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Maharashtra: Centre extends deadline for rabi crop insurance till Jan 10

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Union Government has extended the timeline for farmers to get enrolled in the rabi crop insurance scheme till January 10, Maharashtra agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar said on Saturday.”The earlier deadline of registration for the crop insurance scheme for rabi season was December 31. It has been extended to January 10 so as to enable more farmers to be benefitted from the initiative,” said Fundkar.The insurance is being offered by National Insurance Company and their officials will be facilitating enrollment of farmers in the scheme, the minister said. Meanwhile, leader of opposition in legislative council, Dhananjay Munde in a statement today claimed that he had written a letter on December 28 to chief minister seeking some relaxation for rabi crop insurance registration.Munde who is unhappy with the 10-days extension, said, “I had demanded extra one month’s time for the farmers but that demand has not been met.”Munde in his letter contended that farmers do not have sufficient amount of money in hand due to demonetisation and hence they should get more time to get their crop insured.

TMC MP Tapas Paul’s bail denied, sent to 3-day CBI custody

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A special court here today rejected the bail plea of Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Paul, arrested for his alleged involvement in Rose Valley Chit Fund scam, and sent him to three-day CBI custody.Paul was produced in the court of Special CJM, CBI, P K Mishra.Against it plea for a five-day remand of Paul, the court allowed CBI to take him into custody for three days. The cine star-turned politician was one of the directors of the tainted chit fund group that allegedly duped investors in Odisha, West Bengal and some other states.Paul is also accused of promoting the company and “misleading” people to deposit money in the firm. He was also charged with giving senior posts to his family members in the company, a senior CBI official said.In its charge sheet submitted in the court on January 7, CBI had accused the ponzi firm of duping investors of Rs 17,000 crore, of which Rs 450 crore is from Odisha alone. The company was active in Odisha and had 28 branches in the state.Paul was brought from Kolkata in the morning and taken to the CBI state headquarters. From there, he was sent to the Capital Hospital for medical examination before being produced in the court.CBI sources said a special investigation team led by DIG N K Singh, CBI Superintendent of Police, Bhubaneswar, Rajeev Ranjan and investigating officer will interrogate Paul.

Mulayam reinstates Akhilesh Yadav: Amar Singh hails decision, says conspiracy to break party ‘failed’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh hailed SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav’s decision to revoke expulsion of his son Akhilesh Yadav and brother Ramgopal as the right thing and said the conspiracy to break the party and the family has “failed”.”Mulayam Singhji has done the right thing. He has given a message through his decision that he will not let either the Samajwadi Party or his family break till he is alive. The conspiracy of the people who wanted the party and the family to break has failed,” he said.Singh also clarified that he does not want to break the party.Congratulating Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and SP General Secretary Ramgopal Yadav, he said, “Those who had this misconception that I will try to break the party, I would like to tell them that I am not here to break the party. instead I want to keep it united.””If somebody is still hurt due to me, I want to tell that I am ready to sacrifice myself to ensure unity in SP pariwar and the workers,” he said.”We have to fight the communal forces and ensure that secular front is victorious in the upcoming elections,” Singh added.Earlier in the day, when Amar Singh was asked about the crisis in the party after supremo Mulayam Singh expelled Akhilesh and Ramgopal for six years after they put up candidates against the official nominees and summoned a party meet on Sunday.Amar had said, “The foundation of this party was laid by Mulayam Singh with much dedication and hard work. I have said this earlier and will say it now, that Mulayam Singh is the chief of SP and the father of Akhilesh Yadav as well,” he said.Mulayam had yesterday said he had taken the action against Akhilesh and Ramgopal to save the party which he had built through hard efforts.”We have to save the party. The party comes first. That is why we are expelling both Akhilesh and Ramgopal,” he had said.He explained that the decision was taken after Ramgopal, in his capacity as general secretary, called an emergency meeting of the party on January 1 and Akhilesh “supported” it.Ramgopal called the meeting after a showcause notice was issued to him and Akhilesh by Mulayam for releasing a list of candidates, parallel to the one issued officially by Mulayam.

Army chief’s appointment: Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi breaks silence, says won’t resign

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eastern Army Commander Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi finally broke silence on his resignation on Saturday. “I won’t resign. Extending all support to Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat,” Lt. Gen. Bakshi said, while addressing the officers of Eastern Command via teleconference.This statement by the Lt. Gen. Bakshi comes in the wake of rumours and speculations doing the rounds that he might resign after being superseded by Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat as the Army Chief.However, the Defence Ministry is yet to consider Lt. Gen. Bakshi’s name for the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) that could happen in the coming year.Lt. Gen. Bakshi is likely to meet Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in January. Sources in the ministry say Lt. Gen. Bakshi could be offered an appointment outside of the military. Lt. Gen. Bakshi was to be leave till January 1. He joined office on Saturday at the Fort William, the army’s Eastern Command Headquarters.

Day after expulsion, Akhilesh Yadav holds meeting, majority of MLAs present

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Setting the stage for a show of strength, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who was expelled from Samajwadi Party by his father and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, on Saturday held a meeting at his residence where a majority of the 229 party MLAs were presentThough the exact number of those present at the meeting was not immediately known, insiders maintained that a majority of the 229 SP MLAs were present. Besides, some SP MLCs and senior party functionaries loyal to Akhilesh attended the meeting. Akhilesh is expected to meet his supporters and party workers later in the day to prove his strength.The chief minister’s 5-Kalidas Marg residence appeared to be the hub of high drama with youth supporters of Akhilesh assembling in large numbers to vent their fury over his expulsion and that of his uncle Ram Gopal Yadav.Political activities heated up right from the morning with a series of meetings planned during the day, when Mulayam will meet party candidates announced by him and state SP chief Shivpal Yadav, the warring uncle of Akhilesh.Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh today termed the crisis in the party as “unfortunate” and asked party members to support Mulayam in the family feud. “I appeal to the party members to stand with Netaji (Mulayam). Whatever is happening is very unfortunate,” Amar, who had recently made a comeback to the party after a long exile, said. Mulayam had yesterday expelled his son Akhilesh and Ram Gopal from SP for six years after they put up candidates against the official nominees and summoned a party meet tomorrow, pushing the ruling party to the precipice of a split just ahead of the UP Assembly elections likely to be announced any day now. Mulayam had said he took the action against Akhilesh and Ram Gopal to save the party which he had built through hard efforts. “We have to save the party. The party comes first. That is why we are expelling both Akhilesh and Ram Gopal ,” he said.He explained that the decision was taken after Ram Gopal , in his capacity as general secretary, called an emergency meeting of the party on January 1 and Akhilesh “supported” it.

Demonetisation: RBI ups ATM withdrawal limit to Rs 4,500/day from 1 Jan

The Reserve Bank on Friday late night increased the withdrawal limit from ATMs to Rs 4,500 per day from the current Rs 2,500 from 1 January. However, there has been no change in the weekly withdrawal limit, which stands at Rs 24,000, including from ATM, for individuals (Rs 50,000 in case of small traders).

“On a review of the position, the daily limit of withdrawal from ATMs has been increased (within the overall weekly limits specified) with effect from January 1, 2017, from the existing Rs 2,500 to Rs 4,500 per day per card,” the central bank said in a notification.

atm-queueatm-queueFollowing demonetisation of old Rs 500/1000 notes from 9 November, limits had been imposed on withdrawal of cash from banks as well as ATMs.

The Reserve Bank’s notification further stated “there is no change in weekly withdrawal limits” and such disbursals “should predominantly be in the denomination of Rs 500”.

Earlier in the day, the RBI had permitted White Label ATM Operators (WLAOs) to source cash from retail outlets.

Most of the White Label ATMs are running dry since demonetisation as the operators were facing difficulties in sourcing cash from their sponsor bank(s).

Friday was the last day to deposit the invalid currency notes in banks. However, people 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.

However, it remains to be seen whether the relaxation in cash limits will be of any help to the customers as, according to media reports, banks do not yet have enough cash to supply to the ATMs.

A report in The Indian Express on Friday said only 40 percent of the 2.2 lakh ATMs in the country have cash to serve the public.

The report quotes Ramaswamy Venkatachalam, managing director, India and South Asia, Fidelity Information Services (FIS), as saying that banks are not meeting the “full cash requirement” to operate ATMs round the clock.

The RBI and the government also seem to be clueless about when the cash situation will return to normalcy, though they insist there is enough notes to dispense.

Even on the 50th day of demonetisation they have not been able to provide the update the details of the new currency issued and also the deposits of old notes received.

The last press release on the cash situation was on 21 December from the RBI. As of 19 December, the banks have issued Rs 5.93 lakh crore to public either over the counter or through ATMs. That is a nearly 40 percent of the cash sucked out of the system on 9 November, when the demonetisation came into effect.

In this backdrop, while the public and the authorities are remain clueless about when the cash situation will improve, the increase in withdrawal limit from ATMs would mean little for the customers.

With PTI

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 09:41 IST

Newsroom diaries 2016: From Kashmir to Syria, a year in terror

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series of newsroom diaries by various members of the Firstpost team. These diaries will provide you with the journalist’s recollections of a particular bit of news coverage in 2016 in which she/he was deeply involved.

In 2001 the world saw the devastating 9/11 attack, with awe and shock. That moment changed everything. We became a more scared group of people. Abandoned bags and clothing choices made us scared. This situation grew worse in 2016, for this year, we got normalised to terror attacks.

It was 2 January and a group of terrorists attacked an airbase in Pathankot, killing 8 people. This set the tone for the rest of the year and it was all downhill from there on.

The year saw some of the most incredulous attacks by Islamic State or IS-inspired terrorists. This included the Brussels airport attack where a coordinated attack by suicide bombers killed 32 people. Then was the Nice attack where a cargo truck was deliberately driven into a group of people on Bastille Day killing 86 and injuring 434. In December, the Syrian conflict had one of the worst repercussion beyond its borders with the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey in Ankara. A 22-year-old Turkish gunman Andrey Karlov shot dead the 62-year-old diplomat in what appeared to be revenge for Russia’s part in the violence in Syria.

Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was assassinated in Ankara at an art exhibit by a lone Turkish gunman shouting “God is great!” and “don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!”. The assassination was photographed and it presented one of the most chilling moments in 2016.

An unnamed gunman shouts after shooting the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, at a photo gallery in Ankara. APAn unnamed gunman shouts after shooting the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, at a photo gallery in Ankara. AP

An unnamed gunman shouts after shooting the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, at a photo gallery in Ankara. AP

The frequency of terror attacks in 2016 was so great that changing the Facebook display pictures became a daily activity for people who sympathised with the victims of these attacks. There were regular fights on social media over the media coverage allotted to a particular attack. The logic was that when a western country was attacked, people noticed, as opposed to when the middle-eastern belt or Asian and African belt was hit. This is probably why 2016 remained etched in people’s memories, for the rise in hits on the European civilisation.

United States suffered the worst attack since 9/11

People take part in a protest against police brutality and in support of Black Lives Matter during a march in New York. ReutersPeople take part in a protest against police brutality and in support of Black Lives Matter during a march in New York. Reuters

People take part in a protest against police brutality and in support of Black Lives Matter during a march in New York. Reuters

This year, the United States suffered under attacks of gun-violence, fundamentalism and racial tension. The ‘Orlando terror attack’ where a 29-year-old Islamic State-inspired radical entered a gay nightclub and killed 49 people, was perhaps the biggest attack on the LGBTQ community. A hate-crime like this one spoke volumes about the rise of intolerance in a Trumpian era. The Orlando attack was the second major terror attack on the US soil since 9/11 and this reign of terror was further fuelled when the major movement for equality — Black Lives Matter — turned violent after the death of police officers during the protest rallies in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

Tentions escalate between India and Pakistan

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

In 2016, there was palpable tension between India and Pakistan and one of the possible reasons was how the year started for the two nations. In January, the Pathankot attack happened and it was the beginning of the signs of mistrust between the two nations. On 8 November, when news about PM Modi’s address to the nation came in, we all thought he was going to announce something in relation to taking strong action against Pakistan.

This notion was not unfounded. For 20 minutes between the announcement of address and the actual address, theories about war were floating on the desk. This was because a month ago, on 29 September, a military confrontation between India and Pakistan began. India claimed that it had conducted “surgical strikes” against militant launch pads across the Line of Control in Pakistani-administered Azad Kashmir, and inflicted “significant casualties”. This was touted as Modi’s surgical strike against Pakistan and was instigated by the 19 September Uri attack where 17 Indian soldiers were killed. The Uri attack was reported as “the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in two decades”

The number of ceasefire violations had increased manifold since then. Out of the total number of 151 ceasefire violations in 2016, 110 of them happened since September.

The palpable tension between the two nations put everyone on edge.

The normalcy of terror attacks hit a raw nerve

There wasn’t just one moment or one incident which affected me the most this year. The normalcy of the situation hit a raw note. “What terror attack are we covering today,” was a frequently heard adage on the desk. The clinical process on the desk when one of these strikes happened was: prep the live blog, write the death toll copies, write analysis copies, do reaction copy, etc. Everybody got the hang of this process after the first few attacks.

