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

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

Arunachal Pradesh: PPA blames BJP for ‘hijacking’ its MLAs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) on Saturday accused the BJP of hijacking its MLAs to install its government in the state, after Chief Minister Pema Khandu joined the saffron party with 32 MLAs.Addressing media persons at Arunachal Press Club (APC) here, PPA President Kahfa Bengia criticised North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma for remaining a silent spectator during the political crisis. PPA is a partner of NEDA. “The NEDA convenor instead of coming to the state to resolve the ongoing crisis went to Kenya. He should have deputed somebody to sort out the differences between the MLAs of the party,” Bengia said.”The PPA is not comfortable with NEDA in the state and we are going to discuss the issue with other constituent members of the alliance soon,” PPA central working committee (CWC) Chairman Kamen Ringu said while supporting Bengia.Criticising the BJP for its “conspiracy” to dislodge the PPA-led NEDA government in state and to install a full-fledged BJP government, Bengia alleged that the party even hijacked the PPA candidate for the November 19 by-poll to Hayuliang Assembly constituency and forced her to contest from a BJP ticket.”Most of the MLAs treat PPA as a “transit camp”. We’ll not allow it any more. We’ll try to strengthen the lone regional party of the state and will come out strong in the 2019 elections,” Bengia said. “Most of the leaders are not to lead the state but to loot,” Bengia said, adding that the party had enough legal aspects to teach lessons to those who had been maintaining equal relation with PPA as well as the BJP.

Anil Baijal takes oath as Delhi Lieutenant Governor

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

TMC MP Tapas Paul arrested in Rose Valley case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Trinamul Congress (TMC) Lok Sabha MP and actor Tapas Paul was arrested on Friday after a four-hour-long questioning in two sessions at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) office here for his alleged association with the Rose Valley Group.Paul had been the director of Brand Value Communication, the media division of the Group. His wife Nandini Paul, who was also an employee of the company, was also questioned on Friday.Sources said that he was arrested following several inconsistencies during interrogation. “He was mainly asked five questions: whether he had taken cash from the Rose Valley Group, what were the amenities he enjoyed as the director of the media wing, when had he written to the Centre against the chit fund companies of the state, why he had not mentioned Rose Valley when he had mentioned the Saradha Group and whether he had continued taking favours from the company even after stepping down from his post,” said a senior CBI official.He also said that the CBI had reasons to believe that Paul used to take cash from the company even after detaching himself from it. Sources said that Rose Valley employees had been questioned in the last one-and-a-half years and it was found out that Paul had met Goutam Kundu, who owned the company several times at different five-star hotels which Paul couldn’t give a satisfactory explanation to.Paul had been a TMC MLA for two terms from the Alipore constituency from 2001 till 2009 and had been representing the party in the Lok Sabha from 2009 from the Krishnanagar Lok Sabha constituency.Paul would be taken to Bhubaneswar and would be produced at a court there on Saturday and CBI officials said that they would seek Paul’s custody.In June 2010, he had written to Sebi and RBI against the chit fund companies in Bengal but had not mentioned Rose Valley at that time. Officials said that he had said that he did not know that Rose Valley raised money like a chit fund company but the CBI didn’t buy the theory.Another TMC MP, Sudip Bandopadhyay, had also been summoned by the CBI and he is believed to reach the CBI office on January 3.Interestingly, Paul’s arrest comes 50 days after the demonetization drive, against which the TMC had been vocal from the very beginning. Naturally, it has given rise to several political reactions from the TMC and other Opposition parties. TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that it was political vendetta and that she was not surprised and she was not afraid too. “We have been protesting the demonetization policy and knew something like this will happen. They may arrest more of our MPs but we will not deter from our protest,” Mamata said at a press conference.State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said that there may be other bigger names who should not be spared. “CBI investigation should be carried out the right way and the high and mighty should not be spared if found guilty. At the same time, no innocent person should be harassed,” he told DNA.CPI(M) MLA Sujan Chakraborty said, “Why only Tapas? He is not even the ear, which when pulled the head will be caught. Tapas is at the most the hand. Anyone who possesses money which has been siphoned off the common people should be arrested.”State BJP president Dilip Ghosh, however, said that it was only a matter of time. “It was inevitable. Why was he not arrested so far was the question. Another MP is also going to be questioned. He has been summoned by the CBI, but he is not going there probably he knows that he will be arrested too. There will be more such arrests, given the kind of corruption within the TMC,” Ghosh said.

