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

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

Birdsong replaces boom of guns at Indo-Pak border

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The boom of guns has given way to more soothing sounds along the Indo-Pak international border after winged guests kept their date with the famous Gharana wetland in the RS Pora sector of Jammu division.Earlier the shelling from across the border would scare the birds away. Now that the guns have fallen silent, the birds have stayed for the winter. “Fifteen days ago a shell landed near my quarter smashing its window panes. Since the arrival of birds there is no incident of shelling. If there is shelling again there will be effects on birds, they will flee to some other place,” Amit Kumar Sharma, Wildlife Warden, Jammu, told DNA.More than 1,300 migratory birds from different countries have arrived in the Gharana Wetland Conservation Reserve. Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife Protection Department officials are expecting more than 3,000 birds to arrive in the wetland this fall.“More than 750 bar-headed geese, which is our special feature, have so far arrived in the Gharana wetland. Other species which have arrived so far include pintail, common teal, mallard, black-headed ibis etc,” Sharma, Wildlife Warden said.The arrival of five pairs of majestic black-headed ibis at the wetland has rejuvenated enthusiasm among local bird watchers who await the arrival of their guests every year. “Last year, only one black-headed ibis had arrived at the wetland. This year, five black- headed ibis have arrived so far. This bird has a black head with curved beak,” said Sharma.Spread over 1,600 kanals (20 kanal equals one hectare) of land, the Gharana wetland has been notified as a Wetland Conservation Reserve. Falling under the North West Himalayan bio-geographical zone with sub-tropical climate, the major source of precipitation in the area is monsoon rains.This year, the birds which had earlier been fitted with tracking collars also arrived at the reserve, helping wildlife authorities monitor their migratory patterns and to map their routes. “Two bar-headed geese with neck collars have also arrived. For example, data from one neck collar reveal that the bird was first spotted at Pong Dam from which it has taken a flight to Gharana,” said Sharma.Jammu and Kashmir government has gone on an overdrive to promote the Gharana wetland as an eco-tourism paradise in the state. Every year before the arrival of the migratory birds, the authorities de-weed and de-silt the area to ensure the birds are comfortable in their winter homes. “Lots of bird watchers also visit this site,” said Sharma.

Delhi fog: 52 trains delayed, five rescheduled

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Poor visibility due to dense fog encompassed the national capital on Saturday as around 52 trains have been delayed, five rescheduled and one train has been cancelled.With this thousands of passengers were left stranded at New Delhi Railway Station due to dense fog conditions in several parts of North India.Poor visibility due to dense fog has also been reported in Kanpur.

Ahead of Assembly polls, Goa BJP to send 2 vehicles to receive suggestions on manifesto

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a novel method to elicit public opinion for drafting its manifesto for upcoming Assembly polls, the Goa BJP has decided to send two vehicles, with a box, in north and south parts of the state to receive grass-root level suggestions.”The first meeting of the manifesto committee was held yesterday. Now it has been decided to appeal people to give their suggestions about the manifesto through e-mails,” Goa BJP General Secretary Sadanand Tanawade said.”As an unique initiative, BJP will also ferry two vehicles, in North and South District respectively, mounted with a box to accept suggestion from the voters,” he added.”We want voters to put up their suggestions in that box so that we can consider their points while drafting the manifesto,” said Tanawade.The BJP manifesto committee headed by Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza had a preliminary discussion on the draft of the manifesto. “The date for release of manifesto is yet to be decided. The thrust of the manifesto would be to make Goa a model state. We want to deliver people-centric manifesto,” said Tanawade.Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar is also a member of the committee. “The party cadres in all the constituencies would be asked to approach the voters to pull in suggestions from them,” Parsekaer told reporters.”We managed to fulfil 90% of the 2012 poll promises. Wherever required administrative decisions are taken, infrastructural works are complete, while few are in pipeline. The balanced promises would be fulfilled during our next tenure,” he added.

Low-intensity earthquake in Arunachal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A low intensity earthquake was reported this morning at a place in Upper Siang district close to the Indo-China border.According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD),the slight intensity earthquake occured at 7.46 AM and the Richter scale readings showed the magnitude of the tremor was 3.8.The depth of the occurence was 106 km. The epicentre of the earthquake was recorded at Lat 28.6 degree North and Long 94.9 degree East which is around 116 km from district headquarter Yingkiong.No loss of life or damage to property has been reported so far, state Chief Secretary Shakuntala Gamlin told PTI after taking stock of the situation from district officers.She has directed officers to be on their toes to assess the situation properly and keep her posted continuously.

Cong questions new army chief’s appointment, MoD sources say Rawat best suited to deal with terror threats

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lt. General. Bipin Rawat, who has been appointed as the next Chief of Army Staff, was found the best suited among current batch of candidates of Lt. Generals, to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganised and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North-East.According to Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources, Lt. Gen Rawat has tremendous hands on experience of serving in combat areas, and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades.He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China, and in the North-East.
ALSO READ Lt Gen Bipin Rawat to be new Army Chief, Air Marshal BS Dhanoa to head IAFHe is also known for his balanced approach towards soldiering, compassion, and connect with civil society.His experience as GOC-in-C Southern Army Command in Mechanised Warfare has been focused towards the western borders, in coordination with the other two services.Also, Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa was appointed the next Chief of Air Staff. He was commissioned into the fighter stream of the IAF in June 1978 and has served in various squadrons, and in the Intelligence Directorate of Air Headquarters.Meanwhile, the Congress has slammed the Centre over the appointment of the new army chief, as the government overlooked a tradition of elevating senior-most officers as service chiefs.The Congress asked why the Centre did not follow the seniority principle in appointing Lt Gen Rawat, the vice-chief in the army.”Why has Seniority not been respected in Appointing of Army Chief? Why have Lt Gen PRAVIN Bakshi & Lt Gen Mohamed Ali Hariz been superseded Mr PM,” questioned Congress leader Manish Tewari on Twitter.

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat is next Army chief, Air Marshal Birender Dhanoa to head Air Force

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre on Saturday named Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, Vice-Chief of the Indian Army as the next Army chief, succeeding General Dalbir Singh Suhag. The decision could trigger a controversy as Rawat has superseded Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, who is heading the Eastern Command, and Lt Gen PM Hariz, heading the Southern Command.The government also appointed Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, a Kargil veteran, as the next Air Force chief. He will succeed Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, who, along with Suhag, retires on December 31.“Government has decided to appoint Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, Vice-Chief of the Army staff, as the next Chief of Army Staff with effect from the afternoon of December 31,” the Defence Ministry said in a tweet.Sources said Lt Gen Rawat was found best suited among the Lt Generals to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganised and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North-East.They said Lt Gen Rawat has tremendous hands-on experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades. He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China and in the North-East.According to convention, chiefs of armed forces are announced at least two months in advance, but the delay this time was leading to confusion. Lt Gen Rawat was commissioned in Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978, from IMA, Dehradun, and was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’.An alumni of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, the Higher Command and National Defence College Courses, Rawat, in his over 35 years of service, was awarded for gallantry and distinguished service.Supersession in the Army is not new. There has not been any such instances in the recent past though. In 1983, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi appointed Lt Gen A S Vaidya as Army Chief superseding Lt Gen S K Sinha, who resigned in protest.In 1972, the Gandhi government side-stepped the very popular Lt General P S Bhagat, one of the handful of Indian Victoria Cross awardees from World War II, who was in line to succeed General (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw.Defence ministry sources said that Lt Gen Hariz had no experience in operational areas in terms of counter-insurgency or seeing action along the LoC.—With inputs from PTI

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat to be new Army Chief, Air Marshal BS Dhanoa to head IAF

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government on Saturday appointed vice chief of army staff Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the new Army chief superseding his two senior officers, while vice chief of air staff Air Marshal B S Dhanoa has been made the new chief of the Indian Air Force.”Government has decided to appoint Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, vice chief of army staff, as the next chief of army staff with effect from afternoon of December 31,” the Defence Ministry said in a tweet. It also tweeted that Air Marshal B S Dhanoa will take over as IAF chief with effect from afternoon of December 31.Lt Gen Rawat, an infantry soldier, superseded senior most army commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, who headed the Eastern Command and was next in line to be the army chief, besides Southern Command Chief P M Hariz.Government sources said Lt Gen Rawat was found best suited among the Lt Generals to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganized and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North-East.They said Lt Gen Rawat has tremendous hands-on experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades.He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China and in the North-East.He is known for his balanced approach towards soldiering, compassion, and connect with civil society.His experience as GOC-in-C Southern Army Command in Mechanised Warfare has been focused towards the western borders, in coordination with the other two services, the sources said.Supersession in the army is not new though there has not been any such instances in the recent past. In 1983, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had appointed Lt Gen A S Vaidya as army chief superseding Lt Gen S K Sinha, who resigned in protest.Earlier in 1972, the Gandhi government side-stepped the very popular Lt General P S Bhagat, one of the handful of Indian Victoria Cross awardees from World War II, who was in line to succeed General (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw.This was done by giving his junior, General G G Bewoor a year’s extension, during which time Bhagat retired. Bewoor, thus, succeeded Manekshaw.Defence Ministry sources said the focus was on suitability and merit for the selection of the new Army chief.They said that Lt Gen Bakshi, an Armoured corps officer, spent most of his career in Jodhpur and had two postings in Kashmir but the positions he was in were not considered field posting.The sources added that Lt Gen Hariz had no experience in operational areas in terms of counter insurgency or seeing action along the LoC.With Lt Gen Rawat’s sudden promotion as the army chief, the line of succession in the force will get affected.The IAF, which has also seen supersession in the past, was set for a smooth transition with Dhanoa, the first in line for the post, named its new chief.He was commissioned into the fighter stream of the IAF in June 1978. He has served in various squadrons and in the Intelligence Directorate of Air Headquarters.Rawat was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978, from IMA, Dehradun, where he was awarded the Sword of Honour .The General Officer has vast experience in high altitude warfare and counter insurgency operations.He commanded an Infantry battalion along the Line of Actual Control in the Eastern sector, a Rashtriya Rifles sector and an Infantry Division in the Kashmir Valley. He has tenanted instructional appointments at Indian Military Academy, Dehradun and Army War College, Mhow.Lt Gen Rawat also held important staff appointments at Directorate General of Military Operations and Military Secretary s Branch at Army Headquarters.He has been Major General General Staff at HQ Eastern Command. The officer commanded a Multinational Brigade in a Chapter VII mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC).An alumni of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, the Higher Command and National Defence College Courses, the General Officer, during the span of over 35 years of service in uniform, has been awarded for gallantry and distinguished service.Prior to taking over as the VCOAS, Lt Gen Rawat was holding the post of the GOC-in-C, Southern Command.

Racial violence against NE people: SC gives slew of directions to enhance sense of security

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Wednesday passed a slew of directions, including setting up of a three-member panel headed by a Joint Secretary-level officer, to enhance a sense of security and inclusion of the people from north-eastern states who faced racial violence and hate crimes.The panel — comprising Joint Secretary (North-east), the Ministry of Home Affairs, and two other members to be nominated by the Union government — has been given powers ranging from ensuring strict action in incidents of racial discrimination, racial atrocities and racial violence and suggesting measures to curb such hate and racial crimes.The court also directed the government that the effective monitoring mechanism suggested by the MP Bezbaruah Committee in its report should be implemented and “should not like innumerable instances of its ilk, languish in dusty shelves of long forgotten archives”.It was also of the view that involvement of the law enforcement machinery is alone not sufficient to resolve the problem and stressed that mindsets have to be changed including in universities, colleges and educational institutions, places of work and in society. After perusing report of the panel headed by Bezbaruah, a former bureaucrat and member of the North Eastern Council, and the Centre’s response to it, a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said, “We are of the view that in order to enhance a sense of security and inclusion,…the Ministry of Home Affairs should take proactive steps to monitor the redressal of issues pertaining to racial discrimination faced by citizens of the nation drawn from the Northeast.””For that purpose, a regular exercise of monitoring and redressal should be carried out by a Committee consisting of the following members — Joint Secretary (North-east), Ministry of Home Affairs; and two other members to be nominated by the Union government (one of whom should be a public figure),” it said. However, the court refrained from passing any direction on the proposal for amending the Indian Penal Code by insertion of two new provisions — sections 153C and 509A — which was opposed by the Centre on the ground that sections 153A, 153B and 505(2) already exist as a part of the penal provision and covers the situation of racial crimes.Also, the court took note of the Centre’s submission that the proposal was under examination and said “whether the law should be amended is for the Union government to decide in its considered assessment of the situation, the nature of the problem and the efficacy of existing provisions. A mandamus to legislate cannot be issued.” The apex court, which dealt with several incidents of racial discrimination and crimes against the people of north-eastern region, said, “The involvement of the law enforcement machinery is alone not sufficient to resolve the problem.””Mindsets have to be changed including in universities, colleges and educational institutions, places of work and in society. Sensitivity and inclusion have to be fostered. “In order to achieve this, greater awareness of the history and the rich cultural traditions of the northeast is required to be inculcated. The problems faced by persons from the northeast traverse a whole range of issues, from the mundane issues of daily life to matters of education, employment, social security and the fundamental right to live in dignity.”The governments, both at the Centre and in the states, have a non-negotiable obligation to take positive steps to give effect to India’s commitment to racial equality. This commitment is embodied in constitutional rights, fundamental duties, statutory provisions and in the international obligations which have been assumed by India,” the bench also comprising justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao said. In a slew of directions, the bench said the newly constituted committee’s work should be widely publicised in the electronic and print media, including in the north-eastern states, and the panel should be accessible to grievances, suggestions and complaints.It said the panel should meet periodically and preferably at monthly intervals to monitor the redressal of all such grievances including the implementation of the recommendations of the Bezbaruah committee, to the extent to which they have been accepted by the Centre. The bench also enumerated the functions likely to be carried out by the panel which would include monitoring, overseeing, pursuing and reviewing the implementation of the Bezbaruah committee’s July 11, 2014 report.Further, the committee will monitor the initiatives taken by the government to curb and deal with the incidents of racial discrimination/racial atrocities and racial violence and monitor action on such incidents and suggest measures and ensure strict action. The committee will also receive, consider and entertain complaints from individuals and groups of individuals who claim to be victims of racial abuse/ racial atrocities/ racial violence/ racial discrimination and forward it to the National Human Rights Commission and the State Human Rights Commissions and to the concerned police station as the case may be for enquiry and necessary action.The committee will issue necessary directions including calling for reports on incidents of racial discrimination/ racial atrocities/racial violence from the states and Union Territories, it said, adding that a decision may also be taken by the Centre on whether any of the other recommendations should be accepted. The apex court pronounced the verdict while disposing of the petition filed by Karma Dorjee and others following several incidents of hate crimes in Delhi against persons hailing from the northeast. The petitioners had said that the Bezbaruah panel had recommended changes in the IPC to curb and punish incidents of racial violence targeting people from the northeast.The petition had alleged that people from north-eastern region, who move out of their states in search of better opportunities in studies and jobs, were subjected to racial taunts and violence on a daily basis due to their physical appearance at the hands of people of their own country.The Bezbaruah panel was set up by the Home Ministry on February 5, 2014, to suggest “suitable remedial measures” which could be taken, in the wake of attacks on the people from the northeast in Delhi and other parts of the country including the death of youth Nido Tania, a student from Arunachal Pradesh.

Kiren Rijiju clean, Congress will be exposed: Prakash Javadekar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defending Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju regarding his alleged involvement in a Hydro electric project in Arunachal Pradesh, Union Human Resource and Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday said the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) will expose the Congress party. “Rijiju is clean and the scam happened during the tenure of Congress,” he said adding that the BJP will expose the Congress.Rijiju, his distant cousin, a contractor in Arunachal Pradesh, Goboi Rijiju, and several other officials of North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) have been accused of corruption in the construction of two dams for the 600 megawatt Kameng hydro-electric projects, one of the biggest power generating project in Arunachal Pradesh.However, Rijiju has refuted all allegations of corruption against him, saying that the ones planting such news would be thrashed with shoes, should they come to Arunachal Pradesh.Echoing similar sentiments, Union Minister of State for Power Piyush Goyal said Rijiju was innocent and the payment was released on the orders of Congress party and its government, “Payment was released on the orders of Congress official and now the concern party has to answer. Mr Rijiju was not involved in it.” Goyal added.Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma has given notice under Rule 267 in the Rajya Sabha, for a discussion over the alleged involvement Rijiju in the project.Rijiju is being pilloried by the Congress party in the wake of a 129-page report prepared by Satish Verma, the Chief Vigilance Officer of the North Eastern Electricity Power Corporation (NEEPCO), suggesting that he and his cousin Goboi were involved in a Rs 450 crore plus power project scam.

Those planting ‘news’ against me will be beaten up with shoes: Kiren Rijiju on corruption allegation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday brushed aside all allegations of corruption levelled against him and his distant cousin, saying that the ones planting such news would be beaten up with shoes if they come to Arunachal. Rijiju pushed aside all the blames calling it ‘shameful’ and asked if helping one’s own people be termed as ‘corruption’.”To help your own people is corruption? Is helping people corruption?” said Rijiju. “This news is nothing but a mischief. I did write a letter but there’s nothing suspicious about it,” he added.Rijiju, his distant cousin, a contractor in Arunachal Pradesh, Goboi Rijiju, and several other officials of North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) have been alleged of corruption in the construction of two dams for one of the biggest hydro-electric projects in Arunachal Pradesh. Their names, including the names of Chairman and Managing Editor of NEEPCO, have been mentioned in a 129-page report submitted by the Public Sector Undertakings (PSU) Chief Vigilance Officer.