However, the efficiency of the desk meant that too many of these attacks had happened and too many people had lost their lives. 2016 had ushered in a new era of normalcy.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 09:24 IST

China blocks India’s bid to sanction Masood Azhar again

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China’s decision to once again block the proposal to list Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a designated terrorist under the “1267 regime” has triggered a sharp reaction from India.China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, had blocked India’s move with a six-month technical hold followed by a three- month extension. Officials here say that India may have to apply again to the 1267 Committee with charge sheet details to press for its case as its present application will lapse following Beijing’s two technical holds.Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup termed Beijing’s decision as an “unfortunate blow” and a step that confirms the prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism.India had approached the UN in February to include Azhar (for his link with al Qaeda) in the UN Security Council’s 1267 sanctions list in the aftermath of the January 2 terror attack on the Pathankot air base by JeM terrorists. The resolution will now go into cold storage, till a fresh listing is demanded by a UN Security Council member.He said that the international community is aware that JeM, which is proscribed by the UN, has been responsible for innumerable terrorist attacks on India, including the one on Pathankot air base. “The inability of the international community to list its leader Masood Azhar is an unfortunate blow to the concerted efforts to effectively counter all forms of terrorism, and confirms the prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism,” he said.Swarup further said that China’s decision is surprising as it has been affected by the scourge of terrorism and has declared opposition to all forms of terrorism. “As a consequence of this decision, the UN Security Council has again been prevented from acting against the leader of a listed terrorist organisation,” he added. India had expected China to be more understanding of the danger posed to all by terrorism and join India and others in fighting the common challenge of terrorism.Earlier also, India had expressed anger at the working methods at the UNSC, which is based on the principles of unanimity. Following the attack on US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and other associated groups in 1999, the Security Council passed a resolution known as “Resolution 1267” or “1267 Regime” under Article 41 of the UN, which established a sanction regime to cover individuals and entities associated with al Qaeda, Laden and/or the Taliban.The 1267 Resolution reads as follows: “The Security Council may decide what measures, not involving armed forces, are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.”The resolution requires countries to immediately freeze funds, financial assets or economic resources of individuals and entities designated by the UNSC with terrorism and terrorist financing.China was the only member in the 15-nation UN body to put a hold on India’s application.

Demonetisation was single biggest case of total mismanagement, says Chidambaram

New Delhi: Insisting that the Opposition’s concerns on demonetisation have been found correct, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should now make a categorical announcement of an end to all restrictions on cash withdrawals.

P Chidambaram. PTIP Chidambaram. PTI

P Chidambaram. PTI

“When the prime minister addresses the nation, the people expect that he will make a categorical announcement that all restrictions on money have been ended,” Chidambaram told reporters at AICC headquarters on Friday.

The senior Congress leader said that the woes of demonetisation should come to an end by Friday evening as the prime minister had asked for time till 30 December. Noting that Modi had recently said at a rally that “through the note ban, in one stroke, we destroyed the world of terrorism, drug mafia, human trafficking and underworld”, he said that it was therefore, fair to expect that these objectives would be achieved by the end of today.

“It is fair to expect that beginning Monday, 2 January, 2017, all restrictions on money imposed on 8 November, 2016 will be removed and the people will be able to withdraw the money in their bank accounts. It is fair to expect that there will be no queues outside bank branches and ATMs. It is fair to expect that all ATMs will be open round the clock and fully stocked with
currency notes,” he said.

Chidambaram said that the only person who can assure the people on these matters is Modi himself, because the government has “dubbed all of us in the Opposition as supporters of black money hoarders and tax evaders”.

On the government’s claim that people are happy and there have been no incidents of rioting, he said people are patient. “But please don’t mistake patient people for happy people,” he had said.

Seeking to debunk government’s claims on the benefits of demonetisation, he said, “Events of the last 50 days have proved us correct. Hoards of black money in new Rs 2,000 notes have been found.”

He further said that bribes have been given and taken in new Rs 2,000 notes and there is “no guarantee” that black money will not be demanded or generated in future or that bribes will not be given or taken in future in the new currency.

Dubbing the way the demonetisation was announced and implemented as a “single biggest case of total mismanagement”, he regretted the most momentous decision has been taken “without consulting key officials”.

Making a strong pitch for compensating people for the hardships they faced, he lamented that the government has “not uttered a word” about compensating the people for the economic losses heaped upon them by demonetisation.

He also demanded that the agenda note and the minutes of the meeting of the RBI board of directors held on 8 November, 2016, along with the Note for Cabinet on demonetisation placed before the Cabinet on 8 November, 2016, should be made
public.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 20:03 IST

Bye 2016, welcome 2017: There are many good reasons not to have a new year blast

Why do we celebrate the new year with such vengeance? For the past ten days, the first question the human race asks is, what are your plans.

Don’t have any. Nature does not have any. Not the moon nor the sun nor the stars are the least bothered about it. Flora and fauna don’t care, it is just another 24-hour cycle.

Avoid a new year party. ReutersAvoid a new year party. Reuters

Avoid a new year party. Reuters

And what exactly are we celebrating? Self-indulgence? Escapism? One step close to the dark night, that much more dimming of the light and what are we doing, we are leaping about with little hats on our heads blowing little tweeters in each other’s faces.

Come to think of it, New Year’s Eve is so reflective of our values as people.

The deception. Making resolutions that only 1 percent actually keep.

The cold-blooded ruthlessness. 2016 is out, kick the blighter in the back side, let’s go curry favour with 2017, just like we do to the new boss when he replaces the old one, overnight change of loyalty, the king is dead, long live the king. We do it in our offices all the time.

The hypocrisy. Hugging people we don’t know in a false sense of bonhomie and frigid warmth that will disappear in two minutes. The rest of the year, kill and plunder and destroy with glee.

We must love one another and I hate people who don’t but go gaga over people we cannot stand the rest of the year, oh please, give me a break.

Wastage. Gluttony rules the roost and we waste money, food and drink and largely make complete fools of ourselves and this we call having a blast.

The competitiveness. Oh, we are going to see the northern lights. We are off to the Costa del Sol. Decided to bring in the new year in Greece in Santorini.

Bring in the new year???? What an arrogance. You are not bringing in anything. The earth will continue its daily revolution and another day will dawn and wouldn’t it be far more rewarding to do one good deed per person rather than having three for the road and turning into a statistic.

It is not as though the massacre of the earth will stop or mankind will wake up a better race or children will not be exploited and we will ride posse against the common enemies of mankind: poverty, disease and injustice.

Come Monday morning nothing is going to change.

So why do we do it, this dog and pony exhibition of great joy and enthusiasm that the well-heeled engage into the total eyebrow-raising surprise of the majority who just go to bed because tomorrow they go to work. Like they do every day of the year.

Think of it. January, as a month, only came into being in 700 BC. And 1 January was chosen as the new year because Julius Caesar realised the sun and the calendar were out of synch so he arbitrarily added 96 days on the advice of his astrologers and made it work for him. It was no party for the astronomers and January was chosen to please Janus, the god of beginnings. Old Jules wanted to be on good terms with starters.

And if all this hasn’t ruined your mood entirely think of five other good reasons.

You’ll be paying for cheap over-priced drinks, be stuck in a miserable crowd in a miserable place having to say ‘aren’t we having fun’ every few minutes because the service sucks and you are actually miserable.

The food will be like swill if you can reach it.

Somebody will scratch your car if you can get it parked for a start and valet service will cost an arm and a leg.

Getting reunited with your car will take ninety minutes as you freeze in the cold, and some idiot on your table will get maudlin and mushy and sentimental and there goes your evening in a basket.

You’ll have to suffer stupid comments, several versions of stupid ‘see you next year’ jokes accompanied by false laughter and the music will drown out any chance of conversation.

Stay home. You will save yourself a hangover.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 16:47 IST

VVIP chopper scam: HC notice to ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi on CBI plea against his bail

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi High Court today sought the response of ex-IAF chief S P Tyagi, who is on bail after being arrested in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, on CBI’s plea challenging his bail claiming its probe would be “hampered” if he remains out.Justice Vipin Sanghi issued notice to Tyagi, who was arrested on December 9 and granted bail on December 26, listed the matter for hearing on January 3 after CBI said the bail pleas of other accused in the case are likely to be heard by the trial court on January 4.Justice Sanghi said the endeavour of the court would be to dispose of the matter on January 3 after hearing all the parties.CBI argued before the high court that each day Tyagi remained out on bail would lead to its line of investigation being “exposed” and “hampered” and the evidence could also be destroyed.The agency also said its probe was “multi-layered” as it was spread across several countries since various companies were allegedly used to “camouflage the bribe money”.The contention came in response to the high court’s query as to why should the 72-year old former Chief of Air Staff be retained in judicial custody at this stage when he was in the custody of the agency for a week prior to getting bail.CBI admitted before the high court that though the FIR was registered in 2013, “real core investigation started only a few months back” and hence it did not want Tyagi to be out on bail till the charge sheet is filed.It contended that if Tyagi remained out on bail, he could “alert other potential accused”.A special court had on December 26 this year granted bail to Tyagi, saying CBI has failed to state the alleged bribe amount and when it was paid.Tyagi, who was interrogated by CBI in its custody for seven days, was asked to furnish a personal bond of Rs two lakh and a surety of like amount as pre-requisites for his release on bail.The trial court had asked Tyagi not to leave the National Capital Region without its permission and ordered him not to tamper with evidence or try to influence witnesses.It had noted that Tyagi had joined investigation as and when CBI called him and it was not the case that he either tampered with evidence after registration of the FIR or influenced any witness in the case.While granting the relief, the trial court also took note of Tyagi’s advancing age and his health conditions and said no purpose would be served by keeping him behind bars.Tyagi, who retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan were arrested on December 9 by CBI in connection with the case which relates to procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from UK-based AgustaWestland during the UPA-2 regime.The court had on December 17 sent all the three accused to judicial custody till December 30.

Agusta Westland case: Delhi High Court issues notice to SP Tyagi against bail given to him

The Delhi High Court on Friday, on the Central Bureau Investigation’s plea, issued a notice to ex-Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi against the bail given to him on 26 December. Tyagi was granted bail by a special court in Delhi which said that the CBI had failed to state the alleged bribe amount and when it was paid. The Delhi High Court on Friday sought the response of ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi on CBI’s plea challenging his bail claiming its probe would be “hampered” if he remains out. Justice Vipin Sanghi issued notice to Tyagi and listed the matter for hearing on 3 January.

Tyagi, who retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan were arrested on 9 December by the CBI in connection with a case which relates to the procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from the UK-based firm Finmeccanica, during the UPA-2 regime. The court would decide the bail pleas of Sanjeev Tyagi and Khaitan on 4 January.

Tyagi, 72, who was interrogated by the CBI in its custody for seven days, had been asked by special CBI judge Arvind Kumar to furnish a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh and one surety of like amount as pre-requisites for his release on bail.

The court had asked Tyagi not to leave the National Capital Region (NCR) without its permission and ordered him not to tamper with the evidence or try to influence the witnesses.

“CBI failed to state as to how much cash was paid to the accused and when it was paid. Admittedly, the CBI has seized the documents regarding properties in 2013 and more than three years and nine months have passed but could not conduct probe in this regard. Accused was arrested after about three years and nine months, LOC was withdrawn by CBI, his accounts were de-frozed after the agency gave ‘no objection’ and accused was allowed to travel abroad,” the court, in its 26 December order, had said.

File photo of SP Tyagi. PTI

File photo of SP Tyagi. PTI

It had noted that Tyagi had joined the investigation as and when CBI called him and it was not the case that he either tampered with evidence after registration of the FIR or influenced witnesses in the case.

“CBI’s apprehension that the accused may tamper with the evidence is without any basis… Accused has been a senior government servant. The correctness or otherwise of the allegation as to whether the accused has taken any kickbacks and in what manner he was connected with the same, can only be looked into during the course of the trial,” it had said.

While granting the relief, the court had taken note of Tyagi’s advancing age and his health conditions and had said no purpose would be served by keeping him behind the bars.

During the hearing, Tyagi’s advocate Manger Guruswamy had said that her client “could not be deprived of freedom if the investigation is taking time to complete”.

She had also claimed that in the last four years after registration of the FIR, the CBI has never been able to confront Tyagi with any incriminating evidence till date.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, had opposed the bail pleas of the accused, saying if set free, they might influence witnesses and hamper the “multi-layered probe by various agencies in more than one jurisdictions involving several countries”.

“We have evidence where the meetings unofficially took place for the purpose of crime. At this stage, please do not entertain their bail pleas. Let the probe be completed,” he had said, seeking dismissal of the bail pleas of all the three accused and adding the matter has “tarnished country’s name”.

On the court’s query whether the CBI had any material regarding SP Tyagi receiving money, the agency replied the former IAF chief had purchased several properties for which the sources of income were not disclosed by him and alleged that he had abused his official position.

Advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey, counsel for Khaitan, had also countered CBI’s argument, claiming that the agency was trying to sensationalise the matter and there was no allegation that his client had not joined the probe or tried to influence it.

Sanjeev Tyagi’s counsel Manav Gupta had also opposed CBI’s contention saying there was no reason to claim that if granted the relief, his client would hamper the probe.