98 Hindus murdered, 357 injured in Bangladesh this year: Report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> According to a report made by Bangladesh Jatiya Hindu Mohajote (BJHM), at least 98 people from the Hindu community have been murdered and 357 others injured across the country till December 29 this year.Revealing the report at a press conference held in Dhaka Reporters? Unity today, BJHM executive president Sukrtity Mandal said the report was prepared based on reports published in different newspapers and their community sources, reports the Dhaka Tribune.The BJHM president also said that around 711 people either left the country or were threatened to leave the country, while 209 idols were damaged and 22 others were stolen.He further said 22 people of their community have also been missing while 38 people were kidnapped and eight others are in jail.According to United News of Bangladesh (UNB), 1,109 Hindus received death threat and attempts were made to kill 18 others during the said period.

Delhi Police battled controversies, cracked high-profile cases in 2016

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>From arresting three JNU students on charges of sedition to booking of several AAP MLAs, 2016 saw Delhi Police battling a series of controversies even as it cracked a number of high-profile cases, nabbed wanted terrorists and busted an espionage ring involving a Pakistan High Commission staffer.Crime against women continued to rise and a number of brutal rape and assault cases kept the police on its toes though it managed to solve some of them in quick time.In June, a multi-city kidney racket involving doctors and touts was busted by Delhi Police while it arrested Khalistan Liberation Front chief Harminder Singh Mintoo who had escaped from Nabha jail. A number of persons suspected to have links with ISIS and al Qaeda were also caught in the course of the year.Women safety in the national capital continued to be a cause of concern with 1,981 cases of rape being reported till November 30 even as police launched a number of initiatives to contain crime against women.The brutal stabbing of a 21-year-old girl in Burari in broad daylight in September by a man who was allegedly stalking her for several months, and the videos of the shocking incident left people horrified. In February, the arrest of JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar and two others on charges of sedition for allegedly organising an event against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, triggered a huge controversy with Opposition political parties slamming police for “working at the behest of ruling BJP”.The arrest of Kumar catapulted him to national fame and resulted in students protests across the country. The arrests also led to a nationwide debate on nationalism. Police had also come under severe criticism following attacks on journalists and students and teachers of JNU at the Patiala House court by some lawyers just before Kanhaiya was to be produced.In October, JNU student Najeeb Ahmed went missing, a day after he was allegedly involved in a brawl with some students including ABVP activists, leading to an agitation with students alleging police inaction in tracing him. The uneasy relationship between the AAP government and Delhi Police continued this year as police arrested nine AAP MLAs, drawing angry reaction from the party with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleging the law enforcing agency was acting at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The MLAs arrested are Dinesh Mohaniya, Prakash Karwal, Gulab Singh, Amanatullah Khan, Somnath Bharti, Rituraj Govind, Naresh Balyan, Sharad Chauhan and Jagdeep Singh and the charges ranged from rioting, outraging the modesty of woman, sexual harassment, criminal intimidation and assault.Sandeep Kumar, who was sacked as Cabinet Minister over an “objectionable” CD, was arrested on rape charges on the complaint of the woman who purportedly figured in the CD.The Anti-Corruption headed by Mukesh Kumar Meena, was also involved in a tussle with the AAP dispensation over registration of cases and questioning of AAP ministers and MLAs, including deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, Kapil Mishra, Gopal Rai, Amanatullah Khan.The brutal killing of a 23-year-old Congolese national by three youths following a brawl over hiring an auto-rickshaw in south Delhi in May made national headlines as the government rushed to assure the African community in India of their safety.Delhi Police’s Special Cell continued to clamp down on terror activities with the arrest of six people for suspected links with al Qaeda and ISIS.The year ended with them nabbing Mintoo, who had escaped from Nabha jail, from Nizamuddin railway station here.In October, the Crime Branch also busted an espionage ring with the arrest of four people who were allegedly sharing sensitive defence documents and deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border with a Pakistan High Commission staffer.The staffer Mehmood Akhtar was later declared persona non-grata by the government and he had to leave the country.Following the demonetization of high-value currencies, police raided various areas across the city and recovered over Rs 17 crore in illegal cash.The year ended with a 20-year-old girl, who was on a job hunt, allegedly being raped in a car in South Delhi’s Moti Bagh area, a grim throwback to the horrific Delhi gangrape of a para-medic student in a moving bus four years ago.The alleged suicides by former Director General Corporate Affairs B K Bansal and his son in September, two months after his wife and daughter committed suicide, allegedly due to harassment by CBI, not only drew criticism for the premier investigating agency but also for police as it didn’t register any case despite the presence of purported suicide notes of Bansal and his son.The contentious case of Sunanda Pushkar didn’t see any headway for the second consecutive year even as police accepted that her death was not natural and questioned her husband Shashi Tharoor and Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar in February.Some of the other developments in the case included the formation of a medical board to study the FBI report, sending reminders to Canada to send details of deleted chats from Tharoor and Sunanda’s Blackberry phones, and Enforcement Directorate being requested to investigate the financial irregularities related to now-defunct Kochi IPL franchise.Some of the high-profile cases being investigated by Delhi Police included hacking of Twitter and email accounts of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and missing files concerning Ishrat Jahan encounter from MHA.The Crime Branch cracked down on the notorious red light G B Road in the heart of the city in August dismantling a vast human trafficking and prostitution racket, arresting the kingpin couple and their several accomplices.The suicide by an ex-serviceman close to Ministry of Defence building over the OROP issue kept police busy with many politicians raising the issue and slamming Modi government.As many as 3,400 personnel of paramilitary and Delhi Police were deployed at banks and ATMs across the national capital after serpentine queues led to law-and-order problem in some areas.In the new year, police envisages to modernise its operations and reduce burden on its more than 80,000 personnel by mulling over the possibility of introducing eight-hour shifts on the lines of its Mumbai counterpart.Delhi Police will also be setting up a separate control room for handling calls on phone number 112, which will be India’s equivalent of 911 of the US’ all-in-one emergency services, that will be rolled out from January 1 and the closure of 100 that is the go-to solution for people in distress.