Gujarat: PM Modi to address farmers’ rally, inaugurate public projects

Sat, 10 Dec 2016-09:55am , Banaskantha , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a farmers’ rally in Banaskantha district of North Gujarat on Saturday and will also inaugurate a milk co-operative dairy plant and other dairy projects in Deesa.High security arrangements have been put in place in Banaskantha for the Prime Minister’s visit, as a large number of police personnel have been deployed for the security in the town.After addressing the rally, Prime Minister Modi will inaugurate a new Amul cheese factory at Banas Dairy in Banaskantha district. The factory has been built with an investment of Rs 350 crore with cutting edge cheese-making technology.

BR Ambedkar’s death anniversary: For his many lakhs of followers, ‘Jai Bhim’ is the only password

The sixth day of December will be forever etched in the post-Independence era of Indian history as the day that saw the destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. However, for the Dalit and the socially backward citizens of our country — many crores of them — this day marks the loss of their ‘Father’, Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar. From 1956 to 2016, a long period of 60 years has passed since we lost him, however, ‘the greatest Indian’, as he could be called, can never be forgotten by the Dalit community of this country. In fact, quite surprisingly, the number of people that assemble at Chaityabhoomi, a memorial to Ambedkar in Dadar, Mumbai that had witnessed the funeral of Ambedkar, only keeps increasing with every passing year — a mysterious phenomenon that is yet to be understood.

The predominance of saffrons in Dadar is intermixed with thousands of indigos, albeit for two days. Shivaji Park in Dadar, otherwise considered the citadel of the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, has already become a hosting ground for no less than 1.5 to two lakh people. Some of these people will probably just have reached Dadar railway station while others may have already been queuing at Chaityabhoomi for several hours to offer their salutation to the memories of Ambedkar. Some of them will have free snacks or lunch arranged by an NGO, whereas others will likely be seeking a good read at a book stall.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

On 13 October, 1956, a few days before his death, Ambedkar accepted Buddhism in Nagpur along with his five lakh followers. He had renounced Hinduism and criticised it for its disparity. He delivered speeches and published several articles in relation to this subject in his dailies: Mukhnayak, Bahishkrut Bharat and Prabuddhaa Bharat. Most of his writings, speeches and books have been now published by the Maharashtra state government. This rich literature has been the foundation for several Dalit publishers who have made an effort by printing and publishing Ambedkar’s books to disperse valuable information to Dalit communities in the remotest villages of our country.

Any social-political-cultural event inspired by Ambedkar’s ideology is never missed by these Dalit book sellers and his presence is always felt through these books. These books are not available in other book shops housed in shopping malls or even online, however, this seldom affects the ability of these book sellers in reaching out to those who desire to understand the ideology of Ambedkar.

Except for a few English readers in India, most are not even aware that Chaityabhoomi is flooded with more than 200 stalls housing book sellers and publishing houses on 6 December. Not only this, some book sellers who do not get a stall to conduct their sales do not feel disappointed and try to create makeshift stalls by using carpets or paper on the ground or roads. Most of the books sold either pertain to Ambedkar or were written by the man himself: Buddha and his Dhamma, Who were the Shudras?Buddha or Karl Marx, Annihilation of Caste, Castes in India, Riddles in Hinduism, What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables are in high demand.

Besides these, several Dalit autobiographies and books related to the Dalit political revolution published by various Marathi, Hindi and English publishers are also sold in great volumes. The 199th edition of one such book by economist Dr Narendra Jadhav, who belongs to the same caste as Ambedkar, entitled Aamcha Baap Aan Aamhi, will also be sold at Chaityabhoomi this year. It is indeed unbelievable that the number 199 reflects only the editions in Marathi language as those in Hindi, English and other languages are yet to be accounted for!

Most Marathi book sellers — publishers are Buddhists, Hindi and English book sellers belong to many other Scheduled Castes. In this respect, the contribution of the Dalits, especially from North India, belonging to the Chamar caste, in promotion of Dalit literature or Ambedkar ideology deserves a special mention. Vendors such as Gautam Book Centre from Delhi always make it to Mumbai on the 6 December to promote the sale of their Hindi and English books. A publisher like S Anand, born in a Brahmin family, is also working to achieve Ambedkar’s dream of a casteless society through his publishing house, Navyaan. His reader group mainly involves the highly educated Dalits who have a better understanding and thus a preference for intellectual books in English.

In an attempt to averse the atrocity act after the rape incidence at Kopardi, the Maratha community had organised silent rallies in different districts of Maharashtra. Although, these rallies did not directly criticise the Dalits, one of the major agendas of these rallies was to demand reservation for the Maratha community. Several other castes such as the Patidars and Jats in other states of the country have been demanding reservation for the past many years. It is ironic that up until now the writers and thinkers of Maratha community have always sought the support of Ambedkar ideology to generate awareness in the society. In the current scenario, although there exist tensions between the Maratha community and the Buddhists of Maharashtra, there are several such books for sale at Chaityabhoomi which have been written by the authors of the Maratha community to criticise the Brahmins.

It is a common misconception in the minds of people that only the Buddhist community acknowledges the memories of Ambedkar at Chaityabhoomi.

It’s not like that. With the increase in sociopolitical awareness in the past few years, Chaityabhoomi has been witnessing an increasing number of people from the Chamar community of Uttar Pradesh; the Paswans, Mahadalits and the Jatavs from Bihar as also the Valmikis of Gujarat. People from North and South India, and also the Adivasis from the North East regions visit Chaityabhoomi in large numbers to pay their salutations to Ambedkar as they feel that they are obliged to him for their existence. The barriers of language, caste and religion lose their importance at Chaityabhoomi and bow to the name of the Father of the Indian Constitution, who truly symbolises the icon that inspires the oppressed and encourages a sociopolitical approach towards the betterment of the society.

It is estimated that 10 lakh followers of Ambedkar will visit Dadar in the next two days. More than 200 officers and 6,000 employees of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation are working around the clock to ensure that the best facilities are given to these followers. Approximately, 1,500 officers from the Mumbai Police are working meticulously to safeguard the followers from any unprecedented happenings at Chaityabhoomi. In this respect, it is commendable that despite the fact that Chaityabhoomi hosts lakhs of followers every year, it has never witnessed any riot, crimes or even the slightest chaos.

Unlike the silent rallies which required the people from the Maratha community to seek support of the organisers to showcase their strength but the Dalits do not need any organisers to showcase their strength at Chaityabhoomi. The name Ambedkar is sufficient to unite them and bring them together. And, for motivating them to be strong, through their leader Ambedkar, the password that they all use is ‘Jai Bhim’.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 08:54 IST

Demonetization is a body blow, not a death knell for terror funding

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The sudden and surprise currency reforms announced early this month to demonetize high value denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 targeted at the hoarding of black money and eliminate the fake notes in circulation is most likely to have a wide reaching impact on the criminal-terrorism nexus. Demonetization will deal a severe body blow to the bad money generated by the underworld, black marketers, criminals, dealers and terrorists, temporarily. But it is not a permanent death knell for terror groups, intelligence officials and counter-terrorism, experts warn.The top brass of government, from Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar to Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh has been vocal in linking demonetization to hitting the core of financing of terrorism. In his statement to the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said that insurgent groups in North East, Maoists and terror groups in Kashmir have suffered loses of around Rs 800 crore. The money amassed by the armed groups mostly in cash through extortion, taxation and illicit hawala transfers to sustain their operations, logistics and support their manpower, is now as good as scrap paper. While choking the financial artery of terrorists groups will weaken their capability to some extent, this single step of currency reforms will not eradicate terrorism entirely—which emerges in several complex and ambiguous social, ethnic and national interactions, experts on counter-terrorism say.”Demonetization has definitely dealt a blow to terrorist groups as their cash reserves stored in bulk is now redundant,” said Col Vivek Chaddha, author of Lifeblood of Terrorism while adding that one needs to look at the source of funding and not the means. “The move of demonetization will not impact all sources of terror funding. This is not a permanent death blow to terrorism,” he said.India is among the top ten countries—it currently ranks eighth in the 2016 Global Terrorism Index — impacted by terrorism. The report prepared by the Institute for Economics and Peace that ranks countries most affected by terrorism in the world also observes that the nature of terrorism in India is different than in countries like Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan as the groups have `very local goals’. “ Many of the groups are seeking political recognition, with attacks not aimed at killing people.” The analysis of the terror attacks in India in the report shows no fatalities in 75 per cent of attacks. Terror and insurgent groups are active largely in three theaters of conflict; characterized by Islamist groups in the militancy and the separatist movement in Kashmir, insurgent groups in the northeastern states and Maoist groups. Under section 35 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, the government has banned 37 terrorists’ groups including global organizations like Islamic State and al Qaeda.Terror funding sourcesThe local nature of terrorism in India means financing of terrorism is not on exorbitant scale. It is reported that terror groups use 0.05 per cent roughly accounting to Rs 800 crore of the total money in circulation in India for funding activities. Money generated or sourced by terror groups in India emanate through sources like hawala, fake currency notes from Pakistan for the militant groups and separatist movement in Kashmir, extortion in the North East and taxation in the Maoist infested areas. Terrorists groups like the Dawood Ibrahim network, LeT, Hizbul Mujaheedin, Indian Mujaheedin and the IS inspired modules have also used investment in real estate, NGOs as a front and self-funding to sponsor its activities. According to a November 2015 report on terrorist financing to the G20 leaders on actions taken by the Financial Action Task Force—the inter-governmental body for combating money laundering and terrorist financing– India has frozen funds amounting to Rs 2.18 crore of banned terror groups.Despite being a victim of terrorism for decades, India enacted anti-terrorist financing legislations only in 2010 by amending the Prevention of Money Laundering rules. In 2013, Fake Indian Currency Note (FICN) was included in the ambit of UAPA making counterfeiting and its circulation a terrorism related offence. This has allowed National Investigation Agency–set up in 2008 in the aftermath of the brazen 26/11 terror attack and siege in Mumbai—which acts as a Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency to investigate offences related to financing of terrorism.Since 2009, NIA has investigated 11 cases related to terror funding. Prominent among them include cases against Babar Khalsa International operatives in Canada transferring funds to their counterparts in Punjab through front organizations for distribution to sleeper cells, jailed terrorists and the families of the terrorists, Assam based Dima Halem Daogah (Jewel) for procurement of arms and ammunition with cash involving Rs 1 crore, Ningthoujam Tomba alias N Rajen Singh, the self-styled Finance Secretary and Commander in chief of Manipur based Kanglei Yaol Kanba Lup (KYKL). “We were able to trace the funding in these cases directly with the leaders and members of the banned terrorist groups. Our investigations led us to evidence in the form of banking transactions, suspicious bank accounts, purchase of property, tax rate sheets for extortion,” an NIA official who worked in the financial intelligence unit said.“Terror groups need ready cash for various back operations and logistics support in their day to day use. Hawala transactions are a favored channel as it is prompt and works on trust quotient within a small network. Large funds are transferred without actual movement of money through codes. Similarly, money collected through taxes and extortion is stored in cash. The demonetization move has now majorly affected this operation,” the officer added.Terror Funding OperationsKashmir: The network for funding of the militancy and separatist movement in Kashmir exists and originates from Pakistan, J&K police officials said. In the initial years of militancy, intelligence officials recalled local population who supported the armed movement against India would help with funding. Separatist groups used militancy to garner further support from local population and used the money coming through hawala to recruit cadres and expand their area of influence throughout the valley. In addition to infiltrating militants carrying cash on them, wire transfers, investment in real estate, use of cross-border trade, FICN and financing through front NGOs are the other popular channels of funding in the nearly three decades of conflict in the valley.Hawala: The hawala network is in place in valley since 1989. It originates from Pakistan via Gulf areas and ends up in Kashmir. Some of the well known cases of hawala transaction include the 1993 case of Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen where over Rs 30 lakhs were allegedly sent to the chief of the armed group, and a seizure of an estimated Rs 40 lakh in 1997. “Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) used their channels through a carpet company in Dubai to send the money,” said a senior J&K police official.A big sum of cash transactions is reserved for the over ground workers—prized assets of both the militant groups and the security agencies– support the militants and help them sustain in the valley. “The OGW’s provide safe havens for the local and Pakistani militants to stay, food, logistics and strategic information vital for infiltration or cross-border travel of the militants and in planning of terror attacks,” said an intelligence official elaborating on the expenses made through hawala.FICN: Officials say in recent years as militancy began to wane down, militants in the Valley don’t have much use for cash. Police officials have recovered small amounts of around Rs 20,000-30,000 from dead or arrested militants. Documents accessed by dna reveal cash in hand recovered from militants killed by security forces since the last three years and FICN confiscated to be of in small sums, well under Rs 10 lakhs (see box). FICN is also pumped in the Indian territory through Nepal and Bengal borders. High quality FICN with close visual replication of the original currency is printed in Pakistan, according to a NIA charge sheet. Annually, an estimated Rs 70 crore of FICN is infiltrated by Pakistan as a strategy of economic warfare against India. NIA officials said roughly one third of the FICN in circulation gets seized; the rest gets absorbed in the official banking channels.According to the annual report of RBI released in August this year, evaluation of currency monitoring indicates that FICN comprises 0.071 per cent of the total currency in circulation: of the total 18 lakh crore currency in circulation, FICN accounts to a mere Rs 400 crore. Demonetization has been successful in winding counterfeiting business of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. However, networks in Pakistan still have the capability of counterfeiting Rs 100 denomination currency. Of the total FICN detected by the banks in 2015-16, 35 per cent was accounted to Rs 100, according to the Ministry of Finance data.Maoists: Left Wing Extremism (LWE) spread across 106 districts in ten states is the most active and lethal insurgency in the internal security. Maoist factions and groups have territorial control in tribal and forest areas called as `liberated zones’. These zones have an illegal system of taxation (see box) imposed on organizations, companies, civil contractors and tribals.Taxation: The illegal taxes collected in cash forms backbone of the funding of Maoist groups, said intelligence officials. “There is a fixed percentage levied on contractors, mine owners, coal mafia, brick kilns annually or project basis by the Maoists. This cut is received in cash and stored in bulk and is used within the LWE affected areas,” said a CRPF senior official posted in Chhattisgarh. Intelligence officials estimate the economy for Maoists activity in Chhattisgarh, the worst affected from LWE violence to be approximately Rs 150-Rs 200 crore. “Maoists are now forcing tribals and big businessmen to get the old high currency notes exchanged and pay the taxes in new Rs 2,000 or Rs 100 notes. There is a flurry of activity to save whatever they can from the old notes,” a CRPF official said. On November 14, BSF seized unaccounted cash over Rs 5 lakhs in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations from a man travelling in a bus in Kanker district of Chhattisgarh. Officials believe this money was being taken to exchange in new notes at the behest of Maoist leaders. “To recover from the blow of demonetization, Maoist groups will put the onus of providing legal currency tender from the tax payers.”North East: Maximum number of armed insurgent groups is active in the north east region fighting against the Indian state for various ethnic-political demands including secession. Extortion and money from real estate is a bulk of primary funding source of these groups. The porous border to Myanmar and Bangladesh has also facilitated organized crimes of drug trafficking and FICN involving insurgent groups.Members of scheduled tribe residing in specified areas are exempted under Section 10(26) of the Income Tax Act, 1995, from declaring their income or revenue earned in the areas. “The insurgent groups are likely to use bank accounts of tribal and proxies for channelizing their bad money,” said a former police officer from Manipur adding that intelligence, police and IT officials need to be vigilant on suspicious transactions. “Demonetization can be an opportunity to keep a close watch on the financial activities of armed groups and clampdown at the right time. This can paralyze them for a long time.”Extortion: Similar to the Maoist groups, insurgent groups in the NE extort a fixed sum from the general public, businessmen, contractors, commercial establishments, shopkeepers and also make kidnappings for ransom. NIA charge sheet on the Assam based Dima Halam Daogah (J) notes that the insurgent group was siphoning through government funds with the help of elected members of council, government officials and contractors to finance their activities. It also found that funds earmarked for the North Cachar Hills Autonomous District Council (NCHAC) were forcefully channeled to fund DHD (J) activities and buying funds, with the later indulging in death threats, intimidation and murder of elected representatives. NIA has also seized documents from terror group KYKL that show tax rates for different organizations confirming extorting in the name of its leader Ninghoujam Tomba.Banking channels and NGOs: Contrary to the perception that terrorist groups only deal in black money, their leaders have misused banking channels to transfer funds in pursuance of criminal offences. Before his arrest in 2010, leader of banned group KYKL, N Tomba used his bank account in ICICI Guwahati branch to receive funds collected through extortion. NIA chargesheet claims that Tomba used funds from his bank account to purchase a house and vehicle, even issuing demand drafts for purchase of land. Kashmir based militant group Hizbul Mujaheedin too has received Rs 80 crore from a front organization, Jammu Kashmir Affectees Relief Trust (JKART) based in Pakistan. The funds were transferred from Pakistan to the HM cadres and families of dead militants in Kashmir, extensively through banking channels.(inputs from Azaan Javaid)Terror funding cases investigated by NIACases: 11Cash seized: Rs 1.13 croreAssets seized: 7.5 acres of land, a flat, vehicle and motor bikeConvicted: 19 accusedCash and FICN recovered from militants in KashmirCash recovered201420152016Indian currencyRs 2,63,180Rs 5,20,260Rs 3,66,000Pakistan currencyRs 10NilRs 4,540Fake Indian currencyRs 2,75,500Rs 1,81,500NilMaoist TaxationGraphics: Can show a map of India with Kashmir, North East and Maoist areas as active conflict zones. The above boxes can be linked with arrows to these zones.

Army deployment in West Bengal echoes in Parliament: TMC alleges dictatorship; BJP says routine exercise

New Delhi: The row over army taking over road toll plazas in West Bengal on Friday echoed in Parliament with Trinamool Congress (TMC) seeing “sinister” designs behind the move and the government vehemently denying the charge, saying it was a routine exercise conducted in full knowledge of the local authorities.

