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Apple to cut iPhone production in first quarter of 2017: report | Reuters

Apple to cut iPhone production in first quarter of 2017: report | Reuters

Dec 30, 2016 23:43 IST

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Apple Inc (AAPL.O) will trim production of iPhones by about 10 percent in the January-March quarter of 2017, the Nikkei financial daily reported on Thursday, citing calculations based on data from suppliers.The company had slashed output by 30 percent in January-March this year due to accumulated inventory, the paper said. Apple’s shares were down 0.84 percent in midday trading, in line with the Nasdaq stock index.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 23:43 IST

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Israel warns on travel to India, citing immediate threat of attacks | Reuters

Israel warns on travel to India, citing immediate threat of attacks | Reuters

Dec 30, 2016 23:39 IST

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JERUSALEM Israel’s anti-terrorism directorate issued a travel warning for India on Friday, citing an immediate threat of attack to Western and tourist targets, particularly in the south-west of the country.”A particular emphasis should be put on events in the coming days in connection with beach and club parties celebrating the New Year where a concentration of tourists will be high,” part of the warning said.The statement recommended that tourists avoid participation in such parties. It also called on families in Israel to contact their relatives in India and tell them of the threat.In addition, it recommended avoiding markets, festivals and crowded shopping areas. Unusually, the warning was published on Friday evening in Israel, after the start of the Jewish Sabbath, when government offices close for business.

The directorate did not say what prompted the warning.In 2012, the wife of Israeli diplomat stationed in India, her driver and two others were wounded in a bomb attack on her car. Israel and India share close military ties.

(Writing by Ori Lewis, editing by Larry King)

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

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 23:39 IST

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British police say George Michael autopsy inconclusive, more tests needed | Reuters

British police say George Michael autopsy inconclusive, more tests needed | Reuters

Dec 30, 2016 21:32 IST

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LONDON The cause of singer George Michael’s death this week is unclear after an initial autopsy and more tests are needed, British police said on Friday.British singer Michael, who became one of the pop idols of the 1980s with Wham! and then forged a career as a successful solo artist, died at his home in southern England on Sunday. He was 53.”A post mortem examination was carried out yesterday as part of the investigation into the death of George Michael,” Thames Valley police said.

“The cause of death is inconclusive and further tests will now be carried out. The results of these tests are unlikely to be known for several weeks,” they added in a statement.British police had said that Michael’s death was “unexplained but not suspicious”. Michael’s manager, Michael Lippman, said he had died of heart failure.

In the mid-1980s, “Wham! were one of the most successful pop duos with singles such as “”Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, “”Careless Whisper”, ““Last Christmas” and ““The Edge of Heaven”.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Stephen Addison and Alison Williams)

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

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 21:32 IST

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Pune bakery fire: Six workers killed in Kondhwa’s ‘Cakes and Bakes’; fire contained

Pune bakery fire: Six workers killed in Kondhwa’s ‘Cakes and Bakes’; fire contained

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Six people died in a fire that broke out in a Pune bakery early morning on Friday, reports said.

According to DNA, the incident took place in a Cakes and Bakes outlet near Talab company in Kondhwa Khurd locality of the city. Six employees working in the bakery were charred to death, it said.

Though the exact reason for the fire is not known, according to MaharashtraToday.in report, a short circuit is reportedly believed to have caused the fire. “The bakery was locked from outside and so the workers got trapped inside and died in the fire,” it said.

A video shared by YouTube shows the fire spreading to nearby shops. Firstpost, however, couldn’t independently verify the authenticity of the video.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 09:45 IST

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LIVE Australia Vs Pakistan Live Score

AUS vs PAK | Dec 26th, 2016

PAK 91 5 31.0

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OVERS

LIVE South Africa Vs Sri Lanka Live Score

SA vs SL | Dec 26th, 2016

SL 240 5 83.0

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OVERS

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Sri Lanka’s Mahinda Rajapaksa opposes land for Chinese investment | Reuters

By Shihar Aneez
| COLOMBO

COLOMBO Sri Lanka’s former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday criticised a government plan to grant 15,000 acres for Chinese investment in his constituency, saying it will deprive people of agricultural land.Rajapaksa, chided by the West and India for his close relations with China during his rule, is now agitating against President Maithripala Sirisena government’s moves to attract investment as he seeks to rally support under a new party.Despite his shock defeat in January 2015, Rajapaksa is still popular among Sinhala Buddhists, who accounts for 70 percent of the population, because of his leadership to end a 26-year war against Tamil Tiger separatists.He is backed by a newly formed party with around 45 legislators from the Sirisena-led Sri Lanka Freedom Party.However, while Sirisena’s coalition still has a two thirds majority in parliament and, under the constitution, the legislature cannot be dissolved until early 2020, local and provincial elections in 2017 could see Rajapaksa making gains.Sirisena government has agreed to give 15,000 acres of land to China in Rajapaksa’s constituency of Hambantota, where China Merchants Port Holdings Company will get 80 percent stake in a $1.5 billion port on a 99-year lease.

The government says the investment zone will create thousands of jobs. “These are people’s agricultural lands. We are not against Chinese or Indians or Americans coming here for investment. But we are against the land being given to them and the privatisation they are doing,” Rajapaksa told the Foreign Correspondents’ Association at his official residence in Colombo.He said he had discussed his concerns with Chinese officials when he visited Beijing on a one-week visit last month.

It is not clear whether his opposition and close ties to China could scupper the investment, creating further economic and diplomatic headaches for the government. China is Sri Lanka’s largest lender.But any groundswell of opposition to giving the land to the Chinese could cause problems, especially if the government ends up having to remove local residents and farmers by force. Some of the land is owned by the government. It is planning to pay compensation for the land it does not own. The deal is expected to be signed in early January.

“We’re worried about it. We don’t mind about an industrial park coming in, but not like this. 15,000 acres is too much. We wanted to give 750 acres (under the last regime). When they (China) asked for 1,000 acres, I said no,” Rajapaska said. Rajapaksa, now a legislator in opposition benches, oversaw $7 billion Chinese financing into Sri Lanka’s infrastructure. Sirisena stopped most Chinese projects, including a $1.4 billion land reclamation project launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping, citing corruption and lack of proper procedures, resulting in a bitter diplomatic relationship with China. However, later Sirisena allowed the resumption of projects with China. (Reporting by Shihar Aneez)

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

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 21:55 IST

Tata Sons asks Cyrus Mistry to return all confidential information | Reuters

Tata Sons asks Cyrus Mistry to return all confidential information | Reuters

Dec 29, 2016 20:20 IST

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MUMBAI Tata Sons demanded former chairman Cyrus Mistry return all confidential information and documents regarding the company in his possession, in its second legal notice in as many days.The letter, sent by Tata Sons’ lawyers, further demanded that Mistry sign a letter pledging not to disclose any confidential information regarding the company, including to affiliates, relatives and family members.”We have credible information that you have wrongfully and dishonestly taken movable property being confidential information,” said the letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

The notice comes after Tata Sons, the holding firm for the $100 billion Tata conglomerate, on Tuesday accused Mistry of breaching confidentiality rules, and said it would take legal action against him.

(Reporting by Rafael Nam)

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

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 20:20 IST

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LIVE Australia Vs Pakistan Live Score

AUS vs PAK | Dec 26th, 2016

AUS 465 6 113.5

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LIVE South Africa Vs Sri Lanka Live Score

SA vs SL | Dec 26th, 2016

SL 240 5 83.0

RUNS

WKTS

OVERS

LIVE New Zealand Vs Bangladesh Live Score

NZ vs BAN | Dec 29th, 2016

BAN 184 10 42.4

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Kanpur train accident: Here’s a list of rail mishaps across India in 2016

Kanpur train accident: Here’s a list of rail mishaps across India in 2016

In what came as another blow to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s efforts to modernise and improve India’s railway system, 15 coaches of the Ajmer-Sealdah Express derailed near Rura — near Kanpur — on Wednesday. The coaches included 13 sleeper coaches and two general coaches.

The incident took place reportedly at 5.22 am as the train was crossing a bridge over a dry canal in the area.

Forty-four people were injured in the accident apart from the deceased.

Unfortunately, however, for Prabhu and his ministry, this is the latest in a series of train accidents that have occurred all over India in 2016:

The railway minister, along with the Indian public at large, will be hoping that 2017 proves to be a much safer year for rail transport in the country.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 17:32 IST

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LIVE Australia Vs Pakistan Live Score

AUS vs PAK | Dec 26th, 2016

AUS 278 2 58.0

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LIVE South Africa Vs Sri Lanka Live Score

SA vs SL | Dec 26th, 2016

SA 132 1 36.1

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Mishap averted as Indigo, SpiceJet aircraft come face-to-face at IGI in Delhi

Mishap averted as Indigo, SpiceJet aircraft come face-to-face at IGI in Delhi

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New Delhi: A major mishap was averted in Delhi at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport on Tuesday after an Indigo and a SpiceJet aircraft came face-to-face on the runway.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“An Indigo flight 6C-729 which was coming from Lucknow to Delhi with 176 passengers on board, post landing on the taxi way saw a SpiceJet aircraft in front of it,” Indigo spokesperson Ajay Jesra told IANS.

“The incident occurred on Tuesday morning and the matter has been reported to Air Traffic Control (ATC) and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA),” Jesra said.

According to officials, the DGCA has ordered a probe into the incident.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 11:14 IST

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LIVE Australia Vs Pakistan Live Score

AUS vs PAK | Dec 26th, 2016

PAK 268 6 95.2

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LIVE South Africa Vs Sri Lanka Live Score

SA vs SL | Dec 26th, 2016

SA 267 6 90.0

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Jet Airways flight from Goa to Mumbai skids off the runway; all passengers safely evacuated

Jet Airways flight from Goa to Mumbai skids off the runway; all passengers safely evacuated

Dec 27, 2016 07:57 IST

#Flight #Goa #Jet Airways #Mumbai #NewsTracker

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On Tuesday, a Jet Airways flight from Goa to Mumbai skidded off the runway at Goa’s Dabolim airport, reported ANI. The flight 9W-2374 veered off the runway due to some technical glitch. There were 161 people onboard the flight, including the crew members.

Some people sustained minor injuries. According to ANI, all the passengers were safely evacuated.

Jet Airways issued a statement saying, “All guests and crew have been safely evacuated. Few guests have sustained injuries during the evacuation process.”