The accused had sought bail on the grounds that the evidence was documentary in nature and had already been seized by CBI and they have cooperated with the probe agency.

The court had on 17 December sent all the three accused to judicial custody till 30 December.

The CBI had said it was a “very serious” and “a very high-profile” case requiring interrogation to unearth larger conspiracy as the “interest of the nation was compromised”.

Tyagi’s counsel had earlier claimed that the decision to procure VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective” one and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was also a part of it.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 14:47 IST

Congress rattled at prospect of govt going after illegal money: Venkaiah Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accusing Congress of trying to “tar” the government’s image by calling demonetization a scam, Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday said the note ban move was an “anti-scam vaccine” but the opposition party is rattled at the prospect of the government going after illegal money.The I&B minister said the inconvenience that has been caused because of shortage of currency notes would decline further in January and the situation would rapidly improve thereafter.Naidu said that the government was trying to usher in cleanliness in all aspects of the society and this massive exercise is a form of ‘yagna’ and there could be inconvenience. “Some asuras are always trying disturb the peace during the yagna. But this Prime Minister is determined, he wants to make this transformation of India a reality,” he told reporters in New Delhi.
ALSO READ Congress should introspect its contribution to ills like corruption and black money: BJPNaidu said that while critics had claimed that Narendra Modi had mounted a tiger, he also knows how to dismount a tiger as he had done so many times in the past.He said that the Prime Minister has provided a “scandal-free government” in the last two-and-a-half years as per the mandate of 2014 and demonetization was a part of a grand strategy to usher in transparency.Demonetization was an “anti-scam vaccine introduced by the Prime Minister to prevent scams from taking place, to curb corruption and black money generation”, he said.He claimed that Congress and its friends are making baseless allegations and are “rattled by the prospect of the government going after those who made illegal deposits in banks and bought benami properties”.Claiming that politics of “spit and run” will not work, Naidu said that the government will not be distracted by “diversionary tactics.” “It will only further strengthen the resolve of the government to trace every trail of corruption over the last seven decades,” he claimed.Naidu also emphasised that the government aims to catch unscrupulous people who have tried to misuse the system and that legitimacy of big deposits will be scrutinised. The minister stressed that the government will not rest till the last rupee in black money is accounted for. Attacking Congress, Naidu said that while the party was claiming that demonetization was benefiting only the 1% who are rich, it should answer on why 99% people continue to be poor despite its long rule. He said that during the last one year, the government has initiated a series of steps aimed at benefiting the common man.The minister said that scandal-free governance, effective inflation management, increased FDI, enhanced pace of infrastructure creation, stepped up economic growth rate despite adversities, financial inclusion, transparent resource allocation, increased accountability and transparency in governance, positive macro-economic parameters among others have been the major outcomes of the efforts of the Modi dispensation in the past two-and-a-half years.On the tourism front, he said that there has been a notable growth in the comparative figures of foreign tourist arrival (FTA), foreign exchange earning (FEEs) and online sale of e tickets after demonetization.Regarding the agriculture sector, Naidu said that despite apprehensions about demonetization adversely impacting Rabi sowing, the overall sowing across the country surpassed 573.42 lakh hectares, which is higher than the average sowing area for the last five years. He said that Rabi sowing has increased by close to 6.37% this year.Referring to the railways, the minister said that earnings from cashless ticketing has increased 30% and the number of people booking reserved tickets online using credit and debit cards or online transaction which was at 58% in November, has now crossed 75%.Naidu also said that the prices of pulses were coming down while ease of doing business ranking improved from 142 to 130 at the global level.

2017 to see number of key appointments in MEA, Foreign Secy Jaishankar likely to get extension

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The new year will see a number of key appointments in the foreign ministry amid a strong buzz that Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar may get an extension before the end of his term next month.Vikas Swarup, Additional Secretary and Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry, is also on his way to Canada as High Commissioner and is only waiting for his official agreement to come from Ottawa which is likely by mid of next month. The post is lying vacant after Vishnu Prakash retired in October. Swarup is expected to be replaced by Gopal Baglay, currently looking after (Pakistan-Iran-Afghanistan) in the ministry. Baglay has earlier also had a stint in the XP division of the MEA as Director from 2008 to 2010.Speculation is also rife that Jaishankar will get an extension before his two-year term ends on 28 of next month.It also remains to be seen what will be the tenure of his extension.If Jaishankar, a 1977-IFS batch officer, gets an extension for more than a year, by then many senior diplomats including India’s ambassador to Italy Anil Wadhwa (1979-batch) and Secretary (West) Sujata Mehta (1980-batch) will retire.India’s ambassador to China, Vijay Gokhale, seen as one of the main contenders to replace Jaishankar, is retiring in the end of January 2019. If Jaishankar gets a two-year term, it will be unprecedented as no one has got an extension after the fixed tenure of two years. However, Jaishankar’s possible two-year term will leave Gokhale with couple of days. In first half of 2017, ambassadorial positions will also open up in several key countries including Germany and Nepal, official sources said.

India: Madras high court questions Jayalalitha death cause

Court asks why the body of former chief minister J Jayalalitha cannot be exhumed for investigation.

Jammu & Kashmir cabinet approves draft of Governor’s address

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir cabinet on Wednesday approved the draft of the address, to be delivered by Governor N N Vohra, to the joint sitting of the State legislature on January 2 next year.The cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, approved the draft of the address, to be delivered by the Governor to the joint sitting of the State legislature on January 2, 2017, an official spokesman said.Legislative Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta issued the provisional calendar for the fourth Session of the 12th Legislative Assembly.As per the provisional calendar, starting from January 2, with the Governor’s address to Legislature, the House sittings would continue till February 4, 2017.According to the calendar discussion on motion of thanks on the Governor’s address and reply thereto will be held on January 3 and 4.The annual financial statement of expenditure for 2017-2018 and presentation of supplementary statement of expenditure for 2016-2017 will be held on January 9, 2017.The general discussion on budget will be held on January 10 and 11 ending with reply thereto.As per the calendar, the demand for grants for various departments would be taken up from January 12 to January 27 and the Appropriation Bills will be taken up on January 28.There shall be government business on January 30.Private members resolutions will be taken up on January 31 and February 2 and private members bills on February 1 and February 3.There will be government business on February 4, if any, the calendar issued read.

Demonetisation: RBI now gives borrowers additional 90 days to repay loans

In further relief to people hit by demonetisation, the Reserve Bank on Wednesday gave borrowers another 30 days over and above 60 days for repayment of housing, car, farm and other loans worth up to Rs 1 crore.

“On a review, it has been decided to provide 30 days, in addition to the 60 days provided (on November 21),” the RBI said in a notification.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

So, borrowers together get 90 days breather from getting the account classified under non-performing asset (NPA) category.

The above dispensation will apply to dues payable between 1 November, and December 31, 2016, it said.

The surprise announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 November to scrap Rs 500 and 1,000 notes resulted in a cash crunch in the market leading to slowdown in business. As a result, the repayment capacity of the borrowers were impacted and there was fear of loan default rising.

The demonetisation of higher value currency notes has affected normal banking activities including clearing of cheques. Besides, borrowers are unable to get payments from their creditors due to various restrictions including cash withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000 per week, limiting their options to repay their dues.

According to the RBI notification, running working capital accounts or crop loans with the sanctioned limit of Rs 1 crore or less would be eligible for this benefit. Besides, it said, “Term loans for business purposes, secured or otherwise, the original sanctioned amount whereof is Rs 1 crore or less, on the books of any bank or any NBFC, including NBFC (MFI). This shall include agriculture loans.”

The apex bank further said that all regulated entities are permitted to defer the downgrade of an account that was standard as on 1 November, but would have become NPA for any reason between November and December by 90 days from the date of such downgrade.

The additional time of 90 days will only apply to defer the classification of an existing standard asset as sub-standard and not for delaying the migration of an account across sub-categories of NPA. Dues payable after 1 January, 2017 will be covered by the instructions for the respective entities.

Last month, the RBI had provided additional 60 days for repayment of loans worth up to Rs 1 crore. Separately, the central bank came out this special dispensation for farm loan earlier this week.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 07:48 IST

Tripura TMC launches movement to ‘restore democracy by ousting Left Front Government’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Tripura Trinamool Congress (TMC) has declared agitation against the ruling Left Front on various issues including investigation against chit funds, duped depositors, involvement of elected members including minister of the state in crime against women, unemployment, state government employees deprived from the Seventh Pay Commission and few other issues. President of the newly formed Tripura unit of the party, Asish Saha told the media that the Trinamool Congress announced that it would launch a continuous movement in the state to “restore democracy” by ousting the Left Front Government in the assembly elections scheduled for 2018.”In this state, 142 chit funds were active and the party in power had made all arrangements and provided them license to do business. The Chief Minister of the state along with various ministers, ruling CPI(M) party MLAs and leaders attended programmes organised by different chit funds which were active in this state and thus encouraged people to deposit money and brought credibility for these chit funds, which duped around 14 lack depositors of the state. Moreover, due to wrong decision of the cabinet these chit funds could flee from the state leading to economic breakdown but the state government did not take any step against them,” said Saha.”The people of the state faced huge monetary loss and there was a repeated demand to take measure against these chit funds but the government did not do anything so that those were duped could get back their money. So very soon the Trinamool Congress will organise state wide protest on behalf of all depositors who had lost their money to these chit funds,” he added.Saha alleged that neither the state nor the Central Government is serious in taking step against the chit fund or the corruption in various block offices by siphoning of fund from central schemes and so the TMC will organise protest against all these. “We have noticed that in all our neighbouring states investigations are taking place against the chit funds by the CBI, ED and the union government is also giving importance to the loss of the depositors in those states. But in our state, despite our repeated demand the centre or the state government is not declaring any investigation. Here the party in power had siphoned depositor’s money in connivance with the chit funds and so no steps are being taken against them. So on coming January 19 we shall organise rally for pressing various demands including investigation against the chit funds,” he said.He also alleged that the state is among those in crime against women and no legal step is taken against those who are involved in such crimes as they are leaders and elected members of the Left Front. Saha said, “Besides protesting against corruption, we shall also protest against the crime against women in the state. We shall also fight for the unemployed youths, the government employees who are deprived by the state government from their 7th Pay Commission scale. For these demands we shall also go for six hours state wide agitation on coming January 19.”He claimed that only TMC can oust the corrupt Marxist government from power like Mamata Banerjee ousted the Marxist government from power in West Bengal. The TMC has formed a 74-member Tripura Pradesh unit with Saha as its president.

Railways doubles compensation ?of? accident victims

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>​The ​Ministry of Railways has decided to revise the amounts of compensation payable in respect of Death & Injuries to the passengers involved in Accidents and Untoward Incidents. In the revised compensation rules the amount in all the categories have been doubled with respect to the existing amounts. This has been done by amending “The Railway Accidents and Untoward Incidents (Compensation) Rules, 1990”. The new amended rules are being now referred to as “The Railway Accidents and Untoward Incidents (Compensation) Rules, 2016”.As per the revised Compensation Rules, compensation in case of death has been doubled from Rs. 4 lakh to Rs. 8 lakh. The new rules will come into effect from 1st January 2017. The schedule giving the amounts of both existing and revised rates are given below.COMPENSATION PAYABLE FOR DEATH AND INJURIES

Withdrawal cap may be eased to Rs 4,000/day, Rs 40,000/week: sources

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As Prime Minister Narendra Modi gets ready to address the nation after almost 50 days into demonetization on December 30, a reliable source told DNA that the government was seriously considering relaxing current restrictions on withdrawals from banks and ATMs from Rs 2,500 per day and Rs 24,000 per week to Rs 4,000 per day and Rs 40,000 per week respectively.Modi had sought 50 days to normalise the liquidity situation after he made Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes illegal from November 8 midnight.A source in the government, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said since the shortage of cash continued to persist, the restriction on withdrawal may not be completely removed but would be eased.”Today, for instance, the restriction is Rs 24,000 per week and Rs 2,500 per day; they might increase that to Rs 4,000 per day and Rs 40,000 per week, but nevertheless, will continue with the restrictions. All of this is expected to be announced by the PM on December 30 evening. He is planning an address (to the nation) at 8 pm in which he is going to connect what he said on November 8 and ask countrymen to be patient,” he said.Also, the government is contemplating an ordinance to restrict holding of banned notes and penalising their possession of beyond a certain limit after December 30. However, the ordinance is likely to be issued only after the liquidity situation improves. “That (ordinance) is being discussed very seriously, but there are two specific challenges. One is that in terms of the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) notification issued on November 8 that even after January 1 people have time till March 31 to deposit with RBI. Technically the ordinance can’t be issued with effect from January 1 because if they say that holding the currency is illegal after January 1, then those who would have planned to deposit it with the RBI (after December 30) will not have that window (given by the government earlier),” said a source.The second issue was shortage of liquidity in the economy; “even today, the country is largely running on Rs 2,000 note. Other denomination notes have not yet been made available and the process of contracting for new currency notes has just started. The problem is not going to vanish from first week of January,” he said.According to the source, tenders for printing of new currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 were issued from December 22. “The government can’t just call anybody and ask them to do it. They have to buy the paper, the ink, open tender, and then do it,” he said.Also, the government does not want to take any unpopular decision. “With the after-effects of demonetization still lingering, it does not want to become more unpopular—saying on one hand that holding old money is illegal and you can be penalised, while on the other it still cannot meet the currency demand,” he said.

