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Jung not over? LG Anil Baijal non-commital on fixing relationship with Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former bureaucrat Anil Baijal took over as 20th Lt Governor of Delhi and struck a cautious note on where the LG’s office will stand in repairing the fractured relationship between the Centre and AAP government which had hit rock bottom under his predecessor. 70-year-old Baijal, who had served in a number of key positions at the Centre including as Union Home Secretary, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Chief Justice of Delhi High Court G Rohini, 10 days after Najeeb Jung’s abrupt resignation as the LG.Baijal said addressing key challenges like women’s safety, pollution, traffic congestion and strengthening infrastructure will be his priority areas.The oath ceremony was attended by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Delhi Chief Secretary MM Kutty, leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta among others.On being asked about tussle between previous LG Jung and the city government on a range of issues including administrative control over the bureaucracy, Baijal said, “This is speculative. I don’t know why and how the relationship will improve. We will sit and talk and then you will get to know.”Welcoming Baijal’s appointment, Kejriwal said he was hopeful that under the new LG, governance in the national capital will see new momentum overcoming the past hurdles.”I am very hopeful that in the future, we all – MLAs, Delhi government, people of Delhi – will work with the Lt Governor for overall development of Delhi. “In the last few months, some works of Delhi government have come to a standstill. I hope that these works will be expedited,” Kejriwal said at an event at Delhi Assembly complex.Baijal said he will put his best efforts in improving law-and-order situation, women’s safety, traffic congestion besides strengthening infrastructure and civic amenities in the city.”Delhi is a megapolis which has several problems like women safety, law and order, huge population, infrastructure, civic agencies and congestion. We all know about these problems. We will work with elected government to solve them,” he told reporters. Baijal also thanked President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving him the responsibility. A 1969-batch IAS officer, Baijal had served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government besides holding key positions in other ministries.He was actively associated with the designing and countrywide roll-out of Rs 60,000-crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Manmohan Singh government. Baijal had retired from service in 2006 as Urban Development Secretary. He had served as vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority and is known to be well versed with the city administration.The former bureaucrat was also on the executive council of think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation, several of whose former members have been appointed to senior positions by the Modi government including NSA Doval.Baijal, known to follow the rule book, will have to take a series of important decisions including on the report of Shunglu committee, set up by Jung to examine over 400 files pertaining to decisions taken by the AAP government in the last two years.The Shunglu committee has reportedly pointed out “irregularities” in some of the Kejriwal government’s decisions.His immediate task will also include appointing a new chairman of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) which has been headless since November after the appointment of incumbent Krishna Saini was turned down by Jung.Jung and the AAP dispensation had clashed over a range of issues including transfer and posting of bureaucrats, setting up of enquiry commissions and among others.There was a running battle between L-G office and Kejriwal government with the latter constantly challenging the former’s supremacy in the city administration.Jung had won the court battle as the Delhi High Court had stamped the primacy of Lt Governor in the affairs of Government of NCT.However, AAP government had approached the Supreme Court challenging the high court verdict and during a recent hearing in the case, the apex court had said the elected government should have some powers.

Many questions remained unanswered, disappointed with PM Modi’s speech: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “disappointing” address, Congress on Saturday wondered why he did not mention how many “lakhs of crores” of black money the government managed to wipe out through demonetization in the last 50 days.Congress Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said demonetization has paralysed the economy but the Prime Minister in his address did not answer many crucial questions. “Mr Prime Minister, people wanted to know how many lakhs of crores of black money did you wipe out in the last 50 days? Why didn’t you speak about it,” he asked. Surjewala said “We are disappointed with PM’s speech as many questions were left unanswered. His decision paralyzed economy; country can’t run this way.”The Congress once again asked Modi to withdraw the restrictions imposed on withdrawals post demonetization. Surjewala said the “so-called cleansing drive took 125lives of innocent Indians and put crores of people in severe difficulties. But the Prime Minister did not uttter a single word for those who died.” He said the 50 days the Prime Minister had asked for were over but there was no announcement on when he will take back the restrictions on withdrawal of cash.”The entire country was listening with curiosity that the Prime Minister will lift the restrictions on withdrawal of their hard earned money from banks. But people will still have to reel under this economic anarchy. “The Prime Minister said it will take time to improve the banking system in the new year. It means he believes in hitting headlines and not giving deadlines,” the Congress spokesperson added.Coming down hard on the Prime Minister, Surjewala said demonetization has taken away the jobs, hit the farmers and traders and made life difficult for every section of the society but there was no word of relief for them in PM’s address. “Who benefited from demonetization. Only a handful of 50 people who are Modiji’s friend. This is why he said yesterday that the deposits of the people in the banks would be used for strengthening banking system and infrastructure.The Congress Spokesperson said National Food Security Act already has special focus on women and entitles them to receive “maternity benefit of not less than Rs 6,000 and that there was nothing new in PM’s announcement of the financial assistance for them”.

J&K: Partition refugees deserve domicile status, but this is not the time to play with fire

It is enough to make one want to scream!

Just five months ago, various sections of the ruling class seemed to be at the end of their tether with regard to Kashmir. Enraged teenagers held large parts of the Valley to ransom for several months. During that time, India’s Parliament humiliated itself by knocking on various leaders doors, only to be rebuffed. The army was called out in Kupwara and right across south Kashmir – although that last resort that was not used even when there was a greater rage on the streets in 2010.

Unrest in Kashmir Valley. ReutersUnrest in Kashmir Valley. Reuters

Unrest in Kashmir Valley. Reuters

There is every reason to believe that the unrest of 2016 has only subsided; it is not over. Anger still simmers. Indeed, many observers within Kashmir not only predict more unrest in 2017 but that it will surface much earlier in the year than it did in 2016.

And yet, various sections of what pass for political leaders have been playing short-term politics of the sort that prioritises expected advantage to one’s party over the national interest or the objective of long-term stable peace.

Even National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah did it in early December. And Mehbooba Mufti’s government did it in July.

The latest is the controversy over granting domicile certificates to those who are called ‘West Pakistan refugees’ in the state. These are the about 100,000 descendants of those who, during the murderous mayhem of the 1947 Partition violence, scrambled across the border from Pakistani Punjab into areas around Jammu.

Many of them are of Dalit background and have little political or economic clout. Ergo, they need positive discrimination from the state more than others.

The ‘West Pakistan refugees’ are distinct from those who fled that horrible year from Mirpur and Muzaffarabad areas on what are now Pakistan-controlled parts of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Large numbers of them and their descendants too live in Jammu – with all the rights of state subjects.

Several states, including Himachal, deny domicile rights to those who are not, or are not descended from, longtime residents. However, the denial of domicile rights — which basically boils down to access to state educational institutions, state government jobs and ownership of freehold property — to those who have been residents of the state for 70 years is clearly unjustified.

There can be no doubt that, owing to the special circumstances of their migration to the state, and the length of these families’ stay, they deserve the domicile status they were given a few days ago.

However, this is an inappropriate time to grant it. For, that grant has been resisted for decades by Kashmiri Muslims who fear that domicile status could be a first step towards their getting full citizenship of the state. That, they fear, could dilute their own demographic and political domination.

Explosive situation

I have pointed out before that the Kashmiri uprising of 2016 was different to the uprising of 2010 or 2008. One, Pakistan has been in far greater control this year than it was, particularly in 2008. Two, India does not face Pakistan alone on the battlefield that Kashmir has become. It is a Sino-Pak axis now. Three, the challenge may only have begun to emerge. Worse lies ahead than we experienced in 2016.

Of course, the BJP feels pressure to fulfill the poll promise it made to the refugees. Politically, it touches more than the 100,000 persons it directly affects, for the issue strikes a chord among many in the Jammu-Samba-Udhampur-Katra heartland of Hindu identity consciousness. So the BJP would fear an electoral backlash if its promise remains unfulfilled.

And yet, the dangers inherent in implementing this at this point are huge. Intelligence analysts may have advised that the beginning of the peak of an extraordinarily cold winter was the safest time to do it. Energy is low as people across the Valley try and cope with the cold and power outages.

Yet, anger over the issue has gathered steam. Hartals and stone-pelting demonstrations have begun again over the past few days. Independence leaders such as JKLF chief Yasin Malik and Bar Association president Abdul Qayoom have been given a fresh lease of popular support to demonstrate against the domicile status.

Once again, Pulwama has been a hub of unrest. The generally well-informed Ghulam Rasool Pandit had predicted to me that the unrest would revive again in 2017. “Why do you talk about summer?” he asked. “It could begin much sooner.” When I asked him about spring, he smiled laconically and asked why I did not consider January. Pandit is well connected on both sides of the conflict. His son, Naseer, became one of the best-known and popular militants of the area after he left the police to take up the gun. Naseer was killed last spring.

At that time, the police and government had made much of having demolished the insurgency with arrests and ‘kills’ of militants. A couple of months later, they seemed to be at the end of their tether in the face of mass rage.

The move to give West Pakistan Refugees domicile status may be entirely deserved on the face of it, but it stems from a similar sense of misplaced complacency. The nation may have to pay a huge price for such complacency and narrow political calculations.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 19:07 IST

India mine collapse: Bodies of 13 recovered in Jharkhand

The bodies of 13 people are recovered and scores remain missing after a coal mine collapse in India.

Anil Baijal takes oath as Delhi Lieutenant Governor

Sat, 31 Dec 2016-11:32am , New Delhi , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former union home secretary Anil Baijal on Saturday took oath as the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi at Raj Niwas. The oath was administered by Delhi High Court’s Chief Justice G Rohini.President Pranab Mukherjee earlier on December 28 accepted Najeeb Jung’s resignation and approved Baijal’s name as the next Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory. Baijal, a 1969 batch India Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the Union Territories cadre, was removed as union home secretary when the UPA government assumed power in May 2004.The former bureaucrat has also been the vice-chairman of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and had headed key public sector companies like Prasar Bharti and Indian Airlines.Jung had submitted his resignation on December 22, ending a nearly three-and-half-year-long eventful tenure, mostly marked by bitter confrontation with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government.

Thick fog blankets Delhi; 69 trains, 12 flights delayed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dense fog shrouded the national capital this morning with the minimum temperature dipping to 8.2 degrees Celsius, one notch above the season’s average.The blanket of fog also brought down visibility levels which affected train operations.As many as 69 north-bound trains were running late while 16 have been rescheduled, four cancelled a railways spokesperson said.Nine international flights have been delayed and one has been cancelled in Delhi. Three domestic flights have been delayed and two are cancelled.Visibility was recorded at 200 metres at 5.30 am, which subsequently improved to 400 metres by 8.30 am, a weather official said. “The maximum temperature is likely to be around 19 degrees Celsius and partly cloudy conditions will prevail through the day,” the official said.Humidity was maximum at 100% at 8.30 am. Yesterday, the maximum temperature had plunged to 18.5 degrees, two notches below the normal, while the minimum was recorded at 10.5 degrees Celsius.

Akhilesh Yadav chairs meeting with all SP MLAs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expelled Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav chaired a meeting of Samajwadi Party MLAs at 9 am on Saturday at his official residence.Mulayam Singh yesterday expelled Akhilesh and National General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav from the party for six years over indiscipline late on Friday night. “I solely founded the party, what is their (Akhilesh and Ram Gopal) contribution? They are destroying the party,” he said. “To save the party, we have expelled both Ram Gopal and Akhilesh Yadav for six years from the party. No one has the right to call for a national executive meeting other than the party chief, and by doing this, you (Akhilesh and Ram Gopal) have hurt the party’s interest,” Mulayam told media here. “I will decide as to who will be the chief ministerial candidate of the party,” he insisted.This move comes after Akhilesh had released a list of 235 candidates out of the total 403 seats for upcoming state assembly elections on Thursday, rejecting the list announced by Mulayam Singh Yadav on Wednesday. “We have declared a list of 325 candidates for the 2017 assembly polls; 78 seats still remain. Names of the candidates for the rest of the 78 seats will be announced soon,” Mulayam had said on Wednesday. Akhilesh’s name did not figure in the first list. Mulayam said his son being the chief minister, can contest from any assembly seat he wishes to.

11 miners dead in Lalmatia colliery mishap in Jharkhand, rescue operations to resume Sat morning

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ten miners were killed and an unspecified number feared trapped when a massive mound of earth came crashing down on them at Lalmatia open cast coal mine of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) Thursday night, the worst such disaster in over a decade.Heavy machinery was deployed as rescuers, including those from the NDRF, toiled through the day extricating bodies and looking for survivors. “Unfortunately the casualties have increased from seven in the morning to 10,” the coal ministry said in a statement.”Rescue teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL)/Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL), state government and experts have been continuously carrying out rescue work at the accident site of ECL’s Rajmahal Open Cast Expansion Project in district Godda, Jharkhand,” the statement said.Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDIL, the consultancy arm of Coal India Ltd., has deployed magneto meters along with imaging system for locating magnetic and conductive material up to a depth of 80 meters, the statement said.R R Mishra, officiating CMD of ECL, a Coal India subsidiary, said that the incident occurred at around 7:30 pm last night when excavators were working there following which rescue operations was launched immediately.Senior officials of Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS) have arrived at the site and launched an inquiry.All 10 excavators and dump trucks which were swamped under the debris have been recovered. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Coal Minister Piyush Goyal, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das and other leaders have expressed grief over the loss of lives.”Saddened by the loss of lives at a mine in Jharkhand. My prayers are with those trapped inside. Spoke to CM Raghubar Das on the situation,” Modi said on twitter.Das said an assistance of Rs two lakh will be given to the families of the miners who died in the accident, while ECL also announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs five lakh each to these families, in addition to the amount to be paid under the Workmen’s Compensation Act.14 miners were killed at Central Saunda coal mine in Ramgarh district of Jharkhand in August 2005. The country’s worst mining disaster had occurred at Chasnala in Dhanbad district in the then Bihar state in 1975 in which 375 lives were lost.

JKLF chairman Yasin Malik detained before protest march in Pulwama

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>JKLF chairman Yasin Malik was on Friday detained at Pulwama as he led his supporters to stage a protest march against Jammu and Kashmir government’s decision to issue identity certificates to West Pakistani Refugees.Malik was detained along with several of his supporters.They were taken into preventive custody, a police official said.Separatists groups had called for protests on Friday against the government decision to issue identity certificates to West Pakistan Refugees living in the state since partition in 1947.The state government has decided to issue identity cards to the refugees and had to issue clarification after protests from opposition parties and separatists against the move. Initially, reports had said the opposition was against the government move to issue domicile certificates, but the state government said it was issuing identity certificates.Other political organisations, including BJP and Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, have slammed separatists for opposing the issuance of certificates to the refugees.The refugees, settled in Jammu and Kashmir, are citizens of India and have the right to vote in parliamentary polls. However, they are not permanent residents of the state in terms of Jammu and Kashmir Constitution. They do not enjoy voting rights to the state assembly and local bodies.