The issue was raised in both Houses of Parliament with main opposition Congress too seeking clarification on the army deployment at 19 toll plazas in West Bengal. In Lok Sabha, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar termed it a “routine exercise not unique to West Bengal” and saying that similar operations to collect information on heavy vehicle movement that can be used during national emergencies had last month being conducted in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.

Along with West Bengal, similar exercise was carried out in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghlaya and Mizoram, he said while responding to TMC and Congress MPs. He also stated that originally the exercise was planned for 28-30 November but was shifted to 1 and 2 December at the request of Kolkata police as those dates were clashing with the protests against demonetisation.

“It is shocking that a chief minister is saying this. The Army’s deployment was part of routine exercise which has been going on for last 15-20 years. Even last year it was held on 19 to 21 November,” Parrikar said.

Manohar-Parrikar_PTIManohar-Parrikar_PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The minister said Army’s Eastern Command has been carrying out the exercise in West Bengal, Assam and other North Eastern states and a similar exercise has already been carried out in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.  “Concerned officials were informed in West Bengal. The original date was fixed for 28 to 30 November but due to Bharat Bandh the local police had advised the army to shift it to 1 and 2 December,” he said. “Due to traffic congestion, the exercise is being done with the help of local police.”

TMC leaders in both Houses alleged that neither the state government, nor local administration including police were taken into confidence on the exercise or their permission sought. Congress and BSP too wanted to know from the government how such an unprecedented move to carry out an army exercise without taking state government into confidence was done.

“It was very unfortunate that army has been dragged into an unnecessary controversy,” Parrikar said. “It was political frustration rather than projection of correct situation.”

As soon as Lok Sabha assembled this morning, TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay raised the issue of army deployment at 19 places in West Bengal, claiming that the move was a challenge to the federal structure of the country and completely politically motivated.

He said army personnel were deployed at these places, including near the state secretariat, “without informing anyone in the state secretariat”. “It is a fantastic situation. Army today said that it was a routine exercise being carried out in the North Eastern states. But West Bengal does not come under the territorial jurisdiction of the Northeast,” he said.

Bandyopadhyay said the people of the country have great faith in the Army but if indeed such an exercise was scheduled, the Centre should have communicated to the state government. He said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been staging a ‘dharna’ in the Secretariat demanding withdrawal of the Army. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar asked the TMC not to drag Army into politics and added that the defence personnel have been protecting the country as well as democracy.

“Whatever the army has done was part of a routine exercise. It is completely wrong to drag army into politics,” he said. Raising the issue in Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said army is India’s pride as it has upheld its unity and integrity beside protecting the borders. It has also come to the rescue during emergency situtions like flood and riots, he said adding that army is requisitioned at the request of a state government.

But in West Bengal, the chief secretary, administration and Director General of Police had no information of army taking over toll plazas at 19 locations in the state, he said. “This is probably the first time that the chief minister of West Bengal has lodged this kind of protest where she stayed put for the night in the State Secretariat and is still there,” he said. “This is a strange thing happening. Without asking state government, chief secretary or DGP, toll plazas of state government are taken over.”

Azad said it is being said that Army was collecting information on truck movements but such an exercise is not even done in Jammu and Kashmir. All such information is available with National Highways Authority of India or road transport departments. “This is an issue of grave concern.” Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) said what happened in West Bengal has never been witnessed in the state’s history. Army seized toll plazas and started putting stickers on vehicles.

“I will not drag the army in any controversy. We are very proud of the army,” he said wanting to know under what provisions of law and Constitution was such a deployment carried out and alleging “sinister design” to “defame the leader opposing demonetisation” and creating “fear psychosis”.

Mayawati, BSP supremo and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh said the move to deploy army without the state government’s permission was an attack on the federal structure of the country. Terming the statements as factually incorrect, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said such exercises have been carried out in coordination with the local police.

Earlier the exercise was planned for 28 November but was shifted on specific request by Kolkata Police in view of the Bharat Bandh, he said, adding that the exercise was to ascertain availability of vehicles during national emergency. The annual exercise are carried out for collection of data and similar exercises were also carried out in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, he said, adding that letters were written to the Police Commissioner as well as District Magistrates for conducting it.

At this point, slogan-shouting TMC and Congress members contested the minister’s statement and trooped into the Well. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien had a tough time controlling the situation and even had an angry spat with Congress members including Pramod Tiwari as they continued to shout even when he stood up to control the noisy scenes.

“If you don’t know the basic rule of not disturbing the Chair, you are not deserving to be a member,” he angrily remarked without naming any member. “Mr Tiwari, I will take action against you.    This is unheard of that the Chair will not be allowed to say,” he said as members piped down and returned to their places.

Kurien said if the members found any part of the statement made by the minister as misleading or incorrect, they can invoke the rule book and give notice. Roy continued to insist that the minister was misleading. “If any member or minister misleads the House, give notice, chairman will consider it,” Kurien said.

As Roy continued to insist that the minister was misleading the House by saying that the state government had been informed, treasury benches joined in to protest. At this point, an angry Kurien snapped at Bhupender Yadav (BJP) saying “shut up… you are not in the Chair.” Roy said the minister was not stating if specific permission was taken for December 1 deployment and comparing
the exercise to national emergency.

I&B Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the reference to emergency was to situations like floods or tsunami and said similar exercises are annually carried out and had happened in West Bengal previously as well. And recently, it has been carried out in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar, and along with West Bengal it was also being carried out in North Eastern states, he said, adding “it
is a sensitive matter. Let us not politise it.”

Kurien told Roy that he can give a notice on any misleading statement being made in the House and he will consider it. Derek O’Brien raised a Point of Order under Rule 249 related to authentication of papers laid by the government on the floor of the House.

He claimed that it is “selective placing of papers” by the government and added that he will place some papers on the floor of the House to prove his point on Monday.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 15:13 IST

Rain lashes Tamil Nadu, but cyclone Nada weakens

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a relief, cyclonic storm Nada weakened on Thursday into a deep depression and is likely to cross the Tamil Nadu coast on Friday, even as rains lashed several parts of the scarcity-hit state. “From a cyclonic storm, it has weakened into deep depression and in the next 24 hours is likely to cross the coast,” Area Cyclone Warning Centre Director, S Balachandran, told reporters in Chennai.The deep depression is likely to cross coast between Cuddalore and Vedaranyam early morning on Friday, he said. The weakening of the cyclone brings partial relief to the authorities who have put the state machinery on high alert, deploying National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response teams, and taking elaborate precautionary measures to tackle any eventuality.Earlier, the MeT office had said the cyclone would cross the state coast near Cuddalore and under its impact, heavy rains could lash Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Puducherry. The deep depression in the south West Bay now lies about 210 km south east of Puducherry, Balachandran said, adding it would move in the West North Westwardly direction and cross the coast.He said moderate rains were being witnessed in several parts of the state and this was likely to continue. Some coastal areas are likely to receive heavy rains, the official said. During and before the land fall of the depression, winds gusting upto 55 kmph are likely in coastal regions, he said.Earlier in the day, Agricultural Production commissioner and Secretary, Gagandeep Singh Bedi, said in Cuddalore that all the 32 revenue districts, including 13 coastal districts were being monitored continuously. “The district administrations are fully prepared (to handle any eventuality),” he said.State Revenue Minister RB Udaya Kumar said, “Be it heavy rains (which is expected) and gusty winds, all preparations are on (to tackle the situation).” He said during heavy winds power lines will be needing more attention and the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation is fully prepared to tackle the situation.Holidays had been declared in schools in various coastal districts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry for Thursday and Friday in view of the cyclone threat. The rains under influence of the depression have, however, brought cheers to the farmers hit by crop failure due to lack of water for irrigation. The current spell of rains marked revival of the north east monsoon which accounts for the major share of rains for the state, after it virtually remained inactive since its onset in October.

Sagarmala Project proposes 14 coastal economic zones across India

The most talked after Sagarmala Project, envisaged by the Ministry of Shipping, proposes fourteen Coastal Economic Zones (CEZ) across major and non-major ports of India in a comprehensive plan to support the BJP-led government’s Make in India initiative.

The proposal comes at a time when India is lagging far behind in port-led industrialisation than China – its key economic competitor. The CEZs are expected to increase India’s merchandise exports by 110 billion by enhancing industrial competitiveness.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The CEZs to be built as per a comprehensive plan for port-led industrialisation will embrace 12 industrial clusters those will require up to Rs 8 lakh crores of industrial investment and Rs 15,000 crores of investment in basic infrastructure.

The plan says that twelve major clusters across three broad sectors – energy, material and discrete manufacturing – have been proposed in the CEZs on the basis of suitability of ocean mode of transportation for imports of raw material or exports of finished products.

The proposed port-led development is expected to not only reduce logistics costs by optimising movement of cargo, but also impact competitiveness in availability or raw materials, skills, supporting infrastructure and existing industrial agglomeration.

As per the plan, coastal states will have one or more CEZs. The industrial clusters within these zones will enjoy the benefit of lower cost of movement by waterways. It has been observed that EXIM containers in India travel 700 to 1,000 kilometres between production centres and ports. The plan attempts to decrease it substantially by facilitating port-led industrialisation.

Three energy clusters to meet the future power requirements of the country have been planned in proposed Poompuhar CEZ in Tamil Nadu and North Konkan CEZ in Maharashtra.

Two refining clusters in proposed Mannar CEZ in Tamil Nadu, Soth Konkan CEZ in Maharashtra or in Poompuhar CEZ in Tamil Nadu.

The plan also proposes four petrochemical clusters in proposed CEZs to be built up in Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha and Tamil Nadu.

Furthermore, it aims to enhance steel and cement production by 40 MTPA each by 2025 by creating coastal capacity and thus reduce logistic cost by Rs 1,000 per ton and make domestic manufacturing more competitive.

As per an analysis, six discrete manufacturing sectors – food processing, automotive, electronics, apparel, leather products, footwear and furniture – will be set up. Separate industrial clusters are also proposed in the CEZs to be built in the coastal states of the country.

The proposed Coastal Economic Zones are named Kachch, Suryapur and Saurashtra in Gujarat, North Konkan and South Konkan in Maharashtra, Dakshin Kanara in Karnataka, Malabar in Kerela, Mannar, VCIC South and Poompuhar in Tamil Nadu, VCIC North and VCIC central in Andhra Pradesh, Kalinga in Odisha and Gaud in West Bengal.

The plan admits that there is a gap in demand and supply of skilled manpower to implement the project successfully in the coastal districts and required to be plugged using special skill development program. The Sagarmala Project proposes a massive  training drive among the people in the coastal regions to meet the requirement.

Sagarmala project aims to invest Rs 70,000 crore in facilitating economic growth by enhancing coastal shipping of goods.

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

NEC cries for funds as new project launch gets affected

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The North Eastern Council is facing acute shortage of funds, hampering implementation of several of its dream projects like setting up of educational institutes, skill development centres and sports academies.”We have so many dream projects to implement, but there is no money. Whatever little money we receive, it has over 99% utilisation. So, we need more money,” North Eastern Council (NEC) Secretary Ram Muivah said.Fund allocation to NEC substantially decreased after 9th Five Year Plan from 5.12% of the total outlays for the North East to 0.03% in the current fiscal, he added. “When NEC was established in 1972, the first year’s fund allocation was Rs 500 crore, which was a big amount then. However, it has increased to just Rs 950 crore in 2016-17.Out of that, Rs 150 crore directly goes to North-East Road Sector Development Scheme (NERSDS),” Muivah said.Besides, every year NEC gives Rs 3 crore to Border Roads Organisation, Rs 47 crore to Alliance Air as Viability Gap Funding for operating flights in loss making routes and Rs 100 crore to North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project for sustainable livelihood programme, he added. “So practically, we are left with only Rs 600 crore in this fiscal. Out of this amount, around 70% goes to ongoing projects or to clear liabilities, which currently stands at Rs 2,100 crore,” he said.That means, only 30% of Rs 600 crore is left for new projects and this amount needs to be divided between eight states,” Muivah added. NEC has nine different sectors under it to work upon, but has not been able to take up any important new project only due to lack of funds, he added. Muivah informed that the North East-specific organisation wants to set up a number of educational centres as per global standards, including an international institute of mass communication and a school of architecture and planning, along with an institute of music, art and theatre.”Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland do not have any medical college. These states have only around 350 doctors each. We want to develop medical colleges there. We also want to develop an iconic skill development centre in North East,” he added. The Secretary said NEC has plans to start a football academy in Nagaland, besides setting up a road research institute in North East as roads in almost all states are washed away every year.He said there are plans to upgrade small airports of the region with Airports Authority of India, implement a mega tourism project and set up convention centres.”However, we are not able to start anything significant. Against such low budgetary allocations, the actual allocations were further reduced.” The actual allocations for the 12th Five Year Plan was only Rs 3,622 crore, which is just 59% of the approved outlay of Rs 6,108 crore, Muivah said..On the other hand, the demand of the constituent states of NEC is on an average Rs 4,800 crore annually. Muivah expressed apprehension that NEC will fall short of serving any meaningful purpose unless “this negative approach is changed”. “We reiterated fund concerns at the 65th NEC Plenary Session this year attended by the Prime Minister.There is a large gap between the resources made available and aspirations of the states.Without a quantum jump in allocation, it will be difficult for NEC to provide funds for core areas and large projects with inter-state or regional character,” Muivah said.

Newborn trafficking racket: CID officials recover skeletons, bones of infants during search

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Yet another startling revelation came to light in the newborn trafficking racket on Friday morning, when CID officials recovered skeletons and bones of infants from the compound of an NGO.CID officials had carried out a raid along with one of the prime accused in the trafficking case, Utpala Byapari which lead them to the compound of the Sujit Dutta Memorial Welfare Trust, an NGO in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district that facilitated the selling of infants.Officials dug the soil of the NGO’s compound and found the skeletons and bones of infants. Sources in the CID reveal that the NGO would sell the newborn to childless couples. They would, however, bury stillborn babies on the compound premises itself.”So far we have found bones and skeletons from this particular compound. We are going to carry out more such searches in the next couple of days,” said a senior official of CID.Investigators recovered as many as 10 infants from an old age home in Thakurpukur in connection with existing racket in a midnight raid on Thursday. Acting on a tip-off, CID officials raided an old age home-cum-asylum for the elderly, Purbasha Centre where they found the 10 infants. All the infants rescued from the centre are aged between one to 10 months. The accused had abandoned the infants at this centre and fled. The infants were shifted to this home by one of the main accused of the racket, who is at large.Meanwhile, the police have moved the rescued infants to safety and shifted them to the ESI hospital for treatment.The CID made the 14th arrest in connection with the trafficking racket. The police arrested Reena Banerjee, who was closely associated with the NGO. Investigators reveal that this is one of the biggest rackets existing in eastern India.The racket was uncovered on Tuesday when CID officials raided a nursing home in Baduria in North 24 Parganas district and rescued two infants who were found wrapped in cotton inside a biscuit carton.

Narendra Modi’s survey: Those who played fastest fingers first aren’t the ones suffering

The Narendra Modi government is really cute. It first announces a new game of football, makes it own rules, changes them several times in the middle of the game, asks every player to shoot the ball in the same goal and then announces it won 9-1. Congratulations!

The government can, of course, celebrate the results of the feedback on the demonetisation AAP. The results, the government claims, 90 per cent people are in favour of the ban on use of Rs 500 and 1000 currency notes.

In the history of democracy, nobody other than the North Korean government would have enjoyed better ratings.

But, if I were the government, what would really worry me is this: If the ground and rules were mine and everyone was playing for the same team, running towards the same goal, who scored that one goal against Team demonetization? When, like the North Korean elections, it had no room for dissent, who voted against it?

Questions on the Narendra Modi surveyQuestions on the Narendra Modi survey

Questions on the Narendra Modi survey

The prime minister’s App and its questions were actually similar to a famous advertisement of a pressure cooker. Jo biwi se suchmuch kare pyaar, woh Prestige se kare inkaar! His entire questionnaire was based on a similar argument: Jo desh se sachmuch kare pyaar, woh demonisation se kaise kare inkaar!

Do you think black money exists in India? Of course it does, not just in India but all across the globe.
Do you think the evil of corruption and black money needs to be fought and eliminated? Of course every evil needs to be fought and eliminated.

The entire quiz, as a friend quipped, was like asking who is the best prime minister of India? a) Narendra Modi, b) Himesh Reshammiya, c) Narendra Modi or d) Anupam Kher.

Considering that the government wanted to hear only what’s music to its ears, it is really a surprise that the government bothered to ask ten questions. It could have just asked us all to chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and interpreted the response as our voice vote for demonetisation.

There are surveys and, well, there are surveys. We know what the prime minister said at a Delhi rally when opinion polls predicted a BJP defeat in the Delhi elections. But, since this one suits the government, let it enjoy the voices in its echo chamber.

Outside, of course, the demonetisation experiment is being panned as a policy quirk that could ruin the Indian economy and the lives of millions of people. Experts across the globe are predicting that it will derail the GDP, lead to enormous hardships and loss of livelihood for millions in the Indian unorganised sector. It has been pointed out that the plan will not address any of its stated objectives–wiping out black money, ending corruption, terror funding or use of counterfeit currency.

The experiment has Robert Mugabe written all over it. (You can read it herehere and here, in fact everywhere.)

And, for argument’s sake, even if the premise behind the demonetisation drive were logical and rational, the implementation has been a disaster. It has brought the entire country on the road, made everybody fall in line and lead to loss of lives, trade and jobs.

Every bank is out of currency. ATMs have become dry. Withdrawals through cheques are limited to Rs 2000. Traders and farmers are destroying perishable commodities because there are no buyers. From midnight (25 November), petrol pumps and medicine shops too will stop accepting cash. There are fears that wheels of the Indian economy will come to a grinding halt once transporters run out of cash to refuel.