Election Commission announces Odisha panchayat polls dates

Tue, 27 Dec 2016-10:51pm , Bhubaneswar , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Odisha Election Commission on Tuesday announced dates for panchayat polls in the state. As per the notification issued by the commission, the elections will be held for the posts of 853 Zilla Parishad Members, 6802 Sarpanchs, 6801 Panchayat Samiti members and 92,052 ward members in five phases on February 13, 15, 17, 19 and 21 respectively.State Election Commissioner Rabi Narayan Senapati said aspiring candidates can file nominations between January 11 and 17 and the scrutiny of the papers will be done on January 18. He said casting of votes would take place from 7 AM to 12 noon and counting of votes will be done from 1 PM onwards on these days. Around 2, 60, 92, 507 voters will exercise their franchise in the elections.

Trinamool MPs Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Tapas Paul summoned by CBI in chit fund case

New Delhi: CBI has issued summons to two MPs of Trinamool Congress, Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Tapas Paul, in connection with the alleged Rose Valley scam, one of the cases being probed by the investigating agency as part of the umbrella chit fund scams.

Both Bandyopadhyay and Paul have been asked to appear at the CBI office here on 30 December. CBI sources said Bandyopadhyay was called earlier also but he had cited ongoing Parliamentary session to seek exemption from personal appearance.

Now the agency has again asked the Member of Parliament to appear before its investigation team to be questioned in the connection with the chit fund scam related to Rose Valley group, the sources said.

When contacted in Kolkata, Bandyopadhyay told PTI, “I will appear in the first week of January.” “I will go because I want to know what are the exact charges that they have levelled against me. I feel that it is better to sit face-to-face rather than talking over phone,” he said.

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay. PIB

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay. PIB

Recently, there was speculation that Bandyopadhyay may be questioned by CBI after which Trinamool Congress had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using central agency to scare the party because of its opposition to demonetisation.

“By pursuing political vendetta you can’t stop Mamata Banerjee and TMC from protesting against demonetisation. You are using CBI and other central agencies to scare us. But you won’t succeed,” TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee had said.

“You feel you and your party are saints and all of us thieves. But the fact is you are the biggest thief,” he had said.

The CBI had filed its charge sheet in the Rose Valley Group chit fund scam naming Kundu and three others in a special court in Bhubaneswar on 7 January. The firm was charged with defrauding depositors of Rs 17,000 crore from across the country of which Rs 450 crore was received by the ponzi firm from Odisha alone.

In its charge sheet, CBI had claimed that it was still probing the role of “influential people” in the scam. Besides role of regulatory authorities, money trail and larger conspiracy hatched by the accused persons to cheat the public are still under probe of the agency, they said.

The sources said that CBI, in its charge sheet, has named Kundu, the then Managing Directors Ashok Kumar Saha and Ram Lal Goswami, besides Rose Valley Real Estate and Constructions, Rose Valley Real Estate and Land Bank, and Rose Valley Hotels and Entertainment.

CBI has alleged that these persons and companies were allegedly responsible for running “illegal” ponzi scheme in violations of the norms of RBI, SEBI and Registrar of Companies.

The agency alleged that they kept running the schemes “knowing fully well” that these were “commercially unviable” and continued cheating people by keeping them associated with the group.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 21:12 IST

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.

Special arrangements made in Bihar for Prakash Parv

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A total of ten trains and 300 buses will take devotees from Punjab to Patna for on January 5. The Punjab govt has made elaborate arrangements for the devotees who will travel free of cost to Patna for the ‘Prakash Utsav’. The state govt has also co-ordinated with Bihar govt for providing a free stay to thousands of devotees who would attend the celebrations.“In all the trains, one compartment will be reserved for women. The trains departing from 3 Takhts Sri Amritsar, Sri Anandpur Sahib and Sri Damdama Sahib will have one coach each for Nihang Sikhs (an armed Sikh order)” said Punjab Education Minister, Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema, adding that the Punjab Government has made arrangements for free travel and free meals.Over 25,000 devotees from Punjab are expected to take part in the event, which will be held in Takht Sri Patna Sahib, in Patna, also the birth place of the tenth Sikh guru. Thousands of devotees have already reached the venue.Dr Cheema further divulged that residents of every constituency would be fetched in 10 special trains as per the coaches apart from 3 buses operating from each constituency taking the total to 300 buses. Punjab government had earlier organized two functions at Sri Anandpur Sahib and New Delhi in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also present.

Year in pictures 2016

A selection of the most compelling news photographs from around the world, taken over the past year.

Congress to hold country-wide protests against demonetization from January 5

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Monday announced it will hold country-wide protests on January 5 at all district headquarters and on January 8 at the block level to highlight the common man’s woes due to demonetization and the “personal corruption” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.At a meeting of all top Congress leaders chaired by party’s vice president Rahul Gandhi it was decided to involve the commoner in the fight against demonetization.Sources said Congress will also hold pressers across the country at the central and the state level on December 29 and 30 and later on January 2 at the district level, where the “personal corruption” by thePrime Minister and sufferings of common people will be highlighted. The meeting was attended by all party general secretaries and secretaries, PCC chiefs and other top leaders at the central and the state level.The sources said that in the first phase, Congress will agitate at district headquarters on January 5 and in the second phase, it will take this fight to the block level with Mahila Congress holding such agitations and demonstrations on January 8. Addressing the party men, Gandhi alleged demonetization has turned out to be a “scam” and that the Prime Minister has “indulged” in corruption and has not come clean on the “Sahara diaries” bribery issue. “If an independent probe is held, Modiji will stand exposed,” he is reported to have said at the meeting.Gandhi also asked party men to gear up for taking their fight to the public and highlight the “personal corruption” by the Prime Minister and the woes of the common man due to note ban. During the meeting, Gandhi sought feedback from state leaders on note ban woes. Starting December 29 and 30, Congress will push for withdrawal of all financial restrictions imposed on the common man post-demonetization and ask the government to allow the public deposit and withdraw money freely from their bank accounts.”We will also highlight the personal corruption by the Prime Minister… and the suffering of the common people due to demonetization,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said. The party will focus on highlighting “losses suffered by people, who lost their jobs due to demonetization, contraction of economy and the hardships of the poor, farmers and traders”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi while announcing the decision to invalidate 500 and 1000 rupee notes on November 8 had said there would some inconvenience to people for the initial 50-day period that ends on December 30.

Mumbai: Fire destroys Sydenham Management Institute’s library

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The library of Sydenham Institute of Management Studies, Research and Entrepreneurship Education (SIMSREE) was destroyed after a fire broke out at the College building in Churchgate on Sunday morning.Books, wooden furniture, and computers on the third floor of the Institute were destroyed. The fire spread rapidly because of books and wooden furniture​. Though the exact reason for the fire is not known yet, a short-circuit is believed to have caused the fire.“The entire floor will have to be cordoned off for some time. Students are on a term break at present, but once classes begin on January 2, we will need to find classrooms. We are yet to assess the total damage,” an official from the college told Hindustan Times.Official said that the restoration work will take time.“We received a call at 5.21 am and the blaze was doused by 7.30 am. As it was a holiday, crowd management wasn’t a problem.” said an official from the fire department.Four fire tenders and seven water tankers were sent to the spot. Fire officials suspect that a short-circuit may have caused the fire, but it is yet to be confirmed.

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

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

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

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

Representational image. CNN-News18

Representational image. CNN-News18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Odisha: Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik creates 1,000 Santa Claus sculptures on Puri beach

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Internationally acclaimed sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik on Sunday said that creation of 1,000 sand sculptures of Santa Claus by him and his students at Puri sea beach on the eve of Christmas has become a record to feature in Limca Book of Records.Pattnaik said Senior Editor of Limca Book of Records, Arthy Muthanna Sindh has congratulated him on the feat through an e-mail communication and has confirmed it as a world record that would feature in Limca Book of Records.The Santa festival started at Puri on Saturday evening and will continue till January 1, he said. With 1,000 Santa Clauses, Sudarsan was eyeing to break his 2012 Limca Book record of sculpturing 500 sand Santa Clauses.Sudarsan said it took him and his team of 35 students from his sand art school four days and about 1,000 tons of sand to carve thousand sand Santa Clauses. “I am extremely happy it has become a record to find a place in the Limca Book of Records,” said Sudarsan.He said he wanted to create awareness about global happiness through sand Santas.

Amid chill in relations with Pakistan, PM Modi wishes Nawaz Sharif on birthday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday greeted his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif on his birthday, notwithstanding the severe chill in relations between the two countries.”Birthday wishes to Pakistan PM Mr. Nawaz Sharif. I pray for his long and healthy life,” Modi tweeted.Sharif turned 67 today.Modi extended birthday wishes to Sharif even though the two countries have been witnessing a severe chill in their relations because of repeated terror attacks in India emanating from Pakistan.Last year on this day, Modi had made a huge gesture by travelling to Lahore on an unscheduled visit to wish Sharif personally and attend the marriage ceremony of his kin.However, the warmth in the bilateral ties witnessed at that time evaporated after terror attack on the airbase in Pathankot on January 1 this year. Since then the relations have just been sliding as tensions escalated.

Martial arts, song, dance, and poetry for Prakash Parv at festivities in Bihar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The 350th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj from January 3 to 5 is expected to draw lakhs of devotees to Bihar.Customary prayers apart, the state government and the Takhat Sri Harmandir Ji Patna Saheb Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee have joined hands to set up several events such as gatka (traditional combat training using wooden sticks and swords), and martial arts, horse riding and jattha performances from New Year’s day.A majority of devotees are expected to arrive from December 30 and the organisers have prepared for the celebrations. At Gandhi Maidan the administration has set up a mini stadium for events. Horse riding, gatka and nishaanebazi shows by Nihang Sikhs and a Kavi-darbar will be the highlights. Ragi jatthas (recital of Gurbani), Dhaddi jatthas (poems featuring Sikh gurus using dhadd and sarangi), and Kavishri jatthas (recital of war poems without instruments) from different Takhats will perform. The government has also planned cultural events from January 1 to 5 for devotees visiting during Prakashotsava. Theatre acts such as Jat-Jatin, Bhad Patthar and Jugnu will be performed at Bharatiya Nritya Kala Mandir. The event will see performances by Dhrupad singer Pandit Raghubir Mallick, Mohiniattam dancer Gopika Verma, Sarod player Ustad Aashin Khan, Kathak dancer Rajiv Ranjan and Maithili singer Ranjana Jha.

Delhi HC allows Ajay Chautala to attend son Dushyant’s marriage functions

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>INLD leader Ajay Chautala, who is serving a 10-year jail term in a teachers’ recruitment scam case, was today allowed by the Delhi High Court to attend the marriage function of his son and MP Dushyant Chautala.The leader, who was on parole since November 28 and was restrained from moving out of the national capital, has sought modification of the order, saying he be allowed to attend his son’s ‘roka’ ceremony at Sirsa in Haryana on December 25. The application came up for hearing before Justice Vipin Sanghi who allowed the leader’s plea to attend two ceremonies to be held at different locations in Sirsa and Gurgaon.Advocate Amit Sahni, appearing for the convict, said the ‘ring’ ceremony was scheduled on January 3 next year and sought permission to the petitioner to leave the territory of Delhi to “enable him to attend and perform the customs on both the dates”.Allowing the plea, the court asked the leader to surrender before the jail authorities on January 5 next year, the date already fixed. On November 28, the court had granted a month’s parole to Ajay for maintaining “social ties” but restrained him from taking part in political activities. The court had restricted Ajay’s movement while directing him not to leave Delhi without permission from the authorities concerned.The Supreme Court on August 3 last year had dismissed the appeals of Ajay and his father O P Chautala challenging the high court’s verdict upholding their conviction and sentence of 10 years awarded by a trial court in the junior basic trained (JBT) teachers recruitment scam case.The high court had on March 5, 2015, upheld the 10-year jail term awarded to Chautalas and three others, saying, “The overwhelming evidence showed the shocking and spine-chilling state of affairs in the country.”The father-son duo and 53 others, including two IAS officers, were among 55 persons convicted on January 16, 2013 by the trial court for illegally recruiting 3,206 JBT teachers in Haryana in 2000.