Mulayam should explain why he imposed Akhilesh on UP after 2012 polls: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>People of Uttar Pradesh have already “expelled” Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav should now answer as to why he “betrayed” the state by imposing his son after 2012 polls, BJP said soon after Akhilesh was expelled for six years from the party.”Akhilesh Yadav has let down the people of Uttar Pradesh with the all-round failures of his government. He has not fulfilled any promise. People are feeling betrayed. Now Mulayam Singh Yadav has expelled him from the party. People have already expelled him due to his governance failures,” BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma said.”Mualayam Singh Yadav should answer as to why he imposed his son on the state and betrayed it,” he said.People had voted for SP in 2012 as they were angry with the Mayawati government over poor law and order and development but SP has also let them down, he said, blaming Yadav for “deteriorating law and order” as his portfolios includes the Home department.Voters will not fall in this trap this time, Sharma said, claiming that they have made up their mind to vote for BJP.”There is wave in our support,” he claimed. BJP governments in various states have brought development and ensured double digit growth, he said.

Madhya Pradesh plans to develop 1100 ‘climate-smart’ villages

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Madhya Pradesh has embarked on an ambitious plan to develop 1,100 ‘climate-smart’ villages with an aim to prepare farmers to manage the climate change risks timely and ensure good productivity.”The government has been planning to develop 1,100 villages as climate-smart villages in a period of next six years,” state Farmer Welfare & Agriculture Development Department Principal Secretary Dr Rajesh Rajora told PTI.He said 100 villages in each of the 11 agro-climatic zones of the state would be taken up under the plan, which would incur a cost about Rs 150 crore every year. “The work is being taken up under the National Agriculture Development Programme (NADP) and Indian National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture,” he said.In these villages, the farmers would be encouraged to go for short duration variety of crops, in addition to using drought-resistance seeds. “The focus would be on integrated agriculture, which comprises animal husbandry, fisheries, in addition to traditional farming. Agro-forestry would also be adopted in these villages,” Rajora said.Agro-forestry conserves and protects the natural resources as it helps water retention and stops soil erosion. He said integrated nutrients management would also be implemented to help in soil fertility and plant nutrients supply through optimisation of all possible sources of organic, inorganic and biological components.”In addition, the integrated pest management, zero tillage, raised bed gardening techniques and micro-irrigation would also be introduced in the climate smart villages. This would help farmers to increase the productivity amid all challenges of climate change,” he said.Zero tillage technique is a way of growing crops time and again without disturbing the soil through ploughing, another agriculture expert said. “The micro-irrigation systems like drip and sprinklers would not only reduce the water use but also lessen the use of fertilisers and energy,” he said. Rajora said the state government would seek help of International Crops Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), an international NGO working in the field of agriculture, and Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a global agriculture research partnership.”The Centre has set ICRISAT, the UN organisation, as nodal agency for developing the climate-smart villages. We would also seek expertise from scientists of two agriculture universities at Jabalpur and Gwalior in addition to state government’s scientists in various district headquarters,” he said.According to agriculture department officials, various equipment and sensors would also be used in these villages to help the farmers.The state government has already announced to open a soil testing laboratory at the block level. A plan is also on the anvil to provide soil health cards to farmers under state government’s efforts to double farmers’ income in five years.To ensure sustainable agriculture growth, MP has also constituted a ‘Krishi (agriculture) Cabinet’ for the purpose.The cabinet includes ministers of agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries, cooperatives, water resources, Narmada valley development, energy, panchayat, rural development and SC/ST welfare departments.MP had also received Krishi Karman award for 2014-15, the fourth during past five years, for increasing the food grains production and productivity by 254 lakh tonnes and 1,719 kg per hectare, respectively.The state government also claimed to have increased the irrigated agriculture area to 40 lakh hectares from 7 lakh hectares in 2003.

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

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

Supreme Court dismisses plea against appointment of new Chief Justice of India

Supreme Court dismisses plea against appointment of new Chief Justice of India

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking the quashing of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar’s appointment as the next Chief Justice of India.

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

The vacation bench of Justice RK Agrawal and Justice DY Chandrachud dismissed as “without merit” the petition by the National Lawyers Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms and others.

President Pranab Mukherjee on 19 December appointed Justice Khehar as the 44th Chief Justice of India. He will be sworn-in on 4 January, 2017. The incumbent Chief Justice TS Thakur retires on 3 January.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 14:20 IST

Government notifies Disabilities Bill

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Government has notified the recently passed Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill which provides for reservation in government jobs for persons with benchmark disabilities from 3 to 4%, and in higher education institutes from 3 to 5%, Union Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot said on Friday.”The Bill was passed by Parliament in the winter session and then it was sent to the President for his assent. After the nod from the President, it was notified on Wednesday,” Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot said on the foundation day of the National Trust.On the occasion, Gehlot launched the mobile app and Facebook Page of the National Trust.”Through the app, information regarding the schemes and programmes will be disseminated. The Facebook page was launched with an aim to bring together all NGOs and organisation working in this field on the same platform,” Gehlot said.With the enforcement of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years will have the right to free education. The legislation has been made to bring Indian laws in line with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.Under the newly enacted Act, the types of disabilities have been increased from the existing seven to 21. The newly added types include mental illness, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurological conditions, specific learning disabilities, multiple sclerosis, speech and Language disability, thalassemia, hemophilia, sickle cell disease, multiple disabilities including deaf blindness, acid attack victims and Parkinsons disease.Also, disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept and government will have the power to add more types of disabilities.As per the Act, assaulting, insulting, intimidating, denying food to a person with disability or sexually exploiting a differently-abled woman and performing a medical procedure on such women without consent which may lead in termination of pregnancy will draw a jail term up to five years once the law is passed.Any person who contravenes any provision of the act will be punished with a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh.

UP polls: RLD, ally declare Jayant Chaudhary as CM candidate

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>RLD leader and former MP Jayant Chaudhary was today projected as chief ministerial candidate for the party and its allies at a rally at Abairani crossing here.”Young RLD leader Jayant Chaudhary would be projected as chief ministerial candidate during the forthcoming Vidhan Sabha elections in the state,” JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav announced amidst applause from the large gathering at the Kisan Adhikar rally.He also said if voted to power, the alliance government would implemenet total prohibition in the state.”People want change since there has been no development during SP or BSP rule in the state,” he claimed.He sarcastically said while the cycle (poll symbol of the Samajwadi Party) has reached a “punctured stage”, elephant (BSP’s poll symbol) is without its ‘mahavat’ (controller).”An elephant without Mahavat would cause heavy destruction to crop,” he said.Calling BJP as ‘Bhartiya Jumla Party’, National President of RLD Ajeet Singh reminded the audience the promises made by Modi during Lok Sabha election campaign.”Modi had allured everybody that 15 lakh would come in his account however the allurement proved otherwise,” he said.Referring to the ongoing inner fight in the SP, he said, “Both the wheels of cycle are moving in different directions.

Uttarakhand sticks to Bhagirathi ESZ plan despite being temed ‘destructive’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite being termed as “destructive” for water resources by the union ministry, the Uttarakhand government has stuck to its zonal master plan of the Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) that proposes to open up the fragile area for hydropower projects above 2 MW, mining, and roads. The last pristine stretch of Ganga flows through this ESZ.At a meeting on Thursday with the union ministry for water resources, and union ministry for environment and forest, a posse of Uttarakhand officials justified these projects and objected to water ministry’s reservations.The meeting was convened as per National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) directions which asked water resources secretary Shashi Shekhar to sit down with Uttarakhand government and environment ministry to find a way ahead on the contentious zonal master plan. Members of the ESZ expert monitoring committee and two environment ministry officials were also present during the meeting. The Tribunal is hearing a plea on effective implementation of the Bhagirathi ESZ and on compensation for victims of 2013 Uttarakhand disaster.During the meeting, Uttarakhand chief secretary S.Ramaswamy and power secretary Umakant Panwar submitted to Shashi Shekhar that they were not in agreement with the water ministry’s opposition to the hydropower projects and riverbed mining as it will hit investments. According to sources present at the meeting, Uttarakhand officials said that there was little anthropogenic pressure on the resources and even population density was low, thus making it ideal for hydropower projects.They argued that small hydropower projects are ‘white’ projects that are non polluting in nature. The state government wants Centre to allow ten hydropower projects of 82MW total capacity. In August, the environment ministry agreed to consider these projects for approval and also allowed riverbed mining up to 2m depth and road construction on steep slopes.But, DNA reported last week that these decisions were termed “disastrous” by Shashi Shekhar in a letter to the secretary, environment ministry, as they were against the provisions of the ESZ notification.Pointing out to the restrictions on road building on steep slopes and riverbed mining, the officials also said in the meeting that “special rules” were being applied to Uttarakhand, sources added. To this, expert committee member Ravi Chopra said that the restrictions were in place since the stretch of Ganga between Gaumukh and Uttar Kashi is sensitive.Responding to the state government’s submissions, water resources secretary Shashi Shekhar said that in the present form the zonal master plan is in violation of the ESZ notification and any amendments could only be done only with the approval of the union cabinet and the Parliament. Interestingly, the environment ministry, which has agreed to consider Uttarakhand government’s proposal to allow ten hydropower projects in the ESZ did not make any submission during the meeting.”The zonal master plan violates the ESZ notification and the Uttarakhand government never wanted to prepare this master plan. There is no rationale in studying the impact of hydropower projects as the notification does not allow for such kind of development,” said Mallika Bhanot, member, ESZ expert monitoring committee.

NGO aims to create Zero Waste Zones in Capital

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Planting and sustaining 100 million trees by 2040 and managing as much as 50 per cent of the city’s waste by 2025 — These are some of the ambitious aims of the non-profit organisation Hara Jeevan. The group has a plan to make various places in the Capital ‘Zero Waste Zones’.Among other goals, the group also wants to spread awareness among youth and involve them in causes to save the environment. At present, their short-term goal is to manage as much as 5,000 metric tonnes of waste in Delhi by 2020.Members of the two-year-old organisation have been talking to RWAs, housing societies, and companies for the Zero Waste project. “The household waste management roadmap includes two steps — segregation of waste, and involvement of locals, including women and children, to spread awareness in the locality,” said Mohit Saini, a member of the NGO.The campaigners plan to set up a system of different bins in office premises. The waste collectors at homes will request people to give them segregated waste, following which manual segregation will also be done by the collectors. “The collected waste will then be processed. Biodegradable waste will be converted into manure, non-biodegradable waste such as paper, card board, plastic, and metal can be sold. The third category of waste includes thermocol, tetra packs, plastic wrappers, diapers, and medical waste, which cannot be sold,” Saini told DNA.The NGO is also in talks with the Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCD) and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for processing of agri-waste, such as leaves, branches, and twigs, which will be converted into manure through mesh composting, which is a major requirement for the ‘Zero Waste Zones’.“We have already started the processing of waste from temples through mesh composting,” Saini said, adding, that the processing of waste from weddings and parties will be started gradually.“A team from Hara Jeevan will train the collectors on segregation of waste, composting, harvesting, and so on. We will also send train members in shredding, mixing in pits, sieving of compost generated etc,” he added.As part of the campaign, during the initial sessions, residents and employees in a particular place will be sensitised regarding segregation, waste management, its need and benefits. This would then be followed by the collection of waste by people hired through the RWAs. These collectors already collect waste from various localities, charging Rs 100 per house. The campaigners plan to give more money to collectors for waste segregation. “We are starting from SDA C-4 block, but intend to take the campaign further to Vasant Kunj, Vasant Vihar, and different societies of Rohini Sector 13. Following this, we plan to implement the plan throughout the National Capital Region (NCR),” Saini said.All they projects have primarily been funded by the NGO, but it intends to involve corporate houses as well as see the manure to generate revenue.

‘How can you just forget her,’ ask parents of December 16 Delhi gangrape victim

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The parents of the December 16 gangrape victim on Thursday voiced their displeasure in no uncertain terms with the government naming the “one-stop” crisis centres for women ‘Sakhi’ instead of Nirbhaya, alleging it was a bid to erase the memory of their daughter from public discourse.”Initially, the Women and Child Development Ministry had announced setting up one-stop crisis centres across the country and name them ‘Nirbhaya centres’. But as the project rolled out, they named them ‘Sakhi’. It’s not done!” said Asha Devi, mother of the victim.”What happened with my daughter had sent a message to the society and government that crimes against women has crossed all boundaries and that we need to wake up and act. How can you just forget her,” she asked the government.Nirbhaya centres, or Sakhi centres, are a one-stop crisis centre for women in distress and are funded by Union government. They are to be set up in all 640 districts and 20 additional locations across the country.The programme to launch such centres was conceived as a tribute to the victim of the December 16, 2012 gang-rape case.But Asha Devi alleged the government was trying to wipe off the account of their daughter’s sufferings. “Government and society can forget her, but how can I? Her face flashes before my eyes the moment I close them, and then I look deeper in her eyes and I could feel the pain she endured on that fateful night and I wake up with a soul-shattering chill.” The victim’s father, Badri Singh Pandey, rued that the Nirbhaya Fund, a corpus announced by Union government in 2013 budget, was not being “properly utilised” and that there still were several dark spots in the city, which needed to be lit.”A substantial amount of Rs 500 crore from the Nirbhaya Fund is being used on installing CCTV cameras at railway stations, but that should have been done by the Railways. Tell me, how many victims of rape have been benefited by the fund,” he said.The parents visited ‘Gandhi Samadhi’ on Thursday to remember their 23-year-old daughter, who died on December 29, 2012, at a hospital in Singapore where she was airlifted from Delhi.Four of her six rapists have been lodged in jail as they have appealed against their death penalty. One committed suicide and another, a juvenile at the time of the crime, was released after spending three years at a correctional home.According to Delhi Police statistics, 2,199 rape cases were registered in the capital in 2015 and till November 30 this year, 1,981 cases of rape have been reported.As per National Crime Records Bureau, Delhi has highest rate of crimes against women among all cities in India. Last year, the total number of cases of crime against women in Delhi was 17,104.

Navy chief Sunil Lanba takes over as chairman, Chiefs of Staff committee

New Delhi: Navy Chief Sunil Lanba will take over charge as chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee on Saturday afternoon, and has been handed over the ceremonial baton by outgoing incumbent, IAF Chief Arup Raha.

The senior-most of the service chiefs is given the charge of the Chiefs of Staff committee.

On Thursday, Air Chief Marshal Raha handed over the baton to Admiral Lanba at a ceremony in the South Block, which houses the Defence Ministry.

Lanba will assume the charge from the afternoon of 31 December, the day Raha retires.