The airport will remain shut till 12.30 pm.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 07:57 IST

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LIVE Australia Vs Pakistan Live Score

AUS vs PAK | Dec 26th, 2016

PAK 232 4 81.0

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OVERS

LIVE South Africa Vs Sri Lanka Live Score

SA vs SL | Dec 26th, 2016

SA 267 6 90.0

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2016 in review: Do you have what it takes to go for this really really really difficult Firstpost quiz?

2016 in review: Do you have what it takes to go for this really really really difficult Firstpost quiz?

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From Modi’s demonetisation politics to Rio Olympics, how closely have you been following news this year? Test your knowledge here.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 17:32 IST

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LIVE Australia Vs Pakistan Live Score

AUS vs PAK | Dec 26th, 2016

PAK 142 4 50.5

RUNS

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LIVE South Africa Vs Sri Lanka Live Score

SA vs SL | Dec 26th, 2016

SA 166 2 54.1

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LIVE New Zealand Vs Bangladesh Live Score

NZ vs BAN | Dec 26th, 2016

BAN 264 9 44.5

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Sri Lanka to soon release 20 Indian fishermen

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

Odisha: Maoists kill one, torch seven vehicles in Koraput

Odisha: Maoists kill one, torch seven vehicles in Koraput

Dec 24, 2016 14:38 IST

#Koraput #Maoist #NewsTracker #Odisha

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

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

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

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

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

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

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

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

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GST council meeting: FM Jaitley ‘trying best’ for 1 April rollout even as logjam continues

GST council meeting: FM Jaitley ‘trying best’ for 1 April rollout even as logjam continues

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New Delhi: Finding no common ground on the issue of dual control or cross empowerment that deals with assessee jurisdiction, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council’s 7th meeting that came to an end on Friday raised grave concerns about its 1 April implementation date while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley saying that he was trying his best.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI file photoFinance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI file photo

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI file photo

“I am trying my best (on deadline of 1 April). I don’t want to hasten the process of discussion and don’t want to delay the implementation,” Jaitley said at a press briefing after the Council meet ended.

The Finance Minister however said: “There was no issue raised on dual control today as we were working on legislations.”

The drafts of Central GST (cGST) and the compensation law have been mostly approved with the only portions relating to dual control being left out, he added.

Jaitley said that the two principle issues that still remain before the Council are Integrated GST (iGST) and cross empowerment.

“In iGST, definition of territory of states is pending. And the division of authority between assessing authorities of Centre and states is pending. The two issues will be taken up together at the next meeting on January 3-4,” he added.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 18:05 IST

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2017 Punjab Assembly elections: Congress releases second list of candidates

2017 Punjab Assembly elections: Congress releases second list of candidates

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New Delhi: The Congress on Friday released the second list of 16 candidates for the upcoming Punjab Assembly elections. The names announced by Congress General Secretary Madhusudan Mistry include Barinderjit Singh Pahra from Gurdaspur.

Pahra’s father Kartar Singh Pahra was an MLA from 1997 until 2002 and he has been working in the constituency for the last several years.

The Central Election Committee (CEC) of the Congress had on Tuesday finalised 25 candidates in the second round, but it announced names of only 16 of them.

The party announced the first list of 61 nominees for the Punjab polls last week.

In the first list, the party retained as candidates 31 of its 42 legislators.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 17:20 IST

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Wall Street dips as retailers lag | Reuters

Wall Street dips as retailers lag | Reuters

Dec 23, 2016 00:49 IST

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NEW YORK U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, weighed down by a dip in retailers, as investors stepped back from a recent rally fuelled by optimism that President-elect Donald Trump will invigorate economic growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 22.95 points, or 0.12 percent, to 19,919.01, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 4.22 points, or 0.19 percent, to 2,260.96 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 24.01 points, or 0.44 percent, to 5,447.42.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 00:49 IST

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White House: FBI is probing Yahoo hack, cannot yet provide scope | Reuters

White House: FBI is probing Yahoo hack, cannot yet provide scope | Reuters

Dec 15, 2016 23:36 IST

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WASHINGTON The White House on Thursday said it could not address the potential scope of vulnerable material from Yahoo Inc’s most recently disclosed hack, adding that the FBI is investigating the breach.Speaking to reporters at a daily briefing, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that U.S. investigators would have to ensure that releasing any public information about those behind the attack would not compromise the probe.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 23:36 IST

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LIVE Australia Vs Pakistan Live Score

AUS vs PAK | Dec 15th, 2016

AUS 288 3 90.0

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India infused $74 billion of cash into banking system post Nov. 8 – Shaktikanta Das | Reuters

India infused $74 billion of cash into banking system post Nov. 8 – Shaktikanta Das | Reuters

Dec 15, 2016 21:42 IST

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NEW DELHI The Reserve Bank of India has infused more than 5 trillion rupees ($73.66 billion) of currency notes into the banking system since Nov. 8, Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das told reporters on Thursday.This is a fraction of the 15.44 trillion rupees in 500- and 1,000-rupee notes that were circulating before Prime Minister Narendra Modi abolished them last month, in a surprise move targeting counterfeiters and people holding undeclared wealth.

($1 = 67.8801 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Manoj Kumar; Editing by Malini Menon)

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

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 21:42 IST

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LIVE Australia Vs Pakistan Live Score

AUS vs PAK | Dec 15th, 2016

AUS 288 3 90.0

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Fire breaks out in Biocon research subsidiary in Bengaluru; no casualties reported

Fire breaks out in Biocon research subsidiary in Bengaluru; no casualties reported

Dec 13, 2016 08:38 IST

#Bengaluru #Biocon #Fire #NewsTracker #Syngene

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Representational image. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia CommonsRepresentational image. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Representational image. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Bengaluru: A fire broke out on early Tuesday at the premises of Syngene, the contract research subsidiary of Biocon, but there were no reports of any casualties. The fire was brought under control with the assistance of the local authorities, a statement issued by the company said.

“This is to inform that there has been an incident of fire at the Syngene Campus, Jigni Link road, which has been brought under control with the assistance of local authorities,” the company said. It also stated that preliminary reports indicated that no one was injured in the incident and there has been no loss of life.

The company has taken all necessary measures to ensure the safety of its employees, the statement said. Karnataka Fire Department also tweeted that a chemical fire broke out in Biocon factory and eight vehicles had been sent to the spot. Syngene offers integrated drug discovery and development services with capabilities in medicinal chemistry, biology and toxicology.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 08:38 IST

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India’s southeast coast braces as cyclone approaches | Reuters

India’s southeast coast braces as cyclone approaches | Reuters

Dec 11, 2016 19:09 IST

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MUMBAI India’s weather office called on Sunday for fishermen to stay ashore hours before a very severe cyclone storm was due to strike the southeast coast, including Chennai, one of the most populous Indian cities.The cyclone “Vardah” is moving in from the Bay of Bengal and will landfall along and off Chennai on Monday afternoon with wind speed of 100 kmph, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its latest bulletin.From Sunday evening coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh will start getting heavy rainfall and extremely heavy rainfall is likely over Chennai and adjourning areas on Monday, the IMD said.

India’s cyclone season generally lasts from April to December, often causing dozens of deaths, evacuations of tens of thousands of people from low-lying villages and widespread crop and property damage.

In 1999, a “super-cyclone” battered the coast of the eastern state of Odisha for 30 hours with wind speeds reaching 300 kmph. It killed 10,000 people.

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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

First Published On : Dec 11, 2016 19:09 IST

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LIVE India Vs England Live Score

IND vs ENG | Dec 8th, 2016

ENG 182 6 47.3

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Taliban chief reinforces position with backing of two key members | Reuters

Taliban chief reinforces position with backing of two key members | Reuters

Dec 10, 2016 20:04 IST

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KABUL Hardline cleric Mullah Haibatullah Akundzada has reinforced his position as the new leader of the Afghan Taliban by winning the support of two senior members, the insurgent group said on Saturday.Former Taliban interior minister Mullah Abdul Razaq Akhund and Mullah Abdul Sata Akhund “pledged their full support” to Akundzada during a meeting of Taliban scholars at an undisclosed location on Friday, the group said on its website. Akundzada in May replaced former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour who was killed by a U.S. drone strike.

Senior members of the insurgent group hope Akundzada will be able to bring disparate factions together and repair the splits that emerged last year when Mansour was appointed.Afghan security forces have struggled to hold off resurgent Taliban fighters, who are estimated to control more territory in Afghanistan than at any time since 2001 when the U.S. invaded.

(Reporting by Mirwais Harooni; Writing by Randy Fabi Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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

First Published On : Dec 10, 2016 20:04 IST

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No intention to add to strain in ties with Pakistan: VK Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that it acted in interest of national security in expelling a Pakistan High Commission official in October, Government on Thursday said it has no intention to add to the strain in ties with Pakistan caused by Islamabad’s continued policy of cross-border terrorism.Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh, replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, said tension in the relationship between the two countries has been caused by Pakistan’s continued policy of directing cross border terrorism against India and supporting other anti-India activities. India had expelled Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar on charges of spying, triggering a tit for tat action by Islamabad, which also expelled an Indian High Commission official posted there.”In declaring Mehmood Akhtar persona non grata and asking for his return to Pakistan, the government acted in the interest of national security.”It is not government’s intention to add to the strain in the relationship with Pakistan, which is caused by the latter’s continued policy of directing cross border terrorism against India and supporting other anti-India activities,” Singh said. Days after Mehmood’s expulsion, Islamabad had recalled six staff members from its High Commission here.Subsequently, India had withdrawn eight of its officials posted in Indian Embassy in Islamabad after Pakistan Foreign Ministry on November 3 alleged that they were found involved in subversive activities there.India had rejected the charges as totally baseless and unsubstantiated, saying they represented an afterthought and a crude attempt to tarnish image. Replying to a separate question, Singh said a total of 787 Indian fishermen were apprehended by Sri Lanka in the year 2014, 454 in 2015 and 254 were caught this year.He said a total of 1,045 Indian fishermen were released by Sri Lanka in 2014 which included 273 caught in the previous year. Singh said 375 Indin fishermen were released in 2015 and 333 this year which included some caught in previous year. Asked about functioning of MADAD consular service portal, he said a total of 15,849 grievances were registered since its inception in February 2015 out of which 9,811 were resolved while 6,038 are at various stages of resolution.To another question, he said the government had drawn up a list of 68 countries, which have not been covered at the ministerial or higher level since the current dispensation assumed office.He said visits have so far taken place to 29 out of these 68 countries.