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

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

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

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

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

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

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

Government notifies Disabilities Bill

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

Arunachal crisis: Ram Madhav says BJP will stand by CM Khandu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The newly formed People’s Party of Arunachal Pradesh (PPA) is in crisis. The newly formed outfit has suspended its own chief minister Pema Khandu, son of former chief minister Dorji Khandu, who died in a helicopter crash four years back.The reason for the sudden shift in position is not known but the PPA has decided to suspend seven MLAs. The PPA also would be taking disciplinary action against the MLAs.A floor test is expected to take place in Itanagar on Friday (today). Sources say that the ruling party decided to do away with the chief minister because of his continued closeness with the Congress.Sources indicate that Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was pretty much clued into the affairs of the development, which took place in the North-Eastern state. Sources also say that it would not affect the chance of the BJP-supported government as the suspension would not destabalise the government. The Congress had split last year with MLAs moving out of the stable lock, stock and barrel. Sources said that the MLAs had complained against Pema Khandu. The Congress tried its best to take legal recourse but the split in the party was so intensive that even legal help could not do much.Ram Madhav, BJP general secretary, who is in charge of the state, said: “The president does not have the power to remove the chief minister. BJP is supporting Pema Khandu’s government. The chairman can only do so. Let’s see what happens.”

BJP says PM Modi, Amit Shah have no links with tainted Gujarat businessman Mahesh Shah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP on Thursday warned Congress of legal action over its “baseless and untrue” allegations, including that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its chief Amit Shah have links with Gujarat businessman Mahesh Shah, who is being probed for declaring unaccounted income of Rs 13,860 crore.Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also rejected Congress’ charge against Amit Shah, who is one of the directors in a Gujarat bank in which deposits of over Rs 500 crore were made and asserted that the bank has over 200 branches and it will give explanation about the matter. In a reference to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s attack on Modi and BJP during his address at the party’s 132nd foundation day, he told reporters that the party leaders and spokespersons behave like “children” and “today’s Congress does not represent even a grain of its 132 year’s heritage”.”We want to make it clear that our Prime Minister and party president have no links whatsoever with the person by the name of Mahesh Sharma, against whom action is going on. If Congress has any proof, it should talk about it. Otherwise, we will consider taking legal action under the law dealing with levelling of baseless allegations,” the Law Minister said. Prasad was accompanied by Power Minister Piyush Goyal, who is also the party’s treasurer, as they hit out at the opposition party.It has become the second nature of Congress to level “untrue and baseless” allegation, he said. Attacking it, Prasad said it was “rattled” by Modi’s continuous attack on those linked with black money and corruption and it thinks that its attack on him will “weaken” his fight. Action has been taken against those linked to BJP, he said, citing a case in Madhya Pradesh. “Congress is the biggest patron of the corrupt and corruption. If it thinks that its attack will have any impact on the government, it is wrong. The government will remain unfazed and continue to act against black money and corruption,” he said.The corrupt and those with black money have long been patronised by Congress, he alleged, adding that they now “cry” before its leadership to save them from the government’s action. “I want to ask Congress chief Sonia Gandhi if the childish behaviour of her son and more childish conduct of