Indian Navy Chief Sunil Lanba. File photo. CNN-News18

Indian Navy Chief Sunil Lanba. File photo. CNN-News18

Army chief, Gen Dalbir Singh, who also retires from service on 31 December, and Principal Staff Officers of all three services and the Integrated Defence Staff were present on the occasion, an official statement said.

Admiral Lanba assumed command of the Indian Navy on 31 May, 2016. He is a navigation and direction specialist and has served onboard numerous ships in both the eastern and eastern fleets.

He is an alumnus of National Defence Academy (NDA), Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington, College of Defence Management (CDM) and Royal College of Defence Studies, London.

Air Chief Marshal Raha, the outgoing chairman, COSC had taken over as chairman COSC on 1 August, 2014, and under his stewardship, the services received a “vital boost in jointmanship”, the statement said.

“During his tenure, the Defence Communication Network got operationalised and training standards of the Tri Service Institutes such as NDA, DSSC and CDM were enhanced,” the statement said.

“The much awaited National War Museum got approval from the government. He was instrumental in enhancing the role of military diplomacy with friendly foreign countries. Various humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations during crisis situations both within and outside India such as Jammu and Kashmir floods, Chennai floods, evacuation of Indian and foreign nationals from Yemen and Nepal Earthquake were successfully conducted,” it said.

“He also played a pivotal role in formulation of DPP-16 thereby streamlining and fast tracking Defence Procurement which has so far been plagued by laborious procedures and long delays,” it said.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 20:15 IST

Kerala BJP president launches 24-hour fast against LDF’s ‘anti-people’ policies

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Attacking CPI(M)-led LDF government for its ‘anti-people’ policies, BJP President Kummanamam Rajasekharan on Thursday launched a 24-hour-fast in front of the secretariat here.The protest, demanding restoration of distribution of subsidised foodgrains and rice through ration shops and to end “increasing incidents of violence” against Dalits, commenced at around 11 am on Thursday and will end Friday morning.BJP national spokesman and former chairman of National commission for SC/ST Bizay Sonkar Shastri inaugurated the fast. BJP workers came in a procession to the fast venue.Women workers also offered ‘Pongala’ (ritualistic offering of porridge made of rice) in front of the Secretairat raising slogans against the government of Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, which they alleged had failed in proper distribution of rice and foodgrains to the poor people.Former union minister and BJP’s lone MLA in the assembly, O Rajagopal, was among those who spoke. BJP leaders alleged that atrocities against Dalits have increased during the LDF’s seven-month rule.BJP has chosen to launch its protest against LDF on a day when the left front is organising a 700km long ‘human chain’ from Thiruvanathapuram to the northern tip of the state, Kasaragod at 5 pm to protest ‘hardships’ faced by people following demonetization of high value notes.

AIADMK appoints Jayalalithaa’s close confidante Sasikala as party General Secretary

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on Thursday adopted a resolution to work under leadership of Jayalalithaa’s close confidante VK Sasikala, who is also known as Chinnamma.The resolution was passed at the party’s general council meeting that is underway in Chennai.According to ANI, 14 resolutions were passed in AIADMK general body meeting, including one to confer late CM Jayalalithaa with the Magsaysay Award and the Nobel prize for World Peace.A resolution demanding Jayalalithaa’s birthday be celebrated as ‘National Farmers Day’ was also adopted in the meet.Top party leaders including party presidium E Madhusudhanan​ and Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who is also the party treasurer were among the participants.
ALSO READ Wrong to nominate ‘Chinnamma’ as AIADMK gen secy, she tried to kill Jayalalithaa: Sasikala PushpaAfter the passing away of J Jayalalithaa on December 5, party cadres and top functionaries including Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had been urging Sasikala to assume the party’s top post of General Secretary and lead them.The venue of the meeting, Srivaru Venkatachalapathi Kalyana Mandapan sported life size hoardings of a smiling Jayalalithaa waving to party workers in the departed leader’s favourite green colour.Several leaders had also urged Sasikala to assume the mantle of both the party and governance as general secretary and Chief Minister respectively.On Wednesday, AIADMK cadres had allegedly attacked and injured the husband of expelled party MP Sasikala Pushpa, who was accused of trying to create a law-and-order problem ahead of the General Council meeting here.

Former Union Home Secretary Anil Baijal becomes new LG of Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Career bureaucrat Anil Baijal was on Wednesday appointed as the new Lt Governor of Delhi, a post which has fallen vacant after sudden resignation of Najeeb Jung.70-year-old Baijal, a 1969 batch IAS officer, had served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government besides holding key positions in other ministries. The President accepted the resignation of Jung and also ordered for appointment of Baijal, who will be the 21st Lt Governor of the national capital. Baijal had retired from service in 2006 as Secretary, Urban Development Ministry. He is a former vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority Baijal was actively associated with the designing and roll-out of Rs 60,000 crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Manmohan Singh government. The former bureaucrat was also on the executive council of the think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation, several of whose former members have been appointed to senior positions by the Modi government including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Jung had submitted his resignation on December 22, ending a nearly three-and-half-year-long eventful tenure, mostly marked by bitter confrontation with AAP government.

Anil Baijal is next Delhi L-G: Will Arvind Kejriwal now steer away from collision course?

Former Union home secretary Anil Baijal is all set become the new Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. He is yet another high-profile appointee from New Delhi-based think tank Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) to get a top government position.

Baijal’s appointment as next LG of Delhi marks the closure of a weeklong suspense on the successor of Najeeb Jung who made a surprise announcement of his resignation on 22 December. Sources said it took some time for the Modi government to accept Jung’s resignation and name his successor because President Pranab Mukherjee was on his customary southern sojourn to Hyderabad.

Delhi L-G designate Anil Baijal. Image courtesy News18Delhi L-G designate Anil Baijal. Image courtesy News18

Delhi L-G designate Anil Baijal. Image courtesy News18

Another informed source told Firstpost that three things went in Baijal’s favour — first, he had been Union home secretary in the Vajpayee government, with LK Advani at the helm in home ministry; second, he had been 1969 batch IAS officer of AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory) cadre who had served in Delhi and outside in various capacities; third, he has good equations with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Given the contours of the present ruling establishment, his proximity with Doval is considered to be a big positive that went in his favour and that made him a frontrunner to take up this constitutional post in Delhi.

The founder director of VIF Ajit Doval is NSA, Nripendra Misra as principal secretary to the Prime Minister is another top notch person from VIF in government, distinguished fellow A Surya Prakash is Prasar Bharati chairman, and former DRDO chief VK Saraswat, who served in VIF is a full-time member of the Niti Aayog. KG Suresh now DG of Indian Institute of Mass Communication had been editor of VIF. Baijal is the latest high-profile Modi government appointee who had been associated with VIF and Doval.

Taking into account his experience in the North Block, Baijal’s tenure as Union home secretary will come handy in carrying out his responsibilities as the new L-G. The L-G designate is well conversant with Delhi’s constitutional and administrative position, as also of political nuances. More so given the kind of conflict situations that arose almost on a daily basis between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Baijal’s predecessor Najeeb Jung, Baijal’s ability in maintaining the fine balance or managing potential conflict situations with incumbent AAP government will be closely watched.

Delhi has a unique position as a Union Territory or as a half state where most of the executive powers rest with the L-G and not with the elected government. In a judgment delivered in August this year, Delhi High Court settled the constitutionality of who is the boss in Delhi. The verdict had come as a body blow to the Kejriwal government. The high court ruled that Lieutenant Governor is the administrative head of Delhi. All decisions taken by elected government ministers must be communicated to him. Unlike governors in other states, the Lieutenant Governor in Delhi isn’t bound by the ministers’ advice. In the event of a dispute between the L-G and the Delhi chief minister, their decisions should be communicated to the Centre for a final call.

The Kejriwal government has yet not reacted to the appointment of Baijal as the L-G. It would perhaps wait for situations to unfold to make its first observation. Given the nature of strained relations between the Kejriwal government in Delhi and Modi government at the Centre, any restraint by AAP leaders from making sharp and quick reactions could be considered a healthy development, at least for now.

What had troubled AAP most during their two-year long business interaction with Jung as L-G was the latter’s abilities to read the fine prints on files. Like Jung, Baijal too is gentle, suave and articulate. The Aam Admi Party thus could take its time before making an assessment of the new L-G and make either kind of comments on him.

This writer had earlier noted that the manner in which Jung and Kejriwal parted ways would ever be heartening. Two men who had fought bitterly to protect their respective turf put on a rare display of civility buried the hatchet and walked away. Jung invited Kejriwal for breakfast, and the latter left his residence on a happy note. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also met the outgoing lieutenant governor and spoke of happy memories, with no trace of the bitterness that marked their last two years.

The way Jung chose to voluntarily quit the coveted L-G post has made him distinct from the rest of his peers, present and past occupying Raj Bhawans and Raj Niwas. Governors or lieutenant governors usually make headlines only when they are sacked by an incoming regime, or when they commit some outlandish act in contravention to the constitutional protocol. Appointment of a governor is big news only for those concerned, not the public at large. Jung, however, is a different case. His appointment, tenure, and departure would all be discussed for a long time to come, and even be cited as a case study by students of Indian politics.

Baijal has a task cut out for him. Each of his moves would be closely scrutinised by the people of Delhi, media and political parties. His actions would naturally be compared and contrasted with his predecessor, Jung.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 20:11 IST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEW DELHI: RUMBLE IN BOMBAY HOUSE. PTI GRAPHICS(PTI12_28_2016_000005B)NEW DELHI: RUMBLE IN BOMBAY HOUSE. PTI GRAPHICS(PTI12_28_2016_000005B)

PTI graphic

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

Drug users increase, as smoking goes down

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Grappling with drug menace, Punjab records decline in smoking cases, as recent results of National Family Health Survey (2015-16) indicate that the percentage of men who consume tobacco has gone down from 33.8 per cent to 19.2 per cent in the last ten years.The survey was carried by International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai, which has been appointed as the nodal agency for the survey by Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. As many as 19,484 women, 3,027 men from over 16,449 households were interviewed from January 28 to June 20 for the study.The figures offer a glimmer of hope for the state which has been fighting to crack down on the drug problem. The issue was also raised in the Rajya Sabha in August this year, when leaders pointed out the large number of drug-related cases being reported from the state.As per the survey, one third of the male population (33.8 %) were tobacco consumers in 2005-06 when the survey was last carried out, which has gone down to 19.2 per cent in 2016. Among women it has reduced from 0.8 per cent to 0.1 per cent. Out of the total number of men consuming tobacco, 17.1 per cent belonged to urban sections while 20 per cent were from rural section. The studies also indicated that a total of 24.4 per cent men admitted that they tried to stop smoking in last 12 months. In neighbouring Haryana, the prevalence of tobacco use was found to be 35.8 per cent among men.Smoking or tobacco consumption is prohibited in Sikhism, so it’s also associated with an article of faith, due to which public consumption is not that common, say public health experts. But, government health officials highlight that the number has begun to come down in last six years, due to strict implementation of laws governing sale of tobacco.”Punjab had been making serious efforts to tackle the problem of tobacco use,” said Vini Mahajan, Additional Chief Secretary, Health, Punjab. He added, “as per the survey, tobacco in Punjab is the lowest among all the states. This is significant considering the fact that there are 2,200 deaths attributed to tobacco use and 5,500 children/youth that start using tobacco daily in India.”Elaborating on the issue, Dr Rakesh Gupta, Deputy Director, Punjab Health Department said that prevalence of chewable tobacco is more compared to cigarettes or bidis. “It is common among the large section of workforce especially migrant labourers who work on the fields, but with strict implementation of laws and awareness, the number has come down,” he said.Gupta also highlighted that Punjab was the first state where e-cigarettes were banned and other states followed suit. “All districts of Punjab were declared as ‘Tobacco Smoke Free’ (TSF) on the basis of compliance study and Punjab received WHO World No Tobacco Day 2015 award.” said Gupta.Next, the department plans to crack down on sale of loose cigarettes and encourage more people to quit smoking through active sessions in De-addiction centres in hospitals.

Mamata vs Centre: WB Police asked not to send report directly to Home Ministry

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The West Bengal government has instructed the police not to send any report directly to the Union Home Ministry on the law-and-order situation in the state without getting it vetted by the state secretariat.”This is a practise where the Home Ministry sends a letter to the state police headquarters seeking a report on the law-and-order situation every year and replies are sent directly to it without seeking the opinion of the secretariat,” a highly-placed source at the state secretariat told PTI. But this year, the report from the police headquarters requires a nod from the secretariat, before being sent to the Centre, he added. The source said the letter from the Centre, which was sent recently to the state police headquarters (Bhawani Bhawan), sought information on law-and-order in the backdrop of the arrest of several persons having links with terror outfits such as the JMB and IS, unearthing of an international child-trafficking racket and seizure of fake currency notes.He said an “internal circular” was issued from the top echelons of the state police that “no statistics would be sent to the Home Ministry without the consent of the state secretariat”. The circular stated that henceforth such queries from the Home Ministry, seeking any report on law-and-order, should be forwarded to the state Director General of Police. From now on, no official at the police directorate will be allowed to send any report to the Home Ministry directly. The DGP will go through the Centre’s queries following which top officials of the administration will meet to decide whether to answer them or not. In certain cases, the chief minister’s opinion could also be sought, the source said.In 2013, the state had not sent any statistics to the National Crime Bureau (NCB). The decision of the state government came in the wake of deterioration in the Centre-state ties over a number of issues such as the deployment of army at toll plazas “without taking the state’s permission” and CRPF personnel accompanying income tax officers during a search operation in the state. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had described the two developments as a move against the spirit of the federal structure.

Odisha: H5N1 strain of Avian Influenza Virus confirmed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fishries, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has informed the Odisha Government regarding the confirmation of H5 N1 strain of Avian Influenza virus in Keranga village of Khordha district of the state.The samples from the said epicenter were sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal who confirmed on December 25 that the aforesaid samples were found positive in RT-PCR and Real time RT-PCR for H5 N1 strain of Avian Influenza virus.The state was intimated of the positive results on December 25. The state was requested to carry out the control and containment operations as per “Action Plan of Animal Husbandry for Preparedness, Control and Containment of Avian Influenza (2015)” which was circulated to the states by the Government of India in March, 2015.It is also available on Department website (www.dahd.nic.in) under link: Animal Health-Bird Flu. Therefore, control and containment measures as per above Action Plan on Avian Influenza needs to be carried out by the state. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was also intimated in the matter.

