ban imposed on its NDTV India channel for airing security related information linked to the terrorist attack on the Pathankot air force base earlier this year. The apex court had earlier on November 6 deferred the hearing in the case to December 5, citing reason of no urgency for its hearing.NDTV India was asked to go off-air on November 9 after the government accused it of broadcasting sensitive information related to the terror attack on Pathankot air force base in January. However, NDTV refuted the allegations stating that other channels had also reported the same.Journalists and major media organisations condemned the ban and staged protest against it, comparing it with the time of the Emergency when the right of the freedom of press was violated.However, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu supported the ban, saying it is in the interest of country’s security.

Kejriwal takes on Delhi BJP chief over statehood issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> By denying statehood to the national capital, BJP wants the people of Delhi to remain “second class” citizens, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Sunday, referring to a purported statement by Manoj Tiwari, which the latter denied having made.The Delhi BJP chief said Kejriwal, in his “hurry” to lodge his opposition, was latching on to a “false report”. The online exchange started with Kejriwal’s tweet: “This is insulting to the people of Delhi. BJP does not want to give Delhiites the rights to be full citizens, want to keep them as second class citizens in their own country.” Tiwari, who recently replaced Satish Upadhyay as BJP’s Delhi President, tagged Kejriwal in his reply, saying he would send him “the complete video tomorrow”.”At least listen to the complete statement. Why the hurry in opposing? I will send you the complete video tomorrow. You have latched on to a false report again,” Tiwari tweeted. Tiwary later said the party was in favour of statehood for Delhi but stressed that there was a need to determine its limits. “The issue of statehood for Delhi was mentioned in our election manifesto. We support statehood, but one should also keep in mind that Delhi is not just the capital of any state, but the entire nation.”Therefore, the limits of statehood, especially in light of Kejriwal’s protest in Delhi ahead of Republic Day celebrations in 2014, must be determined,” Tiwari said. Since storming to power, the Aam Aadmi Party government has repeatedly clashed with the Centre over the contentious issue of granting statehood to Delhi. The government had also a released a draft bill on statehood in May. However, there has been no progress on that front. PTI SBR