its spokespersons is being done at her behest,” he asked. Congress has learnt no lessons from its successive poll defeats while BJP has won everywhere after demonetisation, Prasad claimed, adding that its attack on the government showed its “affection for the corrupt and corruption”. He also targeted West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over communal violence in Dhulagarh, alleging that “attempts of massacre” are being made and police is not taking action.”This is height of the politics of appeasement,” he said. “I want to ask those intellectuals, who cried over 2002 riots in Gujarat and then intolerant India, that when are they going to Kolkata,” he said sarcastically. BJP has claimed that Hindus have been targeted in the violence. Prasad, who is also IT Minister, said digital payments have gone up by anywhere between 300 per cent and 1500 per cent following demonetisation which, he and Goyal said, have been a “big success”.Over 1.15 crore people against the target of 80 lakh have been trained in digital transactions, he claimed. The Law Minister also defended promulgation of ordinances by the government, saying it was left with no option after the opposition did not allow Parliament to function in the last session. Goyal also refuted the allegations that crores of rupees have been sent to BJP office in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, demanding that proof be given and warning of legal action.”We are getting indication for an historic support for BJP in UP,” he said, claiming that people have supported note ban despite hardships. “Things are fast returning to normalcy,” he said.

Patriotism should not result in ‘blinkered’ approaches in interpreting history: President Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lamenting the “unfortunate tendency” to take umbrage at the expression of any view considered hostile, President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said the “freedom to doubt, disagree and dispute” must be protected.Mukherjee also said patriotism should not result in “blinkered” approaches in interpreting history or a compromise with truth in order to justify an argument of choice.Asserting that the greatest strength of India is its pluralism and social, cultural, linguistic diversity, he said the country’s traditions have always celebrated the “argumentative Indian and not the intolerant Indian.” The President made the remarks after inaugurating the 77th session of the Indian History Congress in Thiruvananthapuram.There has been an “unfortunate tendency” in the country from time-to-time to take umbrage at the expression of any view perceived to be hostile to our social or cultural institutions past or present, Mukherjee said.Similarly, critical appraisals of heroes and national icons of the past have been met with hostility or sometimes even violence, he pointed out. “Freedom to doubt, disagree and dispute intellectually must be protected as an essential pillar of democracy. Nothing should lie outside realm of discussion and argument and such freedom is vital for the progress in any field especially in a craft like history,” he said.In his address, the President asked historians to be as objective as possible in their approach to history.Advocating that reason and moderation should be the guide, Mukherjee said, “It is natural to love one’s country and see as much glory in its past as one can detect. But, patriotism should not result in blinkered approaches in interpreting history or a compromise with truth in order to justify an argument of choice.””No society is perfect and history must be also seen as a guide on what went wrong and what were the contradictions, deficiencies and weaknesses of the past,” he said.”An objective pursuit of history, such as our best historians have attempted, requires an impartial mind of a judge and not the mind of an advocate,” the President said.”We must keep our eyes open for unfamiliar ideas and be ready to consider a range of different inferences or assumptions,” he said. He also said there should not be any conflict or contradiction between the promotion of regional history and the pursuit of the country’s history as a whole.Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that attempts were being made by vested interests to distort history to suit the present government at the Centre.Mukherjee released the first copy of the proceedings of the Congress by presenting it to the Chief Minister.