Manipur govt extends suspension of mobile data for another week

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the Centre has deployed additional 4,000 paramilitary forces in Manipur in a bid to reopen National Highway-2, the state government on Tuesday extended the suspension of mobile data services for another week.The United Naga Council has imposed the economic blockade on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH 37 (Imphal-Jiribam) that serve as lifelines for the state.Curfew has been imposed in Imphal East district for the last fortnight after a mob torched and vandalised 22 passenger vehicles on the Imphal-Ukhrul road, while curfew in Imphal West district was imposed from evening to dawn.The Centre last week came down heavily on Manipur Government for failing to resolve the economic blockade on the National Highway-2, which has throttled the supply of essential goods.In a scathing letter to Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the state government had taken no steps to ensure that the NH-2 is kept open or at least movement of convoy is made, despite MHA officials being in constant touch with state officials.”For the sake of people of Manipur, I call upon you to discharge these constitutional obligations with utmost promptness, while reiterating Government of India’s commitment to support your forces in keeping NH-2 open,” the letter read.Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who visited Congress-ruled Manipur last week as a central emissary, said it is completely unacceptable to have such kinds of blockades in which thousands are suffering and both the Central and Manipur Governments will work together to end it.Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) General Secretary Ram Madhav yesterday alleged that the Congress Government in Manipur was not clearing the economic blockade in the state for political benefits, adding that the Manipur Chief Minister should have cleared the blockade.”The Manipur Chief Minister is playing games with lives of people of the valley. The government of India from day one asked him to avail all required support from Centre,” Madhav said.

WB terror suspect raised ISIS flags in Kashmir, says NIA

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday revealed that suspected Islamic State operative Mohammad Masiuddin also known as Musa, who was earlier this month interrogated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for his alleged terror activities, had waved flags of the terror outfit during his stay in Kashmir earlier this year.The revelation came after filing charge sheet against Masiuddin stating that the 27-year-old was planning terror attacks in India after being directed to do so by his Syria-based handler.Masiuddin was arrested in July this year following which it was revealed that he had been directed to target foreign tourists instead of Indian locals by his handlers.”Investigation has established that on the instructions of his handler, Abu Suleiman, Musa went to Srinagar in May, 2016, to carry out a Lone Wolf attack on foreign tourists. He also participated in a Friday congregation at the Jama Masjid and waved the ISIS flag. He even planned to kill foreigners near the Mother Teresa House at the Ripon Street in Kolkata,” the NIA said on Monday.A senior J&K police official told DNA that local investigators did not find possible links between Kashmiri youth and the terror outfit. The NIA revelation might however prompt local authorities to dig out travel details of Masiuddin who hails from Labhpur in Birbhum district of WB.According to official sources in the NIA, the accused had visited two locations, one in Srinagar and other in Kolkata, and selected them as venues where he was supposed to carry out an attack using the 13 inch knife that was allegedly recovered from him following his arrest in July.This was after Masiuddin had allegedly gotten in touch with ISIS handler Shafi Armar, who is wanted by Indian agencies for activities during his time with Indian Mujahideen. The NIA also revealed that Musa met Abu Suleiman during his visit to India twice in March, 2015 and May, 2016. Suleiman encouraged him to use secured encrypted chat applications. The probe agency said Forensic Analysis of the electronic gadgets seized from the accused contained pdf files like How to survive in the West- Mujahideen, The Mujahideen Explosives Handbook by Abdel-Aziz.

West Delhi school kids move NGT for more green cover

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Aggrieved by the poor air quality due to industries and lack of green cover that is affecting their health, six teenagers from Mundka-Kirari suburbs in West Delhi have moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to seek an increase in green cover and to oppose proposed expansion of industrial activity. The six teenagers — aged between 12 and 16 years — attend schools in the Mundka-Kirari industrial belt and their petition was admitted by the Tribunal last week.The industrial belt in question is spread across eleven municipal wards of Mundka, Nangloi Jat West, Nilothi, Pratap Vihar, Nithari, Kirari Suleman Nagar, Prem Nagar, Sultanpur Majra, Sultanpuri South, Pooth Kalan and Nangloi East. The petition claimed that pollution emitted from industries in this belt is severely affecting the health of “more than 1 lakh children studying in these schools,” and that several students are suffering from breathing problems, especially during winters.Quoting results from the Centre for Science and Environment pollution test of the area, the petition said that PM 2.5 level for 24 hour average was found to be 556 µg/m3, which was 3.8 times higher than rest of Delhi. The petitioners point out that even as the area is already facing poor air quality, the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation has proposed to use 147 acres of vacant land for more industrial activity.“Of the 4,626 acres of land in 11 municipal wards, a mere 1 per cent is green whereas 1,400 acres or more than 30 per cent is an industrial area, 62 per cent is a residential area and rest is commercial area. As the area is already highly polluted… it is submitted that no further development of industries should be permitted in the area until existing pollution levels are brought down to permissible levels,” the petitioners prayed.Local residents also approached the Delhi Chief Minister’s office and the Delhi Development Authority with 5,000 signatures to convert the 147 acres into a biodiversity park, the petition claimed. Dewan Singh, a member of the Mundka Kirari Harit Abhiyan, Spoke to DNA said, “There are more than 50 schools in this area and whenever children go out for recreation, they are affected by the industrial pollution.”

BJP not doing politics on religion but justice & honesty: Rajnath Singh in Assam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said people have accepted BJP as a party of their own by electing it to power at the Centre with thumping majority even though opposition parties had made allegations in the past that it practised politics over religion.”There was a big allegation that BJP used to do politics over religion or over communalism. Now that allegation has gone away. Had it been a party of doing politics over religion, then the 1.25 billion people of the country would not have elected to power with a clear majority,” he said addressing a meeting of the BJP’s Assam unit here. Singh, a senior BJP leader, said the party never practiced politics over religion nor did over communalism but on the issue of justice and honesty.”We are a party of doing politics over justice and honesty. We are a party which takes everyone along and wants to march forward with everyone’s cooperation,” he said. The Home Minister said BJP’s politics is centred around humanity – irrespective of whether someone is Hindu, Muslim, Christian or from any other religion. Describing Indo-Bangladesh agreement on land-swap as a very significant pact for bilateral relations, Singh said after the exchange of ‘enclaves’ along the border, Dhaka has been supporting India in every international forums.”Be is on terrorism or be it on any other issues, Bangladesh has been supporting India in every international forum ever since we have completed the process of exchange of enclaves between India and Bangladesh.Singh said security of the more than 200-kilometre-long Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam was a priority for the BJP government and it will be completely sealed in next one and a half years. “We are committed to sealing the 223.7-km Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam and the process is on. It is expected to be completed within the next year and a half,” he said.The Home Minister said Bangladesh is a neighbouring country and India shares a good and warm relations and wants to continue and remain committed to in the future. The Home Minister, without referring to the issues of illegal migration and granting of citizenship to Hindu refugees, assured the people of Assam that BJP was committed to protect the interests of the indigenous population of the state as per Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.”We are committed to Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and will protect it even if we have to amend the Constitution,” he said. Referring to the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, Singh said the process is underway and the state government should complete it soon. Singh said the Centre will make no compromise on the issue of insurgency as he claimed that violence has considerably come down in the state. “If any people or group have any grievances, problems or issues, we are ready to talk to them… We are ready to embrace them and talk. But if there is violence, there will be no compromise,” he said.The Home Minister claimed people have supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “bold step” to demonetise high-value currency notes and his fight against black money and corruption. “The Prime Minister’s bold step of demonetization has been welcomed by the people of the country and we are grateful for that,” he said. The Prime Minister’s fight against black money and corruption was “beyond any doubt” and the people of the country have expressed their gratitude by supporting him despite facing initial difficulties, the home minister said.”People did face initial difficulties after demonetization was announced, but no one has questioned the intention of the Prime Minister. “People had to wait for hours in queues outside ATMs, but when told they were facing difficulties, many replied, ‘When our jawans our dying on the borders to protect our country against enemies, then why can’t we stand in queues for a few hours.’ This is the spirit of our people,” he said.Modi on November 8 had announced to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, and said new notes of denominations Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 will be issued in their place, leading to a rush among people to exchange their notes at banks and withdraw new notes from ATMs.

Is this 2016? Nutan College in Bhopal bans jeans, t-shirt and leggings

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Wearing jeans, t-shirts or leggings would no longer be allowed at the Sarojini Naidu Government Girls Post Graduate College, commonly known as Nutan College, as the authorities have decided to have a dress code. From the next month, the students will have to wear salwar, kurta and a jacket.”We have decided to implement a dress code from the next month when a new semester would start. The girls have been making this demand for long,” said the college principal Vandana Agnihotri.The dress code would instill discipline among the students, as in schools, she told PTI.”Some girls from final year had come to me. They are completing their studies. Their contention was they will have to purchase a new dress only for (remaining) few months,” she said, when asked if there was any opposition to the decision.College was yet to decide whether these girls should be granted exemption, she said. Students from weaker financial background develop inferiority complex when they see other girls wearing expensive clothes, and dress code would avoid this, she said. “Dress code would have several advantages. It would bring a sense of uniformity among students as some of them feel inferior when their friends come to the college wearing expensive clothes,” Agnihotri said.The Congress-affiliated National Students Union of India said the decision reflected misplaced priorities.”Education system is facing a lot of challenges like lack of faculty and poor infrastructure. The decision would only increase the financial burden on students who mostly come from middle or lower-middle classes,” said Vivek Tripathi, NSUI spokesperson. BJP-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad did not offer any comment. “We are busy with our national convention at Indore. This is government’s decision and we will discuss it (later),” said Nitesh Sharma, ABVP leader.In October this year, Madhya Pradesh Higher Education Minister Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya had said the BJP government in the state intended to introduce a dress code in the colleges as it brings uniformity.

Manipur: BJP slams CM Okram Ibobi Singh, Centre rushes 4000 paramiltary personnel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ram Madhav, the National General Secretary of the BJP hit out at Manipur CM Okram Ibobi Singh over the blockade in Manipur by the United Naga Council. He was quoted by ANI: “Manipur CM was asked to take help from forces & clear blockade, but blockade apparently politically suited him, so didn’t do needful. Manipur CM playing games with lives of people of Valley, Govt of India from day one asked him to avail all required support from Centre.”Earlier, the BJP appealed the United Naga Council (UNC) to immediately withdraw the ongoing economic blockade on the highways of Manipur. BJP spokesperson N Biren appealed the UNC to withdraw the blockade which entered its 56th day today and sought “another forum” to achieve its demands.Biren was speaking to the reporters on his return from Delhi, where an eight-member BJP delegation met top central leaders including Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the issue. Biren said, “The ruling Congress government is answerable to the people of the state for the hardship faced by them”.He questioned whether it has made any formal effort at the Centre regarding the presence of NSCN(IM) camps in the Manipur, the number of its cadre present in the state.He also sought to know whether there have been any effort to demolish the NSCN(IM)’s designated camps in the state as the ceasefire agreement between NSCN(IM) and the Centre does not cover Manipur. Biren also asked whether the state government has made any move to identify the perpetrators of the twin ambush on Manipur police at Lokchao and Bongyang in Tengnoupal district which claimed the lives of three policemen earlier this month. If there has been any such move, BJP demanded that the documents be made public. He also said the BJP was for a neutral CBI or NIA inquiry into the attacks on Manipur police. Later, lone BJP MLA Bishwajit said BJP’s philosophy is nation first, party second and self last. Centre rushes 4000 paramilitary personnel to Manipur The Centre has rushed additional 4,000 paramilitary personnel to Manipur in its efforts to reopen a national highway which has blocked for nearly two months by a Naga group.With this, the total number of central security personnel deployed in the sensitive northeastern state for assisting the local administration for maintaining law and order has gone up to 17,500.”Our top priority is now to reopen the National Highway-2 connecting Manipur (to Nagaland). While the other highway (NH-37) is reopened, we want to reopen the NH-2 too as early as possible,” a senior Home Ministry official said.The security personnel were sent to the northeastern state keeping in view the security situation in the wake of violence following the economic blockade imposed by the Union Naga Council (UNC) on the National Highways since November 1.The UNC has imposed the economic blockade on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH 37 (Imphal-Jiribam) that serve as lifelines for the landlocked Manipur.Curfew has been clamped in Imphal East district for the last fortnight after a mob torched and vandalised 22 passenger vehicles on the Imphal-Ukhrul road, while curfew in Imphal West district was imposed from evening to dawn.In a stern message, the Centre had on Friday told the Manipur government that it can’t escape responsibility for the “humanitarian crisis” arising out of the 52-day economic blockade by a Naga group and must work to end it, while making it clear that nobody will be allowed to take political advantage out of it.Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who was on a day-long visit to Congress-ruled Manipur as a central emissary, said it is completely unacceptable to have such kinds of blockades in which thousands are suffering and both the central and Manipur governments will work together to end it.”The state government has not been able to end the blockade. It must end as soon as possible as law and order is the responsibility of the state government. Nobody will be allowed to take political advantage out of a humanitarian crisis where common people are suffering,” he had said.

Indo-Bangla border to be completely sealed by mid 2018: Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said the security of the more than 200-kilometre-long Indo-Bangladesh border was a priority for the BJP government and it will be completely sealed in next one and a half years.”We are committed to sealing the 223.7-km Indo-Bangladesh border and the process is on. It is expected to be completed within the next year and a half,” Singh said addressing BJP workers here.”Bangladesh is our neighbouring country and we share a good and warm relation, which we will continue to pursue and remain committed to in the future,” he said. The Union minister, without referring to the issues of illegal migration and granting of citizenship to Hindu refugees, assured the people of Assam that BJP was committed to protect the interests of the indigenous population of the state as per Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.”We are committed to Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and will protect it even if we have to amend the Constitution,” he said. Referring to the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, Singh said the process is underway and the state government should complete it soon. The Union minister said the Centre will make no compromise on the issue of insurgency as he claimed that violence has considerably come down in the state.”If any people or group have any grievances, problems or issues, we are ready to talk to them… We are ready to embrace them and talk. But if there is violence, there will be no compromise,” he added.

Aamir Khan wins Dangal: Jingoism loses to Indians who don’t tolerate intolerance

It doesn’t need a genius to know who won the Dangal between Aamir Khan and the trolls who wanted his film boycotted. Numbers speak for themselves: In only the first three days, the film has grossed Rs 100 crore and become the year’s biggest hit after Sultan.

The impact of the film could be compared to Geeta Phogat’s dhobi paat — when the rival is lifted, swung in the air and then slammed like wet cloth on the mat — on those who wanted to teach the actor a lesson by boycotting the film. Hopefully, they will have realised that India doesn’t tolerate such intolerance.

Nobody would have missed the irony of Dangal. In a theatre where we watched the film first-day-first-show — the standard response to any call for a ban or boycott — the loudest cheers and slogans (some actually chanted Bharat Mata ki Jai) are triggered by the camera panning to Aamir’s face as the National Anthem is played in the climactic moments of the film.