Almost every Indian in a country of 125 crore is suffering. But, if the government thinks it has pulled off a miracle just because a few lakh Indians found enough time to get out of queues outside banks and ATMs and play fastest finger first, good luck to Modi ji and India.

Even Indira Gandhi was convinced Emergency was good for the grateful country would give her bumper votes for making their lives miserable.

Since this is the season of asking questions, here are two from me: Did Dharmendra Kumar of Tindwari village in Banda district respond to the prime minister’s questionnaire? Last heard, he was at his three-year-old daughter’s funeral who died after he failed to get money for her treatment in spite of queuing up for a few days.

Ghar main beti bimaar hai par paise nahin hai!

Now, here’s a quuestion for you:

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 13:21 IST

Man rapes 3-yr-old neighbour, leaves her in a pit for dead

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 35-year-old man raped the three-and-a-half-year-old daughter of his neighbour on Monday and dumped her in a ditch, taking her to be dead. The girl was rescued nine hours after the horrific incident, and the accused, identified as Birbal, was arrested from his home.The incident took place in the Harijan Basti locality of north Delhi. The victim is undergoing treatment at a city hospital, and her condition is reported to be stable.Around 9pm on Monday, the Police Control Room (PCR) received a call regarding kidnapping of a minor girl. A police team reached the location, where the father of the victim informed them that the child was playing outside their home before she went missing. She was last seen at 7pm.A case of kidnapping was registered and the police swung into action to find the child. A team including Assistant Sub-Inspector Naseeb Singh, and Constables Jaideep and Pradeep was formed to handle the sensitive matter.Locals in the area were questioned, who revealed that they had seen the girl playing.The elder sister of the victim then told the police that she had seen someone giving her a chocolate. On the basis of this input, the police started their inquiry. It then came to the fore that someone had seen a man, who lived in the same building as the victim, with her. Accused Birbal had worked with the victim’s father as well.Birbal was picked up from his home after midnight. “He was in an inebriated condition and could not even speak or stand properly. He denied that he was with the victim. Finally early on Tuesday morning, he regained consciousness and confessed that he had raped and killed the child,” a police officer said.Based on the information provided by the accused, the police started looking for the girl near the Sarai Rohilla railway station. After searching for almost an hour, they spotted her in a pit near the tracks. “The girl was numb and had no clothes on her body. We were shocked to see her,” said the landlord of the victim’s house. The only sign of life she showed was when she started crying on seeing her mother. She was immediately rushed to the Bara Hindu Rao Hospital.”A case under section 363 (kidnapping), 307 (attempt to murder), 376 (rape) and relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act has been registered at the Sarai Rohilla police station. Further investigation is underway,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), North, Madhur Verma.

Bypolls takeaway: PM Modi emerges stronger from demonetisation purge

Conducted 10 days after the demonetisation drive and held across six states and one Union Territory, the bypolls were seen largely as a referendum on Prime Minister’s daring move. The results succinctly explain the high frustration levels of opposition parties who seem at their wits’ end to stop the Narendra Modi juggernaut.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. APPrime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

Some of the outcomes for 14 seats (four parliamentary and 10 Assembly) are still being updated but enough information has already emerged to draw the outline of the story.

And the story is that BJP continues to be a party on the rise. If the by-elections were a gauge of public mood on demonetisation, it seems to be firmly behind the party. And if the polls were a personal test for Modi, he has started on the right note.

In BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, the party retained Shahdol Lok Sabha and Nepanagar Assembly seats at the cost of Congress. According to news agency PTI, BJP’s Gyan Singh defeated Congress candidate Himadri Singh of Congress in Shahdol by a margin of over 60,000 votes. In the Nepanagar Assembly seat, BJP’s Manju Dadu defeated Congress rival Antar Singh Barde by a margin of 42,198 votes. The Shahdol Parliamentary seat fell vacant after the death of BJP’s Dalpat Singh Paraste.
In Assam, another BJP-ruled state, the party bagged both the Lok Sabha and Assembly seats. According to PTI, Pradan Barua retained the Lakhaimpur LS seat, defeating Congress’s Hema Prasanga Pegu by a massive 1,90,219 votes. The seat was vacated by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. BJP’s Mansing Rongpi, who had deserted the Congress in July, won the Baithalangso Assembly seat beating nearest Congress rival Ruponsing Ronghang by 16,600 votes.

In Arunachal Pradesh, BJP-backed Dasingu Pul, wife of former chief minister Kalikho Pul who committed suicide in August, won the Anjaw assembly seat by 944 votes beating Independent candidate Yompi Kri.

In Tripura, the CPIM-led Left Front retained one seat and wrested another from the Congress. CPM’s Biswajit Datta defeated TMC’s Manoj Das by 16,094 votes in Khowai while in Barjala, CPM youth leader Jhumu Sarkar defeated BJP’s Shista Mohan Das by 3,374 Votes.

In West Bengal, Trinamool Congress retained the Tamluk and Cooch Behar Lok Sabha and Monteshwar Assembly seats by huge margins, prompting Mamata Banerjee to say that the results were “a revolt against demonetisation”.
The Bengal CM’s comments are a stretch because if we look at the vote swing, as psephologist and CVoter founder Yashwant Deshmukh demonstrated on Twitter, the BJP with 21 percent votes has registered a positive swing of 10 percent relegating CPM, who suffered a massive downswing of 21 percent, to a miserable third place. Notwithstanding Mamata‘s bluster, BJP seems to have gained in Bengal.

But the story of the day came from North-East, where the BJP officially replaced the Congress as the dominant national force. Even as Tripura became Congress-mukt, despite failing to register a win the BJP gained a massive footprint with 20 percent positive swing.

BJP’s North-East conquest had started with a win in Assam where it unseated the Tarun Gogoi government and kingmaker Himanta Biswa Sarma showed he has not lost his touch. Lotus is blooming in both Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

The BJP has not only taken in its stride a hugely disruptive socio-economic step, it seems to have blossomed in spite of the inconveniences and hardships that have been unleashed due to the currency ban. That points to a deep-seated trust between the electorate and Modi, who had positioned the insanely risky manoeuvre as a morality test against corruption.

The result will relieve the PM. If a poll that took place within the most disruptive period brings such heartening results for BJP, Modi would be well within his rights to hope for a better political dividend in the long run.

The results proved that the lotus is now a truly pan-Indian force and enjoys the kind of momentum the Congress once did at the height of its popularity. The BJP is breaking new grounds, creating footprints where none existed and consolidating position where it had the advantage.

Democracy isn’t instant coffee, however. It would be churlish to interpret bypoll results solely through the prism of demonetisation.

The forces that worked behind BJP’s stunning rise are still at work. What should simultaneously please the party and worry its opponents is that Modi has hit such a sweet spot, he can afford to take even more risks. Economist Jean Dreze, a known critic of Narendra Modi, has slammed demonetisation as shooting a bullet at the tyres of a booming economy. If the PM manages to steer the economy to a path of growth and reap political dividends even with a flat tyre, the opposition will be left chasing his shadow.

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 19:42 IST

Islamic State losing ground but still a threat: analysts

Paris: The Islamic State group has been eroded by international efforts to crush the jihadist group but its ability to mount devastating attacks on the West remains very real, defence and security experts say.

As France prepares to mark the first anniversary of the Paris attacks by the group on 13 November, analysts say military defeats in its strongholds in Iraq and Syria will almost certainly not make its Western targets any safer.

“Depriving ISIS of control over population centres and sanctuary to raise funds and train fighters, and breaking it up as key organisation, matters,” said Anthony Cordesman of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), using another name for the group.

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters drive vehicles at the front line during a battle with Islamic State militants. ReutersKurdish Peshmerga fighters drive vehicles at the front line during a battle with Islamic State militants. Reuters

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters drive vehicles at the front line during a battle with Islamic State militants. Reuters

“Defeating it in any practical sense, however, will not begin to deal with the lasting threat,” he added.

It was in June 2014 that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghadi proclaimed the creation of a caliphate in land the group had seized in Iraq and Syria and urged Muslims who shared the group’s vision to join them.

Thousands of foreigners answered his call, among them several French and Belgian men who would go on to slaughter 130 people in a Paris concert hall and at bars and restaurants.

The bloodshed in Paris contributed to strengthening the resolve of the West to fight IS.

A year on, Iraqi forces backed by the air power of the United States and countries including France are locked in fierce fighting to re-take Iraq’s second city of Mosul from the jihadist group.

On Sunday, a US-backed Kurdish and Arab force said it had begun an assault on the city of Raqqa, IS’s stronghold in Syria.

Recruits drying up

These military efforts have led to a sharp reduction in the number of foreigners making the trek to join IS forces in Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon says from 2,000 a month in early 2015, the figure is now just 200.

Tighter controls on the Turkish border — the main gateway to Syria — and improved surveillance by European intelligence have also helped stem the flow of foreign recruits.

The military onslaught on IS has also slowed the production of the slick, blood-drenched propaganda which has played a prominent role in attracting recruits.

The number of articles or videos posted online by the jihadists’ official media outlets dropped by 70 percent, from 700 items in August 2015 to 200 a year later, according to a report by the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at the elite US West Point military academy.

The author of the report, Daniel Milton, said while IS’s main selling point was the creation of its self-proclaimed caliphate, it was now “struggling to maintain the appearance of a functioning state”.

Most experts agree, however, that crushing IS’s hopes of establishing the caliphate will not diminish its ability to launch attacks against the West.

‘Powerful magnet’

“In the minds of supporters in the US, EU, North Africa, and elsewhere, the appeal of the Islamic State has not dissipated with its territorial losses. For some, the group remains a powerful magnet that attracts violence and a sense of belonging,” the US-based Soufan security analysis group said recently.

It is possible that the group’s losses in Mosul and elsewhere “could lead to an increase in external support, and a corresponding increase in the threat of terrorism around the world,” it added.

While IS may now find it harder to launch complex operations such as the Paris attacks, Western governments fear an increase in attacks by individuals who are merely inspired by the group.

“We are probably in a phase with fewer spectacular operations but more individual acts, with inspiration coming through from the Internet,” said Didier Le Bret, who was France’s national intelligence coordinator until September this year.

French authorities, for example, suspect a French-born IS propagandist, Rachid Kassim, guided an attack in July in which an elderly priest was murdered. Kassim, who is thought to be based in Syria, used the encrypted message system Telegram.

Another growing threat is the return of foreign fighters to their countries of origin as IS’s territory shrinks.

Joby Warrick, the American journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize this year for his book Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, believes 40,000 foreigners have gone to Iraq and Syria to fight.

He told AFP some will come home and try to resume normal lives. “Others will be, perhaps, these Trojan horse-type figures, ones that will be interested in carrying out terrorist attacks,” he said.

The challenge for law enforcement and for intelligence agencies would be “to separate those that have terrorist ambitions from the ones who just want to get on with regular lives, and perhaps be helpful, in the sense that they can counter the ISIS message,” Warrick said.

Le Bret meanwhile said regardless of its military defeats “IS retains its main strength — weakening our society from the inside”.

The group has proven adept at exploiting social divisions in France, where both the Paris attacks and the assault on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 hardened attitudes in some quarters towards the Muslim community.

And the jihadists have also sought to destabilise North African countries such as Tunisia, believing that weakening their economies is the best way to create new supporters.

Delhi: Four-storey building collapses in Azad Market, one killed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One person was killed after a four-storey building in Delhi’s Azad Market collapsed on Friday evening. A mother and a daughter were pulled out of the debris, however, the mother was declared brought dead by the hospital while her daughter is recuperating in the hospital. “Two were taken out from debris, a mother & daughter. Mother was declared brought dead in hospital, daughter rescued safe. There are no more people trapped under the debris, but the search operation is still on. NDRF also called in,” said DCP North Madhur Verma.

U.S. acts to block North Korea access to financial system | Reuters

U.S. acts to block North Korea access to financial system | Reuters

Updated: Nov 4, 2016 20:05 IST

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WASHINGTON The United States on Friday formally prohibited U.S. financial institutions from opening or maintaining accounts created on behalf of North Korean banks, extending sanctions imposed on the isolated Asian country over its nuclear and missile programs.The U.S. Treasury Department said North Korea was using front companies and agents to conduct illicit financial transactions to support the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to evade international sanctions.“Such funds have no place in any reputable financial system,” Adam Szubin, the department’s acting under secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence said in a statement.It said that while U.S. law already generally prohibited transactions with North Korean financial institutions, the move would support international sanctions and better protect the U.S. financial system from illicit North Korean activity. 

A Treasury Department order requires U.S. financial institutions “to apply additional due diligence measures to prevent North Korean financial institutions from gaining improper indirect access to U.S. correspondent accounts.” The move comes after the Treasury in June declared North Korea a “primary money laundering concern” and proposed the steps to further block its ability to use the U.S. and world financial systems to fund its weapons programs.

Friday’s announcement comes as the United States is pushing for tougher United Nations sanctions against North Korea after its latest nuclear test on Sept. 9.China’s support is crucial for the sanctions to be effective but Beijing has appeared to push back on U.S. efforts to tighten restrictions on North Korean exports.

Beijing expressed concern when the U.S. Treasury plans were announced in June, saying it opposed any country using its domestic laws to impose unilateral sanctions on another country. (Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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

Kali Puja celebrated in West Bengal with pomp and fervour

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kali Puja was celebrated in West Bengal with pomp and religious fervour amid tight security a day ahead of Diwali.A large number of devotees visited Kalighat, Dakshineswar and Adyapeeth Kali temples in and around the city to offer prayers to the goddess on the auspicious day. Devotees had to stand in long queues at the Tarapith temple in Birbhum district to offer puja.Among other places, Kali puja was also held at Thanthania Kali Temple in North Kolkata, Lake Kali Temple in South Kolkata and Firinghee Kali Temple in Central Kolkata. Like in 2015, Kali puja was also held at the residence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Many important personalities, officials and other dignitaries attended the Kali puja and met the Chief Minister to exchange greetings.Stating that the festivals display colours of humanity, culture and civilisation, Banerjee in a message earlier had urged all to maintain communal harmony especially during the festive days of Diwali and Kali puja. Many community pujas at Barasat and Naihati in North 24-Parganas district were major attraction among people.West Bengal Fire Services Minister and City Mayor Sovan Chatterjee said that all arrangements have been made by his department to prevent any untoward incident during the festival. “So far the celebration is peaceful and without any incident,” Chatterjee said.

UP polls: How Narendra Modi outwitted Samajwadi Party, Congress with his firm stand against triple talaq

Among other things, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at Mahoba, Bundelkhand three days ago showed that his felicity for springing uncanny surprises remains intact. While on the surface, it was just another campaign speech, scratching the surface reveals just how consummately he has set the cat among the pigeons.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Amid criticism that after becoming PM, Modi had become extra-cautious on contentious issues, his stringent criticism of triple talaq in the communal cauldron of Uttar Pradesh certainly hit like a bolt from the sky.

But before we proceed, let’s recall an interesting tidbit from the Constituent Assembly Debates:

The only province the Civil Law has not been able to invade so far is Marriage and Succession. It is this little corner which we have not been able to invade so far and it is the intention of those who desire to have article 35 as part of the Constitution to bring about that change. Therefore, the argument whether we should attempt such a thing seems to me somewhat misplaced for…we have…covered the whole lot of the field which is covered by a uniform Civil Code…It is…too late now to ask the question whether we could do it. As I say, we have already done it…members who put forth these amendments say that the Muslim personal law, so far as this country was concerned, was immutable and uniform through the whole of India. Now I wish to challenge that statement. I think most of my friends who have spoken on this amendment have quite forgotten that up to 1935 the North-West Frontier Province was not subject to the Shariat Law. It followed the Hindu Law in the matter of succession and in other matters, so much so that it was in 1939 that the Central Legislature had to come into the field and to abrogate the application of the Hindu Law to the Muslims of the…Province and to apply the ShariatLaw to them. That is not all.

My honourable friends have forgotten, that, apart from the North-West Frontier Province, up till 1937 in the rest of India…[in] the United Provinces,the Central Provinces and Bombay, the Muslims to a large extent were governed by the Hindu Law in the matter of succession. In order to bring them on the plane of uniformity with regard to the other Muslims who observed theShariat Law, the Legislature had to intervene in 1937 and to pass an enactment applying the Shariat Law to the rest ofIndia…in North Malabar the Marumakkathayam Law applied to all-not only to Hindus but also to Muslims…the Marumakkathayam Law is a Matriarchalform of law…It is…no use making a categorical statement that the Muslim law has been an immutable law which they have been following from ancient times. That law as such was not applicable in certain parts and it has been made applicable ten years ago…if it was found necessary that for the purpose of evolving a single civil code applicable to all citizens irrespective of their religion, certain portions of the Hindus, law, not because they were contained in Hindu law but because they were found to be the most suitable, were incorporated into the new civil code projected by article 35, I am quite certain that it would not be open to any Muslim to say that the framers of the civil code had done great violence to the sentiments of the Muslim community.

My second observation is to give them an assurance. I quite realise their feelings in the matter, but I think they have read rather too much into article 35, which merely proposes that the State shall endeavour to secure a civil code for the citizens of the country. It does not say that after the Code is framed the State shall enforce it upon citizens merely because they are citizens.

That was BR Ambedkar’s response to the debate on 23 November 1948 to Muslim representatives, Hussain Imam, Pocker Sahib, Mahboob Ali Baig, and Naziruddin Ahmad who insisted on retaining the Muslim Personal Law in Article 35. In today’s Constitution, this is Article 44, an albatross that has led to avoidable, national misfortune on a huge scale.