China hopeful of better ties with India in 2017, says committed to dissolve outstanding differences

Beijing: China hopes for better ties with India in 2017 by resolving differences over India’s admission into elite Nuclear Suppliers Group and listing of JeM chief Masood Azhar as terrorist by the UN as the two nations signed off their most engaging year bogged down by the twin issues.

“This year has seen a steady development of China-India relations, with the two countries marching towards the goal of building a more closely-knit partnership for development,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told PTI summing up Beijing’s perception of the outgoing year and its vision of Sino-Indian ties for the next year.

“The leadership of the two countries have maintained frequent contacts” despite the differences, she said, referring to a number of meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at multilateral foras like G-20 and BRICS summit.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

She said that the dialogues and consultations have been going on in an orderly fashion at all levels and practical cooperation in various fields has been carried out steadily.

“As close neighbours, it is natural for our two big countries to have differences, and we have been exploring ways to resolve them through diplomatic channels. The main theme of China-India relations remains friendship and cooperation,” she said, holding out hope for a more fruitful year for bilateral ties next year with the resolution of the two major issues.

“For the year 2017, China would like to work with India for better implementation of the important consensus reached between the leadership, greater political mutual trust, wider mutually beneficial cooperation and properly management of differences so as to ensure a sustained and steady development of China-India relations,” she said.

The strength of the deep diplomatic engagement between the two sides virtually begins with the New Year as China’s second “technical hold” on India’s application for listing Azhar as terrorist under UN’s 1267 Committee will expire on 31 December, opening a new window for both the countries to address the issue which cast a shadow on Beijing’s claim to fight terrorism in all forms as the Pakistan-based

Jaish-e-Muhammad is already listed by the UN as terror group. With the end of the second technical hold by China, India is expected to submit a fresh application backed by a charge sheet filed recently by the National Investigation Agency against Azhar for his involvement in the Pathankot terror attack.

The charge sheet was expected to further reinforce India’s case for a UN ban against Azhar. Other members of the Committee including UNSC permanent members, US, Russia, France and UK had backed it earlier.

Indian officials hope that the charge sheet provides strong basis for the case for China to take a relook as Beijing in the past argued that sufficient evidence has not been provided.

“Listing in the 1267 Committee must be in line with the relevant resolutions of the UNSC and the rules of procedure of the Committee,” Hua had said, replying to question on Azhar’s issue days after NIA filed charge sheet.

On India’s admission into the Nuclear Suppliers Group too Indian and Chinese officials hope for a way out next year as China, after blocking India’s bid, began an exercise to work out a “non-discriminatory formula” to admit new members.

It is unclear yet whether a formula can be worked out where the other members of the NSG will agree for admission of China’s close ally Pakistan, whose record in nuclear proliferation during the time of its disgraced nuclear scientist Dr AQ Khan will be a stumbling block.

China is advocating a two step approach for admission of countries who have not signed nuclear-Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in the NSG. As per the new stand announced by Beijing last month, it first wants to find a solution that is applicable to the admission of all non-NPT members followed by discussions to admit specific non-NPT member.

Indian officials say it will make it another engaging year in Sino-Indian diplomacy on both Azhar and NSG fronts and hope that it would not be a futile exercise as happened this year.

However, even after the resolution of the two issues, the larger issues like the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor remain. Modi himself raised this issue with Xi during their meeting at the Chinese city of Hangzhou in September.

Significantly, as the year draws to a close, Lt Gen Amir Riaz, Commander of the Pakistan’s Southern Command which is based in Quetta, asked India to “shun enmity” with Pakistan and “join the USD 46-billion CPEC along with Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries and enjoy its benefits”.

Chinese officials say Riaz’s comments are significant as they point to the backing of the Pakistan army.

Hua said China is open for such a proposal and wondered “what is India’s take on this whether this is a good sign from Pakistan”.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 14:50 IST

Full text: Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s speech at Mumbai University

Arguing that bonhomie between the different South Asian countries can happen only through utilising an accommodating rather than an exclusionary approach, Vice President of India, Hamid Ansari on Wednesday said that it is the only practical approach to the possibility of a “South Asian Union”.