Demonetisation has embassies unhappy; Modi government must take stock of diplomats’ woes

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on 8 November that his government has rendered Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as illegal, citing the drive as an effective solution for an economy riddled with black money, counterfeit currency, and to counter terrorism. Many didn’t know what to make of it, some called it a “masterstroke”, others a “foolish idea”. As the days pass on his 50-day waiting period, and economists, policy watchers have had time to reflect on the demonetisation move, the side-effects are becoming more apparent.

How will demonetisation affect foreign policy?

A recent PTI report claimed that the demonetisation move is taking a toll on Indian diplomacy because Russia lodged a “strong protest over cash shortage affecting the functioning of its embassy in Delhi and threatening retaliatory action.”

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Before we give into theatrical imaginations, a “retaliatory action” would be that the issue will be escalated to Moscow and the Indian ambassador in Russia will be called in. What seems to be the issue, you ask? There has been a restriction on withdrawal imposed on embassies for about Rs 50,000 per week. Russian ambassador Alexander Kadakin wrote to the Ministry of External Affairs that such an amount “totally inadequate as regards (to) the embassy’s salary and operational expenditure requirements.”

The official quoted in the PTI report also suggested that other retaliatory options would include putting a similar restriction on cash withdrawals for Indian diplomats posted in Russia.

Russia, however, is not the only country expressing its frustration with demonetisation — not so much with the move, but with the withdrawal restrictions.

According to The Times of India, Hans Dannenberg Castellanos from the Dominican Republic, ambassadors of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia have also sent letters to the MEA.

“The worst hit are Nepal and Bhutan where Indian currency is a legal tender,” says the report. The disgruntled diplomat group, led by Russia is hoping for increased ceiling for withdrawals, dedicated bank windows in bank branches and removal of cash curbs for foreign visitors.

The government, according to a report in Business Standard, has set up an “inter-ministerial task force” to ease the problems of diplomats.

Now, the most obvious impact that one can ascertain from the way things are going is that this hurts the goodwill between nations, at a very individual level.

The Narendra Modi government has maintained the necessary optics in terms of foreign policy and diplomacy. As argued in this Firstpost piece, foreign policy has been the most visible dimension of this government’s term so far. But the government’s negligence in taking care of the growing dissatisfaction and negative impact of demonetisation on embassies and for diplomats will mar the good reputation that India has built so far.

The BJP government has prided itself on turning the focus of its international efforts towards India’s neighbours — the “neighbourhood first policy” might get off course as countries like Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal — where the Indian rupee is a legal tender and use of which is actually encouraged.

Handshakes, press conferences, signed MoUs, photo-ops are all great, but if the people working behind the scenes — foreign bureaucrats, diplomats and embassy workers — are unhappy, the shiniest jewel in the BJP crown could lose some of its sparkle.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 12:04 IST

Cyrus Mistry defends his position in letter to six Tata firms | Reuters

Cyrus Mistry defends his position in letter to six Tata firms | Reuters

Dec 5, 2016 20:16 IST

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By Euan Rocha
| MUMBAI

MUMBAI Ousted Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry has reached out to shareholders of six Tata group companies defending his position and laying out reasons for why he should not be removed as director at their upcoming shareholder meetings.Mistry, in a letter to shareholders in Tata group companies seen by Reuters, has also highlighted the need for governance reforms at the Tata trusts, Tata Sons and Tata group companies.

Tata Sons has called shareholder meetings at group companies including Tata Motors and Tata Consultancy Services in an attempt to drive out Mistry from the operating businesses of the $100 billion steel-to-software conglomerate after ousting him as group chairman in October.

(Writing by Aditi Shah; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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

First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 20:16 IST

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Uttar Pradesh: Ambedkar statue desecrated, angry mob blocks traffic

Uttar Pradesh: Ambedkar statue desecrated, angry mob blocks traffic

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Bhadohi (Uttar Pradesh): A statue of BR Ambedkar was found desecrated on Thursday in Dudwa Dharampuri locality in Sant Ravidas Nagar district, leading to tension in the area.

Some anti-social elements damaged the four feet tall statue of Ambedkar by throwing stones at it, said circle officer Paramhans Mishra.

Protesting against the incident, an angry mob blocked traffic on the main road for over an hour prompting the administration to deploy additional police force.

Senior administrative and police officials also rushed to the spot to bring the situation under control and pacified the protesters.

According to Patrika, officials installed a new statue which brought the situation under control and also assured the protestors of action against miscreants involved in desecrating the statue. A case has been registered against unidentified persons.

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 15:12 IST

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Sri Lankan court extends remand of 11 Tamil Nadu fishermen

Mon, 28 Nov 2016-11:55am , Chennai , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Sri Lankan court extended till December 9, the remand of 11 Tamil Nadu fishermen on Monday, arrested for allegedly fishing in the island nation’s territorial waters.The Oorkavalthurai court in Sri Lanka, extended the judicial custody of the fishermen till December 9, Rameswaram Fishermen’s Association President P Sesuraja said.The 11 fishermen from this island town were arrested on November 18, by the Sri Lankan Navy, while they were fishing near Neduntheevu and lodged in Yalpanam prison there, he said.The naval personnel had also taken away their two mechanised boats, he added.

India confirms H5N8 bird flu outbreak in Karnataka: OIE | Reuters

India confirms H5N8 bird flu outbreak in Karnataka: OIE | Reuters

Nov 25, 2016 21:39 IST

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PARIS India has reported an outbreak of a highly contagious bird flu virus in the southwestern state of Karnataka, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Friday, citing a report from the Indian agriculture ministry.The H5N8 virus was confirmed among birds in the village of Itagi, and all 1,593 of the birds at risk from the disease died or were culled, according to the report posted by the Paris-based OIE.No details were given on the type of birds or location involved.

The H5N8 bird flu strain has been found in several countries in Europe and the Middle East in recent weeks, leading some states to order poultry flocks to be kept indoors.

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Bate Felix)

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

First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 21:39 IST

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AUS vs SA | Nov 24th, 2016

AUS 307 6 102.0

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NZ vs PAK | Nov 25th, 2016

NZ 77 2 21.0

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ZIM vs WI | Nov 25th, 2016

WI 124 5 27.3

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Thyssenkrupp leaves open possibility of keeping steel majority | Reuters

Thyssenkrupp leaves open possibility of keeping steel majority | Reuters

Nov 24, 2016 19:46 IST

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

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

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan)

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

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

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AUS 14 0 12.0

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Tripura bypolls: Vote counting begins in Barjala, Khowai

Tripura bypolls: Vote counting begins in Barjala, Khowai

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Agartala: The counting of votes of the by-elections to the Barjala and Khowai assembly seats in Tripura began on Tuesday, an official said.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Polling for the two scheduled caste reserved seats in Tripura took place on Saturday amidst tight security.

The Barjala seat fell vacant after Congress legislator Jitendra Sarkar resigned on 6 June following an internal feud within the party while the Khowai seat turned vacant following the death of veteran CPI-M legislator Samir Deb Sarkar.

Five candidates each contested from the two constituencies.

Both by-polls were four-cornered contests.

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 10:56 IST

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India allows 250,000 rupee wedding cash withdrawals after notes ban | Reuters

India allows 250,000 rupee wedding cash withdrawals after notes ban | Reuters

Nov 21, 2016 20:36 IST

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MUMBAI India’s central bank said on Monday that people can withdraw up to 250,000 rupees ($3,670) for wedding related expenses, provided they submit adequate proof and the wedding is on or before Dec. 30.The cash withdrawals will be allowed out of the balance in the account as of close of business on Nov. 8, the Reserve Bank of India said in a statement. (bit.ly/2g9nZt1)Prime Minister Narendra Modi dropped a bombshell on Nov. 8 by abolishing 500 and 1,000 rupee notes that accounted for 86 percent of cash in circulation. The move was aimed at cracking down on the shadow economy but has brought India’s cash economy to a virtual standstill.Modi’s decision to withdraw the high-value bills in the middle of the wedding and seed sowing season has drawn widespread criticism from Indians forced to queue at banks to exchange bills or without cash to pay for goods and services.

The RBI said the wedding withdrawals could be made by either of the parents or the people getting married after submitting an application.People looking to withdraw have to also submit evidence of the wedding, including the invitation card and copies of receipts for advance payments, and a detailed list of people who will receive the cash.

The RBI also said it would allow farmers to withdraw cash up to 25,000 rupees a week from their loan or deposit accounts subject to their accounts. (bit.ly/2guTdiv)Earlier on Monday, the Indian government allowed farmers to purchase seeds with old 500 rupee banknote from state-run outlets.

($1 = 68.1385 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Abhirup Roy; Editing by Alison Williams)

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

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 20:36 IST

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IND vs ENG | Nov 17th, 2016

ENG 158 10 97.3

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ZIM vs SL | Nov 21st, 2016

ZIM 55 2 13.3

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Demonetisation: Rahul Gandhi visits a third ATM to discuss problems faced by people

Demonetisation: Rahul Gandhi visits a third ATM to discuss problems faced by people

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Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Monday visited an ATM in the city and interacted with the people standing in the queue, the Indian National Congress (INC) tweeted.

“Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi met people standing in queue early morning outside an ATM in Jahangirpuri area, Delhi,” said the tweet.

The information initially tweeted by the Youth wing of the Congress party was later retweeted by the INC.

During the interaction, Gandhi asked the people about the difficulties they faced after the demonetisation of the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.

This was Gandhi’s third ATM visit post the Centre’s demonetisation move on 8 November.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 11:15 IST

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ENG 142 7 92.5

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11 Indian fishermen arrested by Sri Lankan navy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At least 11 Indian fishermen along with their trawlers have been detained by the Sri Lankan Navy, the military here said today. The fishermen from Tamil Nadu were arrested yesterday while fishing near Sri Lanka’s Neduntheevu island.They were found illegally fishing in Sri Lankan waters northwest off the coast of Jaffna’s Delft islet, the navy said. Around 3,500 fishermen in 634 boats had put out to sea from Rameswaram last night.The fishermen were detained and taken to Kangesanthurai Port along with their two boats, Tamil Nadu police and state Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association leader P Sesuraja said. The Sri Lankan naval men also chased away hundreds of other fishermen by allegedly pelting bottles and stones and warning through public address system, they said.On November 4, India and Sri Lanka decided to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries to meet every three months and hold a meeting between the Ministers for Fisheries every six months during extensive ministerial-level talks in New Delhi on possible mechanisms to find a permanent solution to the emotive issue of fishermen.