Jana Gana Mana, courtesy the Supreme Court’s decision — is played twice in the film. Before the film’s beginning, when the National Anthem is played, it is seen merely as a duty imposed on an audience that needs to learn the virtues of nationalism and patriotism. But, when it coincides with Aamir’s triumph and elation, the audience reacts spontaneously, stands up in rapt attention, exults with both pride and joy felt by Aamir. In those few seconds alone, the pseudo-nationalists would have died a million deaths watching an actor they had branded anti-national lead the collective rush of love and respect for the country.

Aamir Khan during the shooting of Dangal.

Aamir Khan during the shooting of Dangal.

But then, this essentially is the real India — liberal, tolerant and patron of cinema that is loyal to just one ideology — entertainment. It is an antithesis to the bias, bigotry and hate peddled on social media by a few in the name of bogus nationalism.

This is not the first Dangal Aamir, and by extension the India he represents, has won. Social media campaigns based on chest-thumping jingoism and barely-concealed religious biases have always been given the dhobi-paat by real India (as against the handful carrying carry out their jihad through keypads).

Aamir’s PK was the biggest hit of 2014 even as the Hindutva brigade railed against it for “targetting and mocking” their religion. Snapdeal, whose boycott was sought by twitter jihadis because of its association with Aamir, grew in the aftermath of the onslaught. On Diwali, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil made pots of money in spite of calls for a ban and boycott. Chinese products continue to fly off the shelves even when keyboard-nationalists fly into a rage.

Why does the boycott brigade often lose the Dangal? The simplest explanation is that they are just an irrelevant fringe that sometimes entertains and sometimes irritates. But nothing more than that. To quote poet Rahat Indori:

Khilaaf hain, to hone do, jaan thori hai,

Ye sab dhuaan hai, koi aasman thori hai

(If they are opposed to you, let them be, they are just smoke, not the sky.)

There are other reasons too. It is difficult to sustain hate for too long. Indians don’t like to be told what to do in the name of various isms. Love for cinema and its stars transcends politics. And, obviously, social media jihadis get exposed and then buried under their own contradictions, like supporting construction of a mammoth statue that costs crore and simultaneously asking others to not spend Rs 200 on Dangal because that money can feed some poor.

Sometimes it is difficult to not pity those seeking a ban or pleading for a boycott. They do it in the name of self-respect, in the name of Hindutva, in the name of patriotism, for the sake of Malda, Bengal, soldiers, to teach Pakistan a lesson…almost anything. Bas, boycott kar de, Baba!

The success of Dangal shows India is indeed large-hearted and charitable. But, it gives its love, respect and, even hard-earned money, only to those who deserve it, not those who demand it as a token of acceptance of their misguided agendas.

Boycott calls, in the end, turn out to be haanikarak for those pleading for it.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 14:59 IST

US JV to study water transport on Ganga

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to push passenger transport on National Waterway-I between Allahabad and Haldia, the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has inked a contract with the US-based joint venture, Thompson Design Group and Infrastructure Architecture Lab of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to identify suitable locations for construction of 18 ferry terminals across six cities.The contract also entails preparation of detailed project reports for these 18 terminals that would be built across Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Munger, Kolkata and Haldia.The contract, worth Rs 5 crore, was awarded to the US-based joint venture (JV) following a global tendering process and it was inked on December 21. The US firms will have to deliver detailed project reports, and technical and financial feasibility reports by mid-2018, sources from IWAI said.According to an IWAI release, the US-based JV has earlier worked on similar transport solutions for Governors Island, off New York harbour, and Navy Pier in Chicago.As part of the detailed project report and feasibility reports, the JV has to map the traffic potential across these cities for both passenger and commercial vessels.The Union Ministry of Shipping wants to revive and expand inland waterways, touting it as a cheaper mode of commercial transport and one with untapped potential for passenger transport, too.The revival of National Waterway (NW)-1 on Ganga is being implemented by the IWAI as part of the Jal Vikas Marg Project with World Bank assistance, both technical and financial, pegged at Rs 5369 crore. While the NW-I witnesses limited commercial traffic at present, environmental concerns have been raised by local communities of fishermen and environment groups regarding the expansion of traffic.The chief concerns are centred around the shrinking flow of River Ganga, potential dredging to be maintained for minimum navigable depth and the threat that increased ship movement will pose to gharials, mugger crocodiles, turtles and India’s national aquatic animal — Gangetic Dolphins.Routes on the NW-I will pass through the Varanasi Turtle Sanctuary, besides critical stretches for dolphins in Fatehpur, Malda and Sagar.

Hyderabad men’s pledge shows close knowledge of Islamic State group

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After two failed attempts to travel to Syria and migrate to the Islamic State (IS) controlled Caliphate, Hyderabad resident Mohammad Ibrahim Yazdani’s quest to support the dreaded terrorist organisation from India led him to form a group with like-minded people–later named as Jund ul Khalifa al Hind Fl Bilad- and owe their allegiance to the self-proclaimed Caliph Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. The pledge or the bayah is a first step that formally places an individual or a group as a member of the IS wanting to carry acts of terrorism in its behalfThe National Investigating Agency has recovered the bayah made by Yazdani and others swearing loyalty to the leader of the terrorist organisation, signed and sent online to a handler claiming to be a member of the IS. The wording of the bayah made in Arabic as “we announce from South India that we pledge to an oath under AI Sheikh Abu Bakr lbrahim bin Al Hawwad Albadri AI Hussaini Al Hashmi AI Qurashi’,” an honorific reserved for the Islamic Caliph, shows the men had close knowledge on the workings and protocols of IS and were deeply indoctrinated with IS ideology, NIA officials said. According to Arabic custom followed by al Qaeda and IS, the bayah is made to the leader of the group and not in the name of the terrorist organisation.The bayah uploaded by the Hyderabad men on gulf-up.com is now a crucial part of evidence in the charge sheet filed by the NIA in the Hyderabad module case to indict the accused of conspiring to commit terrorist acts on behalf of the IS.”As a first step to support the IS from lndia, the online handler guided Yazdani that first a bayah has to be taken in favor of the Caliph, which has to be signed and sent, and forwarded to the lS,” the charge-sheet reads. Yazdani gathered seven other men who shared the IS ideology of salafi jihadism and decided to stay in India and plan the terror attacks. “Some members of the group had the intention to target policemen and police station and had plotted the coordinates of the police stations in Hyderabad,” the charge-sheet states.”If they had been successful in committing an attack, IS would have claimed responsibility for it on the basis of the bayah. The written bayah makes it easier for the IS to take credit for an attack and show that it has members supporting its cause in India,” the NIA investigating officer told dna on condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to talk to the media.The IS makes it mandatory for its followers to swear allegiance, document the oath publicly and send it to its leaders, if they want to carry out acts of terror in its name.In the 12th issue of the IS’s mouthpiece magazine Dabiq, titled ‘Just Terror’, prospective followers are advised to “record his will, renew his bay’ah oath of allegiance, carry the Khilafah banner, and strike the crusaders and their pagan and apostate allies wherever he can find them, even if he is alone.”Recently, the IS made the bayah given by Berlin Christmas market attacker Anis Amri public on its online communication channels after he was shot dead in Italy by policemen, taking responsibility for the attack. The IS only acknowledges the bayah following the death of an attacker or once an attack is successful. In the past the terrorist organization has accepted pledge from individuals made in the form of video and audio in the Orlando and San Bernardino shooting in the US, thus claiming credit for the attack, even when they were not members or directed to make the attack by the IS.

Narendra Modi inaugurates NISM campus: Full text of PM’s speech

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a day-long visit to Maharashtra, once again stressed that his government won’t make any decision for “political gains”. The BJP-led government at the Centre has been crticised by opposition parties for its decision to demonetise high value currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations, and it has caused a lot of public inconvenience. But, speaking at the inauguration of the National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM) campus on Saturday, he stressed upon the need for greater vigilance in the securities and exchange markets. Modi also spoke of the need for markets to work for the benefit of the agriculture sector.

Here’s the full text of his speech:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

It is a pleasure for me to be here today to inaugurate this new campus. This is a time of slowdown in the global economy. Developed countries and emerging markets are both facing slow growth. Against this background, India is being seen as a bright spot. Growth is projected to remain among the highest in the world.

India’s place as the fastest growing large economy has not come about by accident. To see how far we have travelled, we should look back to 2012-13. The fiscal deficit had reached alarming levels. The currency was falling sharply. Inflation was high. The current account deficit was rising. Confidence was low and foreign investors were turning away from India. India was considered the weakest of the BRICS nations.

In less than 3 years, this government has transformed the economy. We have cut the fiscal deficit target every year, and achieved it every year. The current account deficit is low. Even after the redemption of loans taken under the special currency swap in 2013, foreign exchange reserves are high. Inflation is low, running at less than 4 percent compared to double digit inflation under the previous government. Public investment has increased largely, even while the overall fiscal deficit has been cut. A new monetary policy framework has been introduced by law with an inflation target. The Constitutional Amendment on Goods and Services Tax had remained pending for years. It has been passed and the long awaited GST will soon be a reality. We have made progress on improving the ease of doing business.

As a result of all these policies, foreign direct investment has reached record levels. By claiming that demonetisation has stopped a fast moving car, our critics too have acknowledged the speed of our progress.

Let me make one thing very clear: This government will continue to follow sound and prudent economic policies to ensure that India has a bright future in the long run. We will not take decisions for the short term political point scoring. We will not shy away from taking difficult decisions, if those decisions are in the interest of the country. Demonetisation is an example. It has short term pain but will bring long term gain.

Financial markets can play an important role in the modern economy. They help in mobilising savings. They channel the savings towards productive investments.

However, history has shown that financial markets can also do damage, if not properly regulated. It is to ensure good regulation that the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) was established by the government. SEBI also has a role to promote the development of healthy securities markets.

Recently, the forward markets commission has been abolished. SEBI has been given the task of regulating commodity derivatives also. This is a big challenge. In the commodity markets, the spot market is not regulated by SEBI. Agricultural markets are regulated by states. And many commodities are purchased directly by the poor and the needy, not by investors. Hence the economic and social impact of commodity derivatives is more sensitive.

For financial markets to function successfully, participants need to be well-informed. I am happy to note that the National Institute of Securities Markets is performing the role of educating various participants and providing skill certification. Today, our mission has to be a ‘Skilled India’. Indian youth should be able to compete with their counterparts in any corner of the world. This institute has a vital role to play in such capacity building. I have been told that around one lakh fifty thousand candidates undertake NISM examinations every year. More than five lakh candidates have been certified by NISM till date.

India has earned a good name for its well-regulated securities markets. The spread of electronic means of trading and the use of depositories have made our markets more transparent. SEBI as an institution can also take pride in this.

However, there is still a long way to go for our securities and commodity markets. When I see the financial newspapers, I often read about the success of IPOs and how some smart entrepreneur has suddenly become a billionaire. As you know, my government is very keen to encourage start-ups. Stock markets are essential for the start-up ecosystem. However, it is not enough if the securities markets are considered successful by international investors or financial experts. Wealth creation is good, but for me that is not the main purpose. The real value of our securities markets lies in their contribution:
• to the development of the nation,
• to the improvement of all sectors, and
• to the welfare of the vast majority of citizens.

So, before I can consider financial markets to be fully successful, they have to meet three challenges.

Firstly, the primary aim of our stock market should be to help in raising capital for productive purposes. Derivatives have a use in managing risk. But many people feel derivatives are dominating the markets and the tail is wagging the dog. We should ponder as to how well the capital market is performing its main function of providing capital.

Our markets should show that they are able to successfully raise capital for projects benefiting the vast majority of our population. In particular, I am referring to infrastructure. Today, most of our infrastructure projects are financed by the Government or through banks. The use of capital markets for financing infrastructure is rare. For infrastructure projects to be viable, it is very important that the borrowing should be of long duration. It is said that we do not have a liquid long term bond market. Various reasons are given for this. But surely this is a problem which the financial brains in this room can solve, if you really put your minds to it. My call to you is to find ways to enable the capital markets to provide long term capital for infrastructure. Today, only the Government or external lenders like World Bank or JICA provide long term money for infrastructure. We must move away from that. Bond markets must become a source of long term infrastructure finance.

You are all aware of the huge capital requirements for improving urban infrastructure. This government has launched an ambitious Smart Cities programme. In this context, I am disappointed that even now, we do not have a municipal bond market. There will be problems and difficulties in creating such a market. But the true test of an expert innovation is when it solves a complex problem. Can SEBI and the Department of Economic Affairs ensure that at least 10 cities in India issue municipal bonds within one year?

Secondly, the markets must provide benefits to the largest section of our society — namely our farmers. The true measure of success is the impact in villages, not the impact in Dalal Street or Lutyens’ Delhi. By that yardstick, we have a long way to go. Our stock markets need to raise capital in innovative ways for projects in agriculture. Our commodity markets must become useful to our farmers, not just avenues for speculation. People say that derivatives can be used by farmers for reducing their risks. But in practice, hardly any farmer in India uses derivatives. That is the fact. Unless and until we make the commodity markets directly useful to farmers, they are just a costly ornament in our economy, not a useful tool. This Government has introduced e-NAM – the electronic National Agricultural Market. SEBI should work for closer linkage between spot markets like e-NAM and derivatives markets to benefit farmers.

Thirdly, those who profit from financial markets must make a fair contribution to nation-building through taxes. For various reasons, the contribution of tax from those who make money on the markets has been low. To some extent, it may be due to illegal activities and fraud. To stop this, SEBI has to be extremely vigilant. To some extent, the low contribution of taxes may also be due to the structure of our tax laws. Low or zero tax rate is given to certain types of financial income. I call upon you to think about the contribution of market participants to the exchequer. We should consider methods for increasing it in a fair, efficient and transparent way. Earlier, there was a feeling that some investors were getting an unfair deal by using certain tax treaties. As you know, those treaties have been amended by this government. Now it is time to re-think and come up with a good design which is simple and transparent, but also fair and progressive.

Friends.

I know that financial markets attach a lot of importance to the budget. The budget cycle has an effect on the real economy. In our existing budget calendar, the authorization of expenditure comes with the onset of the monsoon. Government programmes are not active in the productive pre-monsoon months. Hence, this year, we are advancing the date of the budget so that expenditure is authorized by the time the new financial year begins. This will improve productivity and output.

Friends.