On the same day, here’s what Congress stalwart KM Munshi said on the issue:

I want my Muslim friends to realize… that the sooner we forget this isolationist outlook on life, it will be better for the country. Religion must be restricted to spheres which legitimately appertain to religion, and the rest of life must be regulated, unified…[so] that we may evolve, as early as possible a strong and consolidated nation. Our first problem and the most important problem is to produce national unity in this country. From that point of view alone… the opposition is not… very well advised. I hope our friends will not feel that this is an attempt to exercise tyranny over a minority; it is much more tyrannous to the majority.

As we notice, the demand for separate Muslim Personal Law is quite old and the history of the vicissitudes that the Sharia Law passed through in India has been largely suppressed. Both Ambedkar and Munshi stressed the need for a Uniform Civil Code primarily from a perspective of forging and preserving national unity and integrity, a prime ingredient of which is social harmony.

As it unfolded over the next 60-odd years, Munshi’s own party in its later deformed state worked zealously to ensure that Uniform Civil Code was kept in a state of permanent limbo to serve Muslim vote bank interests, to state the obvious. And once a bad precedent is allowed to fester, it grows to unmanageable proportions, which is what has occurred even in this case. And keeping it in limbo has ensured that it continues to remain a political hot potato, cynically exploitable.

But the consequence has been predictable: at the least, there are countless separatist forces operating within India in every sphere even as we speak.When this sort of bad precedent is set in one sphere, why not find a similar precedent elsewhere and use it similarly?

One of the core elements in the opposition to Uniform Civil Code — as Ambedkar and others note — relates to marriage. In other words, to the status, plight, and reform of Muslim women.

And by directly invoking this core element with his stinging criticism of triple talaqs responsible for “destroying the lives of our Muslim sisters and daughters,”Narendra Modi has indirectly set the frame of debate regarding UCC. This is in sharp contrast to the poorly thought-out approach of the previous NDA regime, which expectedly bombed.

Several key threads emerge from Modi’s speech.

First, he has in a manner, set the terms of the Uttar Pradesh campaign at the level of discourse than on a plank of hollow political rhetoric and oratorical flushes. This is reminiscent of how he set the terms of the debate during his prime ministerial campaign by defining secularism in two words: “India first.”

Second, by also warning the Hindu community that those who abort (female) fetuses would be “behind bars,” he has preemptively neutralized his militant secular critics, a large section of which comprises feminists.

Third, and related to the second, his equally severe condemnation of the triple talaq contains echoes of the aspirations of the founding fathers of our Constitution quoted earlier.

Fourth, his condemnation of triple talaq, too, rests on the edifice of a democratic debate: instead of approaching it from a confrontationist view, he gives a call to Islamic scholars and clerics to arrive at a consensus after a healthy debate based on what the Koran etc says.

Lastly, his candid appeal to the media anchors and talking heads to refrain from framing this issue as a Hindu versus Muslim or BJP versus other political parties but rather as one centered on reform of Muslim women is a subtle hint at how he perceives these debating eminences.

Indeed, as this Firstpost piece shows, Modi’s speech has evoked support from Muslim women fighting against discriminatory practices like the triple talaq. For a firsthand account of the plight that Muslim women face due to such practices, one can read this recent and rather chilling report.

On the political front, this has immense potential to cause severe anxiety mainly to the Samajwadi Party, already reeling under a family feud with no apparent end in sight. Used to winning elections by pandering to the worst elements of the Muslim community — like that minister who offered Rs 51 crore to anyone who murdered the Danish cartoonists — Modi’s appeal for the upliftment of Muslims on the grounds of education and reform isn’t a script the SP is used to. The less said about the Congress party the better.

But what’s undeniable is the fact that at the moment, Modi seems to have unleashed a potential game changer at Bundelkhand, not just on the electoral front but at multiple levels.

Burari stalking incident: Police refusing to share documents DCW, says Swati Maliwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Police has refused to share the documents regarding the stabbing of a 21-year-old woman by a stalker in public, with the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), the panel chief Swati Maliwal has claimed. The woman, who was a teacher, was stabbed to death last month by her 34-year-old stalker, who attacked her nearly 22 times as passersby looked on in north Delhi’s Burari area.The deceased’s family had alleged that the woman had lodged a complaint with Police in May against the stalker but no action was taken. DCW had then issued notice to police to provide it the copy of woman’s complaint and FIR registered in the said incident of murder.”The response received from DCP, North District says that the sought documents cannot be shared with the commission as the same may hamper investigation. This is, needless to say, a baseless assumption. The copy of complaints and copy of FIR are routinely filed and used in court cases. It is unfathomable that it can be denied to a statutory body pursuing the case in discharge of its statutory mandate,” Maliwal said.The commission on Saturday issued summon to Virender Singh, Joint Commissioner of Police, Central Range, to appear before the panel on October 27 and submit the required documents besides explaining the cause of delay.

Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India: Algeria

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amidst escalating Indo-Pak tension over Pakistan’s continuing support to cross border terror, Algeria has unequivocally conveyed that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and terrorism in all forms have to be eradicated.Algeria has conveyed this to Vice President Hamid Ansari during his two-day visit to the North African country.During the bilateral talks, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal told the Vice President that his country fully supports India’s position on Jammu and Kashmir, a senior official accompanying Ansari said.However, Pakistan’s name was directly not taken by either side.New Delhi has always been maintaining that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and blames Pakistan for sponsoring cross border terrorism in the border state.In an on board briefing, the Vice President said that during his five-day two-nation tour, the issue of terrorism was discussed with the top leaderships of both Algeria and Hungary.Asked whether the issue of a third country’s support to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir was figured in the bilateral talks with the two countries, Ansari said, “Everyone knows which one is the third country. Obvious is obvious. No need to take any country’s name.”The Vice President said that in his discussions with Hungary and Algerian leaderships, menace of terrorism was discussed and their view was that it is a disease for the entire world and it has to be eradicated in all forms and manifestations. Ansari said that Algeria had faced terrorism in the past and it was ended after years of efforts and at a great cost of hundreds of thousands of lives. “There was not a single family who did not lose any of its member due to terror in Algeria,” he said.The Vice President’s visit to the two countries came after a long gap – the last political visit to Hungary was of the then President Shankar Dayal Sharma’s in 1993 while a senior political functionary had visited Algeria in 1985. “Political visits to the two countries were lacking and the trip was undertaken to reconnect the old ties. There were substantive discussions on various issues. It was a very satisfactory visit,” he told reporters accompanying him.Ansari said that two agreements, including one on water management, were signed with Hungary while there was a key meeting on the possibility of setting up a joint venture fertilisers plant by Algeria and India in the north African country.The meeting was held between Minister of State for Fertilisers and Chemicals Mansukh L Mandaviya, who was accompanying Ansari, and Algerian Minister of Industry and Mining Abdessalem Bouchouareb.If the discussions lead to setting up of a joint venture mega fertiliser company in Algeria, the price of fertiliser in India is expected to come down along with the subsidy burden of the government with regard to fertiliser. “The fertiliser plant is linked to our efforts for food security,” Ansari said.The Vice President said there was substantive discussions on future cooperation in the sectors like phosphate, fertilisers, defence and security, peaceful use of nuclear energy and space.During his discussions with Hungary’s President Janos Ader, Prime Minister Viktor Orban and other top leadership, both the countries favoured elimination of the menace of terrorism and sought a strong global legal framework and sustained global action to deal with the threat.The Hungarian Prime Minister had said his country has set up a working group on technology to explore the possibilities of bilateral cooperation in various issues, including defence production for mutual benefits.During his two-day visit to Algeria, Ansari had wide ranging discussions with Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Prime Minister Sellal and Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra and stressed on taking the India-Algeria ties to a new level and how to “rejuvenate” the bilateral relations, officials said.

India doubts Pakistan’s intention to fight terrorism, says Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Addressing a ‘Regional Editors Conference’ Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that if Pakistan is serious about fighting terror, then India is ready to help them eradicate it, but added that he had doubts about Islamabad’s intention to fight terrorism mushrooming in its own backyard.”Pakistan has forgotten the difference between terrorists and freedom fighters. Terrorism in India is mostly sponsored from across the border…If Pakistan is serious about fighting terror then we are ready to help them eradicate terror, but their intention is not that,” Singh said, referring clearly to the September 18 Uri terror attack.”Cyber crime is also a major challenge and we are working towards tackling it, as the National Security Council has taken it up,” he addedTo safeguard against cross-border terror, Singh asserted that the international border with Pakistan will be sealed by December 2018.”We have also strengthened India’s coastal security post the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. Our security agencies are better prepared today. We have (also) stepped up vigil in the North Eastern region alongside the international borders with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar,” he added.

Oil majors experiment with technology to weather crisis | Reuters

By Karolin Schaps and Jessica Jaganathan
| LONDON/OSLO

LONDON/OSLO Oil majors including Statoil, Shell and Chevron are experimenting with various technologies, from drones and drill design to data management, to drive down costs and weather a deep downturn. Crude prices have more than halved since mid-2014, forcing companies to cut billions of dollars in costs. Determined to shield dividends and preserve the infrastructure that will allow them to compete and grow if the market recovers, they are increasingly looking to smarter tech and design to make savings. French oil and gas major Total said it was now using drones to carry out detailed inspections on some of its oil fields following a trial at one of its Elgin/Franklin platforms in the North Sea. Cyberhawk, the drone company that led the trial, said this kind of work was previously carried out by engineers who suspended themselves from ropes at dizzying heights. It said the manned inspection used to take seven separate two-week trips with a 12-man team that had to be flown in and accommodated on site.The drones do the work in two days and at about a tenth of the cost, according to the Britain-based firm’s founder Malcolm Connolly, who said it had also worked with ExxonMobil, Shell, ConocoPhillips and BP. Total declined to comment on how long the manned or drone inspections took, or specify how much money was saved.Statoil’s giant Johan Sverdrup field, the largest North Sea oil find in three decades which is due to start production in 2019, is a leading industry case study for cutting costs in the era of cheap oil.The Norwegian company has cut its development costs for the first stage of the project by a fifth compared with estimates given in early 2015, to 99 billion crowns ($12.2 billion). The savings have largely been made by focusing on the most efficient technology and designs from the beginning, Statoil’s head of technology Margareth Oevrum told Reuters in an interview. Executives say the growing attention on technologies that have been around for some time shows how wasteful the global industry had been in the years before the downturn when – with crude at above $100 a barrel delivering bumper profits – oil companies’ had little incentive to develop fields efficiently.For example, simply finding a more efficient route for the oil pipeline that would carry the crude from the Sverdrup field to the onshore refinery cut 1 billion crowns, Statoil said.ROBOTS, FOAM

Statoil has also developed a drilling “template” that is acting as a guide for the first eight wells to be drilled at the field. It said it had reduced the overall drilling time by more than 50 days, saving about 150 million crowns per production well compared with what it would have cost with 2013 techniques.”By far the biggest driver (of savings) has been simplification,” said Oevrum. “To think much simpler and start from the bottom, or the bare bone, and then rather add to that, instead of starting very big.”The company could not give a figure for its group savings made from improved technology and design. But it said that, partly because of such innovations, projects set to start production by 2022 would be able to make a profit with an oil price at $41 a barrel, down from $70 in 2013. Global upstream – exploration and production – oil and gas spending has fallen by more than $300 billion across the industry in 2015-16, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), roughly equivalent to the annual GDP of South Africa. Around two-thirds comes from cost cuts, rather than cancelling or shelving projects, it said. Shell, for example, has developed a new type of pipe, called a steel lazy wave riser, to carry oil and gas from its deepwater Stones field in the Gulf of Mexico for processing. It bends to absorb the motion of the sea and the floating platform, which the company says boosts production at extreme depths. The Anglo-Dutch major could not say how much the pipes contributed to increased efficiency, but said innovations at Stones had played a significant part in cost savings of $1.8 billion in its projects and technology division last year – equivalent to the 2015 core profits in its upstream division.The fall in oil prices has led to the introduction of other new engineering and maintenance techniques.

Chevron is using a robotic device to clean and check the inside of pipelines on their Erskine field in the North Sea more quickly. The improvement has helped raise the field’s daily production rate to the highest in two years. Oil services firm Amec Foster Wheeler, working for BG Group which is now part of Shell, has applied a new technique to remove the pillars of an old platform, a procedure that is often dangerous because corroded elements can slip off. It pumped in expanding foam to hold the pillar’s elements together, allowing workers to safely cut the metal away. This work took just over seven weeks instead of the 22 weeks typically needed using traditional methods.Alex Brooks, oil and gas equity analyst at Canaccord Genuity, said tech innovation in the industry was about “100 tiny things”, adding: “The bottom line is you end up with a much lower cost.”The downturn has presented opportunities for some services firms that can offer cost-saving innovations. Inspection drone firm Cyberhawk, for instance, said its revenue from oil and gas had doubled from mid-2014 to mid-2016, while the wider inspection market had shrunk.

Graphic on industry investment: tmsnrt.rs/2cG4Dj9VAST DATA
Another way oil companies are looking to cut costs is by using their vast amounts of data to better predict their needs.Since the price slump, companies including Shell, ExxonMobil and Statoil have started using software that can better manage their data to cut wastage in the ordering of construction materials. Stuck with excess material, some companies suffered huge losses because the resale value was much lower and in some cases they even took to burying unwanted material, according to Intergraph, a unit of Swedish tech firm Hexagon that develops such systems for oil industry clients.”Previously, it was industry standard to order 3-5 percent more materials than needed, which in a billion-dollar project is a lot of money,” said Patrick Holcomb, executive vice president at Intergraph. Better managing data has helped oil firms understand exactly how much material is needed and when it will be delivered, cutting excess to one or two tenths of a percent, he added. Gunnar Presthus, Nordic energy lead at consultancy Accenture, who advises oil majors and national oil companies, said the downturn had led to the industry waking up to the potential of the data they store. “The oil industry, to some extent, is one of the most digitalised industries,” he said. “Companies are now able to use this wealth of data to make changes that will save money.”($1 = 8.0919 Norwegian crowns) (Additional reporting by Stine Jacobsen and Gwladys Fouche in Oslo; Writing by Karolin Schaps and Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Pravin Char)

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

Calcium supplements may damage your heart: study

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking calcium in the form of supplements may raise the risk of plaque buildup in arteries and heart damage, although a diet high in calcium-rich foods appears to be protective, scientists have found.After analysing 10 years of medical tests on more than 2,700 people, researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US, said the results add to growing scientific concerns about the potential harms of supplement. “Our study adds to the body of evidence that excess calcium in the form of supplements may harm the heart and vascular system,” said Erin Michos, from Johns Hopkins Medicine. Previous studies have shown that “ingested calcium supplements – particularly in older people – do not make it to the skeleton or get completely excreted in the urine, so they must be accumulating in the body’s soft tissues,” said nutritionist John Anderson, from University of North Carolina in the US. Scientists also knew that as a person ages, calcium-based plaque builds up in the body’s main blood vessel, the aorta and other arteries, impeding blood flow and increasing the risk of heart attack. The researchers looked at detailed information from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a long-running research project which included more than 6,000 people. The study focused on 2,742 of these participants who completed dietary questionnaires and two CT scans spanning 10 years apart. The participants chosen for this study ranged in age from 45 to 84, and 51 per cent were female. At the study’s onset in 2000, all participants answered a 120-part questionnaire about their dietary habits to determine how much calcium they took in by eating dairy products, leafy greens and calcium-enriched foods such as cereals. For the analysis, the researchers first split the participants into five groups based on their total calcium intake, including both calcium supplements and dietary calcium. After adjusting the data for age, sex, race, exercise, smoking, income, education, weight, smoking, drinking, blood pressure, blood sugar and family medical history, researchers separated out 20 per cent of participants with the highest total calcium intake, which was greater than 1,400 milligrammes of calcium a day. That group was found to be on average 27% less likely than the 20% of participants with the lowest calcium intake – less than 400 milligrammes of daily calcium – to develop heart disease, as indicated by their coronary artery calcium test. The research was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Tamil Nadu: Governor allocates portfolios held by Jayalalithaa to O Paneerselvam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Jayalalithaa continuing to remain in hospital since September 22, Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao on Tuesday allocated the portfolios held by her to Finance Minister O Paneerselvam but said the AIADMK supremo will continue to be the Chief Minister.”Under Clause (3) of Article 166 of the Constitution of India, the Governor of Tamil Nadu allocated the subjects hitherto dealt by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa to O Paneerselvam,” a Raj Bhavan press release said.Paneerselvam, who holds the Administrative reforms portfolio, in addition to Finance, “will also preside over cabinet meetings”, it said.”This arrangement has been made as per the advice of the Chief Minister and will continue until the Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa resumes her duties,” it said.”Jayalalithaa will continue to be the Chief Minister,” the release added.Jayalalithaa (68), was admitted to Apollo hospital on September 22 after she complained of fever and dehydration.on Tuesday, the hospital said she continued to be under treatment and was being constantly monitored by intensivists and other consultants in the expert panel, while respiratory support, antibiotics, nutrition, supportive therapy and passive physiotherapy were being given to her.Meanwhile, Opposition DMK welcomed Governor Rao allocating portfolios to Finance Minister O Panneerselvam, saying the move would augur well for the state’s administration.”As the Opposition Leader, I welcome this action taken by the Governor in the interest of the administrative welfare of the state,” DMK Treasurer M K Stalin said.He pointed out that the decision had been taken as per the advice of the Chief Minister herself and said Tamil Nadu was “surrounded’ by inter-state water rows like Cauvery and Mullaperiyar.While the Cauvery issue, involving Karnataka, was coming up before the Supreme Court on October 17, the North East Monsoon was due to set in soon and at such a time there has to be “a responsible cabinet to discuss such administrative issues”, he said in a statement.”Such a cabinet needs a head. Only then can decision on issues pertaining to the state’s welfare can be taken,” Stalin added.He recalled that DMK had earlier demanded that the government name an interim or Deputy Chief Minister to effectively handle issues like the Cauvery dispute, till the time Jayalalithaa returned and resumed work.