Kanpur train accident: Rajnath Singh asks NDRF to help in rescue and relief measures

Kanpur train accident: Rajnath Singh asks NDRF to help in rescue and relief measures

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New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday took stock of the situation in the wake of the derailment of the Indore-Patna Express in Kanpur and asked the Director General of National Disaster Response Force to rush to the spot.

File photo of Rajnath Singh. AFPFile photo of Rajnath Singh. AFP

File photo of Rajnath Singh. AFP

The Home Minister asked NDRF Chief OP Singh to provide all assistance to the Railway authorities and Uttar Pradesh government in relief and rescue operations.

The Home Minister also spoke to Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu about the accident and took stock of the situation, official sources said.

Three NDRF teams have been rushed from Varanasi and Lucknow to the accident spot. There are 45 personnel in each team.

63 people were killed and over 150 injured when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express derailed near Pukhrayan in Kanpur dehat district in the wee hours of Sunday.

First Published On : Nov 20, 2016 10:05 IST

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IND vs ENG | Nov 17th, 2016

IND 184 9 59.4

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NZ vs PAK | Nov 17th, 2016

NZ 108 2 31.3

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Assam: Rajnath Singh speaks to CM Sarbananda Sonowal after militant ambush in Tinsukia

Assam: Rajnath Singh speaks to CM Sarbananda Sonowal after militant ambush in Tinsukia

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New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday spoke to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and took stock of the situation in the wake of ambush by militants in which three army personnel were killed and a few others injured.

During the 10-minute telephonic conversation, Sonowal briefed the Union Home Minister about the militant attack, the situation arising of the incident and the steps taken to nab the culprits.

File photo of Rajnath Singh. AFPFile photo of Rajnath Singh. AFP

File photo of Rajnath Singh. AFP

“I am deeply anguished by the death of army soldiers in an attack in Tinsukia and pray for speedy recovery of the injured. We are monitoring the situation,” Singh said.

Three jawans were killed and four others seriously injured in the ambush by a joint group of ULFA(I) and NSCN(K) militants at Pengeri in upper Assam’s Tinsukia district on Saturday.

A group of about 15 militants attacked an army convoy early this morning and severely damaged two vehicles killing one jawan on the spot and seriously injuring six others, a defence spokesman told PTI.

Two of the injured succumbed to their injuries on way to the hospital, he said.

First Published On : Nov 19, 2016 13:33 IST

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IND 7 0 4.3

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NZ vs PAK | Nov 17th, 2016

PAK 129 7 66.0

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ZIM vs WI | Nov 19th, 2016

ZIM 46 1 13.0

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Sri Lanka says 32 ‘elite’ Muslims have joined IS in Syria | Reuters

By Shihar Aneez
| COLOMBO

COLOMBO Thirty-two Sri Lankan Muslims from “well-educated and elite” families have joined Islamic State in Syria, the justice minister told parliament on Friday, promising that the government would clamp down on extremists.The statement by minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe was condemned by representatives of the Muslim minority, who complained of racism. “All these (Muslims) are not from ordinary families. These people are from the families which are considered as well-educated and elite,” Rajapakshe said, adding that the government was aware of some foreigners coming to Sri Lanka to spread what he called Islamic extremism.”There is a greater fear among the public about ISIS,” he said, using another name for Islamic State. “If somebody tries to spread extremism in this country, we will not allow for that from today. The law of this country is no different to Buddhist monks or ordinary people.”

The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL), an umbrella body that includes most Muslim organisations in the country, expressed concern, saying Rajapakshe’s statement came at a “very opportune time to certain extremist elements bent on tarnishing the image” of Sri Lankan Muslims.”The Muslim community is seriously alarmed about the re-emergence of the racist campaign that was carried out by extremist Buddhist monks since the end of the war in 2009,” the MCSL said in a statement. “We urge Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe to provide the evidence and take immediate action against anyone who may have violated the laws of the land, irrespective of ethnicity or religion.”

More than 70 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people are Buddhists, about 13 percent are Hindu, while Muslims make up around 10 percent. President Maithripala Sirisena has been criticised for failing to curb religious hate speech by both Muslims and Buddhists. Some Sinhala Buddhist groups have threatened Muslims and their businesses on social media, while attacks on mosques and Muslim-owned properties have continued under the Sirisena administration.

Muslim leaders warned the government in 2014 of possible Islamic radicalisation and Muslims turning to foreign Islamic groups for support, attributing this to attacks by Buddhist hardliners.Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war ended in 2009 with the military defeating the predominantly Hindu Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who fought for a separate state in the island’s north and east. (Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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

First Published On : Nov 19, 2016 01:00 IST

Bollywood actor Mallika Sherawat assaulted in Paris: media | Reuters

Bollywood actor Mallika Sherawat assaulted in Paris: media | Reuters

Nov 17, 2016 21:57 IST

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PARIS Bollywood actor Mallika Sherawat and her partner were assaulted in Paris last week, AFP and other media reported on Thursday, just over a month after U.S reality TV star Kim Kardashian was attacked and robbed in the French capital.The assault on Sherawat took place on Nov. 11, AFP said. “Sherawat was punched in the face and sprayed with tear gas by masked attackers who tried to steal her handbag,” the French news agency said, citing a police source.

The attackers fled without taking anything, a source close to the investigation told AFP.

Nobody was immediately available to comment at the Paris prosecutor’s office. A police spokesman declined to comment.

(Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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

First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 21:57 IST

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IND vs ENG | Nov 17th, 2016

IND 317 4 90.0

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NZ vs PAK | Nov 17th, 2016

PAK 101 6 41.0

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FICN and terror-financing: New considerations in view of demonetisation

The recent robust steps in demonetisation undertaken by the Government of India to unearth black money, inter alia, also throws up impediments to those external hostile quarters who are actively engaged in paralysing Indian economy and financing Fake Indian Currency Note (FICN) chiefly for terror-financing. These steps are expected to deal a severe blow to such actors and their machinations.

The modus operandi of terror financing has hitherto been to use formal and non-formal banking channels, money value transfer services, NPO or NGO sectors, real estate, government funds etc.

It is hoped that the current measures to curb terror financing will prove as an effective deterrent and will contain the ongoing menace. FICN is smuggled via the land, sea and air routes. According to authoritative sources, the trend in circulation of FICN is principally from Pakistan to West Asian countries and Bangladesh. Also, from Gulf countries to Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. FICN is further smuggled into India from these countries .

It’s interesting to note that value of FICN in circulation was estimated to be Rs 400 crore and importantly, the value had remained stationary for the past four years.

Meanwhile, attempts are being made by inimical forces to infuse FICN worth Rs 70 crore into the Indian economy annually. Out of this figure, a third of the FICN being infused is seized. The detection rate of fake Rs 100 and Rs 500 notes was around the same, and higher than the detection of Rs 1,000 notes by around 10 percent.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

To contain this threat, the Indian establishment, seeking international cooperation, has aligned with Bangladesh forming a Joint Task Force through SoP and MoU. In 2015-2016, Bangladeshi authorities, in a major operational drive, arrested seven Pakistanis and seized FICN amounting to Rs 14,12,30,000. This is no mean statistic.

The NIA has been actively working towards reaching the bottom of the problem as as part its campaign. FICN kingpin Mozzamel Haque, a Bangladeshi, was arrested in December 2015 confirming the Bangladeshi nexus.

The most significant feature of the whole nefarious syndicated network is the role of Pakistan deserving universal condemnation.

Undoubtedly, Pakistan is the main source of printing of high quality FICN. Such super-high quality currency printing machines cannot be in the possession of an individual or with an organised group. These sophisticated machines are available only with an established government.

We can, therefore, safely infer that Pakistan, as part of its state policy, is printing high quality FICN aimed at undermining credibility of Indian currency notes, ostensibly to fund terrorism.

These arguments are further buttressed by the fact that a majority of those arrested in smuggling and circulating FICN in Southeast Asia and India’s neighbouring countries (especially Bangladesh) are Pakistani nationals.

Through a professional investigation carried out recently, there were unique similarities between FICN samples and Pakistan’s legal tender, strongly confirming Pakistan as the main source of FICN.

Bangladeshis and villages on the border with Bangladesh too have been active in these crimes. Out of 18 cases of FICN, eight cases are crucially traced to Bangladeshi borders. Three Bangladeshis involved in the FICN racket are still at large. Seizures of FICN have been mainly carried out at the borders of Bongaon (in West Bengal), Shillong, South Garo Hills and Malda among other points. These prove that India-Bangladesh borders are active conduits in this trade .

A quick glance at the trends in FICN circulation reveals that originating in Pakistan, it reaches Dubai and as per the criminal cases registered, the network was traced to Kerala and Hyderabad. Simultaneously, Dubai to Sri Lanka is also a favoured route. A Sri Lankan named Abdullah Mutsari was detained in Sri Lanka with FICN worth Rs 2 crore. From Bangladesh FICN was circulated to the states of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka. In addition to these, Indian investigators have successfully found out that from Nepal, FICN regularly reached Jamnagar (the police had seized FICN worth Rs 1.26 lakh there), Ahmedabad and Siddharthnagar among other locations.

Now that it’s proven beyond doubt about the Pakistani State’s complicity in engineering such a vast FICN network to subvert the Indian economy and fund terror, the government attempted to demonetise and introduce currency of newer denominations with changed hallmarks. It has to be closely monitored as to how Pakistan now moulds its blueprint to continue with the FICN flow.

Recent Indian steps must be a dampener, albeit for the time-being, to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and its collaborators as they have been caught by surprise. Nevertheless, Indian agencies should not lower their collective guard and be prepared to foil any Pakistani designs to fund terror with FICN .

On Pakistan’s part, it is highly unlikely it will easily abandon its acts of terror-funding as it enjoys complete State patronage and its agenda to hit its adversary hard. Hence for India, it calls for more stepped-up intelligence.

The author is a retired IPS officer and a security analyst. Views are personal

First Published On : Nov 14, 2016 13:18 IST

Jaffna: Sri Lanka navy arrests 4 Indian fishermen ahead of bilateral talks

Jaffna: Sri Lanka navy arrests 4 Indian fishermen ahead of bilateral talks

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Colombo: On Tuesday, at least four Indian fishermen were arrested and their trawler seized by Sri Lankan Navy off the coast of northern Jaffna peninsula ahead of a ministerial-level bilateral talks in New Delhi on Wednesday to solve the sensitive issue.

The Lanka navy said the fishermen were arrested on charges of fishing in Sri Lankan territorial waters off the coast of Delft islet early this morning.