My aim is to make India a developed country in one generation. India cannot become a developed country without world class securities and commodity markets. Therefore, I look forward to a growing contribution from all of you in making the financial markets more relevant to this new era. I wish the NISM all success. I also wish everybody a merry Christmas and a very happy new year.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 14:30 IST

PM Modi in Mumbai today to lay foundation stone of Rs 3600-crore Shivaji memorial

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a day’s visit to Maharashtra on Saturday, where he will lay foundation stone for the grand memorial of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the metro rail projects in Mumbai and Pune.Modi will land in the metropolis at 11.30 AM and leave for MIDC Patalganga in neighbouring Raigad district where he will inaugurate the newly-built campus of the National Institute of Securities Management.The PM will then reach Raj Bhavan and later move towards Girgaum Chowpatty for the Shivaji Memorial event.He will proceed to the site in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai coast, where the state government is planning to build a mega memorial for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.The Prime Minister’s visit assumes political significance as the high-stake elections to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are just a few months away.The main feature of the Shivaji memorial, slated to cost Rs 3,600 crore, will be a 192-metre-tall statue of the iconic Maratha king. The site is a rocky outcrop, roughly 1.5 km from the Raj Bhavan shore.Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently said the ‘Shiv Smarak’ will not only be the tallest memorial in the country, but in the entire world. He had thanked Modi for “making it possible.”Later, Modi will address a public function at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) ground in suburban Bandra, after laying foundation stone for two Metro rail projects, Elevated Rail Corridors Project and Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL).Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, whose party is an ally of ruling BJP, is expected to share the dais with Modi at the MMRDA event.The PM will then leave for Pune, where he will lay the foundation stone of the Pune Metro Rail project at the Agriculture College ground there. NCP leader Sharad Pawar will share the stage with Modi at this event.The memorial project has been facing stiff opposition from fisherfolk and environmentalists, who have alleged that it would affect marine life and ecology of the Arabian Sea.

Rahul Gandhi to address rally in Dharamshala today

“Prime Minister Modi hasn’t listened to the farmers, but he has forgiven 1.40 lakh crore in loans to 15 rich people but not farmers”, says Rahul Gandhi in his rally in Almora, on Friday. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress vice- president, Rahul Gandhi will address a rally in Dharamshala on Saturday. This is the first visit of Gandhi after the Congress reversal in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. While addressing a rally in Almora on Friday, Gandhi escalated his attack on Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and said that demonetization is economic robbery.”The Congress Party wants to obliterate corruption from India. The Congress will support any step against corruption. But notes ban wasn’t against black money or corruption, it was economic robbery,” Gandhi said.The Congress vice-president also used the occasion to reach out to the farmers and labourers. “Prime Minister Modi hasn’t listened to the farmers, but he has forgiven 1.40 lakh crore in loans to 15 rich people but not farmers,” said Gandhi.
ALSO READ Prime Minister Modi has given a befitting reply to Rahul Gandhi: BJPGandhi alleged that the ‘suit boot ki Sarkar’ was in its bid to help its “rich friends” snatching the rights of the poor. “Under National Democratic Alliance (NDA​), 1% of Indians have 60% of the wealth. 99% Indians don’t have black money. 94% of the black money is in Swiss Bank accounts, gold and land. Just 6% of black money is in cash. I don’t know why Prime Minister Modi has made this 6% black money his target, not the 94%,” said Gandhi.

DNA Morning Must Reads: Cong alleges Jung made to resign; Interview with Ex-NSA Shivshankar Menon; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Jung made to resign as he wanted to release Shunglu Committee report: CongressDelhi Congress chief Ajay Maken has claimed Najeeb Jung made to resign as he wanted to release Shunglu Committee report. The Congress leader also alleged that there was a ‘deal’ between BJP and AAP on the matter. Read more.2. Malta hijack ends peacefully as Muammar Gaddafi loyalists surrenderLibyan plane hijackers surrender, weapons used in plane hijack appear to be replicas. Read more.3. You can’t make foreign policy based on domestic political issues: Shivshankar MenonFormer National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon shares some of the insights from his first book “Choices-Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy”. Read more.4. Defying pressure, US lets UN denounce Israeli settlementsUN Security Council denounces Israeli settlements, US abstains. Read more.5. Michael Clarke, Piers Morgan question Virat Kohli’s omissionIndia Test captain omitted from ICC 2016 Test team despite scoring over 1,200 runs in Test cricket. Read more.

Not a government of Sonia Gandhi where institutions can be over ruled and subverted: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Coming down heavily on former prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh who sought to know whether the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was given sufficient time to hold deliberations on the government’s demonetization move, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said the present dispensation, unlike the UPA tenure, does not ‘subvert and over rule’ the institutions and perform their duties mandated by the constitution.”As far as institutions under the present dispensation is concerned, every regulator is performing their duty as mandated by the constitution and this is not the government of Sonia Gandhi where institutions can be over ruled and subverted,” BJP leader GVL Narasimha Rao said.Rao said Singh worked as a puppet in the hands of Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi and accused the former prime minister of subverting the institutions for political benefit.”Manmohan Singh himself had lacked authority as the prime minister even when Rahul Gandhi went on a rampage and tore ordinance papers that were cleared by Singh and he talks about institutions, I find it rather curious,” Rao added.During a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance on Thursday Singh suggested that the panel, which is looking into the demonetization decision, call government officials to depose before it hears RBI Governor Urjit Patel.The issue was being discussed in presence of independent experts, including economists Rajiv Kumar and Mahesh Vyas, former chief statistician Pronab Sen and Kavita Rao of National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, who had been called to offer their views to the panel. Three of the experts were critical of the demonetization decision.RBI governor Patel will brief the panel on January 18 or 19 on demonetization and its implications, while government officials, mostly from the Finance Ministry, will be asked to depose before it on January 11 or 12.

Top municipal and state officials will face prosecution for violating waste rules: NGT

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a significant order on municipal solid waste rules (MSW), 2016, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) principal bench has said that top officials of state governments and municipal bodies shall be liable for prosecution if they violate the rules and orders of the Tribunal on its enforcement.It has also asked all state governments and union territories to prepare an action plan within a month, to enforce the new MSW Rules, 2016 and directed environment ministry to consider phase out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic used in packaging.The NGT’s detailed 89-page judgment of a four-member bench, headed by justice Swatanter Kumar, was passed on Thursday while hearing the petition of Bengaluru-based veteran environment conservationist Almitra Patel, who had sought directions on effective management of solid waste across the country. The Tribunal’s judgment brought down curtains on a 20-year-old petition, that was initially filed as writ in the Supreme Court and was later transferred to the Tribunal in 2014.Patel’s petition led to the formulation of the first Municipal Solid Waste Rules in 2000 that were overhauled in 2016 by the environment ministry. Speaking to DNA, Patel said, “I am happy that they are finally planning on directing phase out of short life PVC’s, stationary, flex-banners etc, which ends up burning on the footpath or in the landfills. Burning them releases dioxins.”She added, “The country needs political and administrative will that has been lacking for 16 years since the 2000 Rules. So, I am waiting to see if the threat of contempt makes any impact.”The Tribunal’s verdict revealed that no municipal corporation has ever physically verified the quantum and quality of waste generated in any district of any state or even a city. “They have proceeded with a presumptive figure that per-capita generation of MSW is nearly 450 grams per day in major towns while per capita MSW generated from small towns is 200-300 grams per day,” it said.It added, “The Central Pollution Control Board report for the year 2014- 15 has revealed that out of 7935 urban local bodies (ULBs), as per 2011 census only 389 ULBs have established compost, vermi-compost sites.” This means that 92 per cent of ULBs are dumping its solid waste in open areas without treatment.On the issue of the piles of waste accumulating at landfills, the Tribunal has directed that landfills should be subjected to ‘bio-stabilisation’, which means that the mounds of waste have to be upturned at regular intervals for composting.It also attempted to deal with the contentious issue of tipping fees, which are paid to contractors who collect and transport waste in cities. It said that tipping fee paid to the operator of the landfill facilities or contractors should also be based on the functioning of waste treatment along with the weight of the solid waste.

Govt caps prices of 50 essential drugs including those used for treatment of HIV and angina

Prices of over 50 essential drugs including those used for treatment of HIV infection, diabetes, anxiety disorders, bacterial infections, angina and acid reflux have been capped by the government, leading to a price cut in the range of 5 per cent to 44 per cent. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prices of over 50 essential drugs including those used for treatment of HIV infection, diabetes, anxiety disorders, bacterial infections, angina and acid reflux have been capped by the government, leading to a price cut in the range of 5 per cent to 44 per cent. The National Drug Pricing Regulator has also fixed the retail prices of 29 formulations.”NPPA has fixed/revised ceiling prices of 55 scheduled formulations of Schedule-I under Drugs (Price Control) Amendment Order,2016 and retail price of 29 formulations under DPCO, 2013 in related Notification /order dated 23.12.2016,” National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) said in a statement.On being contacted about the price reduction, NPPA Chairman Bhupendra Singh told PTI: “The prices have been reduced in the range of 5 to 44 per cent, with the average being about 25 per cent”.As stipulated under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order (DPCO) 2013, NPPA fixes ceiling price of essential medicines of Schedule I.In respect of medicines not under price control, manufacturers are allowed to increase the maximum retail price by 10 per cent annually. The calculation for essential drugs is based on the simple average of all medicines in a particular therapeutic segment with sales of more than 1 per cent. The government had notified the DPCO 2013, which covers 680 formulations, with effect from May 15, 2014, replacing the 1995 order that regulated prices of only 74 bulk drugs. Set up in 1997, NPPA has been entrusted with the task of fixation/revision of prices of pharma products, enforcement of provisions of DPCO and monitoring of prices of controlled and decontrolled drugs.

President Mukherjee arrives in Hyderabad on ten-day southern sojourn

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Pranab Mukherjee arrived in Hyderabad on Thursday on a ten-day, annual southern sojourn. Governor ESL Narasimhan, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and his cabinet colleagues besides Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and senior officials received him at Hakimpet Airforce station.The President will stay at Rashtrapati Nilayam in Hyderabad, a former Nizam palace built in 1860 which stands on a sprawling 90 acres of grounds and now serves as a presidential retreat. Mukherjee will attend convocation at the Army College of Dental Sciences in Secunderabad on Friday. He will also address centenary celebrations of the Federation of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry.On December 24, he will inaugurate Mahila Dakshata Samiti and Bansilal Malani College of Nursing in Hyderabad. The next day he will visit Bengaluru to inaugurate 89th annual conference of Nikhil Bharat Banga Sahitya Sammelan, an official release said.On December 26, the President will attend the convocation of Maulana Azad National Urdu University here and on December 29, he will inaugurate the 77th session of Indian History Congress in Thiruvananthapuram. He will then travel to Mysuru where he would inaugurate the 17th National Jamboree of Bharat Scout and Guides.On December 30, the President will inaugurate Sri Shankara National Centre for Cancer Prevention and Research and Adamya Chetana Seva Utsav-2017 in Bengaluru. He will also host `At Home’ reception at the Rashtrapati Nilayam for senior dignitaries of the state, Ministers, officials and journalists.

DNA Evening Must Reads: Najeeb Jung resigns; Ravichandran declared ICC Cricketer of the Year; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung submits his resignation, Kejriwal ‘surprised’Najeeb Jung, the 20th Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, stepped down from his position on Thursday. He was appointed to the post of Lt. Governor in 2013, replacing Tajender Khanna, another IAS officer. Read more here.2. After PM Modi mocks Rahul’s ‘earthquake’, Congress VP says ‘answer me’A combative Gandhi hit back at PM Modi for mocking his speech wherein the Congress vice president had accused him of having taken money from corporate groups, saying he could make fun of him but needed to answer the charges of personal corruption levelled against him. Read more here.3. Berlin Christmas market attack: Tunisian suspect’s fingerprints found on truck door, 4 arrested – mediaInvestigators found fingerprints of a Tunisian suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack on the door of the truck that ploughed through the crowds, killing 12, German media said on Thursday, as a nationwide manhunt for the migrant was underway. Read more here.4. Damage to India’s economic growth will be bigger than RBI’s estimates: ReportDamage to India’s economic growth is likely to be bigger than the RBI’s estimates, as there could be a sharper slowdown in the near-term as cash shortage is likely to extend into the first quarter of next year, says a Nomura report. Read more here.5. Great news for Indian cricket as Ravichandran Ashwin is declared ICC Cricketer of the Year for 2016It turned out to be double delight for Ravichandran Ashwin at the ICC Annual Awards on Thursday as he became only the third Indian player ever to win the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy after being named the ICC Cricketer of the Year besides the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year. Read more here.

Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung submits his resignation, Kejriwal ‘surprised’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Najeeb Jung, the 20th Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, stepped down from his position on Thursday. He was appointed to the post of Lt. Governor in 2013, replacing Tajender Khanna, another IAS officer. He was the Vice chancellor of Jamia Milia Islamia University from 2009-2013. The Lt Governor’s officer has confirmed that after demitting​ office he will return to his first love “academics”.Taking to Twitter on Jung’s resignation, CM Kejriwal said, “Sh Jung’s resignation is a surprise to me. My best wishes in all his future endeavours.”Jung, in an official statement issued, thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his cooperation during his tenure as the LG of Delhi. The exact reason behind his reasons, however, behind his resignation is yet to be known. Jung had been constantly in news for the past two years for his confrontation with the AAP’s Delhi Government and CM Arvind Kejriwal. According to India Today report, Kejriwal spoke to Jung to enquire about his resignation and Jung cited personal reasons. Speaking to the channel, Jung said, “I believe I have served Delhi & have done my job, want to spend more time with my family. I have a house in Goa also where I intend to move.”He also added that he wasn’t in the race for next Vice President. “I also intend to spend time in academic works & writing. I’m looking at universities in both America & Singapore,” he added.Union Home Secretary said that he had met Jung day before and there was no inkling of it, he said he was not aware of his resignation.Jung also thanked the people of Delhi for their support and affection, especially during the one year’s President Rule in Delhi, when received unstinted support from the people of the national capital, which in turn helped run the administration in Delhi smoothly and effortlessly. He has thanked Arvind Kejriwal “for his association in the last two years”. He had joined Indian Administrative Service in Madhya Pradesh cadre in 1973. He later served as the Joint Secretary to Government of India in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas from 1994 onwards, and resigned in 1999.This is a developing story.(With inputs from Mohit Sharma)

Cops frequently flout Supreme Court rules intended to prevent custodial deaths, says HRW report

Indian police often flout Supreme Court rules intended to prevent custodial deaths and “routinely violate” domestic and international laws around arrest and detention, says a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

At least 591 people died in police custody in India between 2010 and 2015, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, of which the authorities reported 97 custody deaths in 2015. The police records list only six as due to physical assault by police; 34 are listed as suicides, 11 as deaths due to illness, nine as natural deaths, and 12 as deaths during hospitalisation or treatment.

“While investigations were ordered by courts, human rights commissions, or other authorities in some cases, Human Rights Watch is not aware of a single case in which a police official was convicted for a custodial death between 2010 and 2015,” the 114-page report, titled ‘Bound by Brotherhood: India’s Failure to End Killings in Police Custody’ and released on 19 December, states.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

It is based on interviews of more than 70 witnesses, family members of victims, lawyers, civil society activists, and journalists in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh, and the cities of New Delhi and Mumbai, and investigations into 17 custodial deaths between 2010 and 2015. It found that in each of the 17 cases investigated the police did not follow proper arrest procedures, making the suspect more vulnerable to abuse.