This festival season city may be dotted with garbage

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With sanitation workers threatening another indefinite strike if their long standing demand for arrears, the city may once again resemble a garbage dump.The workers have declared one-day strike on October 20, but, they have also laid a condition that if their demands are not met they may extend their strike.The declaration of strike by the municipal corporation workers has brought back the ugly memories of the last year’s strikes, when the city had come to a standstill. The strike had then affected schools, hospitals and had also led to a ripple effect on sanitation, leading to accumulation of over 20,000 tons of garbage on the streets of the national capital. The worst areas affected by it were North and East Delhi.”Our workers have been struggling to meet their ends meet, whereas the government and the municipal corporation, both have not payed heed to our greviences. None of our employees have been made permanent and our arrears which have been pending for more than 10 years, continue to remain unpaid. To seek our right, we will go on an indefinite strike, if we have to,” said Sanjay Gehlot, President, Swatantra Majdoor Vikas Sayunkt MorchaThere are close to 60,000 municipal sanitation workers, however according to worker unions arrears of an approximately 10,000 workers have been pending.Municipal leaders however said that while they are trying to make all attempts to resolve the matter, the corporation is planning to approach the Delhi government for pending funds.”We have called several meetings with the sanitation workers to ensure smooth services during the festivities, however a common ground has not been met,” said Jitender Choudhary, Standing Committee Chairman, east Delhi Municipal Corporation.Two out of the three municipal corporations have been struggling to make their ends meet and have been facing the worst financial crunch since their inception. As per their own projection, the east and north Delhi MCDs have estimated a deficit of Rs4,900 crore approximately for this financial year.”As per our financial situation and the affidavit submitted in the High Court, we have not delayed monthly salaries of the sanitation workers. However, to ensure the payment of arrears to the sanitation workers, we have decided to approach the Delhi government and demand the payment of our funds as per the Fourth Finance Commission report,” said Parwesh Wahi, Chairman Standing Committee, North MCD.

Four militants killed as Army foils three infiltrations bids

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Four militants were killed while trying to infiltrate from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) as alert army troops foiled three bids by terrorists to enter into India in the wee hours on Thursday. The army, which has shored up its defences along the LoC, foiled three infiltration bids — two in Naugam sector and one in Rampur — of North Kashmir during the intervening night of October 5 and 6.In one of the encounters in the higher reaches of Naugam, 112 kms from Srinagar, the troops cornered a group of infiltrating militants and have killed four so far, a senior army official said. The official said a combing operation was continuing amid apprehension about presence of more terrorists in the area.Technical surveillance was being maintained, besides using illuminators to prevent the militants, who could be present, from escaping under the cover of darkness. The army repulsed two infiltration bids in Rampur and Naugam, raining bullets on the militants and forcing them to return to PoK. The militants, who had managed to cross the fence, had to beat a retreat after army patrols challenged and opened heavy fire on them.Army personnel display a huge cache of arms, ammunition and other items recovered from the three militants who were killed after they attacked on Army camp, in Handwara district.​ AFP Photo Pakistani army provided cover fire on both the occasions but the militants had to retreat, the official said. The infiltration bids come barely a day after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval briefed the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) that Pakistani army has mobilised about 100 terrorists across the LoC to push them into India to carry out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir.At the meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it was stated that the Pakistani army was planning attacks by terrorists on Indian defence personnel and security establishments besides select civilian targets in the wake of September 29 surgical strikes.According to the assessment given by Doval, nearly 100 terrorists were readying to infiltrate India from unconventional launch pads. Indian army had carried out surgical strikes on September 29, crossing over the LoC in Kupwara sector in the Kashmir Valley and Poonch in Jammu region and smashing launch pads meant for terrorists. It was believed that nearly a dozen terrorists were killed in Kel, Lipa and Bhimber Gali and given a quiet burial.Personnel from three divisions of the army were involved in the surgical strikes and, before the operation, the army teams ensured that they cut off the possibility of any reinforcements from Pakistani army, sources said.

Trashing Chetan Bhagat’s One Indian Girl while lauding Pink for feminism is unfair

Caution: This piece contains spoilers

If you’ve made your mind up about it, then Chetan Bhagat’s One Indian Girl is an easy book to trash.

For instance: “Why can’t women get a wife,” asks Bhagat’s protagonist Radhika Mehta, at one point in his new novel.

The context? A polite, thoughtful air-hostess has given Radhika her undivided attention in service, right up to tucking her in to sleep. Radhika is impressed with her dedicated service, and wonders why she can’t experience that all the time. Now, from a feminist perspective, there will be broadly two kinds of reactions to this sort of line.

Either: ‘Why does someone who takes care of you and serves you automatically become a ‘wife’?’

Or: ‘Aah, yes. Women are underappreciated. They deserve to be treated better.’

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The poster of One Indian Girl, courtesy: Facebook. Chetan Bhagat; Image from News 18.

There are some who’ll cringe for sure, but there are also others who will identify with and appreciate that line. The target audience for One Indian Girl is very clearly the latter – those who agree that gender equality is important, but are on some level yet to fully understand just how deep patriarchal thought is entrenched in our society.

It caters to those people who are likely disagree that the term ‘feminism’ is more important and valid than ‘humanism’. (On a side note, yes, it is. Just like how #BlackLivesMatter is more valid than #AllLivesMatter. It is the starting point of the argument, but somehow, it’s still to sink in.)

The book arrives at an interesting time, because of the larger topical debate about gender equality in general, and because it comes closely after that pop-culture phenomenon called Pink. Yes, the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Pink had a far stronger understanding of gender politics than One Indian Girl does, but the two are targeted at (and will be appreciated by) a similar set of people; a set that is very clearly in the majority.

Pink took on every kind of gender stereotype in the book – women who enjoy their alcohol and party often are ‘sluts’; girls from the North-East are ‘easy’; if a woman gets comfortable and open with a man then she’s giving ‘signals’; women are not allowed to change their mind once they’ve given even a modicum of consent; a sex-worker is not allowed to have consent at all; the works. And it packaged all of this into an entertaining thriller-cum-courtroom drama.

One Indian Girl touches upon all the right stereotypes too. It talks about how people assume that a high-flying career woman cannot be or may not even want to be a mother; it brings in how body-image issues can be so detrimental to someone’s confidence; or how we’re quick to assume that, if a girl is unmarried and making a lot of money, there must be something wrong with her.

In essence, what Pink does in a dark, thriller format, One Indian Girl does in a frothy, melodramatic manner.

The book has so many plot twists and attempts to battle so many generalisations and social taboos, that there’s most certainly a (blockbuster?) film brewing in there. (Radhika even undergoes a Naina Talwar-ish transformation from ‘nerd’ to ‘hot’. Remember Deepika Padukone in Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani?)

The fact remains that for a regressive society like ours, One Indian Girl is still a step in the right direction, because it does debunk a lot of value judgements that we tend to have. And it is done in a breezy, palatable manner that will appeal to those that it targets.

From a larger perspective, yes, the book has its problems. In keeping the arguments at the base-level, the book misses out on the nuances of the debate.

For instance, while you’ll always support Radhika, the ‘hot’, uber-successful, independent girl who just wants to live her life, it may not change your mind about someone who isn’t like Radhika’s character at all — someone who is broke (and can’t afford a 1 crore wedding at age 24), not conventionally ‘attractive’ and indulges in far more ‘immoral’ activities than just experimenting occasionally with marijuana.

But that’s a larger debate that wouldn’t be possible when something is clearly aimed at a very broad audience. The point here is that lauding Pink while trashing One Indian Girl amounts to hypocrisy.

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The poster of Pink.

They may be different in form and feel, but their intent is the same, and their success can only mean a slightly more evolved, receptive audience to the larger, more complex debate on feminism.

However, if you’re up for some breezy, kitschy mansplaining, One Indian Girl could be an interesting exercise. Better yet, you could just wait for the movie.

Delhi: Body of missing 11-year-old girl found stuffed in a sack, family alleges sexual assault

New Delhi: Body of an 11-year-old girl, who was missing since Tuesday, was found stuffed in a sack in northeast Delhi’s New Usmanpur area on Wednesday.

The girl, a resident of Gautampuri in the area, had gone to buy some household items on Tuesday afternoon but did not return and on Wednesday, her body was found, metres away from her house, police said.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Her body was found at around 7 am by a rag-picker who saw the sack lying in one of the lanes of Gautampuri area and opened it, thinking it must be containing garbage.

He raised an alarm when he saw the girl’s body and police was informed, a senior police official said.

The deceased was a student of class V in an MCD school in the area and had returned home early Tuesday since she was not feeling well.

Around noon, her mother had sent her to buy an adhesive but the girl did not return for a long time, following which the mother then informed her husband, an autorickshaw driver, and her relatives.

They approached the police and a case was registered.

The girl’s family alleged that she was sexually assaulted before being killed, as there were injury marks on the body.

“A case of murder has been registered and we are awaiting post-mortem report to find out whether she was sexually assaulted,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (North East) Ajit Kumar Singla said.

Police is suspecting the involvement of someone known to the victim’s family since there was no ransom call or threat call received by the family.

“The girl’s family has expressed suspicion on a relative who had enmity with their over some property and could have plotted the kidnapping. The person will be called for questioning,” said a senior police officer.

Bengaluru parents’ worst nightmares turn true as school drivers turn up drunk

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A dark cloud hangs over the children of Bengaluru as far as going to school is concerned. Callous school staff, seemingly uncaring of CCTV cameras or teachers, continue to rape children, some even as young as three. Angry parents have protested time and time again, but to no avail. Today, sending a child to school is a terror for families in the IT city.It’s not just worries of rape and molestation. Cases of errant school drivers — many of whom report drunk for duty — are leading parents to panic. Local police sources reveal that over 65 school bus drivers so far have been booked for drunk driving this year. And at least 10 cases of drunken driving by school bus drivers was reported in August and early September.Not surprisingly, such drivers have been involved in a series of accidents which have left students injured. This has ensured that a special drive has been put in place by cops, who are randomly checking drivers for alcohol.Why is this happening? Police sources explain that school drivers drink heavily at night and then head straight for duty in the morning — drunk. This menace is increasing month by month and worried cops say they are doing all they can to take action.”We have alerted the respective school managements and have also shot off a circular to schools, asking them to keep alcometers in place and check drivers during school hours.” Cops have also told school authorities to keep an eye on the number of vans, autos and other private vehicles that ferry the students.Schools though seemed to have adopted a wait and watch policy as far as the issue is concerned. When contacted, Karnataka Unaided Schools Management Association (KUSMA) — an institute which claims to represent over 3,500 schools, said that they had still had to take any decision. KUSMA’s general Secretary, A Marriyappa told dna that an executive body meeting was scheduled to be held on Thursday over the issue.When contacted, other schools were not willing to come on record on the matter. But what was worse was that they refused to acknowledge responsibility for checking drivers, some of whom were part of school staff.”We cannot be responsible for checking on every driver,” said one principal. Other principals went even further. “The onus is on the Regional Transport Authority to educate drivers and make them leave alcohol. That is not our job,” opined another.The lack of action by schools and other authorities have left parents angry, confused and worried. Shashank Gowda, an engineer, summed up the feelings of many parents, when he said, “We shell out thousands of rupees each month for transport facilities for our children. Why can’t the schools assure their safety? The state government too needs to step in and make the law more stringent so we can finally feel safe in sending our children to school.”Bengaluru’s School Kids: In Great DangerOctober 3: Bengaluru police booked 12 drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol.September 25: Two school students and the driver injured in Chikkajala area of North Bengaluru after the school bus collided with the compound wall of Delhi Public School.September 2016: Police seized a private school van ferrying six students in the Nagarbhavi residential area of West Bengaluru. The driver was drunk.January 2015: A Class II girl student was allegedly molested by her school physical education teacher.October 2014: An eight-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by her 63- year-old teacher.July 2014: A nursery student of Vibgyor High School was raped by two staff members.

India, Singapore to step up anti-terror, economic cooperation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India and Singapore on Tuesday decided to strengthen cooperation in countering threats of rising terrorism with Prime Minister Narendra Modi terming cross- border terrorism and increasing radicalisation as “grave challenges” that endanger the very fabric of the two societies.Modi, who held comprehensive talks with Singapore Prime Minister on ways to enhance cooperation in key sectors including trade and investment, said defence and security cooperation is a key pillar of strategic partnership between India and Singapore. Addressing a joint press meet, Lee condemned terrorism and offered condolences to the families of the soldiers who were killed in the Uri attack.Singapore PM condemns Uri attackAsserting that “rising tide of terrorism, especially cross-border terrorism, and the rise of radicalisation are grave challenges to our security”, Modi said, “they threaten the very fabric of our societies.”It is my firm belief that those who believe in peace and humanity need to stand and act together against this menace. Today, we have agreed to enhance our cooperation to counter these threats, including in the domain of cyber security.” He also noted that as two maritime nations, keeping the sea lanes of communication open and respect for international legal order of seas and oceans was a shared priority.The two countries also inked three pacts including the one dealing with Intellectual Property rights to facilitate greater business to business exchanges and collaborations. Describing trade and investment as bedrock of bilateral relationship, Modi said India has embarked on a path of strong economic growth and transformation and in this journey, it regards Singapore as a key partner. Agreeing to expedite the second review of Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, the two leaders also welcomed the issuance of corporate Rupee bonds in Singapore which was a step forward in mobilising capital for India’s large infrastructure development needs.”I have been informed that Singapore is leading the world in putting driverless cars on the road. But, I rest assured, we all rest assured, that one of India’s strongest well- wishers Prime Minister Lee is in the driving seat for Singapore and for our bilateral relationship. Excellency Lee, you are a friend of India,” Modi said. Lee said they also discussed furthering Singapore and India’s strong economic ties, for instance, by setting up a Finance Dialogue between the finance ministries of both the countries.On the Singapore side, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam will be appointed for the task and India will appoint Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to find “win-win outcomes” for both countries, Lee added. Noting that Singapore s National Anthem was “Majulah Singapura” “Onward, Singapore”, Modi said it is no surprise, therefore, that if there is one country that seems to act in the present, but is alive to the needs of the future, it is Singapore.Both sides trying to increase trade relationship”Whether it is manufacturing, environment, innovation, technology, or delivery of public services, Singapore does today what the rest of the world would do tomorrow,” he added. Prime Minister Modi said that last year the bilateral ties were upgraded to the level of a Strategic Partnership with “renewed spirit, new energy” with an aim to deliver benefits to people of the two countries and to “combine the strengths of Singapore with the scale of India and dynamism of Singapore with vibrancy of our states”.On his part Lee said, “Singapore remains a firm believer in India and we will continue to contribute, where we can, to India’s remarkable development story.” The two leaders also undertook a detailed review of the shape and substance of strategic partnership. Referring to the inking of two MoUs, Modi said under it a Skill Development Centre for the North-Eastern states in Guwahati will be set up.He also welcomed the inauguration of the Centre of Excellence for Tourism Training in Udaipur, in cooperation with Rajasthan government. Rajasthan is also partnering with Singapore in the fields of urban development and waste management, Modi said while noting that Singapore was already a partner in developing Amaravati, the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh.Prime Minister Modi also recalled his first visit to Singapore as Prime Minister on the solemn occasion to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, a guiding light not just for Singapore, but for the whole of Asia. This year, India was saddened by the demise of another great son of Singapore, former President S R Nathan, he said while describing him as a close friend of India who was conferred with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman.

Tamil Nadu: Who is running the show in CM Jayalalithaa’s absence?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With little clarity on the malaise afflicting its supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa or any specific progress reports of her recovery, the AIADMK, as a party, is finding itself on the edge.Even as the Centre, BJP and Congress are monitoring the situation closely, a visible sense of uneasiness is growing among the AIADMK rank and file in the state. Rigidly a personality-centric party, the AIADMK has no second-rung leadership which can hold the party together, be it in Parliament, the state assembly or at the organisational level.So with Jayalalithaa in the infirmary for almost two weeks, who exactly is running the show in Tamil Nadu and the party?”We don’t answer such questions,” said AIADMK spokesperson V Maitreyan. “She is better and will be discharged after a few more days,” added Maitreyan.People close to the CM say that the party in her absence is being run by her confidante Sasikala Natrajan. “The AIADMK has no formal hierarchy in organisational structure. In her absence the party is run de facto by Sasikala and her loyalists. The party was being run when she was in prison and so it will be managed the same way now,” says political observer Gnani Sankaran.But there is a stark difference between a Jayalalithaa in control of the party from jail and the Jayalalithaa behind a curtain of medical ambiguity incommunicado with her party brass. Reports suggest that even the acting TN governor Vidyasagar Rao wasn’t allowed to meet her in hospital and had to contend with meeting her doctors instead. Sources revealed that the chairman of Apollo Hospitals, Dr Prathap Reddy, was personally involved in the treatment of Jayalalithaa’s “infection”.Meanwhile, there is a growing distrust of Sasikala in the party, with even leaders of her own Thevar community bearing a dislike towards her. In Jayalalithaa’s absence and with the local body polls scheduled on October 17 and 19, the cadre has been left without the leader on whom the party’s existence rests.The AIADMK, like its rival the DMK, has an organisational structure. But unlike the DMK, the AIADMK leaders do not harbor an opinion different from their leader. The other prominent faces of the party are former CM Paneerselvam and the party’s leader in Lok Sabha and the lower house’s deputy speaker, N Thambidurai. Paneerselvam has twice served as acting chief minister in Jayalalithaa’s absence – in 2001 and in 2014. In his second stint lasting over six months, Pannerselvam refused to shave or eat meat till Jayalalithaa was released from jail. Party observers revealed that both of them have little authority over Sasikala and her loyalists.This lack of clarity on where AIADMK stands minus Jayalalithaa is what has made the Centre anxious and the BJP and Congress curious. The Centre is worried about the impact on law and order in the absence of credible information on Jayalalithaa’s actual health parameters. Reports from across the state suggest that AIADMK cadre are running out of patience with the customary “responding well to treatment” bulletins being issued by the hospital. AIADMK cadre on the streets want to know just exactly what treatment is their leader responding to. The Centre fears that with little news on their leader’s health, AIADMK cadre may let their emotions get the better of them.The BJP is curious because apart from being PM Modi’s ‘friend’, the BJP’s top brass has earmarked TN among six other states (including the North-East), where the party wants to increase its vote share in the 2019 parliamentary elections. The Congress, the only non-Dravidian party to rule TN over four decades ago, is sensing an opportunity to revive its dormant fortunes in the state. With Sasikala now calling the shots in the AIADMK, the two national parties are playing a wait and watch game.BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said, “There is no semblance of anyone capable of filling her shoes in the party. Her special friend Sasikala is not acceptable to other AIADMK leaders. In the absence of Jayalalithaa, I expect the AIADMK to break into pieces.”