The arrested Indian fishermen were handed over to the fisheries inspectorate at Karaingar, Jaffna, by Sri Lankan naval coast guard vessel Elara, the navy added.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The arrests were confirmed by Fishermen’s Association President Sagayam in Rameswaram.

The arrests have come ahead of the scheduled talks tomorrow between Indian and Sri Lanka fishermen to solve the recurring dispute over the arrest of fishermen. A 10-member Lankan fishing association delegation will arrive in India for the talks.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will meet her Lankan counterpart Mangala Samaraweera and Lankan Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera. These talks are to be preceded by talks between the fishermen associations of the two countries.

India, China intelligence cooperation led to arrest of Pakistani smuggler

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Intelligence sharing and cooperation between India, China and Sri Lanka led to the arrest of a Pakistani currency smuggler, Faiz Muhammad, in China’s Guangzhou province recently.At the time of his arrest, Muhammad was found with fake Indian currency notes worth Rs. 2.5 million printed in Pakistan, said a report filed by the Sri Lankan Daily newspaper Ceylon Today.His arrest was the result of a tip-off by Indian intelligence agencies to their counterparts in Colombo and Beijing.The arrest of this Pakistani national, while raising concerns in Islamabad, must be seen as a feather in the cap of both Delhi and Beijing, who took the significant step of signing a bilateral security cooperation pact in November 2015, under which both nations agreed to actively share intelligence on terrorists, terror groups and their activities through a dedicated communication channel.In the year gone by, both India and China have taken steps to coordinate positions on anti-terrorism endeavours at regional and multilateral levels and are supporting each on counter terrorism cooperation.New Delhi sees such cooperation in intelligence sharing with Beijing as providing a major boost to security ties between the two countries, as also a great help in analyzing and evaluating operations of regional and international terror groups.This trilateral sharing of intelligence has left Pakistan, especially its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) alarmed as the India China intelligence cooperation exposed Pakistan’s use of Sri Lanka as another point for promoting its terror activities globally.In fact, it is being reported that alarm bells are ringing within the Pakistan establishment, as they see this arrest of one of their nationals in another country as the end of a crucial importation operations hub.It is now being assessed that the ISI’s primary and apparent objective in using Sri Lanka as an intelligence operations hub is aimed at encircling India from all sides, and specially have access to its southern parts, to possibly scout for terror networks as also to recruit fresh cadres for them in Muslim dominant pockets.It has also been exposed that the ISI used Colombo as a transit point for terror funding.The world’s major powers, including India, are ensuring greater cooperation between intelligence agencies to counter and neutralise such activities before they assume dangerous dimensions.

Pakistan isolated because of its own policies, says MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup

Benaulim: Pakistan has been isolated because of its own policies and India did not have to play any role in it, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Monday.

File image of Vikas Swarup. Twitter @MEAIndia

File image of Vikas Swarup. Twitter @MEAIndia

He said the Saarc countries acted on their own in deciding not to participate in the summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad this year, citing lack of requisite conditions for a constructive dialogue.

“We do not speak about such issues. If someone is isolated, it is because of the policies followed by that country. India did not have to do anything, because the countries in one voice said there cannot be constructive dialogue in the terror-tainted atmosphere in the context of Saarc,” Swarup said.

“… the first letter (on non-participation in Saarc summit) came from Afghanistan, followed by Nepal, then by India, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Nepal also said it on its own. So when all Saarc countries express the same opinion in one voice – that the Saarc summit cannot happen in Islamabad in this atmosphere – you can draw your own conclusions,” the MEA spokesman said.

He was responding to a query if India had been successful in isolating Pakistan following the 18 September terror attack on Uri army camp in Jammu and Kashmir.

The 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Summit, scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November, was postponed after India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka pulled out, citing terrorism concerns in the region.

Sri Lankan man held in TN without valid travel documents

Mon, 17 Oct 2016-12:20pm , Rameswaram , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 42-year-old Sri Lankan national who arrived here by a boat on Monday claiming that he fled his country fearing detention by military there, was arrested for travelling without valid travel documents, police said. The man identified as Arulselvan of Yazhpanam in Sri Lanka reached Arichalmunai near here by a boat this morning. He told the police that he left his country fearing torture at the hands of military there and that he had come in search of his wife who is lodged in a refugee camp in Erode district, about 360 kms from here. Arulselvan was picked up by Dhanushkodi police and handed over to ‘Q’ branch police, who arrested him for entering the country without proper travel documents, they said adding the man was being questioned.

BRICS Summit 2016: PM Modi holds bilateral talks with Lankan President Sirisena

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday held bilateral talks with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on the sidelines of the ongoing BRICS Summit here. “Early morning bilaterals to begin a packed day of diplomacy. PM @narendramodi meets President @MaithripalaS of Sri Lanka for first engagement,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted along with a picture of the two leaders.Prime Minister Modi earlier welcomed the Sri Lankan President on his arrival. “A friend comes to India…glad to have President @MaithripalaS visit India for the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit,” he tweeted soon after Sirisena landed at Dabolim Airport.Heads of states and governments of the five BRICS nations met later on Sunday on the second day of the BRICS Summit in Goa. Global economic and political situation, terrorism, climate change, Sustainable Development Goals and increasing people to people contact form the agenda of the Summit.Goa Declaration and Goa Action Plan were adopted at the end of the Summit, which focussed on intra BRICS Trade, finance and industrial cooperation as well as cooperation in education, health, agriculture, energy and disaster management.Later on Sunday evening, Prime Minister Modi chaired the BIMSTEC meeting, which was followed by the BRICS-BIMSTEC outreach meeting. The seven-member BIMSTEC bloc consists of Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.

China in South Asia: India cannot match Beijing in its largesse, but it can create goodwill

With Chinese President Xi Jinping’s successful visit to Bangladesh, plans for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have effectively encircled India. Multi-billion dollar, Chinese-financed infrastructure projects are planned in almost all of India’s neighbours, from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Nepal to Myanmar.

President Xi Jinping on his visits to South Asia has brought grand infrastructure plans for his hosts — during his visits to Sri Lanka and the Maldives in September 2014, to Pakistan in April 2015 and more recently to Bangladesh. Xi’s visit to Pakistan resulted in the multi-billion dollar investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that connects China’s Xinjiang province to Gwadar port in Pakistan. Former Nepalese Prime Minister KP Oli’s visit to Beijing earlier this year brought forth bountiful promises of infrastructure assistance. China’s involvement in Myanmar is of a longer standing, among several major infrastructure projects is a gas pipeline that transports natural gas from Maday port on the Bay of Bengal to China’s Yunnan province and a proposed rail line along the same route.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

India has had reservations about the Belt and Road Initiative, especially the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. But all its neighbours, with the sole exception of Bhutan, have welcomed the Chinese initiative with enthusiasm. India is however engaged in the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor, which aims to connect Kolkata with Kunming, in China’s Yunnan province, passing through Myanmar and Bangladesh. The BCIM corridor is a long-delayed proposal which Beijing has now referred to as part of its BRI plans.

Bangladesh and China signed agreements worth $24.45 billion for 34 projects and programmes during Xi’s visit to Dhaka on Friday, reported Bangladesh’s largest-selling English daily, The Morning Star. While no details of projects were made available during the signing, they are expected to cover financing for infrastructure, energy, and communication projects. As the two sides elevated their ties to strategic partnership, Bangladesh expressed its support to China’s Road and Belt Initiative and the BCIM economic corridor. They also agreed to negotiate a free trade agreement. China is Bangladesh’s largest trading partner and supplier of defence equipment.

Sri Lanka was the first South Asian country to receive large investments in big infrastructure projects during the Mahinda Rajapakse regime. But when the Maithripala Sirisena government came to power in a surprise election victory in January 2015, it began a review of the controversial $1.4 billion Colombo port city expansion project. The Sirisena alliance had charged Rajapakse of turning Sri Lanka into a Chinese dependency and had vowed to review all major Chinese investments. However, the Sri Lankan government later cleared the new Colombo city project after changing some conditions in the deal. China offered to align its maritime silk road project with Sri Lanka’s development plans to enable the island nation to become a shipping hub in the Indian Ocean.

The Maldives, like Sri Lanka and Pakistan earlier, has faced international pressure over its policies. All three countries have found firm support from Beijing, which has helped them withstand the pressure. Earlier this week, the Maldives announced that it would quit the Commonwealth, the 53-member organisation of mainly former British colonies. The Maldives had been warned in late September by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) that it would be suspended if it did not take adequate steps to encourage political dialogue, release opposition leaders and improve democratic functioning in the country.

Large scale Chinese projects in the Maldives coincided with India’s troubles in Male. The contract for modernising and operating the Male International Airport, granted to a consortium led by the Indian infrastructure company, GMR Group was cancelled by the new government. International arbitrators ruled in GMR’s favour, but the contract for the expansion of the international airport was awarded to a Chinese company. A Chinese construction firm is building the $280 million China-Maldives Friendship Bridge that would connect the Hulhule island where the international airport is located to a suburb of Male. Other projects included large housing projects and other infrastructure assistance.

China is the largest foreign investor in Nepal with two large hydropower projects underway in the country. Among the projects that were discussed during the KP Oli visit were construction of cross-border transmission lines, an international airport at Pokhara, and extension of China’s Qinghai-Tibet rail line to the town of Jilong on the Nepal border and then to Kathmandu. The visit was marked by the fact that it was only the second time that a Nepali Prime Minister had chosen to visit China in his first foreign tour. However, a return visit by Xi in October had to be put off after the Oli government fell and the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist) leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda formed a new government in Kathmandu.

Till a decade or more ago, China’s involvement in the relatively under-developed South Asian region was limited. But in the past couple of years, Beijing with its large financial resources looking for a destination began making a major push for connecting to South Asian countries with its grand BRI plan. While India cannot match the Chinese largesse, greater generosity in its dealings with its smaller neighbours can win it more friends and create goodwill through the region.

Tamil Nadu: Rameswaram fishermen call off strike, resume work

Sat, 15 Oct 2016-10:40am , Rameswaram , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In Tamil Nadu, fishermen from Rameswaram resumed fishing from early today after calling off their week- long strike. The fishermen had resorted to strike urging immediate release of fishing boats detained by Sri Lanka. The fishermen urged the government to secure 115 fishing boats detained by Sri Lanka and have asserted that their livelihood is badly affected as they are unable to continue fishing without their fishing boats. Moreover, the boats are getting damaged as they are kept unused for long time. However, the fishermen from Rameswaram decided to call off their strike as they are unable to sustain it. The fishermen also demanded that Sri Lanka release five fishermen from Pudukottai Jagadapattinam lodged in Lankan jail. They further seek to secure their rights to fish in traditional waters near Katchatheevu and Palk straits.