“Police abuses continue despite changes in laws and guidelines and the promise of police reforms since 1997,” the international rights group says.

The compliance with the six binding directives to the central and state governments to undertake police reforms as contained in the landmark Supreme Court decision of Prakash Singh versus Union of India remains “low”.

According to government data, in the vast majority of cases investigated — 67 of 97 deaths in custody in 2015 — the police either failed to produce the suspects before a magistrate within 24 hours as required by law, or the suspects died within a day of being arrested.

Supreme Court rules set out in the case of DK Basu versus West Bengal in 1997 and incorporated into the amended Code of Criminal Procedure call for the police to identify themselves clearly when making an arrest; prepare a memo of arrest with the date and time of arrest that is signed by an independent witness and countersigned by the arrested person; and ensure that next of kin are informed of the arrest and the place of detention. However, in practice, these rules have not prevented the worst of custodial abuses, the report argues.

Moreover, although the law stipulates an inquiry into every custodial death by a judicial magistrate, these were conducted in only 31 of the 97 custodial deaths reported in 2015. In 26 cases, there was not even an autopsy of the deceased. Last year, police registered cases against fellow police officers in only 33 of the 97 custodial deaths. The Supreme Court has often said that bringing evidence against the police in case of custodial crimes is an uphill task because the police feel “bound by their ties of brotherhood”— the report quotes Satyabrata Pal, a former member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

In some of the cases, inquiries are conducted by an executive magistrate — who are part of the executive branch of government like the police and hence more susceptible to pressure — instead of a judicial magistrate.

“The state relies on Section 197 (immunity from prosecution to all public officials for actions they undertake in carrying out their official duties unless the government approves the prosecution) heavily to protect the police officials,” lawyer Trideep Pais told HRW. “They are on the same side.”

“Activists are concerned about NHRC’s April 2010 notification to state governments that in cases of custodial deaths where no foul play was alleged, it was not mandatory for the inquiry to be conducted by a judicial magistrate because victims’ families are often unable to challenge police accounts of deaths in custody,” HRW says.

Though the NHRC — established in 1993 — has set guidelines for arrest and detention it remains beset with problems that limit its capacity to deal with custodial abuses.

The investigation division of the NHRC — that reviews cases of custodial deaths — is composed of serving police officials who do not have additional human rights training and tend to protect their erring colleagues.

The 2006 amended Protection of Human Rights Act remains problematic in certain aspects. The amended Act does not include lifting the one-year “statute of limitations” on NHRC investigations — a time limit that has been termed as “unrealistic” by rights groups given the ignorance of many victims of their rights under the Act and the difficulties that face them in obtaining counsel.

The national human rights body is still not authorised to investigate human rights violations by the armed forces and cannot independently make public their findings until the report is placed before Parliament. It is “tightly controlled” financially by the central government and reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs — “the same governmental department responsible for internal security, including police and other law and order officials, therefore undermining its independence”, among other constraints of the NHRC listed by the HRW.

India has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and signed the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment — both of which prohibit torture and other ill-treatment by law enforcement authorities under international human rights law.

The 2016 report has listed a number of recommendations addressed to the Indian Parliament, state and central government ministries, police, civil society organisations, foreign donors and general public, as listed by the international rights group.

The last report on India was published in 2009 by HRW titled Broken System: Dysfunction, Abuse, and Impunity in the Indian Police.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 14:42 IST

A world of highs, and terrible lows

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“Aye maalik tere bande hum,aise ho hamaare karam,neki par chalein, aur badee se tale,taaki hanste hue nikale dam”The plaintive notes echo in the winter night as Hasina sings softly. Dressed in nothing but a torn kurta and salwar in Delhi’s Kashmere Gate, she sniffs a rag soaked in ‘solution’, a substance that drives her life and leaves her doubled up in painful abdominal cramps when she doesn’t get it.Hasina, one of thousands of homeless drug addicts in the national capital, is only 15. Her story ­is a tragic pointer to the alarming fact that 20 per cent of addicts in India are under 21, according to government estimates, and that urgent interventions are needed to help them save their lives.Originally from Bawana district in Uttar Pradesh, Hasina is the third of six siblings, all of whom still live in the village with her mother. Four years ago, when she was only 11, Hasina boarded a train with her ‘best friend’ and came to Delhi. Both lived on the streets for a couple of days before her friend disappeared.Her companion these days is her husband Vishnu, a labourer with wedding contractors who she had confided in when she found herself alone. The couple wants to have children but Hasina, still a child herself, knows that she has a drug problem and that it’s just not possible.She says she can go without food, but not without her daily dose of ‘solution’. She was introduced to drugs by her friends on the streets and has been sniffing ever since she found the ‘magical’ (‘jadui’ as she puts it) world of high.‘Solution’ is a chemical vulcanising fluid used to repair tyre-tube patches. The tube declares clearly, “avoid prolonged or repeated contact with skin or breathing of vapour”, and warns that it should be sold in bulk. But it is readily available and is much in demand amongst children who cannot afford more serious drugs. A tube costs Rs 50 and a cloth piece soaked in ‘solution’ from another kid costs only Rs 10 — just what we give them when they beg at red-lights.Many stories“Ismein itna dum hai, poora tent jalaa sakta hai (This stuff is so powerful that it can burn the entire tent),” pipes in another child at Loha Pul, Kashmere Gate, as he breathes into a cloth in his hand. Of the estimated 4,500 addicts in the area, 100 are children.Seven-year-old Hajikul can’t remember the last time he was sober. He ran away from his home in Delhi’s JJ Colony. “Gham hai to pee raha hun,” (I take drugs because I’m depressed),” he says with the philosophical air of someone thrice his age. He has been sent to a drug-rehabilitation centre twice, but the pain and nightmares of the withdrawal process make him leave the place every time.Nightmares are common among drug users. In Freud’s theory of dreams, dreams/nightmares are the fulfilment of unacceptable wish. Thus, it can be that these nightmares are hints which may prompt an increased desire to drugs. Kids are more prone to these nightmares and scared, they go back to using drugs.Hajikul and his partner, Salman, go home every time they feel the need to stay away from drugs. But the crippling stomach pains, loose-motions, dizziness and vomiting bring them back to the life they have now come to terms with.Cold turkeyCold turkey is the abrupt termination of substance dependence and the resulting painful experience. In his book Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts, impressively describes ‘cold turkey’, a process Hajikul, Salman and a few have tried, but failed.“Think about every time in your life that you’ve ever been afraid, really afraid. Someone sneaks up behind you when you think you’re alone, and shouts to frighten you. The gang of thugs closes in around you. You fall from a great height in a dream, or you stand on the very edge of a steep cliff. Someone holds you under water and you feel the breath gone, and you scramble, fight, and claw your way to the surface. You lose control of the car and see the wall rushing into your soundless shout. Then add them all up, all those chest-tightening terrors, and feel them all at once, all at the same time, hour after hour, and day after day. And think of every pain you’ve ever known, the burn with hot oil, the sharp sliver of glass, the broken bone, the gravel rash when you fell on the rough road in winter, the headache and the earache and the toothache. Then add them all up, all those groin-squeezing, stomach-tensing shrieks of pain, and feel them all at once, hour after hour and day after day. Then think of every anguish you’ve ever known. Remember death of a loved one. Remember a lover’s rejection. Recall your feelings of failure and shame and unspeakably bitter remorse. And add them all up, all the heart-stabbing griefs and miseries, and feel them all at once hour after hour, and day after day. That’s cold turkey.”Injectable tooIf some like Hasina and Hajikul sniff their way into oblivion, others like 12-year-old Mohammad Qasim inject themselves. Wearing a jacket double his size, he sits stroking his hand to inject a needle in his veins. He was introduced to Amvil injection by a fellow addict to ease the pain after he developed painful sores on his legs. He has been injecting himself since he was seven. Both his arms have needle marks.Qasim has seen people his age and older die here in the streets. “Mera dost Akash mar gaya injection lagate hue. Maine uske syringe se injection lagaya (My friend Akash died while putting an injection. I have used his syringe for an injection)”, says Qasim, who does not mind stealing injections from or near dead-bodies who die of overdose. Drug overdose is common and one or two unidentified bodies are found in the area each day.Not surprisingly, several people have acquired HIV. ‘Addnok’ tablets, distributed by NGOs to stop the urge to get high, are crushed and mixed with the Amvil ‘solution’ and taken as a strong intravenous drug. The used syringes have led to an increased risk of HIV among adults as well as children. For better effect, some of them have started to inject needles in their genitals.“We manage to send children to rehab centres after a lot of effort but they run away from there. The problem is not making them leave drugs for a few days, the problem is what to do afterwards? Their families don’t accept them and their life on the streets makes them go back to drugs,” said Gurfran who works with the NGO Aman Biradri. “We receive HIV cases too. These are passed on to the NACO (National Aids Control Organisation). I’ve seen kids as young as four years addicted to ‘solution’ and injections. In most cases, their parents make them sniff ‘solution’ in order to use them for begging (so they can carry the high/sleeping child in their laps)”Cops in the area do not go near these addicts, an official admitted. “They are in huge numbers and we know about their diseases. Sometimes, they use syringes as their weapons.”In his child rights petition filed in 2014, Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi asked the government to act on the issue of child drug abuse. Moving on the petition, the Supreme Court on December 14 ordered the Central government to come up with a national action plan to control drug abuse among people under 21 in the next six months. While the government thinks of a plan to deal with the problem, the young minds of India are busy finding ways to get high.“Ye andhera ghanaa cha raha, tera insaan ghabara raha.” Hasina’s singing haunts. But are the authorities listening?

NEET to be held in eight languages from 2017 onwards

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission in medical colleges will be held in eight languages- Hindi, English, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu- for the academic year 2017-18. Also, the candidate qualifying NEET will be eligible for all India quota and other quotas under the State governments and Institutes irrespective of the medium taken by candidates, subject to other eligibility criteria, the Union Health Ministry said in a statement.In May, Union Health Minister JP Nadda had held a meeting with the Health Ministers and Health Secretaries of 18 states/Union Territories towards implementation of NEET across states. Joint Secretary, Medical Education, AK Singhal said, “The collaborative efforts of Central Health Ministry with the state health ministries have lead to this decision so as to bring parity for the students who have taken the State Board exams.”NEET has replaced AIPMT and has been made mandatory for admissions in all-India medical/dental colleges which means no other state can conduct its separate medical entrance.

Cyrus Mistry’s charges of weak governance mischievous: Tata Sons

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tata Sons on Wednesday rebutted ousted chairman Cyrus P Mistry’s allegations of weak corporate governance at India’s largest conglomerate, calling it amalgam of half-truths and untruths.Reached for comments on Mistry’s claim in a petition before National Company Law Tribunal that the governance framework at Tata Sons is weak, a Tata Sons spokesperson expressed “surprise” at the assertion.”It is mischievous on the part of any Tata Sons executive to suggest the lack of a strong governance framework at Tata Sons, more so someone who has been associated with the company as a director since 2006. One can only call these allegations as an amalgam of half-truths and untruths,” he said.Stating that a strong governance framework exists at Tata Sons, the spokesperson said: “In line with the Tata Group’s ethos, Tata Sons has always gone over and beyond the requirement of the law on matters of corporate governance. In fact, over the years we have reinforced this formal governance framework.” He added that in 2012-13, the Tata Sons board and Mistry had given their explicit approval to an amended governance framework involving Tata Trusts and Tata Sons.”Mr Mistry willingly participated in this process and his entire family shareholding in Tata Sons voted upon to effect these amendments,” he said. Tata Sons were advised on this by Justice BN Srikrishna and former Attorney General of Maharashtra Darius Khambatta and the spokesperson said Mistry was himself present in several meetings on this matter. “We reiterate Mr Cyrus Mistry and his family holdings in 2013 had fully supported and approved the governance framework that is embodied in the Articles of Association of Tata Sons,” he added.Mistry, who was abruptly removed as chairman of Tata Group’s holding company on October 24, yesterday filed a petition before NCLT seeking replacement of Tata Son’s current board and appointment of a retired Supreme Court judge as non-executive chairman. In a statement yesterday, Tata Sons had reiterated that it has followed the highest standards of corporate governance in its operations and views the petition filed by Mistry’s companies as an unfortunate outcome of the situation arising from his complete disregard of the ethos of the Tata Group and Jamsetji Tata.Despite Mistry’s recent assertions that it is not a personal issue, it is evident that it always has been for him a personal issue which reflects his deep animosity towards Ratan N Tata, said the statement.

India to fine airlines for ‘dropping’ poo

Airlines in India will be fined if their planes release human waste from toilets in the air.

NGT slaps fine of Rs 50,000 on airlines dumping human waste from airplanes…no, really

New Delhi: Human waste being splattered on houses from airplanes while landing, on Monday led the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to slap a fine of Rs 50,000 on the airline whose aircraft empties toilet tanks on air.

The NGT directed aviation regulator DGCA to issue a circular to all airlines, whose planes are involved, to pay Rs 50,000 as environmental compensation.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar passed a slew of directions while disposing of a plea of a retired army officer alleging dumping of human excreta by aircraft over residential areas near the IGI Airport here.

Normally, the waste in the aircraft tanks is disposed of by ground handling personnel once the plane lands. However, there are cases where lavatory leaks occur in the air.

The tribunal asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to issue circular to all ground handling services and airlines to ensure that they do not release waste from human waste tanks while landing or anywhere near the terminals of the IGI Airport.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“DGCA shall also issue directions that aircraft on landing shall be subjected to surprise inspection to see that human waste tanks are not empty. If any aircraft is found to be violating such circular or (their) tanks are found empty on landing, they shall be subjected to environment compensation of Rs 50,000 per default,” the bench said.

The direction came on the plea of Lt Gen (Retd) Satwant Singh Dahiya who has sought action against the airlines and levy of hefty fines on them for endangering the health of residents, terming their act as a violation of the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’.

While issuing directions, the green panel also said it was “surprised” to note the stand taken by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) that on analysing the samples taken from the petitioner’s house, it could be ascertained that it was excreta but its source could not be known.

“We are surprised to note the stand of CPCB to the extent of coliform and the kind of splashes created on the houses of the petitioner as well as others clearly demonstrate that it was human excreta,” the bench said.

It added that the amount collected shall be deposited with CPCB for using it for environment protection and a quarterly report shall also be submitted by DGCA before it.

DGCA was also asked by the tribunal to set up a helpline so that similar complaints can be addressed and the helpline number, as well as email address, be kept in public domain.

During the hearing, DGCA told the bench it has issued a circular to constitute a committee to investigate the matter.

The NGT had earlier slapped a cost of Rs 5,000 on the Environment Ministry and the Ministry of Civil Aviation for their failure to file inspection report on the plea.