TMC will hit streets with ‘Modi hatao, desh bachao’ slogan: Mamata Banerjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terming demonetization as the biggest scam in independent India, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee has said her party would hit the streets with the slogan “Modi hatao, desh bachao” from January 1, as the country is not “safe” in the hands of a person who has been “baptised in politics through communal riots.””Now Alibaba and four aides are taking all decisions, even the finance minister doesn’t know it. Only God knows what is happening in the country. They are bulldozing the people, the country and even their party (BJP),” the West Bengal Chief Minister said in a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Banerjee who presided over the extended core committee meeting of TMC said, “The Modi government which is talking about cashless economy has become faceless. Modi government is very good to those who are really black”.”Our party’s only slogan will be ‘Modi hatao, desh bachao’ and we will organise meetings throughout the state from January 1 to 8,” the CM told a press conference.Claiming there is no money in banks, she said, “A person who has no credibility can’t lead a country like India. The decision (demonetization) has led to economic disaster in the country.””From sunrise to sundown, this government is changing decisions more than hundred times. They are changing decision even in their sleep,” she remarked.Banerjee said Modi government did not make any statement on a big decision like demonetization in the Parliament, the temple of democracy.”It is a serious matter”, she said, asserting that time has come for a united opposition against the Modi regime.”Only because you have the majority, you can’t bulldoze Parliament. Rajiv Gandhi had over 400 MPs. I don’t know about Bofors but a message (on corruption) had gone to the people”, she said.

Why exempt buildings from green clearance, asks NGT

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Questioning the exemption granted to building and construction projects of a certain size, from seeking environmental clearance, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued a notice to the union environment ministry on Wednesday, seeking an explanation.Earlier this month, the ministry finalised a notification that merged green clearances for construction projects spread over 20,000 square metres to 1,50,000 sq m with building approvals.The notification entrusted urban local bodies with ensuring environmental compliances, too.The ministry’s notification was challenged by the Society for Protection of Environment and Biodiversity. During the hearing the three-member principal bench of NGT directed Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to take “clear instructions” on the Environment Impact Assessment notification and reasons for exempting building and construction projects from environmental clearance.The matter will be heard next on January 4, 2017. In the meantime, development and construction projects will be subject to orders of the Tribunal. The petitioners argued that a subordinate piece of legislation was superseding a statute, as it took away powers of Pollution Control Boards and Committees to grant consent to establish and operate construction projects under the Air Act and Water Act.The petition also said that construction projects were included in the ambit of environment ministry as urban local bodies had failed to ensure compliance of environmental norms such as rain water harvesting, solar water harvesting and solid waste management.Thus, the petitioner has prayed for the notification to be set aside as it circumvents provisions of Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006 and Environment Protection Act, 1986.

Hong Kong withdraws visa-free entry facility for Indians, Thailand halves fees

In a setback to Indian travellers, Hong Kong has withdrawn the visa-free entry facility for Indians and they will now have to complete a pre-arrival registration from January. There is also some good news in store — Thailand has halved the visa on arrival fees for Indian tourists.

“The pre-arrival registration for Indian nationals will be implemented from 23 January, 2017. The online service for it is now open,” the Hong Kong immigration department said in an announcement on its official website.

“Indian nationals must apply for and successfully complete pre-arrival registration online before they can visit or transit the HKSAR visa-free (if seeking to enter the HKSAR during transit). Pre-arrival registration is not required for Indian nationals in direct transit by air and not leaving the airport transit area,” it said.

This is a major set back for over half a million Indians who visit Hong Kong for business, trade and holidays.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Till now Hong Kong, which is now a Special Administrative Region of China, has permitted Indians to enter with valid passport for a period up to 14 days without a visa.

Indian officials say that Hong Kong is using the asylum seekers as a pretext to deny the visa-free entry to Indians who are one of the largest spenders contributing to the local economy.

There is also concern whether the move is being brought about by Hong Kong due to pressure from China.

For Indians visiting Thailand, the visa on arrival fees will now be 1,000 Baht (about Rs 2,000). The change was announced less than two months after visa fees was increased to 2,000 Baht on 27 September.

Thailand’s economy relies heavily on foreign tourists. The move is intended to boost tourist arrivals, which is a key economic engine for the country.

“The fees will be cut to 1,000 Baht,” the Thailand Tourism Ministry announced.

Thailand currently offers visa on arrival for citizens of India, Andorra, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, the Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet extended to 10 years from one the long-stay visa for foreigners aged 50 or more.

However, they must report to immigration police every 90 days.

The visa will be valid initially for five years and could be renewed for another five, Col Apisit Chaiyanuwat, vice-minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, said.

The visa fee was set at 10,000 Baht (Rs 20,000), he said.

Apart from the age requirement, the visa requires eligible foreigners to have a monthly salary of at least 100,000 Baht or a bank deposit of at least 3 million Baht, to be maintained for at least one year after receiving the visa.

Besides, they must have health insurance coverage for at least $1,000 for outpatient care and $10,000 or more for inpatient care per policy per year.

The revised rule aimed to promote medical and wellness tourism in line with the government’s policy.

Indians can avail of visa on arrival facility in 43 countries, barring Hong Kong. Some of the countries that allow Indians to get a visa on arrival are Indonesia, Maldives and Cambodia in Asia; Mauritius and Seychelles in Africa; Ecuador in South America; Georgia and Macedonia in Europe and several tiny islands in the Atlantic and Pacific.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 17:30 IST

DNA Morning Must Reads: Explosion in Mexico fireworks market, India’s longest road tunnel & more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mexico: At least 27 killed, 70 injured in fireworks market explosionAt least 27 people died and 70 were injured in a massive, multi-colored explosion that leveled a fireworks market outside the Mexican capital on Tuesday, leaving it a charred wasteland. Read moreModi hits right electoral notes: Chandigarh, Maharashtra shrug off note recall woesThose who were surprised that despite long queues, there had been no popular backlash against demonetization may have received some answers from the results of the recent civic body elections. Held in Maharashtra and Chandigarh, the comfortable victories acquired by the BJP in these two places, and the hostile reception accorded to UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav by spectators, who had come to cheer the junior hockey team in Lucknow on Friday, summed up the positive mood amidst the public for the saffron party. Read detailsBuilt at a cost of Rs 3,720 crore, India’s longest road tunnel ready to be commissionedIndia has joined the league of extraordinary nations by constructing the longest road tunnel in the country on the strategic Srinagar-Jammu national highway. Built at the cost of Rs 3720 crores, the nine-kilometre long Nashri road tunnel is expected to be commissioned early next year. Read moreNo scrutiny on deposit of old notes if total amount paid in one go: JaitleyAfter a flip-flop over rules for depositing illegal old high-value currency notes amounting to more than Rs 5,000 in banks, finance minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday assured that there were sufficient new notes with Reserve Bank of India to replenish the demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency bills. Read moreHong Kong to withdraw visa free entry facility for Indians from JanuaryIn a setback to Indian travellers, the Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, has withdrawn the visa-free facility for Indians and they will now have to complete a pre arrival registration from January. Read more

1995 Tandoor murder case: Convict seeks parole, Delhi HC seeks response from govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi High Court sought the response of Delhi government on Tuesday, on a plea filed by former youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma, who is undergoing life term in the 1995 sensational Tandoor murder case, seeking parole for a period of six months to take care of his ailing parents.Justice Vipin Sanghi issued notice to the government and directed it to respond by January 25 on Sharma’s plea in which he has also challenged the November 28 order of Delhi government rejecting his application for regular parole. In his application, Sharma has claimed that his plea for regular parole was rejected by the government on “false and fictitious” ground and the authorities did not appreciate the fact that he was eligible for grant of parole.”Respondent (state) has failed to appreciate that the petitioner (Sharma) has already undergone more than 20 years in custody and six months have already elapsed from the date of termination of the previous parole,” the application, filed through advocate Amit Sahni, said.Sharma has said that his parole application should have been allowed by the authorities “considering the health and age of his parents” as he is the only son to look after them and has never misused the concession of parole or furlough granted to him earlier.Sharma had shot his wife Naina Sahni with his licensed revolver on the night of July 2, 1995, taken her body to a restaurant, chopped it into pieces and tried to burn them in the restaurant’s oven, leading the case to be popularly called the ‘Tandoor murder case’. The Supreme Court had commuted to life imprisonment the death penalty awarded to Sharma by a trial court in 2003 and upheld by the High Court in 2007, saying the murder was the outcome of “strained personal relationship” and the convict was “not a confirmed criminal”.While reducing the sentence awarded to him, the apex court had said that “life sentence is for the whole of remaining life of Sharma subject to remission granted by the appropriate government under the Code of Criminal Procedure.”

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.

SC to examine whether courts can add ‘rigorous’ to life terms

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Can the word ‘rigorous’ be added by courts when they award life imprisonment? The Supreme Court has agreed to examine the question whether courts are statutorily empowered to make life imprisonments tougher for the convicts by adding “rigorous” (harsh) to life sentence as the law does not provide for this.A bench headed by Justice P C Ghose considered a submission which said that neither the penal provision dealing with the offence of murder, nor the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) provide that the term “rigorous” can be added by courts while awarding life sentence to convicts.”Let notice be issued in the matter limited to the question whether life imprisonment could be coupled with the condition that such imprisonment has to be rigorous imprisonment, returnable after four weeks,” the bench, also comprising Justice U U Lalit, said.Senior advocate Parmanand Katara, appearing for convict Ram Kumar Sivare, who has been awarded rigorous life term in a murder case, has contended that the judgement pronounced by the courts below was “unconstitutional and ultra-vires” as penal and procedural laws do not empower them to qualify the life sentence with the term “rigorous”.”The award of rigorous life imprisonment by the lower court and the Chattisgarh High Court is violative of Article 21 (protection of life and liberty) and 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution,” the lawyer said.The apex court was hearing the appeal filed by Sivare, who is serving rigorous life term at a Chattisgarh jail, challenging the High Court verdict in a murder case.The High Court had upheld the trial court judgement convicting and awarding life term to Sivare and Bhuneshwar Prasad for stabbing to death one Anil Bhoyar on January 5, 2010 near a government hospital in Durg district of Chattisgarh following a tiff over a minor issue.The trial court had acquitted the third accused Manoj, which was upheld by the High Court.

After Pathankot, JeM chief Masood Azhar owns up Nagrota attack

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as India names Jaish-e-Mohammad chief in the charge sheet for master-minding attack on an Indian Airforce base in Pathankot earlier this year, Maulana Masood Azhar continues to freely run the terror group’s online publication and brazenly claim responsibility for last month’s attack on another military camp in Nagrota from Pakistan.Following an 11-month investigation, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has named Azhar and his brother JeM’s deputy chief Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar both resident of Bahawalpur, Pakistan along with six other members of the terrorist group for planning and carrying an attack in Pathankot on January 2. This is the first time India has charge-sheeted Azhar on terror offence, following his release in exchange of victims of Kandahar hijack.Since the Pathankot attack, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz claimed that Azhar was under ‘protective custody’ since January 2014. But this has not restricted the head of the proscribed terror group to propagate jihad against India or own credit for the attacks by its cadres. Earlier this month, writing in the December 6 issue of al Qalam weekly—an online media arm of the JeM— Azhar talks about significance of Babri Masjid demolition and hanging of Afzal Guru in the continuance of jihad, demonetization not impacting funding of militancy and the Nagrota attack.”This week’s publication was delayed as the attack in Nagrota was still in action at the time of writing and communication failure (on details of the attack) from Kashmir,” Azhar wrote under his pen name Saadi. On November 29, three militants entered the army camp in Nagrota killing seven personnel. The militants left behind posters claiming the attack as a revenge for hanging of Afzal Guru.Elaborating on the attack in the ‘heart of the Northern Command of the Indian Army’, Azhar says the attack was carried by the Afzal Guru squad involving five militants and two of them managed to escape to safety. “There were three security cordons around the camp… it is not easy and inexpensive to gain entry and set the stage for the attack.” He indicates that the squad was helped by people with close knowledge on the geography of the camp and who are its frequent visitors, as any strange man walking a few steps could be caught and killed by the Army.Addressing an important aspect, on where did the money to buy equipment or prepare for the attack come from, Azhar says the demonetization of high currency denomination has not deterred the Kashmiri mujaheeds nor has impacted the funding for militancy. The money changers and industrialists, Azhar says were aware of demonetization before its public announcement by PM Narendra Modi. “The Kashmiri Mujahideen, Maoists and Khalistan fighters will not suffer any financial hardship. We are able to get the small currency by exchanging dollars, pounds and euro easily. The Nagrota attack is an evidence for this.”Invoking the demolition of Babri Masjid and Afzal Guru’s death, Azhar says these two events have shaped the narrative of `Ghazwa-e-Hind’ or the jihad against India. “India could’ve stopped the demolition of Babri Masjid, but it did not. It could have stopped the hanging of Guru, but it did not. There is now no power in India that can stop their revenge.”The Indian government is desperately trying to include Azhar on the UN Security Council’s 1267 sanctions list and subject him to an assets freeze and travel ban. JeM is already proscribed by the UNSC in 2001 for its terror activities and links to the al-Qaeda. China has so far vetoed India’s appeal to that would declare him as an international terrorist.THE JAISH HAND IN 2016January 2: 4 JeM militants attack Pathankot Air Force baseMay 20: 5 JeM militants killed in an encounter, KupwaraMay 23: 2 JeM cadres killed in Lal Chowk, SrinagarAugust 17: Three JeM militants ambush an Army convoy in Baramulla killing 2 army menSeptember 18: DGMO announces JeM militants attack Army camp in Uri (though NIA and other agencies claim Lashar-e-Taiba for the attack)November 29: Three militants entered Army camp in Nagrota dressed in Army fatigues.Posters claiming revenge for Afzal Guru recovered. Five army personnel killed.