BRICS Summit: PM Modi, Sushma Swaraj reach Panaji

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Panaji, Goa on Friday night ahead of the BRICS Summit scheduled to start on Saturday. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also reached Panaji. PM Modi will host a state dinner for the visiting heads of states and government of the BRICS and BIMSTEC groups at the iconic beachside luxury hotel ‘Leela Goa’ on Sunday night. While the five-member BRICS group comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the seven-member BIMSTEC bloc has Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jin Ping of China, Michel Temer of Brazil and Jacob Zuma of South Africa will be dining at the Leela, Aung Sang Suu Kyi of Myanmar, Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka, Prayut Chan o Cha of Thailand, Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, Pushpa Kamal Dahal of Nepal and Tshering Tobgay of Bhutan will be the guests at the hotel.BILATERAL TALKS WITH CHINA, RUSSIAIssues such as India’s NSG membership bid and China blocking UN ban on JeM chief and Pathankot attack mastermind Masood Azhar are likely to be raised by PM Modi during his bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday. A range of key bilateral and international issues including ways to tackle threat of terrorism besides security situation in the region are also likely to figure in the talks on the sidelines of the BRICS summit.India is likely to reaffirm its concerns over growing Russia-Pakistan military ties when PM Modi holds talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday during which the two sides will look at ramping up their “special and privileged partnership” by inking pacts in areas of defence and nuclear energy.(With Agency Inputs)

Pakistan seeks bigger South Asian economic alliance to counter India’s influence in SAARC: Report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan is exploring the possibility of creating a greater South Asian economic alliance to include China, Iran and neighbouring Central Asian republics as part of its bid counter India’s influence in SAARC, a media report said on Wednesday.Dawn News, citing diplomatic observers, said Pakistan is exploring the possibility of creating a greater South Asian economic alliance to counter India’s “controlling hold” on the eight member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).A parliamentary delegation from Pakistan, which is now in New York, pitched this idea during its five-day visit to Washington last week, the report said.”A greater South Asia is already emerging,” Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed was quoted as saying in one of his interactions with the media.”This greater South Asia includes China, Iran and the neighbouring Central Asian republics,” he said.He described the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as the key economic route linking South Asia with Central Asia.The Gwadar port, Syed said, would be the nearest warm water port, not only for China but also for the land-locked Central Asian states.”We want India to join this arrangement as well,” said Syed.Indians are “unlikely to accept” the offer as they are comfortable with the advantage that SAARC provides them, the report said.”India used its influence in SAARC to isolate Pakistan when it announced that it would not attend the regional group’s 19th summit, scheduled in Islamabad,” the report said.Citing continuous cross border terrorism by Pakistan, India had announced last month that “in the prevailing circumstances, the Indian government is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad.”Besides India, four other SAARC members — Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan — had also pulled out of the summit.”Among the eight SAARC nations, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are India’s strong allies while Bhutan, surrounded by India from all sides, is too small to resist any move from New Delhi. The Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka have good ties with Pakistan, but they are not large enough to take on India,” the report said.The report cited that a senior diplomat had confirmed reports that Pakistan is actively seeking a new regional arrangement.”Apparently, the showdown forced Pakistan to conclude that in its present shape, SAARC will always be dominated by India.That’s why they are now talking about a greater South Asia,” the diplomat was quoted as saying.”Pakistan hopes that this new arrangement will give it more room to manoeuvre when India tries to force a decision on it,” another diplomat said.

Indians burn Sharif-themed Ravana effigies on Dussehra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> After the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Army on Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), people in several parts of the country have decided to burn an effigy of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with the heads of several militant organisations this evening to mark the conclusion of the 10-day festival of ‘Dussehra’. Dussehra is celebrated across the country as a victory of good over evil. Deep anti-Pakistan sentiments prevail in the country after a series of militant attacks in Kashmir since last month. Along with Sharif, effigies of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, an Islamist charity linked to outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) have also been set up at several places. ‘Apart from effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkaran, Meghnad, the effigy of Nawaz Sharif, who is promoter of terrorism, has also been made. The 125 feet effigies will be burnt together,” said Ramlila Committee organiser Rajesh Gehlot in New Delhi.Dussehra is regarded as the day when Hindu Lord Ram defeated Ravana, demon-king of Lanka (Sri Lanka) and rescued his abducted wife, Sita. In Ludhiana also, huge effigies of Sharif and Sayeed have been put up to be torched later in the evening. ‘The effigies of both (Nawaz Sharif and Hafiz Saeed), who represent evil forces, will be burnt. Therefore, we have made effigies of Hafiz Saeed and Nawaz Sharif,’ said a local, Parminder Kaka. Tension between India and Pakistan escalated sharply after militants attacked Uri on of September 18 that killed 19 soldiers.On September 29, India announced launch of surgical strikes against suspected militants trying to infiltrate from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.(ANI)

Dussehra greetings: Narendra Modi, Pranab Mukherjee and Rahul Gandhi wish the nation

President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday greeted the nation on the eve of Dussehra and urged “to follow the path of moral and ethical rectitude”.

“Greetings and best wishes to my fellow countrymen in India and abroad on the joyous occasion of Dussehra,” Mukherjee said in a series of tweets.

“May this festival inspire us to emulate the righteousness of the Maryada Purush (Lord Rama) and loyalty of Bharath and Lakshmana (younger brothers of Lord Rama),” he said.

He also wished that may this festival inspire us to emulate the virtues of Sita and the valour as well as humility of Hanuman.

“Let each one of us resolve to follow the path of moral and ethical rectitude which has guided us for centuries,” Mukherjee said.

The President also stressed that may the celebrations bind the communities and regions of India in a true sense of brotherhood and the celebrations motivate us to make renewed efforts for the unity and progress of our country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the nation on Vijaya Dashmi.

“Vijaya Dashmi greetings to you all,” Modi said in a tweet.

Dussehra is a Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil. People burn huge effigies of Ravana across the country on Vijaya Dashmi. According to mythology, Lord Rama killed Ravana, the king of Lanka on this day.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday greeted the nation on the eve of Vijaya Dashmi.

“Warm greetings to every one on the eve of Vijaya Dashmi,” Gandhi said in a tweet.

Indo-Pak war not an option; cross-border terror core issue for SAARC: Sri Lankan PM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that war was not an option between India and Pakistan, Sri Lanka on Wednesday said cross-border terrorism was a core issue on the table for SAARC and the members of eight-nation grouping have to discuss it and its impact before moving forward.Interacting with media after talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on key regional and bilateral issues including security situation in the region, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also stressed that even if SAARC falls apart, cross-border terrorism will not end so India has to see how to move forward in dealing with it.”Cross-border terrorism is on the table. SAARC has to look at it and discuss what has happened (cancellation of the SAARC meet). How we are going to handle it…SAARC has to decide on two issues — cross-border terrorism and areas in which we can work together.”If we don’t do it, there is no future for SAARC,” he said while noting that in last few years, nothing has moved in the grouping due to friction between India and Pakistan.Asked about his reaction on the possibility of military escalation between India and Pakistan in view of the Uri attack, the Lankan PM said, “I don’t think war is an option for anyone” and observed that Modi has taken a lot of steps to diffuse the tension.On why Sri Lanka was late in its response on holding of SAARC meet in Islamabad and was not categoric in condemning Pakistan-sponsored cross-border terrorism like Bangladesh and Afghanistan, he said Afghanistan and Bangladesh had a problem of their own internal security which was not the case with Sri Lanka, but Colombo did say that the atmosphere was not conducive for the meet.Emphasising that Sri Lanka has also been impacted by terrorism, Wickremesinghe said it takes a long time and efforts should be made to ensure that cross-border terrorism was stopped.”Since we have looked at it in overall context, what I discussed with your government is how does SAARC move from here…And ensure that there was no cross-border terrorism in India or any country,” he said.On whether SAARC can be salvaged if a member leaves the grouping, the Lankan PM said if any country leaves it, then it won’t be South Asia (association).”The issues on the table have to be handled otherwise it (SAARC) will become non-functional. It is not an issue of someone leaving or joining. We have to address and find the solution acceptable to all,” he said. He also said India thanked Sri Lanka for its position on the SAARC meet.On Lanka-China ties, he said the relationship with China is an economic one, not military and Chinese were involved in the infrastructure development projects in his country. He also asserted that Sri Lanka had ensured that there was no free-hold land rights.Noting that India is unique and can make South Asia a better place, he said it was up to India whether it wants to do this or walk away. He further added that India was going through a crucial time and Sri Lanka will be there to work with it.Asked if the emotive issue of fishermen was discussed during his meeting with Modi, he said the matter was deliberated upon and it was reiterated that there will be talks between ministers of foreign affairs and fishermen associations of the two countries. Earlier, talking to the media, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said, “The safety and security of the region is also utmost importance to Sri Lanka and it was communicated to the Indian Prime Minister and also our commitment for regional cooperation which holds benefits for its people.”He said, “Sri Lanka is concerned about the current environment in the region which has not been conducive to the convening of the 19th SAARC Summit. It is our belief that meeting at the highest levels of government of eight nations of SAARC are essential to strengthen….(it).”It is our hope that present predicament serves as an eye opener for the member states to rethink and reconsider the importance of addressing issues relating to peace and security that are essential for meaningful regional cooperation.” He also talked about three key priorities of his government — strengthening democracy, reconciliation and development and noted that several steps have been taken in this regard.Sri Lanka has enacted legislation for the right to information as well as for protection of victims and was now in the process of drafting a constitution that strengthens democratic process and ensures non-recurrence of conflicts, Samaraweera said.

Over 2,000 Tamil Nadu fishermen allege attack by Sri Lankan Navy

Rameswaram: More than 2,000 fishermen were on Sunday forced to return from sea without a catch after they were allegedly attacked by Sri Lankan Naval who pelted stones and iron balls at them near Katchatheevu islet.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Though nobody was injured in the attack, several boats suffered damages, President of the Fishermen’s Association, Sesuraja said.

Fishing nets of the fishermen, who ventured into the sea in more than 500 boats, were also damaged. The Sri Lankan Navy also warned them against fishing near Katchatheevu, following which all of them returned to the shores this morning, he said.