Six top Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh activists arrested from Bengal, Assam

Kolkata: Six top Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) activists, including four wanted in the 2014 Khagragarh blast case, were arrested from West Bengal and Assam.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Of the six, three were Bangladeshi nationals, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Vishal Garg said in Kolkata.

“These people were not in West Bengal after Khagragarh blast. They had left the state and moved to South India and North Eastern states. They were planning subversive activities in some South Indian states. We are trying to find out the details,” Garg said.

The JMB activists arrested by the Kolkata Police Special Task Force included Anwar Hussain Farooq, the head of the outfit’s West Bengal unit, and Yusuf Sheikh, the second in command in the state.

Sheikh, also the JMB chief motivator in the state, carried a Rs 10 lakh reward on his head announced by NIA.

The four others who were wanted in connection with Khagragarh blast of 2 October, 2014, were Shahidul Islam, Mohammad Rubel, Abul Kalam and Jadidul Islam.

Kalam and Rubel were carrying on their heads a reward of Rs 3 lakh and 1 lakh respectively.

Yusuf and Shahidul were arrested from Natun Bazar under Basirhat area of North 24 Parganas district on Sunday while Farooq and Rubel were picked up from Bagda Road in Bangao in the same district, Garg said.

Kalam was held from Coochbehar station in north Bengal yesterday while Jahidul was arrested from Cachhar district of Assam on Saturday.

Forged ID papers, 2 kg white powdery substance, one laptop, mobile phones, detonator, wire cutters, batteries Bangladeshi and Indian currency, letters written in Bengali, travel guide, books on chemicals and memory cards for camera were seized from them.

Narendra Modi to interact with farmers via webcast on September 26

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with farmers of five states through webcast on Monday. The Prime Minister will hold live telecast discussions with farmers from Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. “The Prime Minister will hold almost an hour long interaction session with farmers through live telecast from Hyderabad, Cuddalore, Jammu, Jorhat and Palampur and also release certain verities of flowers and other crops which can enhance the income of small and marginal farmers,” said Dr Sanjay Kumar, the Director of Institute of Himalayan Bio-Resource Technology, Palampur.The first interaction will be with two farmers from Hyderabad. He will be presented with a new and highly productive turmeric variety named Pitamber, and plants of the same will be gifted to two farmers at Hyderabad. At Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu, a variety of Vetiver will be released and the Prime Minister will be presented plants of this aromatic crop in Delhi.Modi will also release the rose scented variety of Geranium flower. While prime minister will be releasing the two verities of Calla Lilly and Gerbera, ornamental flowers and the same will be presented to two farmers at CSIR-IHBT Palampur. Also, the North East Institute of Science and Technology is getting two verities of Citranella and Lemon Grass released on this day. Oil is extracted from these two aromatic plants which is widely used in perfume industry.Farmers will discuss with Modi difficulties faced by small and marginal farmers of the area and how the government can help in mitigating them, Sanjay Kumar said.

Assam: Army neutralises six KPLT militants in East Karbi Anglong

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Acting on a tip-off, as many as six Karbi People Liberation Tigers (KPLT) militants were neutralised by the Army on Friday in East Karbi Anglong’s Nambar Reserve Forest in Assam.In a joint operation launched by the Army and Assam Police, in the dense Nambar Reserve Forest on Thursday night, stretching upto Friday morning resulted in the neutralisation of six militants and busting of the KPLT camp.Amidst the operation, the militants opened fire at the Army troops. The cross-firing between Army troops and the militants resulted in the injury of one Army jawan.Of the total six militants, who were neutralised, two were top leaders of the KPLT – Operation Commander and Area Commander, respectively.A huge cache of arms and ammunition were also recovered from their possession and the camp. The recoveries included one INSAS Rifle, one 7.62mm Self Loading Rifle, one country made rifle, Hand Grenades, large quantity of ammunition of all types, fired cases, solar chargers, blankets and other war like and survival stores.“The operation has been one of the most successful one in the recent times in the North East and has lead to near decimation of KPLT which has been the most prominent anti-national group active in both – West and East Karbi Anglong, Assam. This has been the result of well coordinated and relentless operations being conducted by the Army in conjunction with Assam Police. This has resulted in creation of constant pressure on the terrorist groups thereby preventing them from carrying out any activities like extortion, kidnapping for ransom, inference in civil development activities and killing of innocent civilians in the populated areas,” said a senior official of the Army troop engaged in the operation.

Operations against Pak-backed infiltrators enters second day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For the second day on Wednesday, the operations against the Pakistan-backed infiltrators are continuing along the Line of Control (LoC) in Uri and Naugam sectors of North Kashmir, even as the investigators look for more leads in the Uri fidayeen attack.Army troops intercepted a group of 10 to 12 ultras near the Line of Control and foiled an infiltration bid in the Uri sector. Another infiltration bid was foiled in Naugam sector when troops detected another group of militants trying to sneak into the Indian side of LoC on Tuesday evening.Thirty-seven-year-old Havildar Madan Lal of Dogra Regiment was killed at Naugam when he came under heavy fire from the infiltrators. With 17 years of service, Havildar Madan Lal hailed from Pathankote and is survived by six year old daughter and two year old son.”The operations are continuing at both Uri and Naugam sectors along the Line of Control,” said an army spokesman.So far troops have not retrieved any body of the militant. Sources however said there is a possibility that they might have fallen into the deep ravines along the LoC.Even as the troops battle it out on the LoC, the investigators probing the Uri Fidayeen attack are looking for more leads. Investigators have found that the barbed wire fence of the 12 brigade headquarters was cut at two places which have given a new twist to the probe.Sources said investigators are baffled whether the militants made the entry from one point or used two points to enter into the camp.Sources said the four fidayeen were wearing the army uniforms and had divided into two groups to attack the tents and shelters in which the troops were sleeping. The militants used incendiary munitions which are used by regular armies to set the tents and shelters on fire.Investigators are working overtime to identify the slain militants who could help the centre to expose Pakistan before the international community. “We are trying to identify the militants with their addresses so that we can expose Pakistan by placing the proof before the international community,” said a source.

Delhi woman stabbed 26 times, passers-by look on

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A shocking incident once again showed the Capital’s callousness and its indifference to the plight of women. Karuna, a 21-year-old school teacher, on her way to work, was stabbed not once, not twice, but 26 times, with a broken pair of scissors by a man who claimed to be her jilted lover, Surender Singh (34). Passers-by watched the gory act with indifference, with nobody coming to her rescue. Yes, one man did come forward but by then it was too late.The incident was shocking enough but the fact that it took place during rush hour at a crowded crossing in north Delhi’s Burari area showed that Delhi had once again failed its women. This is the second horrific incident in the last 24 hours, where a woman was killed brutally.Police officials say that Karuna lay dead for some time as her killer stood next to her body ensuring she was dead. “The accused has been arrested and a case of murder has been registered at the Burari police station. The murder weapon has been seized. Further investigations are under way,” said DCP (North) Madhur Verma.Surender Singh was assaulted by a mob that gathered at the spot but by then it was too late. Police sources said that the family had filed a complaint in June this year against the stalker. They, however, reached a compromise after the parents of the accused intervened and promised them that their son would not do it again.The mother of the victim claimed that the accused would stalk her, pass indecent remarks, secretly click her pictures and later circulate them among his friends. “He lived in Rohini but had every information about my daughter’s whereabouts. He had attacked her in May and smashed a bottle on her head. He even threatened to kill her but since Singh’s family requested us, we did not report the incident,” said Rama, the victim’s mother.

Shocking! 21-year-old teacher stabbed 30 times by alleged stalker in Delhi, dies

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a shocking incident, a 21-year-old girl was stabbed to death by the alleged stalker in North Delhi on Tuesday morning.According to reports, Karuna, a teacher at the Novel Reaches School, was stabbed 30 times. The victim was rushed to the hospital in a critical state where she succumbed to her injuries.The family member of the victim, a resident of Sant Nagar Burari, has alleged that the suspect, Surendar Singh, had been troubling her for a year, reported Times of India.(Family members of the girl gathered outside Sushruta Trauma Centre (ISBT) break down after hearing the news: ANI)The report also said that a few months ago the family had lodged an FIR against Surendar Singh but had later reached a compromise.A 34-year-old Singh is a divorcee and his case in pending in court.

UP Guv Ram Naik seeks ‘support’ for BJP MLA Ram Saran Verma

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Virtually canvassing for BJP MLA Ram Saran Verma, Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik has made an appeal to the people to “support” him for his good work. “Verma has done a lot of good work like building toilets, schools, bus stations and other things required by common people that are not part of big government programmes,” Naik said.”I hope he will keep up the good work … and you will keep up your support to him,” he said at a public function on Monday. Naik said he was making the statement in the context of the upcoming Assembly elections in the state.”I am saying this because you know the kind of scenario prevailing in the state… UP is preparing for Assembly elections,” he said.Naik, however, hastened to add: “I am the Governor and it is not fair for me to say whom to vote for, otherwise people will say the Governor has become a party man.” He said he has inaugurated various works worth over Rs six crore carried out by Verma through the MLA Local Area Development fund.Naik, a five-time BJP MP from North Mumbai and a former Union minister in NDA government, was appointed Governor in July, 2014.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemns Uri terror attack

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Condemning the militant attack on an army camp in North Kashmir’s Uri town that killed 17 soldiers, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hoped the perpetrators of the crime will be brought to justice and re establishing stability and preventing any further loss of life will be the priority of “all involved”.”The United Nations is following developments closely and shares the concerns of people living in the region for peace,” a statement issued by Ban’s spokesperson said.Ban expressed hope that the perpetrators of the attack will be brought to justice and all stakeholders will meet their responsibilities to maintain peace and stability.”The Secretary-General hopes that the perpetrators of this crime will be identified and brought to justice,” it said.He “hopes that all involved will prioritise the re-establishment of stability and prevent any further loss of life. The Secretary-General encourages all stakeholders to meet their respective responsibilities to maintain peace and stability,” the statement said.Condemning the “militant attack”, Ban expressed his “deepest sympathy and condolences” to the families of the soldiers who lost their lives and to the government of India and wished a speedy recovery to those injured in the attack.Meanwhile, Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro, who succeeded Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as the head of the Non-Aligned Movement, also expressed solidarity with the people of India “who have suffered a terrorist attack.” “We are committed along with our brotherly people of the world to get into the depth of this problem that has generated proliferation of terrorist movements, which doesn’t respect life and the need for coexistence of people,” he said at a press conference after the summit in Margarita Island on Sunday.In one of the deadliest attacks on the Army in recent years, 17 soldiers were killed and 19 others injured as heavily armed militants stormed a battalion headquarters of the force in North Kashmir’s Uri town early yesterday.Four militants involved in the terror strike were killed by the Army.The attack comes two years after militants had carried out a similar type of attack at Mohra in the same area. Ten security personnel were killed in the attack that took place on December 5, 2014.

Ban condemns Uri terror attack; expresses hope that attackers will be brought to justice

United Nations: Condemning the militant attack on an army camp in North Kashmir’s Uri town that killed 17 soldiers, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hoped the perpetrators of the crime will be brought to justice and re-establishing stability and preventing any further loss of life will be the priority of “all involved”.

“The United Nations is following developments closely and shares the concerns of people living in the region for peace,” a statement issued by Ban’s spokesperson said.

Ban expressed hope that the perpetrators of the attack will be brought to justice and all stakeholders will meet their responsibilities to maintain peace and stability.

“The Secretary-General hopes that the perpetrators of this crime will be identified and brought to justice,” it said.

A file photo of Ban ki-Moon. APA file photo of Ban ki-Moon. AP

A file photo of Ban ki-Moon. AP

He “hopes that all involved will prioritise the re-establishment of stability and prevent any further loss of life. The Secretary-General encourages all stakeholders to meet their respective responsibilities to maintain peace and stability,” the statement said.

Condemning the “militant attack”, Ban expressed his “deepest sympathy and condolences” to the families of the soldiers who lost their lives and to the government of India and wished a speedy recovery to those injured in the attack.

Meanwhile, Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro, who succeeded Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as the head of the Non-Aligned Movement, also expressed solidarity with the people of India “who have suffered a terrorist attack.”

“We are committed along with our brotherly people of the world to get into the depth of this problem that has generated proliferation of terrorist movements, which doesn’t respect life and the need for coexistence of people,” he said at a press conference after the summit in Margarita Island on Sunday.

In one of the deadliest attacks on the Army in recent years, 17 soldiers were killed and 19 others injured as heavily armed militants stormed a battalion headquarters of the force in North Kashmir’s Uri town early on Sunday.

Four militants involved in the terror strike were killed by the Army.

The attack comes two years after militants had carried out a similar type of attack at Mohra in the same area. Ten security personnel were killed in the attack that took place on 5 December, 2014.

Mob attacks cops in south Delhi, woman constable injured

New Delhi: A mob in south Delhi’s Jai Hind Camp pelted stones on a police team today injuring a woman constable when they went there to arrest a maid accused of stealing her employer’s money, police said on Saturday.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Constable Manisha sustained injuries on her foot in the attack by the Camp residents, while the vehicle in which the police personnel and complainant went to the place was damaged, they said.

One person, identified as Mintoo, who according to police is the ‘pradhan’ (chief) of the camp residents, was arrested, a police officer said.

Satish Sehrawat, a resident of Vasant Kunj (North), had filed the complaint against his domestic help accusing her of stealing money from his home. The alleged theft was recorded by the CCTV camera installed in his house, a senior police official said.

Based on the complaint, the team from Vasant Kunj (North) Police Station went to the Camp to arrest the maid and recover the money.

“The police officers were surrounded by residents of the camp and a man named Mintoo, who happens to be the ‘pradhan’ of the residents pelted stones on the vehicle,” the official said.

A case was registered against Mintoo at Vasant Kunj (South) police station, the official added.

32 delhi hospitals to give concessions to students and private sector employees from the northeast

Ensuring that students and people working low wage jobs from the north east living in New Delhi get adequate medical attention, the Delhi Police has brought on board 32 hospitals to give such vulnerable people concessions for treatment. Delhi police nodal officer for people from the north east, Robin Hibu, has spent the past few weeks in talks with the top hospitals in Delhi to bring about such an arrangement under their CSR initiative.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>These hospitals include various branches of Fortis Hospital including the Fortis Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre, Holy Family Hospital, Medanta The Medicity, Moolchand Medcity, various branches of Max Healthcare, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital among others.According to a statement made by Hibu on the facebook page Delhi Police for North East Folks, this scheme is aimed at those who end up working low-paying private sector jobs in the capital and have no state-backed insurance such as the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS). In a copy of the letter he sent to Dr. Naresh Trehan of Medanta, posted online, Hibu gave examples of some of these jobs; BPOs, malls, hospitals, hotels, security guards etc, saying that because of their “paltry earnings” “high cost of living and high rents”, “many have died, many are struggling due to poverty back home.””As a nodal officer for the North East people at Delhi many youth are approaching me for help in case of medical emergency/treatment. I have no resources to help them,” reads Hibu’s letter.In his statement announcing this scheme, he says that there are 11 lakh such vulnerable people from the north east in Delhi.All hospitals all have agreed to give concessions ranging from “30 percent to 15 percent… for medical treatment for our people,” says the statement, and that they have appointed nodal officers to be in constant touch with Hibu. Patients will get referral letters from Hibu based on their id cards.The hospitals that dna spoke to did not wish to give an official statement on the matter yet, though MoUs are ready and Hibu claims in his statement to have received approval letters from all the hospitals. However, they did acknowledge their role in the scheme.Max Hospital, however, told dna, “This is a positive initiative towards making healthcare more accessible and we are happy to be a part of it. At Max Healthcare, our constant endeavor is to provide quality and best-in-class healthcare services to patients. This initiative will make quality healthcare accessible to the thousands of students and working professionals from the North East in Delhi.”

Arvind Kejriwal does a Taher Shah: Twitter can’t stop talking about Delhi CM’s floral headgear

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is on a 13-day visit to cities such as Goa, Punjab and Gujarat to prepare the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for polls scheduled in these states next year, on Tuesday had an interaction with the family members of fishermen community in Panaji (Goa). What was so amusing?

This.

Kejritroll_850

Goans, known for their bohemian way of life, welcomed Kejriwal with this flowery crown, which the Delhi chief minister seemed to enjoy. As we know by now that the Twitter community leaves no stone unturned when it comes to trolling anyone, we compiled these hilarious tweets for you. Although, sporting this floral headgear was a nice gesture on Kejriwal’s part, there is no harm in having a good laugh, is there?

Raghuram Rajan’s successor at RBI will have to first fight the perception battle

The RBI governor position is a high–pressure job. It’s obvious to any observer who would have seen the stints of RBI governors (including the outgoing governor Raghuram Rajan).