Islamic State recruit from Mumbai deposited money into brother’s account for air travel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To facilitate his and friend’s journey to Egypt, ISIS recruit from Mumbra Tabrez Tambe had deposited Rs 5.17 lakh in his brother’s bank account before leaving the country in January, ATS officials said on Monday. Tambe had had left in January along with his friend Ali Al Shahri, a Saudi national. Tambe was detained in Libya recently.Few days before his journey to join the terror group, Tambe had deposited Rs 4.20 lakh on January 5 and Rs 97,000 on January 8 in his brother Saud Tambe’s account with a private bank.The money was meant for their ticket fare for Mumbai to Cairo, Cairo to Dar-E-Salaam and back, Cairo to Khartoum and back, according to the officials.Tambe was to undertake the Cairo to Khartoum journey alone as Ali was to travel separately.ATS is investigating whether the duo undertook their planned journeys or not.Ali, who was Tambe’s friend since they worked together in Saudi Arabia, had indoctrinated Tambe and also visited India later. It is also revealed that Ali had sent Rs 26,883 to Tambe through Western Union Money Transfer in November 11 this year. ATS is investigating the purpose of the transaction.Investigation is conducted into visa applications (of Tambe and Ali) for Egypt which were made through a Delhi-based travel agency and ticketing done by a famous travel company which has its office in Gurgaon (and) regarding transaction through Western Union Money Transfer, ATS officials said in a press statement.

Ajay Chautala seeks transfer of DA case to another court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>INLD leader Ajay Chautala, who is serving a 10-year jail term in a teachers’ recruitment scam case, on Monday approached a Delhi court seeking transfer of a disproportionate assets case against him to another court.Chautala claimed he apprehends he would not get a fair trial if his case is continued to be tried in the court presided by a special CBI judge, raising questions about the conduct of the presiding officer.District Judge Ravinder Kaur after hearing the arguments on the transfer petition fixed the matter for January 6, 2017. Advocate Vaibhavi Sharma, who appeared for Chautala, said “Reasonable apprehensions exists with the applicant/accused that he would not get a fair trial and a fair opportunity to defend himself and prove his innocence” incase the trial is continued in the present case before the special judge.A similar transfer plea of co-accused Abhimanyu Singh is also pending before the district judge.The court is currently recording evidence in the DA case in which Ajay, son of former Haryana Chief Minister and INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala, are facing trial.Two other similar cases are pending before it against his brother Abhay and their father. The cases were filed on a complaint by Haryana Congress leader Shamsher Singh Surjewala.Ajay is serving 10-year imprisonment awarded in January 2013 by another CBI court in the 1999-2000 junior basic trained (JBT) teachers recruitment scam.O P Chautala was also sent to 10 years in jail in the JBT case. The Supreme Court had dismissed the appeals of Chautala and Ajay and had upheld their jail term.CBI had chargesheeted Ajay in 2010 indicting him for possessing assets exceeding his legal income by 339.27 per cent. His legal income between May 1993 and May 2006 was Rs 8.17 crore, but had acquired assets worth Rs 27.7 crore, it had alleged.All the charges have been denied by Chautala and his sons.

Pathankot attack: Process to extradite Masood Azhar will begin soon, says Kiren Rijiju

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The process of extradition of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother and two others will begin soon with the filing of a charge sheet by the NIA in connection with terror attack at Pathankot airbase, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said on Monday. “A total of eight people were involved in the terror attack at Pathankot. Four are dead and four are alive and living in Pakistan. Since the charge sheet has been filed, the process of extraditing them from Pakistan will begin with the issuance of Interpol Red Corner Notice,” he told reporters here. Rijiju termed the filing of the charge sheet at the NIA court at Panchkula as a “huge break through”.The Minister of State for Home said since Pakistan is “incorrigible”, India has to put pressure on the neighbouring country to extradite the four persons living in Pakistan on the basis of the evidence gathered by the NIA. “Pakistan is already under pressure. The World knows that these two brothers are living in Pakistan and doing all kinds of terror acts,” he said. NIA today filed a charge sheet against Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother and two others for hatching the conspiracy of the January two audacious terror strike that left seven personnel dead and 37 others injured.The charge sheet was filed in the NIA court at Panchkula in which all the four have been slapped with charges under Indian Penal Code, Explosive Substances Act, Arms Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Besides Azhar, his brother Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar and two handlers — Shahid Latif and Kashif Jan — have been named in the exhaustive charge sheet. While Interpol Red Corner Notice against three has been issued, the same was pending against Jan, the NIA said.

Demonetisation: Opposition fails to capitalise on govt’s poor management of crisis

We are going through a strange political phase in India. On the one hand, for the first time in two and half years, there is a sense that the government is in trouble. On the other hand, there is also the feeling that the Opposition doesn’t really have the talent and the ability to either express popular sentiment or to capitalise on the moment.

The issue being debated is of course demonetisation, an exercise that has entered the second fortnight of its second month. Banks are still relatively low on supply, ATMs are still often not fully stocked with the right bills. But most importantly, the initial violence of the move to take out most of India’s cash is still passing through the system. The economy looks to have been put through an action which has damaged it and there does not seem to be sufficient control over managing the instability.

Opposition leaders after meeting President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

Opposition leaders after meeting President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

There was a moment, one week after the demonetisation announcement, when it may have been possible to reverse it. This was when the first hearings on the matter began in court and when most of the old currency was lying in the hands of the public. That moment has passed. The money has vanished in physical terms also, into the coffers of the RBI or banks, and the new notes have not been fully distributed through the system. The government says it will take another month, till the middle of January, before the system is stable. Even if that is true, merely printing the money doesn’t mean that the economy has received it. The cash has to be distributed across the system and there is no real estimate of how long that will take.

Few, including the prime minister who warned us about this in his latest speech on demonetisation, believe that there is no further pain ahead. This is the sort of moment and sort of political issue which any Opposition in a democratic space would have capitalised on. A deliberate action that slows the economy and inconveniences hundreds of millions of people daily for months is the sort of gift that politicians in Opposition dream of.

Incredibly, the government was actually able to make gains on this in the first couple of weeks. The media was strongly on the side of demonetisation then, and the public was shown as happy to be queuing up in support of the nation and against black money and terrorism. The Congress said it supported demonetisation but would insist on good management so that people were not inconvenienced. This position showed a lack of confidence and, more importantly, a lack of understanding about what was about to unfold. It could be said, rightly, that most people including experts, had no idea that things would drag on so long. But the Congress has decades of experience governing this country at the level of Centre and state. Surely it has enough input and data to be able to have known, and if it doesn’t then that is incompetence.

Instead it was two grassroots leaders, Arvind Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee, who from the first instance opposed the act of demonetisation unconditionally. They perhaps recognised that the action was reckless and that popular support would wane. Sure enough, this euphoria began to blow away from the queues as the discomfort continued and the nature of the goal changed from attacking black money to securing a digital economy.

It speaks poorly of the Congress and its leader Rahul Gandhi in particular that they have not been able to introduce original phrases that would capture the tragedy of demonetisation. In popular politics it is vital that you rally your support base with slogans. Gandhi was excellent at doing this against the British and so is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the most talented politician of our time. The Congress has no such ability and it bumbles along, having been handed a priceless political opportunity and not knowing how to properly grasp it.

The way in which Rahul has approached the crisis makes no sense. He has first been tentative, then he has senselessly broken Opposition unity by unilateral Congress action. He has threatened to reveal the prime minister’s personal corruption and then changed the subject to farmers’ distress when he eventually met Modi. There seems to be no discipline and no strategy in his approach. Very few people believe the prime minister is personally corrupt. It was not the sort of allegation that was to be made casually, yet it does seem to have been made in that fashion.

And so here we are, in the middle of the biggest self created crisis of this government. A crisis which involves and includes citizens and affects the way we go about our lives. A crisis that promises to continue into the first weeks of the new year at the level of individual inconvenience and the first few months at the level of the economy. It is crisis that is being managed poorly by the government and, it is absolutely clear, even more shoddily by the Opposition.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 09:38 IST

Making youth self-reliant is our govt’s priority: Vasundhara Raje

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Saturday said that making the youth self-reliant by equipping them with skill was the priority of her government.”For this, we would be launching the Mukhyamantri Kaushal Anudaan Yojana from the January 1, 2017 to make our youth skilled and employable,” she said.Under this new scheme, youth can avail the loan of up to Rs 1 lakh to get high quality skill development training. The state government will provide interest subsidy from 4 to 6 percent on this loan, she said.Raje was addressing a huge gathering at Umaid Stadium in Jodhpur after laying foundation stone and dedicating to public various developmental projects on the occasion of completion of three years of the state government.Reaffirming her commitment to serve the public of state, she announced the holding of the Mukhyamantri Shahari Jan Kalyan Shivirs next year. These camps shall focus on regularization of residential plots, houses and issuing of lease deeds in urban areas.While presenting the report card of 3 years of governance, Raje said “our three years’ achievements have left far behind the works of the previous government”.The Chief Minister while mentioning the flagship Bhamashah and Skill Development programmes said, Rajasthan was the first state in the country to set up ITIs in Government sector while on second position in setting up ITIs in private sector.She said that Rajasthan would now be the first state in the country to have two Skill Development Universities, first one in government and the second in private sector, she added.”We are focused on development, so we have no time for politics while the previous government had no time for development works as they were indulged in doing politics,” the chief minister said.Raje also announced policy and act for conservation and protection of cows.

Rajiv Jain appointed as new IB chief, Anil Dhasmana to head RAW

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jharkhand cadre IPS officer Rajiv Jain was on Saturday appointed as the new chief of Intelligence Bureau (IB) while Anil Dhasmana will head external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).Both the officers will have a tenure of two years. Jain, who is at present serving as the Special Director in the IB, will take over on January 1 after the incumbent Dineshwar Sharma completes his two-year tenure on December 31. A recipient of President’s Police Medal, the 1980-batch officer has served in various departments of the IB including the sensitive Kashmir desk.He was advisor to the previous NDA government’s interlocutor on Kashmir K C Pant when talks were held with separatist leaders like Shabbir Shah. In another appointment, Anil Dhasmana will take over the reins of the Research and Analysis Wing, an organisation which looks after the external intelligence of the country. He succeeds Rajinder Khanna who completes his tenure this year end. Dhasmana, a 1981-batch officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre, has been with RAW for the last 23 years during which he has served on important desks including Pakistan.

Sahara-Birla raids: Prashant Bhushan irks SC by seeking recusal of Justice Khehar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Friday termed as “most unfair” the plea of lawyer Prashant Bhushan seeking recusal of senior-most judge Justice JS Khehar from hearing a PIL seeking an SIT probe into alleged recovery of documents in Income Tax raids on two business houses, Sahara and Birla, in 2012.The PIL makes bribery allegations against politicians including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was then Gujarat Chief Minister. The court had on Wednesday questioned Bhushan whether aspersions could be cast against the prime minister without placing sufficient evidence. “You are talking about the highest court of the country. Do you think we can succumb to any pressure?” a bench comprising Justices JS Khehar and Arun Mishra said.The court was irked when Bhushan, representing NGO Common Cause which has filed PIL, sought recusal of Justice Khehar, whose name has been recommended by outgoing Chief Justice TS Thakur as his successor.”Though I have no doubt about the integrity, it is my duty, an unpleasant duty, as an officer of the court (to say) that this matter be heard by some other bench on reopening (after winter vacation),” Bhushan said, apparently hinting at the pendency of approval by the executive designating Justice Khehar as the next CJI.”Why should you say all this? it’s very unfair. You appeared twice, thrice before us but you didn’t say anything. Today you are saying things” the bench remarked. “If you had any problem you should have pointed out. It is very, very unfair. You are talking about the highest court. You are doubting a Constitutional functionary. Not fair,” the bench said.The top court bench also questioned the NGO and Bhushan for coming out with a plea without sufficient material and raising serious allegations against the highest constitutional functionary of the country.”This is the cheapest tactics and has never been done in the Supreme Court,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for centre, said adding that “This is more unfortunate as has been done in a PIL.”The bench, which was visibly upset, offered two solutions to AG and Bhushan saying either this matter be sent to the CJI for hearing by another bench or let the hearing be deferred to January till after the winter break. “I will agree with the second option,” Rohatgi said. Bhushan also agreed to the suggestion and said he will file a detailed affidavit in the matter.The apex court then deferred the hearing to January 11, 2017. The apex court had on December 14 made it clear that it is not going to entertain the plea of the NGO seeking SIT probe into alleged recovery of documents by the IT department in connection with the raids on two business houses unless it comes out with firm and relevant material. The apex court had said there was difficulty in going into the petition which deals with high functionaries as it was not supported by even smallest material.The NGO had moved an application seeking constitution of a special investigation team (SIT) to probe “incriminating” evidence and details of “unaccounted” cash recovered allegedly during the raids by the Income Tax department and CBI on the two companies in 2013-2014. The NGO had alleged that the documents seized by CBI in its search operation in Mumbai reportedly revealed massive bribery of politicians and officials of various ministries over several years. The bench had said it does not want to keep the matter pending and asked the NGO to come out with firm material on the matter in two days.When Bhushan said the court was forcing him to bring the relevant material within two days, the bench had said, “it is not unreasonable as you are just casting aspersions”. The bench, while stressing on the need for relevant material, had said, “Give us any smallest material, we will deal with it. We have already told you that you are talking about conversation about persons on telephone. These are nothing. You are dealing with high functionaries.”On November 25, the top court had refused to go into the NGO’s plea seeking probe into alleged recovery of documents by the IT department in connection with raids on the two business houses here in 2013-14 which purportedly showed computerised inventories containing designations of top people having received money. The application had claimed that “actionable evidence” gathered during the raids on both the groups was given a “quiet burial” by IT department and CBI.