Sesuraja urged the Centre to take steps to retrieve Katchatheevu island, ceded to Sri Lanka, so that fishermen could fish in their traditional areas.

On 8 August, the Tamil Nadu government had informed the state Assembly that retrieval of Katchatheevu, ceded to Sri Lanka in the 1970s, and restoration of the traditional fishing rights of the fishermen in the Palk Bay area were its topmost agenda.

Entire SAARC diplomatic body united against Pakistan: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As Sri Lanka pulled out of the 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit, scheduled to take place in November, the Congress on Saturday asserted that the entire diplomatic body is united against Pakistan. Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi told ANI that there can be lot of disagreements on SAARC issue, but on terrorism they are united.”I think it’s good that these things are now sorted out. The message is unequivocal, unambiguous and clear namely that the entire SAARC is united. We can have lot of disagreements on SAARC issues, but on terrorism we are one. You will not be allowed to export terrorism and you cannot be a good neighbour in a SAARC context while still exporting terrorism,” he added.Sri Lanka is the fifth country after India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan to pull out of the summit. In an official communication, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry told SAARC chair Nepal, “Sri Lanka regrets that the prevailing environment in the region is not conducive for holding the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad on 9th and 10th November 2016.”The statement said that Sri Lanka condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stresses in this regard, the need to deal with the issue of terrorism in the region in a decisive manner.The SAARC summit cannot take place even if one of the eight members withdraws.India on Tuesday announced that it would not attend the summit conveying the current SAARC Chair Nepal that in the prevailing circumstances, the Government of India is unable to participate in the proposed Summit.

SAARC states should create ‘conducive’ environment for summit: Maldives

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maldives asked SAARC member states to create an environment “conducive” for holding the grouping’s summit which has been postponed following a pull-out by five countries, including India.”The Government of Maldives has urged the member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to create an environment conducive for holding the 19th SAARC Summit,” a Maldives Foreign Ministry statement said.It said the appeal by the Maldivian government follows the decisions by some of the SAARC member states who have expressed their inability to attend the summit in Islamabad scheduled for November due to terrorism, and threats to regional and international peace.”The Maldives condemns international terrorism, especially those originating from outside,” the statement said. SAARC Summit can be convened only with the participation of Heads of State or Governments of all of its member states.”The Maldives encouraged states to provide a valuable opportunity for the leaders to discuss critical issues facing the region and expressed hope that the required measures will be taken by relevant member states to convene the summit at an early date,” the statement said.The 19th SAARC Summit was scheduled to be held from November 9 to 10 in Islamabad.Besides India, three other SAARC members — Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan — pulled out of the summit, indirectly blaming Pakistan for creating an environment which is not right for the successful holding of the meet. Sri Lanka also pulled out of the SAARC Summit today, becoming the fifth country to do so.Citing continuous cross border terrorism by Pakistan, India had announced earlier this week that “in the prevailing circumstances, the Government of India is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad.” SAARC member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

SL Navy snaps fishing nets of TN fishermen

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More than 2,000 fishermen from this island were forced to return today without catch after Sri Lankan Naval personnel allegedly snapped the fishing nets of 30 mechanised boats near Katchatheevu.The fishermen had put out to sea in 450 mechanised boats last night and were fishing near Katchatheevu in the Palk Strait when the Lankan Naval men rounded up nearly 30 boats and snapped the fishing nets and asked all the fishermen to return, Rameswaram Fishermen Association President P Sesuraja told reporters here.They also warned them against fishing near Katchatheevu, following which all of them returned to the shores this morning, he said. Sesuraja urged the Centre to take steps to retrieve Katchatheevu, ceded to Sri Lanka, so that fishermen could fish in their traditional areas.On August 8, the Tamil Nadu government had informed the state assembly that retrieval of Katchatheevu, ceded to Sri Lanka in the 1970s, and restoration of the traditional fishing rights of the fishermen in the Palk Bay area were its topmost agenda.

Uri attack: Meeting of Cabinet Committee on security ends

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security held at the PMO ended here on Wednesday afternoon.The meeting is significant in the backdrop of Uri terror attack, in which 18 army jawans were martyred. The Cabinet Committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the situation arising out of the attack. The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and others. Meanwhile, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi has reviewed the security situation in Kashmir in the backdrop of the deadly militant attack on an army base in Uri and the ongoing unrest in the valley. Mehrishi arrived in Srinagar early Tuesday morning and held series of meetings to review security situation across the Kashmir Valley.He had detailed discussions with top officials from various security forces, police and intelligence agencies. The international community continues to condemn the Sunday’s terror attack in Uri which killed 18 Army personnel. Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and many other countries have extended their support to India in its fight against terrorism.German Ambassador to India Martin Ney said that every country is responsible for taking decisive action against terrorism emanating from its territory. Expressing its solidarity with India in the fight against terrorism, Japanese Foreign Ministry said, no act of terrorism can be justified. In a letter to Prime Minister Modi, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, her country will continue to work with India to eradicate the menace.Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called up Prime Minister Modi yesterday and condemned the attack.

Ban Ki-Burn: Despite Nawaz Sharif’s prodding, UN Chief keeps mum on Kashmir at UNGA

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made no reference to Kashmir and the situation in the Valley in his last address despite Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s repeated calls to the world body to help resolve the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan.In his final address as the UN chief to the opening session of the General Debate here, Ban touched upon a plethora of global issues including the crisis in Syria, the Palestinian issue, the situation in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, the refugee and migrant movements.He also addressed tensions in the Korean Peninsula and the Middle East, the South Sudan tensions, violent extremism and its impact on regions from Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan to the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin.However, Ban did not make any mention of Kashmir or the tensions in the Valley, that have escalated in the recent months, even as Pakistan made repeated pleas to the UN to help resolve the dispute between India and Pakistan. Kashmir will be the focal point of Sharif’s address to the General Assembly on Wednesday. Tensions are particularly running high between India and Pakistan in the wake of the attack by heavily-armed militants from Pakistan-based JeM on an army base in Uri on Sunday that killed 18 jawans.Ban’s office has repeatedly said that the UN chief’s “good offices” are available to help resolve the Kashmir issue, only if both India and Pakistan request for it, a clear message that it is a bilateral issue and should be solved by the two countries.Last month, Sharif had written two letters to Ban asking him to intervene in the Kashmir issue. The letters were among the many that Islamabad had shot off to the UN, calling for the world body to take up the Kashmir issue.However, in his long and final address to the world leaders, Ban did not make one reference to Kashmir while highlighting the issues on the UN agenda.In his address, Ban referred to the Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement on climate change, security threats by armed conflicts and its “tragic consequences” which are on brutal display from Yemen to Libya and Iraq, from Afghanistan to the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin.He also spoke about the conflict in Syria, which “is taking the greatest number of lives and sowing the widest instability”.Ban also touched upon the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying “replacing a two-state solution with a one-state construct would spell doom: denying Palestinians their freedom and rightful future, and pushing Israel further from its vision of a Jewish democracy towards greater global isolation”.”In Myanmar, the transition has entered a promising new phase. In Sri Lanka, post-war healing efforts have deepened.In both countries, true reconciliation rests on ensuring that all communities, minorities and majorities alike, are included in building a new union,” he said.The second five-year term of Ban is expiring on December 31.

Prasar Bharati seeks Rs250 crore funds from I&B ministry for digitising its valuable archival content

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati has sought funds to the tune of Rs250 crore from the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry for digitising the huge archival content of Doordarshan and All India Radio, including prominent speeches of national leaders, popular programmes and music.A formal request to this effect will soon be sent to the ministry. The need for preserving the valuable archives –including the important historical events of the country—by digitising them and the cost required for the process was highlighted in a recent presentation on Prasar Bharati made to the I&B ministry.Prasar Bharati has content worth an estimated four lakh hours which are as old as the year 1947. Doordarshan central archives itself has over a lakh tapes. However, most of the content being stored in old formats such AMPEX, Beta, DVC, VHS, among others which are prone to irreversible damages. Officials admitted that several valuable content may also have been stolen, of which there is no certain record.A senior official from Prasar Bharati said that the public service broadcaster is in the process of framing a content syndication policy which will enable it monetise its valuable content by selling it to other countries, thus earning revenues for the public service broadcaster, or made freely available to the public.”The rates depending on the content and the country where it would be sold and the copyright issues are currently being worked out in the policy,” the official said.Indian shows are hugely popular in neighbouring countries like Indonesia and Sri Lanka, who regularly buy rights of shows from private Indian channels.Currently, Prasar Bharati has does not have an organised record of their archived content.AIR and DD have both initiated the process of digitising its archived records. Prasar Bharati officials said that once the ministry sanctions the funds, the full content can be digitised sooner. “Digitised content will be easier to put online for sale,” an official said.

Katchatheevu ceding issue: After Jayalalithaa likened DMK to ‘Rip Van Winkle’, Karunanidhi hits back

DMK President M Karunanidhi on Tuesday hit back at Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa over Katchatheevu issue, refuting her charge that he did nothing to prevent the ceding of the island to Sri Lanka and questioned what she has been doing since 1991 when she promised to retrieve it.”As far as Katchatheevu is concerned, I never accepted its ceding nor did I agree to it. I had expressed my opposition then as the Chief Minister of the state,” he said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Karunanidhi was responding to Jayalalithaa’s sharp criticism of his party and himself on the issue in the Assembly yesterday when she accused them of doing “nothing” to prevent the ceding of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka in the 1970s. She had likened DMK to ‘Rip Van Winkle’, an easygoing character from an English short story who goes on a slumber for 20 years, for “sleeping” over the issue and raising it now in the Assembly.In a detailed letter to partymen, Karunanidhi recalled a resolution moved by him in the Assembly in August 1974, expressing ‘deep regret’ over the then Central government’s move to cede the islet in the Palk Strait, besides calling for a review of the decision.The DMK patriarch recalled that he had then said the people of Tamil Nadu would not like the ceding of the islet, which is at the centre of the dispute over fishing rights of Tamil Nadu fishermen in the Palk Strait. He also said he had written to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, expressing “deep sense of disappointment” over the Indo-Lankan agreement.There was a ‘sudden announcement’ on the Centre’s decision in this regard and after coming across reports about it, he had immediately contacted state opposition leaders “and we had always shown concern in this matter and never been a party to the ceding,” he said.Questioning his arch-rival Jayalalithaa, Karunanidhi claimed that despite the assembly passing a resolution in 1992 seeking the islet’s retrieval, she as the then Chief Minister had told the House that there was no sign of it happening in the nearest future.In a letter to then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao in 1994, Jayalalithaa had said that the “ceding of this tiny island to the island nation had been done by the Government of India in the interest of better bilateral relations.” On another occasion, she had written to the Centre saying the “best possible solution” to the matter was to get the islet and adjacent seas on “lease in perpetuity.