It had also directed CPCB to depute a senior environmental engineer to inspect the petitioner’s house and check the existence of human excreta on its walls and if excreta was found, samples should be collected for analysis and the report placed before the tribunal.

In his petition, Vasant Enclave resident Dahiya had sought the creation of a 24-hour helpline for immediate reporting of such incidents and a monitoring mechanism to check that no aircraft drops “human soil or excreta” while landing.

The Ministry had opposed the argument and said plane toilets stored the waste in special tanks which are normally disposed of by ground crews once the plane lands. However, aviation officials acknowledge that lavatory leaks can occur in the air at times.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 11:03 IST

Drop poop, pay Rs 50,000: NGT tells airlines

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal (NGT)’s principal bench has ordered airlines to clean up their act or pay a price. In an order passed on Tuesday in the bizarre case of human waste falling from the skies in Vasant Enclave, South Delhi, the NGT said that airlines will be penalized Rs.50,000 if they are found to be dumping excreta mid-air. The amount collected from penalties should be used for environmental protection, the NGT added.A three-member bench, headed by justice Swatanter Kumar, passed this order while hearing a petition filed by Lt.Gen (Retd) Satwant Singh Dahiya, a resident of Vasant Enclave.In his petition, Dahiya said that excreta had repeatedly fallen from airplanes in and around his house, defacing the compound and walls. The petitioner contended that the dropping of human waste from aircrafts was in violation of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and a threat to health of residents. In his petition, Dahiya had also sought a 24-hour helpline to report incidents of airplanes dropping waste and to monitor such incidents.In its order, NGT has asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to issue a circular to all airlines. “DGCA shall also issue directions that aircraft on land shall be subjected to surprise inspection to check if the waste tanks are not empty. Those airlines found to be violating the circular or if with empty tanks should be liable to an environment compensation of Rs 50,000 per default,” the bench said.Earlier, the NGT had asked pollution watchdog Central Pollution Control Board to collect samples of waste from the petitioner’s house to test if it was indeed human excreta. The CPCB tested the samples and said that it human excreta. While issuing directions, the green panel expressed surprise over the CPCB report, saying, “We are surprised to note the stand of CPCB to the extent of coliform and the kind of splashes created on the houses of the petitioner as well as others clearly demonstrate that it was human excreta.”The NGT also slapped a fine of Rs.5,000 on the ministry of civil aviation and environment ministry for not filing inspection report on the petition.

No construction in 10 km area around the Corbett National Park: Uttarakhand HC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To check devastating forest fires, Uttarakhand High Court has issued a slew guidelines including ban on construction in 10 km area around the Corbett National Park and other protected areas, even as it directed the Centre to formulate National Forest Policy within next three months.A division bench of justices Rajeev Sharma and Alok Singh, which was hearing a PIL on forest fires in the hill state, ordered employing 10,000 fire watchers in the coming year to curb incidents of forest fires. The court directed that an area of 10 km around Corbett National Park and such other parks be declared as eco-sensitive zone and no construction be allowed there.It directed the Gujjar people staying in the forest areas to vacate the land. “The state government is directed to formulate a policy to compensate the farmers who suffered loss due to forest fires,” the court said in its order on Monday.It also ordered erection of a stone wall around Corbett Park, provision of fire proof dress to fire fighter forest employees, and stern action against DFO, Conservator and other officials in case fire is not controlled within stipulated time. In addition, the court also gave various directions to preserve wildlife in Uttarakhand.The bench said that in the year 2016 itself 922 forest fires were reported which ruined flora and fauna across 1890.75 hectares of land. It was argued that not only do these fires threaten human life but are also a threat to wildlife as well as the environment.To combat the problem, the court directed the Union of India to formulate National Forest Policy within the next three months. Such policy must be directed towards forest management, conservation and increase in forest cover, it said.The court directed that no animal, be it tiger, leopard or panther, can be declared man eater within the state of Uttarakhand. The decision to whether an animal is a threat to human life will be taken by a high powered committee comprising Principal Secretary and Principal Chief Conservator of forest. “Even then no pictures of the body of the animal will be released to the media. Nor must a local hunter be engaged to kill any animal,” the court said.If an animal is captured, it must be returned to its natural habitat, it said. The Railway has been directed to dig up trenches around electric poles and insulate the same so as to prevent animals from being electrocuted.

Cake and sympathy – beaten women forget pain of domestic abuse in Chennai cafe | Reuters

By Anuradha Nagaraj

CHENNAI, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Measuring flour, whisking eggs and folding batter, K. Asma forgets the deep scars that run down her face and neck as she bakes cupcakes in an upscale cafe in the Indian port city of Chennai.Four years ago, Asma poured kerosene on herself and lit a match, after reaching breaking point in an abusive marriage. By setting herself on fire, Asma had meant to scare her husband into stopping the violence. “I was thinking a small burn mark, some ointment and back to work as a sweeper cleaning the city roads after a day,” Asma told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.”I didn’t think the fire would consume me and my life would become a living hell.” The 29-year-old is one of seven victims of domestic abuse hired by Writers’ Cafe in a pilot project to help them regain their self-esteem while learning new skills that could provide some financial independence.India first recognised domestic violence as a criminal offence in 1983 and amended the penal code to include cruelty by a husband or his family against a married woman as a crime.Last year, there were a reported 327,394 crimes against women in India, 35 percent of which were classified as “cruelty by husband or relatives”, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.The overall crime rate was down by 3.1 percent compared to 2014, but data showed an 8 percent increase in cases brought under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act. In 2015, 461 cases were registered against 426 in 2014. SUICIDE BID
Hiding bruises and staying quiet, many women in India, especially in rural areas, accept violence as a normal part of life.

Many envisage suicide as the only way out with hanging, poisoning and self-immolation common causes of death.Like Asma, Parimala Gopi is also part of the Writers’ Cafe pilot project, and had also tried to set herself alight after enduring years of domestic violence. “I could see the horror in the face of my children when they saw me,” Gopi, 35, said. “I could deal with my pain but seeing theirs broke my spirit.”At Chennai’s Kilpauk Medical College burns ward, one of the largest in southern India, doctors treat up to 100 women a month for burns from kerosene and alcohol. Often the injuries are self-inflicted.Counsellors at the hospital said that 60 percent of the cases have third-degree burns that prove fatal.”Among those who survive, we found that many were dying after discharge from the hospital,” said Prasanna Gettu of International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care, a support agency for victims and survivors of domestic abuse.

“They did not have enough money to take care of their diet or the medication they needed to heal. Families were not being supportive and many were just withering away. They needed jobs.”HAPPINESS
At Writers’ Cafe, Swiss baker Silke Stadler and chef Karan Manavalan, who are training the women to bake cakes, said their aim is to create a positive workplace where the women are not judged for past actions.”It is a good space to make things right for them,” Stadler said.

Aniruddha Sen, the chief executive of CC Fine Foods South India Private Limited, which opened Writers’ Cafe, said his company planned to open similar cafes in 2017.”We want them (the women) to have permanent livelihood through this venture,” he said.Projects like this and Sheroes’ Hangout, a cafe run by survivors of acid attacks in the western city of Agra, are helping women find their place in society, campaigners say.”It has been a long journey for these women to simply say yes to a job,” Gettu said.”They have battled stigma and their own insecurities before stepping out of their homes, boarding a bus, ignoring the stares and getting to work.”Asma does not mind that many people on the bus choose not to sit next to her during her daily commute to work. “I just think about the work and the 10,000 rupees ($147) I earn every month,” she said.”Baking that cake makes me forget everything, even my gnarled hands and scarred face. I find a little bit of happiness,” Asma said. (Reporting by Anuradha Nagaraj, Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)

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

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 00:05 IST

Some forces trying to create disturbances in Punjab: Kiren Rijiju

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday said some forces are trying to fulfill their “nefarious designs” of creating disturbance in Punjab and that the intelligence agencies are fully alert.”Our intelligence agencies are fully alert and keeping a close eye on activities of some anti-national forces. We would not allow the peace of the state to be disturbed,” he said.The Union Minister of State for Home Affairs was addressing media after laying foundation of the complex of the 7th Battalion of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in Ludhiana.The Punjab government has provided 51 acres of land free of cost at the outskirts of the city at Ladhowal for the project. An amount of Rs 200 crore would be spent on the complex and its infrastructure, Rijiju said. He said that the NDRF was one of the best forces in the world.Commenting on the Centre’s demonetization move, Rijiju said that the policy had broken the backbone of terrorist fundings.Asked about terrorist attacks on the Army and paramilitary forces, he said the vigilance and security on the international borders has been made very tight. “The incidents of attack on the Army in Kashmir is a desperate attempt by insurgents,” he said.The border states of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir have come under a series of terror attacks this year.On the NIA filing chargesheet in the Pathankot airbase attack, the MoS said the Centre would pressurise Pakistan to extradite the perpetrators of terror to India. “India will seek the help and support of other countries for the purpose because all the countries are facing heat of terrorism,” he said.Wrapping up investigations in the Pathankot airbase attack case, NIA had on Monday filed a charge sheet against Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother and two others for hatching the conspiracy of the January 2 audacious terror strike in the state that left seven personnel dead and 37 others injured.

Post Dilsukhnagar verdict, Owaisi questions NIA of inaction in certain terror cases

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Tuesday accused the NIA of not showing urgency in securing convictions in terror cases involving “non-Muslims”, a day after a special NIA court awarded death penalty to five IM operatives, including Yasin Bhatkal, in 2013 Dilsukhnagar bomb blasts case.In a series of tweets, the Hyderabad Lok Sabha MP questioned the National Investigation Agency(NIA) and also mounted a veiled attack on the Centre saying, “Do not be surprised the way NIA is pursuing those Bomb Blast cases where accused are Non-Muslims they will be exonerated bcos of Ache Din?”. “Why can’t our Premier Investigation Agencies show same Urgency to convict all alleged terrorist cases, Demolition (of) Babri Masjid pending since 92,” he asked.The BJP slammed Owaisi over the allegation levelled by him against the NIA, alleging he thrives on “communal agenda”. “Owaisi thrives on communal agenda. He is trying to communalise a court verdict. Politicians of this kind have become a parasite on Indian democracy,” BJP’s National Secretary Sidharth Nath Singh told a news conference in Delhi. Over the awarding of death penalty to the five Indian Mujahideen operatives, he sought to know, while 2013 Dilsukhnagar blast accused were convicted, will the NIA “get conviction” in Mecca Masjid blast, Ajmer Dargha blast and Malegaon blasts cases.”2013 Dilsukhnagar blast accused all get conviction Mecca Masjid blast, AJMER Dargha Blast, Malegaon blasts Will NIA get conviction these cases,” Owaisi said in a tweet. In further tweets, the AIMIM chief said, “Dilsukhnagar bomb blast accused can be convicted in 3 years why is it taking long to convict MMasjid, Ajmer, Malegaon Can NIA throw some light.”However, in another tweet, Owaisi said “Dilsukhnagar blast courts have given a verdict which must be accepted, terrorist should be punished.” Five key operatives of the banned terror outfit Indian Mujahideen, including its co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and a Pakistani national, were yesterday awarded death penalty by a Special NIA Court in Hyderabad for the February 2013 Hyderabad’s Dilsukhnagar bomb blasts which claimed 18 lives.

NIA team visits Poonch, looks into cross-LoC trade records

Tue, 20 Dec 2016-07:12pm , Jammu , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A National Investigation Agency (NIA) team visited the border district of Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir and took the cross-LoC trade records from the Chakan- Da-Bagh Trade Facilitation Centre.”NIA has visited Poonch. They are looking into cross-LoC trade records”, Deputy Commissioner, Poonch, M H Malik said on Tuesday. They (NIA team) have taken records of Chakan-Da-Bagh Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC) and are going through it.The team is looking into any suspicious activity under the grab of cross LoC trade.The NIA team is headed by IG rank officer is camping in Poonch. They have talked to several businessmen and cross LoC traders besides officials and officers of TFC.

Amidst cashless drive, Deputy NSA worried about cyber attacks on banks

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With government pushing for cash-less economy, Deputy National Security Advisor Arvind Gupta asked banks on Tuesday to adopt a robust infrastructure so that digital transactions are secured. In the recent past, he said, several high profile attacks have taken place on the banks, “this is a worrying trend”. “Cyber security issues are now top of the national security agenda and such issues are given more importance than even the nuclear issues that used to top the international security agenda,” Gupta said.He also asked the banking industry to be more forthcoming in sharing the incidents of financial security frauds and helping in chalking out timely response. “Now, with India going towards less cash economy, major thrust for the government is to promote digital transactions, banking industry must make a robust infrastructure so that digital transactions are secured,” the Deputy NSA said.Terming cyber threats as a major challenge to both national and global security and economies, he said there was a need for clear legal framework to fix the responsibility in case of an attack that cripples networks and affects consumers. “Also, unlike the nuclear issue, the concept of deterrence in cyber space is somewhat restricted. Offence is easier than defence in cyber space. To attack is cheaper than to defend,” Gupta said.The Deputy NSA said cyber space knows no boundaries and cyber criminals and attackers cannot be tracked easily. The problem in jurisdiction in cyber space is difficult to resolve, he said. “It is difficult to attribute the source of attack in the cyber space, and non-attributability encourages the cyber criminals and attackers to undertake more such attacks,” Gupta said addressing a seminar on Cyber Security organised here by CII in partnership with Israel’s Tel Aviv University.With cyber space growing too rapidly and new products and services coming online everyday, the Deputy NSA said “It is difficult to keep track of the vulnerabilities that comes with these technologies. We are witnessing a rapid advances in technologies, both offensive and defensive, in cyber warfare.” Stressing that the governments have been entrusted with the leading role in cyber security matters related to national security, he said, “They cannot work alone, they need cooperation. Cooperation between government and industry is critical to any cyber defence strategy.” He said there was a need for regular and meaningful dialogue between various stakeholders particularly, the government, private sector and academia in creating an ecosystem for a robust cyber defence strategy.Addressing the seminar, Israel’s Ambassador to India Daniel Carmon said India and Israel have been cooperating in a number of fields including agriculture. “We will do the same in cyber security field,” he said.Carmon said there was a need for creating awareness sharing knowledge and getting prepared for such attacks.Expressing his country’s desire to share its expertise in the field of cyber security, he said, “We know how defend ourselves from physical as well as cyber attacks.” “Cyber diplomacy needs cyber protagonists and partners. We are sure that we have good kind of partner (as India). Cyber security is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Let’s imagine the unimaginable and get prepared,” the Israeli envoy said.Former Rajya Sabha MP Tarun Vijay stressed on the need to make the lawmakers aware about the issue and strengthen our own cyber instruments. He also stressed on the need to add cyber security in the school curriculum and proper faculty to train the trainers.

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