Bihar to host 5 lakh Sikhs for 350th Prakashotsava in January

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The 350th Prakash Parv of Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh guru, is less than a month away and preparations are in full swing at his birthplace Patna Saheb, to ring in the grand celebrations from January 3 to 5, 2017.Expected to host over 5 lakh Sikh pilgrims from across the globe, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has described it as a matter of pride for the state to be part of such a grand occasion.To keep up with the CM’s promise, the Patna district administration in association with the Takhat Sri Harmandir Ji Patna Saheb Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee is working round the clock to make all arrangements. All preparations are being monitored at the Chief Secretary level and former bureaucrat G S Kang has also been roped in.Patna district magistrate Sanjay Kumar Agarwal, who is continuously monitoring the work, told DNA that all arrangements will be final by December 25. “Our preparations are in an advanced stage. The guests are expected from December 31. But, we will be ready to welcome them a week in advance,” he said.The renovation and beautification of the gurudwara, built at Guru Gobind Singh’s birth place commenced as early as in 2014. All houses and shops on the roads leading to the gurudwara, have been asked to get a fresh coat of white paint on the exterior and the administration will reimburse the cost if the house owners wish to claim it.Another major by the administration is the construction of three tent cities — at Gandhi Maidan, Kangan ghat and bypass area, which will provide free accommodation to over 50,000 people. Besides lodging arrangements, 24×7 ‘langar’, medical lounges, ATMs, etc. will also be provided. A makeshift gurudwara is also coming up at Gandhi Maidan.While PM Modi has agreed to participate in the event, some of his cabinet colleagues are also expected at the occasion. The government has also shared a list of hotels/guest houses with their contact on its website for the benefit of outstation devotees. The Bihar government has already declared a three-day public holiday starting from January 3.

Uttar Pradesh: Samajwadi Party leader booked for allegedly assaulting college staff

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mafia don-turned-politician and SP candidate for the 2017 Uttar Pradesh polls, Atiq Ahmed, has been booked for allegedly assaulting the staff of an educational institute on the outskirts of the city, police said on Thursday.As per the complaint, Ahmed along with scores of his supporters, barged inside the premises of Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture, Technology and Sciences (SHIATS) on Wednesday and assaulted its staff members who had opposed the unlawful entry, they said.”A case has been registered against Ahmed and four of his supporters under IPC sections pertaining to rioting, unlawful assembly, dacoity and criminal intimidation, at Naini police station in the district’s trans-Yamuna region on the basis of the complaint by Public Relations Officer of the institute,” Senior Superintendent of Police, Allahabad, Shalabh Mathur said. Fifty other unnamed persons have also been named in the FIR, the SSP said.According to SHIATS PRO Ramakant Dubey, Ahmed and his supporters barged into the premises of the institute saying they wanted to meet Vice Chancellor RB Lal. The security official on duty told them that Lal was not in his chamber and requested them to come later after getting an appointment, Dubey alleged. This enraged Ahmed and he and his supporters began beating up the security official. They also thrashed other staff members who tried to intervene, the PRO said.Ahmed, who was named as the ruling Samajwadi Party’s candidate from Kanpur Cantt seat last week, denied the allegation.The SP leader claimed that he had gone to the institute “to meet the Vice-chancellor with a request to reconsider the expulsion of students — Mohd Saif and Shaqip, who were recently rusticated for allegedly misbehaving with a faculty member”.Meanwhile, CCTV footage of the alleged assault by the SP leader and his supporters was shared with the police and media. Named in dozens of criminal cases, Ahmed hogged limelight when his name cropped up in the murder of young BSP MLA Raju Pal, who was gunned down in broad daylight in one of the city’s most crowded localities on January 25, 2005.The murder case was handed over to CBI following a Supreme Court order passed in January this year.

Curtain raised on 10th Zee Jaipur Literature Festival

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Curtains went up on the 10th edition of Zee Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) at the Taj Mansingh in the Capital on Tuesday. The five-day literary extravaganza, which will bring together over 250 writers and nearly four lakh book-lovers, will be held at the Diggi Palace in Jaipur from January 19-23.At the curtain-raiser event, organisers announced a new batch of 10 writers who will be attending the event. So far, names of 90 speakers have been announced. Among the big names attending this edition of the Zee-JLF are writers Margo Jefferson, Richard Flanagan, Alan Hollinghurst, Ha-Joon Chang, Dexter Filkins, Emma Sky and SL Bhyrappa.JLF Co-Founder William Dalrymple termed the 10th edition a landmark event for him. “We started with a few dozen visitors and the last edition saw 3.3 lakh people come to Jaipur to attend the festival. We have grown so big that in coming years we will have to move some of the less literary activities and panel discussions to another venue,” said Dalrymple.This year will see a larger presence of poets, screenplay writers, historians and international journalists, Dalrymple said. He attributed JLF’s success to Co-Founder Namita Gokhale’s knack for unearthing fascinating writers from the grassroots and his ability to bring writers with international standing to Jaipur.JLF Producer and Co-Founder Sanjoy Roy said some principles have been adhered to all these 10 years. He said JLF has been able to provide a platform for good literature and ensure access to all, irrespective of the economic class.Gokhale said that in an increasingly parochial and polarised world, it is literature that helps people scale walls. She also emphasised the importance of translations to access cultures that would otherwise be inaccessible and giving space to those who are marginalised by social, political and economic processes.The organisers thanked the Zee Group for its continuing patronage of the festival, a partnership which is now entering the fourth year.

Nitish Kumar to address joint rally with Hardik in Gujarat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Patidar reservation aandolan leader Hardik Patel plans to join hands with the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. On Tuesday, he invited the Bihar Chief Minister to address a joint farmers’ rally in Gujarat in January, when his banishment from his home state, as ordered by the high court, will end.Nitish, also the Janta Dal (United) JD(U) president, has accepted his invite and the duo will address a Kisan sammelan in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state on January 28.The visiting Akhil Bharatiya Patel Navnirman Sena (ABPNS) members had a luncheon meet with Nitish and Hardik, who landed in the state capital in the afternoon, was accorded a VIP treatment with a red beacon fitted ambassador dropping him at the Chief Minister’s house. JD (U) national secretary general KC Tyagi also accompanied him.“We are thankful of Nitish ji for supporting our movement and called upon him to express our gratitude,” Akhilesh Katiyar, a member of the visiting group, told the DNA. He also lauded Nitish’s ‘development with justice’ agenda and said ‘the Bihar model should be emulated at the national level.’It may be recalled that Hardik had supported Nitish ahead of the Bihar assembly polls last year when the Bihar CM has sympathised with their cause demanding reservation in the state government jobs and admission in educational institutions.Sources said that leaders from other backward communities may also be invited to the January 28 rally. JD (U) functionaries said the Bihar CM has also been invited to some other states where the economically backward class (EBC) communities are demanding reservation.

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’.

VVIP chopper scam: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi says PMO was part of ‘collective decision’ in favour of AgustaWestland

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Delhi court on Saturday sent former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi, arrested in the Rs 450 crore AgustaWestland bribery case in procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters, to police custody for four days after the CBI said he was needed to be quizzed to unearth a “very large conspiracy having international ramifications”.His cousin Sanjeev Tyagi alias Julie and advocate Gautam Khaitan, also accused in the procurement of VVIP choppers from the UK-based company during UPA-2 regime, were also sent to police custody till December 14.Metropolitan Magistrate Sujit Saurabh sent them to CBI custody saying their custodial interrogation was required for a “fair probe” in the case. During the proceedings, CBI sought 10 days’ custody saying it was a “very large conspiracy having international ramifications”.However, the counsel appearing for the accused, opposed CBI’s plea saying FIR in the case was registered over three years ago and there was no fresh ground for the arrests now.Senior advocate N Hariharan, who appeared for the former IAF chief, claimed that the decision to procure 12 VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective” one and the Prime Minister Office (PMO) was also a part of it.”It was a collective decision and not his (Tyagi’s) individual one. It was a collective decision of which PMO was also a part,” he told the court. The CBI alleged that Khaitan was the “brain” behind how the bribe money reached India and several companies through which the money travelled came into existence.While seeking their custodial interrogation, the agency said the accused were required to be confronted and their assistance was needed to collect evidence and details of the bribe amount paid by AgustaWestland through different back channels abroad.It said they were required to be interrogated and confronted with each other and the incriminating evidences.The agency alleged that Tyagi had “abused his official position, and when he was the Air Chief Marshal, he had made huge investments in land and other (properties) and he had not disclosed the source of his income.”It also said the involvement of several others in the entire conspiracy cannot be ruled out. “It was a very large conspiracy having international ramifications. Involvement of others in the conspriracy cannot be ruled out.” The agency claimed that sensitive documents were procured by the firm’s officials and several information regarding the procurement of choppers were conveyed to the firm after which the AgustaWestland got the deal.During the hearing, senior public prosecutor Raj Mohan Chand said that on October 31, 2004, S P Tyagi was appointed the IAF chief and he had to take the charge on January 1, 2005. Till that time, he was attached with the then IAF chief.The agency said at a meeting on March 1, 2005, a fresh tender was issued for procurement of choppers and a U-turn was taken on decisions taken earlier regarding the chopper deal.Under the earlier decision, the choppers had to be twin- engined but after this meeting, at Tyagi’s instance, it was amended to “at least twin-engined”, it alleged.This amendment was intended to make AgustaWestland eligible for entry as its choppers had three engines, the CBI claimed, adding that Carlo Gerosa, the alleged European middleman, and Sanjeev Tyagi were known to each other.Later, another alleged European middleman, Guido Haschke, came in contact with Sanjeev through Gerosa, it said.CBI further alleged that officials of AgustaWestland visited India several times and they, along with Haschke, met Tyagi unofficially and continued their contact.Tyagi’s counsel N Hariharan opposed CBI’s contentions and said the decision to procure the choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective decision of which PMO was also a part”.”The file moved through several levels but I am the only one who has been arrayed as accused,” he said, adding that the investments were made by him post-retirement and there is no ground for seeking his remand. Tyagi’s counsel argued that “the entire material is already with the CBI for sometime and Tyagi joined the probe whenever he was called for. There was a house search a day after the registration of the FIR and CBI had seized all the required materials”.At this stage, S P Tyagi, who was present in the court, told the magistrate, “I can give account of all my land investments if they (CBI) want.”Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, who appeared for Khaitan, opposed CBI’s plea saying “I hope it’s not the consequence of demonetisation which it seems to be. The FIR was lodged over three years earlier and the arrests now are illogical and illegal.”Luthra claimed that Khaitan had attended the probe on various occasions and his arrest was “malafide”.He said Khaitan was arrested in a case registered by Enforcement Directorate (ED) in relation to the chopper deal and had already got bail in the matter.”Khaitan had nothing to do with the award of the contract. They (CBI) just want to torture him. What was the CBI doing for three years? ED has already probed the facilitation of money. Money laundering is not CBI’s jurisdiction. If they did not need me when I was in ED custody, what grounds they have now,” he said, adding that everything said by the CBI against Khaitan was mentioned in ED’s case too.Sanjeev’s counsel also opposed the CBI’s contention saying that the agency was seeking custody after over three years of filing the FIR and there was no ground to keep them in custody.After hearing the arguments, the magistrate remanded the three accused to CBI’s custody till December 14 saying, “considering the seriousness of allegations and gravity of the matter, I am of the considered opinion that CBI custody of the accused is required for a fair probe”. 71-year old Tyagi, who had retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan were arrested on Friday by the agency.These are the first arrests in the case by CBI which came three years after it registered an FIR in 2013 to probe the allegations in the aftermath of details of the scam emerging in Italy where the prosecutors levelled allegations of corruption in the deal against the chief of Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland.CBI had alleged that in 2005, Tyagi had agreed to change long held stand of Indian Air Force that minimum operational ceiling of the VVIP helicopters should be 6000 metres.Tyagi allegedly influenced the decision to reduce it to 4500 metres which brought AgustaWestland into the running for the deal when its choppers were not even qualified for submission of bids, CBI sources said.On January 1, 2014, India had scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of payment of kickbacks of Rs 450 crore by it for securing the deal.On April 7, an Italian court had convicted two top executives of defence major Finmeccanica (AgustaWestland is its subsidiary) for paying kickbacks in the deal.