Katchatheevu ceding: Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa liken DMK to Rip Van Winkle

In a blistering attack on DMK in the Assembly, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Monday accused the M Karunanidhi-led party of doing “nothing” to prevent the ceding of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka, as she vowed to make all legal efforts to retrieve the islet.After DMK member K Ponmudi referred to Jayalalithaa’s 1991 assurance that Katchatheevu would be retrieved and sought to know the “action taken”, a fierce debate ensued involving him, her and Leader of Opposition M K Stalin.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Claiming that DMK does not have any locus standi to speak on the issue, she said Katchatheevu, an islet in the Palk Straits, was ceded to Sri Lanka through agreements, in 1974 and 1976, with the neighbouring nation by the Centre while DMK president M Karunanidhi was the state’s chief minister.”What was he (Karunanidhi) doing then? Did he take any steps to prevent it or did he hold agitations?,” Jayalalithaa asked, as she maintained that there was no change in her stance that Katchatheevu should be retrieved.”Yes I spoke of it (in 1991), conscious of the powers of a state government. I had said that I will take steps through the central government and had not said anything insane. I had not said that I would lead a battalion to retrieve Katchatheevu,” Jayalalithaa said.Stating that she had consistently been making all efforts that could be made by a state government, Jayalalithaa asked why DMK had not taken any steps on the issue though it was part of various regimes at the Centre.Recalling that when DMK was in power both at the Centre as well as the state and when Karunanidhi had even stated that the previous Manmohan Singh government was “steered” by his advice, she wondered why no action was taken to retrieve Katchatheevu, which is at the centre of the dispute over fishing rights of Tamil Nadu fishermen in the Palk Strait.Jayalalithaa said why the DMK member was asking her on “what action was taken on Katchatheevu,” when it had not done anything over it. She likened the arch rival party to ‘Rip Van Winkle’, an easygoing character from a an English short story who goes on a slumber for 20 years, for “sleeping” over the issue and raising it now in the House. She recalled how as the Leader of Opposition she had petitioned Supreme Court against ceding of Katchatheevu in 2008 and wanted to know why the then DMK government did not implead itself in the case, adding “is this the way to retrieve Katchatheevu?”When the apex court wanted the state government to file its counter-affidavit in 2008, Karunanidhi, as chief minister, had said it would be considered after “seeing the stand of the Centre in court.””After my party was voted to power in 2011, I took efforts to get Tamil Nadu government’s Revenue Department impleaded in the case,” she said.”For sure, I will succeed in the petition, some day I will succeed in that petition (Katchatheevu), till then you all should do well and see it, it is my prayer to the Almighty,” she said.Jayalalithaa said she took legal action on Katchatheevu ceding after making all other efforts, including persuading the Centre on the issue. Her legal action was based on the Berubari case in which the Supreme Court had held that a Constitutional amendment was needed to cede territories.The debate on Katchatheevu stretched for about an hour and witnessed noisy scenes involving DMK and AIADMK members over the issue.”You cannot drown the truth by shouting, it is the DMK, and its chief Karunanidhi, who were responsible for ceding Katchatheevu. It is the DMK which is responsible for the travails of the fishermen,” she said emphatically amidst noisy scenes and sought to know again why Karunanidhi was silent when the islet was given away.When Ponmudi said the opposition and the government should work together on Katchatheevu, she asked, “In what respect should we work together? We have already taken action. You witness it without posing obstacles.”Defending DMK, Stalin said Karunanidhi had written to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi against ceding Katchatheevu. He referred to an all-party meeting and agitations over the issue in 1974. He said the assembly, too, had then expressed its “deep regret” over the issue and urged the Centre to reconsider its decision.Jayalalithaa said ‘agitations, letters to PM and all-party meetings’ could go (work) only to some extent and she too did that and when there was no result, she moved the Supreme Court. She said Karunanidhi had claimed in a meeting of Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation (TESO) in 2013 that before a pact was inked with Sri Lanka to cede Katchatheevu, it was due to his efforts that clauses related to rights for fishermen to fish and dry nets in Katchatheevu were incorporated.However, in 1974, Karunanidhi had expressed shock and claimed that he came to know of the ceding of the islet only through newspapers. “The Leader of the Opposition should clarify which (of the claims) is right,” Jayalalithaa said.She also accused the DMK chief of remaining “non-committal” over taking legal steps, when it was pointed out to him that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, as the Leader of the then Jan Sangh, had said that he would move court over the issue.

Jaffna stadium shows Lanka’s effort to shed legacy of violence & pursue economic progress: PM Modi

India strongly believes that its economic growth must bring benefits to its neighbours, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday as a stadium in Jaffna renovated by India was jointly inaugurated by him along with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. While thanking India for its assistance, Sirisena said Lanka was committed to strengthening bilateral relations even though there may be wrong understandings and interpretations at times.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi, along with Sirisena, inaugurated the Duraiappah Stadium, named in honour of a former Mayor of Jaffna late Alfred Thambirajah Duraiappah. The stadium, in disuse since 1997, has been renovated by the Indian government at a cost of over Rs.7 crore. Describing it as a “landmark day”, Modi assured Sri Lanka that India will “walk side by side” with the country as it charts its own path to progress and prosperity for all its citizens.”India desires to see an economically prosperous Sri Lanka. A Sri Lanka where unity and integrity, peace, harmony security and equal opportunity and dignity prevails throughout the country among all its peoples,” Modi said on the occasion, speaking via video-conferencing from New Delhi. “Our relations are not limited to the confines of our two governments, they reside in the rich context of our history, culture, language, art and geography. India strongly believes that its economic growth must drive and bring benefit to its neighbours,” he said Modi said the modern tools of communication have enabled 1.25 billion people of India and the friendly people of Sri Lanka to “join in this celebration”. “After a wait of nearly 20 years your applause and cheers will once again rekindle the soul of Duraiappah stadium. Even while we are sitting thousands of kilometres away in Delhi, we can feel the pulse of vibrancy, an atmosphere of change in Jaffna,” Modi said. The renovated stadium, with a seating capacity of 1,850, will provide the necessary infrastructure to promote sports and recreational activities and assist the overall development of the youth of the war-ravaged Northern Province. “The Duraiappah Stadium is not just brick and mortar.It is a symbol of optimism and economic development. An arena of prosperous and healthy future of Jaffna’s youth. It demonstrates your determination to shed the legacy of violence and pursue the path of economic progress,” the Prime Minister said. President Sirisena thanked the Indian government for its assistance and support for Sri Lanka’s development.

Fishermen body urges Jayalalithaa to seek Centre’s intervention to end dispute

Rameswaram (TN): Condemning the arrest of seven Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy near Katchatheevu, a fishermen body urged Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Wednesday to seek Centre’s intervention and arrange for talks between the fishermen community of the two countries to resolve the dispute over fishing in “traditional” areas.

Referring to the arrest of the seven fishermen from Rameswaram on Tuesday while fishing near Katchatheevu, an islet ceded by India to Sri Lanka in the 1970s, mechanised boat fishermen’s association asked the Chief Minister to take up the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Jayalalithaa had on Tuesday written to Modi urging him to take up the matter with the highest authorities in Sri Lanka and secure the immediate release of the seven fishermen and a total of 89 boats impounded on various occasions.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Speaking after a meeting of the association, its leaders T Sesuraja and S Emiret said the Centre should be asked to arrange a meeting of the fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka to resolve the vexed issue of fishing rights in the Palk Bay.

They also said the association members would hold a ‘rail roko’ agitation on 24 June if the seven fishermen were not released along with 19 boats in the custody of Sri Lanka.

The leaders also sought compensation for 18 boats that were sunk in the sea or damaged due to anchoring without maintenance.

If the fishermen were not allowed to fish in their traditional areas (Katchatheevu), they would be left with no other alternative except to commit suicide like distressed farmers, they said.

Alleging that fish merchants were forming cartels and procuring fish at very low price, they urged the state government to set up procurement centre to buy fish from them directly.

Katchatheevu church reconstruction a calculated provocation by Sri Lanka: Jayalalithaa

Chennai: The Tamil Nadu government today described Sri Lanka’s reported move to demolish and reconstruct a church in Katchatheevu islet as a “carefully calculated provocation” and urged the Centre to prevail on Colombo to involve Indian fishermen in the process.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said the “unilateral” decision by Sri Lanka has created fears among Indian fishermen from the state that it could curtail their traditional and customary access to St Antony’s church in Katchatheevu.

Jayalalitha. File photo. AFPJayalalitha. File photo. AFP

Jayalalitha. File photo. AFP

This reported move of the Lankan Government had “greatly” exercised the Indian fishermen in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu, who had regularly visited and worshipped at this church for several centuries, she said.

The church in Katchatheevu, an islet ceded by India to Sri Lanka in the 1970s, holds considerable religious significance for fishermen in coastal districts who had traditionally undertaken pilgrimages for the annual festival of St Anthony’s for several centuries, she said.

“It is part of their essential cultural and religious heritage,” she told the Prime Minister even as she recalled the state government impleading in a case filed by her in the Supreme Court for the retrieval of Katchatheevu as a permanent solution for the vexed fishermen issue.

During the annual St Anthony’s festival in February, when local priests proposed demolishing and reconstructing the church, Tamil Nadu fishermen “indicated” to them that as it represented the joint heritage of fishermen from both countries, its reconstruction should be taken up jointly by the two sides.

“In this context, the present unilateral decision of the Sri Lankan government to demolish and reconstruct St Anthony’s Church without consulting Tamil Nadu fishermen who are vital stakeholders, appears to be a carefully calculated provocation.”

“The Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu apprehend that if the church is demolished and reconstructed by the Sri Lankan side unilaterally, their traditional and customary access to this important place of worship could also be curtailed in the
future,” she added.

To allay apprehensions of the Indian fishermen, the Centre “ought to urgently respond to this provocation and prevail upon the Sri Lankan government to first consult the fishermen from Tamil Nadu on this issue and take further steps in this regard only in consultation with all the key stakeholders,” Jayalalithaa said.

The Lankan side should also be prevailed upon to accept the reconstruction of the church jointly by India and Sri Lanka after obtaining the concurrence of Tamil Nadu fishermen, she told the Prime Minister.