The RBI governor (so far there has never been a woman head) has to do a tough balancing act everyday in his office between the Central bank’s policy priorities and the interests of the North Block.

By law, the RBI is not an independent organisation and the governor reports to the finance minister. Besides, every governor has had his own set of challenges during their terms. While it was the Asian currency crisis for Bimal Jalan, D Subbarao had to face the 2008 global financial crisis ten days after he took over at the RBI and for ‘rock star’ Rajan, the challenge was to rescue the rupee and bridge the huge trust deficit of international investors in the Indian economy.

Subir Gokarn (L) and Rakesh Mohan are also in the fray, say reportsSubir Gokarn (L) and Rakesh Mohan are also in the fray, say reports

Subir Gokarn (L) and Rakesh Mohan are also in the fray, say reports

The job will be even more difficult for Rajan’s successor since he/ she will have to fight perceptions first. Besides the sharp attention that’ll fall upon the new governor succeeding one of the world’s most reputed economists, he/ she will also have to face close media scrutiny on every day for one simple reason: In the RBI’s 81-year history, never once has a governor selection process attracted so much attention for political reasons. Hence, the new RBI chief will command global attention from the Day 1.

If the new governor fails to uphold the independence and credibility Rajan symbolised for outside world and fails to continue with the critical reforms processes Rajan pursued (bad loan clean-up, inflation fight), he/ she would be dubbed as a puppet. If the new chief engages in criticism on politically sensitive issues as Rajan did, he/ she will risk the wrath of the government and Subramanian Swamy-like hardliners in the BJP.

So why can’t the Narendra Modi government appoint a ‘friendly’ face from its stables who would never cross the line? Difficult, since the government is under pressure to appoint a person who would match Rajan’s repute and international acceptance.

A blend of both these qualities is rare.

Modi cannot afford to settle for a low-profile RBI governor after Rajan. The prime minister will have to find someone who could bridge the trust deficit of international investors in the India story, which is what Rajan did.

Rajan has set very high benchmarks for his successor and the responsibility to follow up a few of his high-risk calls, of which the fight against cronies is the toughest to pursue.

Rajan’s decision to put a deadline of March 2017 for all banks (mainly intended for public sector banks) to clean up their books has upset many traditional cronies forcing them either to pay up or pack up. Rajan also irked the cronies and crooks by stopping the practice of ‘RBI-aided restructuring’ that allowed banks to freely restructure loans and continue evergreen their loans forever without no major repayment.

The special RBI dispensation enabled banks make lower provisions (the money set aside against substandard loans) on rejigged loans. Rajan withdrew the special dispensation for fresh restructured loans that made banks treat all new restructured loans at par with bad loans in terms of provisioning ending the era of ever-greening of corporate loans. Banks can still do restructuring in genuine cases but only after taking a hit. But the period of free lunches is over.

Rajan’s successor will be watched for his/ her ability to continue with the reform-process in three areas after he took over as RBI governor — monetary policy, banking structure overhaul and the bad loan clean-up exercise. Of these, the bad loan clean-up is most difficult since it is politically sensitive and implies capital implications to the government to repair their cracked balance sheets of PSBs post the bad loan clean-up.

In the period between January-March alone, banks have reported an additional Rs 2 lakh crore bad loans. This would mean banks need much larger amount of capital in addition to the requirement of meeting Basel-III norms and money needed for further credit expansion.

The recent inflation uptick and volatile financial markets in the aftermath of Brexit will only add to the task. In the September-November period, the Indian financial markets are also likely to witness a bout of volatility when $20 billion redemptions of FCNR(B) deposits are due.

The recent uptick in the CPI inflation too will be pose risks. The last reading of the CPI, at 5.76 per cent, came at sniffing distance of central bank’s 6 percent upper target. Rajan himself had observed that the uptick in inflation justified his decision to hold rate in the last policy.

Who’ll be the next governor is purely a guess work at this stage. There are a few names doing rounds including one serving RBI deputy governor (Urjit Patel), two former deputy governors (Subir Gokarn and Rakesh Mohan), a banker (Arundhati Bhattacharya) and the current chief economic advisor of the government (Arvind Subramanian).

Of these candidates, possibilities of Subramanian and Patel appear higher than the rest. But, it’s anybody’s guess at this stage as to who will make the final cut. There is no final decision yet.

Many consider Subramanin as someone who would match Rajan’s global reputation and experience at the North Block, while some others give more weight to Patel on account of his close familiarity with Rajan’s ongoing reform plans.

It was based on the report a panel under Patel that Rajan initiated the monetary policy reforms including the new monetary policy committee (MPC) structure. Patel has been Rajan’s trusted lieutenant since September 2013.

Both Patel and Subramanian are also known faces internationally and do not have records of ‘overstepping’ their mandate and speaking on issues sensitive to the government. Hence the Modi government shouldn’t have any concerns choosing one of them.

The bottomline is this: The unprecedented controversy surrounding Rajan’s reappointment thanks to Swamy’s rapid fire, has made the job more difficult for the next RBI governor. There are many fights that await the new governor on the 18th floor of RBI headquarters in Mumbai. The first will definitely be the perception battle.

Don’t behave like Indian politicians: Did a Republican lawmaker just shame the biggest democracy?

PM Modi might have thrilled US Congressmen with his brilliant oratory but it seems that we can do little to change people’s perceptions. A US lawmaker has compared an unprecedented sit-in inside the House of Representatives by Democratic lawmakers to the protest by AIADMK members in the Rajya Sabha in March, saying “other governments may behave this way” but US should not follow suit. Congressman Mark Meadows posted two photos — one of the Democratic party sit-in and the other of AIADMK protest by lawmakers inside the Rajya Sabha in March — saying they look “disturbingly similar”. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Other governments may behave this way, but it is crucial that we set an example for democracy and not follow suit,” Meadows, who is a two-term Congressman from North Carolina, said in a tweet accompanying the photographs.Under the leadership of legendary John Lewis, Democratic lawmakers resorted to an unprecedented sit-in inside the well of the House of Representatives demanding vote on a strong gun control laws earlier this month after the Orlando massacre in which 49 people were killed by Afghan-origin gunman Omar Mateen. The Speaker of the US House of Representatives described this as a publicity stunt. The Democrats ended the sit-in after 24 hours. We don’t know what’s more disturbing that the lawmaker fails to acknowledge the serious problem that guns pose in the USA as he mocks the opposition?Or the fact that he thinks despite the obvious bonhomie between the two nations, India is an example of misbehaving lawmakers, at a time when his party’s leading presidential candidate has completely rewritten the rules of etiquette, manners and civil speech in general. It must take some gall to point out deficiencies of other democracies when Donald Trump continues to lower the global view of USA with every single statement. With agency inputs

Senior jounalist Syed Nazakat elected member for GIJN

Senior award-winning journalist from India Syed Nazakat has a huge task in hand –to promote and educate people about investigative journalism in India, and 26 other countries. Nazakat has recently been elected to the board of directors of Washington DC-based Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN), a prestigious global media body, for a two-year term and will be representing the Asia Pacific region. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nakazat, who is also the editor-in-chief of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit organization promoting the cause of watchdog journalism in India, agrees that investigative journalism at present is restricted just to select media organisations at present.“The situation is the same is most countries, including India, Pakistan and its neighbouring countries,” Nazakat told dna. He added that most people complain that the atmosphere is these countries is not conducive to investigative journalism and stiff government resistance to media. “But the truth is how many journalists file RTIs, go through audit reports an the huge chunks of data available? My aim will be to spread more awareness on the subject,” he said.However, he said in India there has been remarkable work done by the India media in terms of breaking reports on the Augusta Westland scam, the Adarsh scam, among others.Last year, Nazakat had also set-up a data journalism start-up called DataLEADS which conducts data analysis, boot camps and runs India’s first data-driven website dedicated to healthcare reporting, called Health Analytics India. Nazakat said he is currently looking forward to an worshop on investigative journalism at Nepal in September this year, where training on investigative journalism will be provided to jounalists. Aside that, he periodically conducts trainings across colleges and professionals, a recent one included a workshop for IIT engineers. The Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) is an international association of more than 100 media organisations in 50 countries. GIJN holds conferences, conducts trainings, provides resources and consulting, and strengthens and promotes watchdog reporting worldwide. GIJN’s second Asian Investigative journalism conference will be held in Kathmandu on September 23-25, 2016.GIJN reserves six board seats for Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East/North Africa, and North America.

Ishrat Jahan case: Half-truths better than Chidambaram’s half-baked truths

Now look, men…there may be a god up there, or then again there may not be; but assuming for a moment that there is, you should be pretty sure that he is on P Chidambaram’s side in India.

If there is any doubt, one should read his column in the Indian Express that deals with his ethical and moral positioning in relation to the killing of Ishrat Jahan and three others in Gujarat in 2004. With clever use of words and marshalling of selective facts, he tries to give the impression that he has always stood for justice, morality and ethics.

As I have argued in an earlier Firstpost story, the eminence of a lawyer is directly proportional to his ease with words. And Chidambaram is an eminent lawyer.

In his column, Chidambaram argued that he would not like to guess if the encounter was fake or genuine. And that by amending the affidavit, he had taken a correct legal and moral position – of de-linking Ishrat Jahan’s antecedents with the extra-judicial execution of four persons by the Gujarat police.

In a clever sleight of hand, he acknowledges that there might have been intelligence inputs from Central agencies on Ishrat Jahan and her associates, but that that must not be taken as an excuse for killing them without trial.

Only a seasoned lawyer like Chidambaram could pretend to be so naïve as to not know that India’s internal security establishment has over the years acquired the features of a killing machine. Perhaps nobody else, with the honourable exception of Chidambaram, would need a judiciary-mandated probe to reveal the reality of Ishrat’s fake encounter. Right from the word go, it was a FAKE encounter – in capital letters.

But is this not the reality of all such encounters in India, in which criminals are claimed to have been gunned down by valiant policemen in the dead of night in lonely places?

File image of P Chidambaram. PTIFile image of P Chidambaram. PTI

File image of P Chidambaram. PTI

Any person with an elementary understanding of the intelligence bureau’s operation cell would know how agencies use their “assets” and do not hesitate to “neutralise” them when they become a liability. This ruthlessness has become intrinsic to the statecraft.

This was very much on display when Chidambaram gave the go-ahead signal to security forces and launched a massive combing operation against Maoists in the forests of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, during his tenure as home minister.

The summary execution of scores of Maoists was not even preceded by Kangaroo trials. They were bumped off at the slightest suspicion by a vengeful state. Chidambaram’s abiding faith in the dictum “innocent till proven guilty” had never stirred his conscience back then.

Top Maoist leaders like Kishanji, Appa Rao and Kondal Reddy were gunned down in encounters which appeared to be as genuine or fake as that of Ishrat Jahan. The security agencies of the Centre and the state of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh collaborated to engineer these encounters.

Of course the spate of extra-judicial executions happening routinely in Jammu and Kashmir and the troubled regions of North Eastern states did not abate during Chidambaram’s time. Rather, there was enough indication of the state expressing its machismo more through guns than dialogues. Much of the criminality of the state was brushed under the carpet with the belief that skeletons would rarely tumble out of the closet.

In Ishrat Jahan’s case, it would be absolutely wrong to find fault with Chidambaram’s decision to amend the affidavit in the court. The problem is not that he decided not to stick to the truth but to a half-truth, which is worse than a lie.

In the affidavit, he carefully avoided talking about the collusive roles of the IB and the then national security advisor M K Narayanan. The fact that such IB-aided operations are prevalent in the country is conveniently overlooked to persist with the illegality of the state.

Ishrat Jahan’s encounter was picked with the sole objective of enmeshing an adversary like the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, and to nail him down in a criminal case. This is the precise reason why Chidambaram inducted an officer like Kuldeep Sharma, despite stiff opposition to his central deputation by the state government in the home ministry.

The home ministry then turned into a veritable palace of conspiracy to topple the Gujarat government by promoting a split in top administrative and the police set up. This is the sequel in which Chidambaram’s amended affidavit is seen – and not in his noble declaration of abiding faith in “innocent till proven guilty”.

Perhaps it would have been much better if Chidambaram would have bared the hideous face of the state and had demanded that the internal security establishment – including intelligence agencies – be held accountable for its acts.

A parliamentary oversight on the functioning of the intelligence agencies is certainly a prerequisite for the evolution of a benign state. Instead, the former home minister chose to express his “righteous indignation” on a case that bespeaks more about his guilt than his innocence.

Three children among 7 injured in illegal factory fire

Barasat: Seven persons, including three children and as many women, sustained severe burn injuries on Sunday after a fire broke out in an illegal firework manufacturing unit in Naihati area of North 24 Parganas district.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Fire brigade officials said the fire ravaged two store rooms, one room where the work was going on and a bedroom of the house where the factory was functioning at Debgram locality.

Two of the injured children are eight years old and the third one is 11 years, the officials said, adding all the
seven victims suffered 60-70 per cent burns.

The injured were taken to JNM Hospital in Kalyani where their condition was stated to be critical.
Two fire tenders managed to control the fire in the factory which was termed ‘illegal’ by fire brigade officials.

The owner of the factory fled after the incident.

Mamata talks tough, sends strong message to leaders promoting ‘factionalism’ in TMC

In a strong message to party leaders, including a few high-profile ones, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said she would not tolerate “factionalism”, which she held responsible for the loss of 15-20 seats in the recently concluded Assembly elections in West Bengal.In a blunt message, she told the party men during a workshop that once the party gave ticket to someone, he would have to work together with other party members. “Factionalism led to the party’s losing 15-20 seats in the Assembly poll. I will not tolerate factionalism or any anti-party activity,” she said. Banerjee named leaders such as state minister Purnendu Bose, Bidhanagar Municipal Corporation Mayaor Sabyasachi Dutt, TMC MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and TMC MLA Sujit Bose in her stern reminder and asked them to refrain from infighting in the Rajarahat- Newtown area of North 24- Parganas district.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There are certain leaders such as Biplab Mitra of South Dinajpur. It is because of his infighting with other leaders that had led to our loss in a few seats in that district.” “In Malda we have lost because of the feudal mindset of certain leaders. I thing such leaders should now take rest and new leaders should take over in the district,” she said.She also warned of stern action against those who were trying to use party platform to subserve personal interests. “I will not tolerate two three factions of our party’s trade union. In each place our party will have only one union.I don’t care about the stature of the leader. I will not tolerate if anyone tries to use the party as a platform to serve their own interests over the interest of the party,” Banerjee said.

Rain clouds are here..

The parched regions of Maharashtra have a reason to cheer. The monsoon’s surge is about to revive, ending the brief lull that had stalled its advance and got farmers worried. Weathermen from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that in the next two-three days, monsoon will advance over various parts of Maharashtra, starting with Konkan, Mumbai and then Marathwada and Vidarbha.”We have favourable weather systems developing over both Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal. These conditions will make westerly winds stronger,” said KS Hosalikar, deputy director-general, IMD, western region.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Met department also said on Thursday that “conditions are once again becoming favourable for the advance of southwest monsoon over south Chhattisgarh and remaining parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and some parts of Odisha, Gangetic West Bengal and Jharkhand.”Since its onset on June 8, the monsoon had made rapid progress in the next three days, advancing till Karwar on west coast and Ongole near coastal Andhra on the east coast. But, from June 12 onwards, weather conditions on the west coast weakened, worrying farmers and people of drought-hit regions of a further delay. “Things are improving now. A cyclonic circulation is set to form over west-central Bay of Bengal and it is likely to move towards the west, making conditions favourable for monsoon rainfall in Maharashtra,” said Sunitha Devi, director, weather section, IMD, Pune.Private weather forecaster Skymet, too, said that rains are set to pick up pace after next 24 hours. “The cyclonic circulation over Bay of Bengal will help in increasing the monsoon surge over the west coast and we expect that the intensity of rain will increase over Interior Maharashtra as well as the coastal areas of North Maharashtra including Mumbai by June 18,” said Skymet. They added, “Further, by June 20 and June 21, moderate to heavy rain and thundershowers are expected to lash Mumbai and nearby areas. This spell may mark the onset of much-awaited monsoon over Mumbai.”

Jammu and Kashmir: Soldier, militant killed in a 24-hour gunfight on LoC

For the last 24 hours, Indian Army is battling a group of heavily-armed infiltrators on the Line of Control (LoC) that has so far left one soldier and one militant dead besides injuring four troopers in Machil sector of North Kashmir.The gunfight started on the wee hours of Tuesday when troops deployed on the Line of Control noticed suspicious movement at Katwara forest area near Jet Gali in Machil sector.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Troops immediately took positions and challenged the ultras who, in turn, opened heavy fire causing injuries to two soldiers initially. Troops later engaged the ultras and in the ensued gunfight three more soldiers were injured.One of the soldiers later succumbed to his injuries.The slain has been identified as signalman Ajay Singh of Dhiger village in Jhunjunu district of Rajasthan. The 24 year old soldier was serving the army for the last six years. He is survived by his wife Meena.”We have killed one militant so far. One weapon and some war like stories were recovered from his possession”, said Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman at Srinagar.Indian army troops have rushed in reinforcements and sealed all entry and exit points to prevent the militants from escaping from the area.”Operation is still on in the area. The number of militants will only be known after the operation is over. Since morning there is no gun fight”, said Colonel Joshi.The fresh infiltration bid came on the day when Indian army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag arrived here to review the overall security in Kashmir. Later General Singh met J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti who stressed for maintaining greater vigil along the borders to prevent infiltration.Mehbooba called for minimising the visibility of the troops from the civilian areas and tourist places in the state. “The troops should ensure that no civilian is harmed and there is minimum damage to civilian properties during encounters with the militants. While the Army is competent enough to deal with the situation along the borders, for internal security, police and paramilitary forces should shoulder the greater responsibilities,” she said.

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