Govt to provide 90% subsidy for starting community radio stations in northeast states

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Aiming to give a boost to the community radio sector, the government on Saturday announced that 90% subsidy will be provided for starting such stations in the northeastern states and 75% in other states.Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu made this announcement at a conference of state ministers, organised by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry after a gap of around seven years.As per the present rules, I&B ministry gives a subsidy of 50% up to a limit of Rs 7.5 lakh, for starting community radio stations. In his concluding remarks, Naidu also announced that a new dedicated Doordarshan channel for the northeastern states will come up in the first half of January. This channel will show the richness, variety and diversity of the local culture and seamlessly integrate these states with the rest of the country, he said.Minister of State for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore said collaboration between states and Centre is the “bedrock for good governance” and there is a need to “move forward together as Team India” in scripting the development of the nation.Later, speaking to mediapersons at the sidelines of the event, to a question about reports that the Uttar Pradesh government wants to start a news channel, Naidu said, “There has been no direct communication. Why are they communicating through you (media)?” “I have not received any such information. If it comes, I have an open mind, but we will see it in light of the policies that are there,” he said.The present Act only allows Doordarshan and All India Radio. States do not have their own channels, he said.

Mehbooba Mufti says J&K safest for tourists, invites people to visit state

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Days after separatist groups invited tourists to the Valley, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday called upon the people of the country to visit the state and enjoy its hospitality, saying that it was the safest place in the world for tourists.”Jammu and Kashmir is the safest place not only in the country but the whole world for tourists and especially for women. You can move around here without any fear even during nights and nothing untoward will happen to you,” Mehbooba said while speaking at a function in Srinagar.She said that women face many hardships in other places in the country but her government would not let them face any hardships in the state. “We get to know what happens to women in broad daylight in other places, compared to that women can come here either by themselves or in groups. We will take good care of them and would not let them face any hardship,” she said.The chief minister said that her government would offer exciting packages to the tourists and invited them to visit the state along with their families. “The atmosphere here is also very good, the place is picturesque and then snowfall is in the offing and I would like to invite all the people of the country to visit Kashmir and enjoy our hospitality. Kashmir is calling you all. We will offer exciting packages. We will organise a snow festival at Gulmarg in January, so I request the people of the country to visit Kashmir along with their children,” she said.Mehbooba’s invite comes days after separatists made an appeal to tourists to visit the Valley, saying tourists and pilgrims from the world, including India, who intend to visit Kashmir were most welcome. “From centuries, Kashmiris have been safeguarding and providing exemplary hospitality and safety to tourists and Yatris from the world, including India, as we have been taught hospitality, humanity and safeguarding the rights of guests by our great religion.”Tourists and Yartris from the world, including India, who intend to visit Kashmir are most welcome,” the separatists said in a statement on December 6.Since the agitation broke out in July, tourism-related activities have come to a standstill in Kashmir.

Use free WiFi to download books, not movies: Nitish Kumar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Friday his government has decided to provide free WiFi facility in all colleges and universities by February and asked youths to use the facility for downloading books and knowledge materials and not for watching films. Free WiFi is part of programmes under “seven resolves” which the state’s Grand Alliance government has adopted to promote good governance, Kumar said while addressing a meeting here.Kumar said the facility has been conceived as it was realised that for doing good in life, youths should be “digitally” smart.However, it seemed that the facility was used more for downloading films than for literary works in Patna and officials in the secretariat were also not lagging behind. Giving an example of how free WiFi was being misused, he said, “It came to our knowledge that one gentleman has downloaded 300 movies in the 22 km of main city street where the facility is available.” “Downloading 1-2 movies is OK but the free WiFi facility in colleges and universities is conceived to help students download books and knowledge materials,” he said in the meeting, a part of his ‘Nishchay Yatra’.The Bihar CM is criss-crossing the state as part of ‘Nishchay yatra’ in a phased manner to take feedback on prohibition and preparations for implementation of ‘seven resolves’. Purnea stop is part of third phase of the yatra that began from Araria on Wednesday. Kumar said implementing total prohibition in the state since April this year has ushered in a “social revolution” particularly in rural areas. He also talked of the human chain that would be formed across the state on January 21 and sought more people’s participation in it.

You people are making it a fish market: CJI blasts junior lawyers while hearing demonetization plea

Fri, 9 Dec 2016-09:22pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”What kind of memory I would take with me,” was how a dejected Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, who is demitting office early next month, reacted when lawyers tried to out-shout each other during the hearing on demonetization.A visibly pained CJI made his displeasure known by saying that never in his career as a judge for 23 years he has seen such unruly behaviour when junior lawyers are shouting and attempting to pin down senior advocates and making the atmosphere of the court akin to a “fish market”. Justice Thakur was anguished when some of the lawyers raised their voice to interrupt the submission of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who was arguing for the government, and senior advocates like Kapil Sibal and P Chidambaram. “This is not a way to argue. You people are making it a fish market. You people don’t want senior advocates like Sibal to speak. See Mr Chidambaram has not yet stood up. This is very unfortunate. In 23 years of me as a judge, I have not seen such behaviour. This is the last week as a judge and I would be going with a heavy heart. What kind of decorum is maintained? This is CJI’s court and yet no decorum. You can’t be allowed this kind of behaviour,” the CJI, who will be demitting office on January 3, said.

Demonetisation in Himachal Pradesh: Gloom in Lahaul Valley as daily life suffers

Keylong (Himachal Pradesh): Locals in this landlocked town and nearby villages in the picturesque Lahaul Valley, known worldwide for growing virus-free seed potatoes, are worried.

They say the demonetisation of high-value currency has made them cashless, literally. This means the cash crunch may dampen their spirit of celebrations, gambling, knitting, drinking and making merry in the harsh winter months.

What’s more, they are yet to complete procurement of sufficient rations as a moderate spell of snow any time now will close all road links and they will remain cut off from the rest of the world at least for four months.

“It’s almost a month now that we are not getting sufficient cash from the banks to stock enough foodstuff and household items for the next three months ahead of the shutdown of the local road network linking us to the rest of the state,” Suresh Kumar Kardo of Kardang, a village near Keylong, told IANS.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

He said most of the important local festivals and rituals fall in winter. Even the celebrations of a wedding solemnised in summer are held in these months.

“To buy rations for themselves and fodder for the livestock, a majority of the locals are returning to the barter system,” Kardo added.

Just 122 km north of the picturesque Manali tourist resort, Keylong, situated at an altitude of 10,354 ft on the main road to Leh in Jammu and Kashmir over the majestic Rohtang Pass, is the administrative centre of Lahaul-Spiti district.

The Lahaul Valley, comprising over two dozen small, scattered villages in the district, remains cut off from the rest of the world for over four months from December onwards owing to heavy snow accumulation at Rohtang Pass (13,050 feet) — the only road link with Manali in Kullu district.

It re-opens once the snow starts thawing after mid-April.

Nand Lal, a government teacher posted in Keylong, said though the government has stocked sufficient supply of firewood, ration and LPG, the real problem is the cash crunch.

“Each government employee posted in this remote area gets six-months’ salary in advance. There is sufficient cash in the bank account, but there is no cash in hand,” he said.

It doesn’t help that the locals are not very financially literate.

“A majority of locals, especially the women, are conservative and they are still withholding certain amounts of the banned currency notes. They normally keep a certain amount of cash to handle any exigency. They need to be educated and motivated to get it replaced,” said another resident, Tashi Negi.

During snow-marooning, the locals can relish only peas and potatoes, the local cash crops grown in summer.

Tilak Raj, a shopkeeper at Keylong, said owing to the currency crunch, some of the shopkeepers prefer to exchange locally grown vegetables with cereals, pulses and other grocery items.

Octogenarian Sonam Negi of Jispa village said every woman in the village usually stitches clothes, weaves “daris” or rugs and knit woolens for the next winter.

“During summer, we are busy in tilling land. This is the time to socialise by weaving ‘daris’ and knitting woolens in groups. This time we don’t have sufficient cash to buy wool and thread,” she said.

“Without knitting we can’t even socialise,” she added.

The entire district is populated mainly by tribals. The climatic conditions of the district are harsh as much of the land falls in what is a cold desert where the mercury drops below minus 20 degrees Celsius in winter.

The Lahaulis, as the local people are called, are mostly farmers and grow mainly peas and potatoes. The valley’s seed potatoes are in great demand in states like West Bengal, Bihar and Karnataka.

“Chollo” or gambling is a popular form of entertainment in winter. Most of the menfolk begin their day with consuming “arah”, a local liquor extracted from barley, and even end the day with it.

Tara Chand, a grower of exotic vegetables in Sissu village, said a major local festival, known as Halda, is celebrated in the second and third week of January.

“Halda is one of the major festivals when the entire village gathers and celebrates. Such celebrations continue for days together. Normally, each villager stores enough rations in his household before the onset of snowfall,” he said.

This Buddhist-dominated district in the Himalayan terrain attracts globe-trotters not only for nature-based activities but also to ancient monasteries like Tabo and Dhankar.

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 13:10 IST

RRB NTPC 2016 exam: Check rrbbnc.gov.in for results

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Railway Recruitment Board has announced the results for the RRB NTPC 2016 examination. Around three lakh candidates have been cleared for the second stage examination scheduled to be held in January/ February.Login here to view your details of result of 1st Stage Examination (CBT) of NTPC (Graduate) posts against CEN No. 03/2015. Enter your registration number as your user id and your date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy) as the user password. You can also check out the region wise results on the following websites: Ahmedabad – rrbahmedabad.gov.in Ajmer – rrbajmer.gov.in. Allahabad – rrbald.gov.in Bangalore – rrbbnc.gov.in Bhopal – rrbbpl.nic.in Bhubaneshwar – rrbbbs.gov.in Bilaspur – rrbbilaspur.gov.in Chandigarh – rrbcdg.gov.in Chennai – rrbchennai.gov.in Gorakhpur – rrbgkp.gov.in Guwahati – rrbguwahati.gov.in Jammu – rrbjammu.nic.in Kolkata – rrbkolkata.gov.inMalda – rrbmalda.gov.inMumbai – rrbmumbai.gov.in Muzaffarpur – rrbmuzaffarpur.gov.in Patna – rrbpatna.gov.in Ranchi – rrbranchi.org Secunderabad – rrbsecunderabad.nic.in Siliguri – rrbsiliguri.org Trivandrum – rrbthiruvananthapuram.gov.in

Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar: What you should know about the new Chief Justice of India

Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, who led the five-judge constitution bench in the Supreme Court which had struck down the controversial National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) Act for the appointment of judges, was on Tuesday recommended as the 44th Chief Justice of India.

Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Tuesday wrote a letter recommending the name of Khehar, who is the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court to be his successor.

First CJI from the Sikh community

Justice Khehar, 64, will be the first Chief Justice from the Sikh community and he will succeed CJI Thakur who will be demitting office on 3 January, 2017.

File image of . Twitter @AarushianaSinghFile image of . Twitter @AarushianaSingh

File image of Justice Khehar. Twitter @AarushianaSingh

Having received his LLB and LLM from Punjab University, Chandigarh, Khehar was awarded Gold Medal for securing the first position in the university in LLM examination.

Before being elevated as a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh on 8 February, 1999, Khehar had practised before it as well as the Himachal Pradesh High Court and the Supreme Court. He was twice appointed as the acting chief justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court from 2 August, 2008, and again from 17 November, 2009.

He was elevated as chief justice of Uttarakhand High Court on 29 November, 2009. Later he was transferred as chief justice of Karnataka High Court. He was elevated as judge of the Supreme Court on 13 September, 2011.

According to a report in Hindustan Times, lawyers and former judges of the Punjab and Haryana high court have described him as a hardworking and competent lawyer, a self-made person, who was destined to scale new heights.

Khehar, who will be sworn in on 4 January, will hold the tenure for over seven months until 27 August, 2017.

NJAC

Considered to be a strong judge, Khehar presided over the constitution bench that junked the NJAC as unconstitutional holding that it intruded upon the independence of the judiciary.

The government had sought to replace the existing collegium system for the appointment of judges to higher judiciary by the NJAC mechanism through the enactment of Constitution’s 99th amendment that had put in place NJAC and the NJAC Act, 2014.

President’s Rule, Subrata Roy and more

Khehar also presided over the five judges’ constitution bench that had quashed the then Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa’s decision to prepone the assembly session from January 2016 to December as it directed the restoration of ousted Chief Minister Nabam Tuki’s government.

But subsequent political developments in Arunachal Pradesh took a different course.

He was also a part of the bench which sent Sahara chief Subrata Roy to jail while hearing the matter relating to the refund of money invested by people in his two companies.

Khehar also headed a bench which recently gave a significant verdict holding that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ has to be made applicable to those engaged as daily wagers, casual and contractual employees who perform the same duties as the regulars.

Turf war between the judiciary and the executive

While the turf war between the judiciary and the executive over the appointment of judges for higher judiciary has intensified, Khehar on the occasion of Constitution Day on 26 November had responded to the tirade from Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi by saying that the judiciary was working within its “lakshman rekha“.

“Judiciary is mandated to shield all persons, citizens and non-citizens alike, against discrimination and abuse of State power. Liberty, equality and dignity of the citizen have flourished substantially in India due to the pro-active role of the judiciary in the country,” he had said.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 12:47 IST

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