Ansari was addressing the gathering after releasing the book ‘August Voices: What they said on 14-15 August 1947’, authored by Observer Research Foundation head Sudheendra Kulkarni, in Mumbai.

Vice President Hamid Ansari. Reuters

Vice President Hamid Ansari. Reuters

Following is a full transcript of his speech:

“I confess I have read, but infrequently, some of the writings of Sudheendra Kulkarni. Some years back he was gracious enough to send me a copy of his very interesting collection of writings on what Mahatma Gandhi would have done with the internet.

It is tempting to type caste. Could he be called an archeologist, or dubbed a futurologist? Neither would do justice to his work. To me, it is evident that Kulkarni ji has the mind of an explorer, a visionary, in quest of new worlds.

The book before us is one such endeavour, to build a new edifice on the ruins of the past. And yet, because this is not a green field venture, it is essential to understand the nature of ruins on which rebuilding is to commence.

The task of the historian, as Ibn Khuldun put it, is to ‘lift the veil’ from conditions of the past. The present case is also a matter of living memory and therefore not immune from subjectivity of greater intensity. The ‘post-truth’, in this case, arrived seven decades earlier!

The challenge for us, therefore, is three fold:

To understand what happened in 1947?

To examine the role and limitations of the principal actors?

To explore realistically the options for the future.

The happening of 1947 has rightly been describes as a ‘tragedy’ to which the Two Nation theory contributed. The British role, and their anxiety to leave India on terms most advantageous to them, is well known.

Was this sufficient to bring about the division of the country?

Some of the iconic personalities cited in the book, and others not mentioned, played a role in articulating and shaping perceptions for over two decades. Their ‘final’ statements, if such a term can be used for what they said on August 14-15, have therefore to be seen in a wider context of their role in the developments that led to the final decisions.

The critical question is simply put: why was the Partition Plan, put forth by the British, accepted?

Much has been written about the experience of the functioning of the Interim Government of 1946-47. In the discussions preceding and during the crucial AICC meeting of 14-15 June 1947 opinion was divided but both Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel supported Partition. Their line of reasoning, as per public record, was not identical. Nehru felt a compromise with the Muslim League would result in ‘a weak India, that is, a federal India with far too much power in the federating units,’ adding that partition would be temporary, that Pakistan was bound to come back to us.’ Patel felt, as he put it, that ‘in spite of my previous strong opposition to partition, I agreed to it because I am convinced that in order to keep India united it must be divided.’ He added, in a speech in Bombay on 30 October 1948, that ‘we accepted partition willingly and after a full weightment of its consequences.’

Ten years after the event, Maulana Azad attributed the decision of his principal colleagues to ‘anger or despair (that) had clouded their vision’ adding that ‘the verdict (of history) would be that India was not divided by the Muslim League but by the Congress.’

It is therefore difficult to disagree with Shri Kulkarni’s conclusion that ‘history’s verdict casts the responsibility for India’s Partition on both the parties although the Muslim league’s guilt is decidedly greater’ because it anchored its demand on the Two Nation Theory.

And yet, the thought did persist with some of the decision-makers that the impending happening was somewhat unreal, not altogether desirable, and hopefully transitory. The latter aspect, however, was not investigated or spelt out.

Even more glaring was the apparent absence, on all sides, of reflection and articulation of the economic implications of the division of what had hitherto been one economic unit for over a century with its own imperatives and socio-economic consequences.

The theme of the book before us is to project a scenario of the possibility of a South Asian Union with the India-Pakistan-Bangladesh Confederation at the core. Its underlying assumption is the possibility and desirability of an India-Pakistan rapprochement.

Our focus is on three nation-states of recent origin, of different sizes and capacities, differing versions of the past, conflicting ideologies and national security perceptions, but sharing geography, ecology and wider human security challenges.

Our author seeks a solution by plunging headlong into the core of differences. He suggests a ‘cultural and spiritual confederation’ that would subdue and overcome extremist perceptions of those whom he is not disinclined to name, reverts to what was said by some political and spiritual personalities, and cites with approval Maharishi Aurobindo’s words that the desired change will come ‘by an increasing recognition of the necessity not only of peace and concord but of common action, by the practice of common action and the creation of means for that purpose.’

Idealism, however lofty, has to be tempered with realism. Common action is easier done on areas of convergence than of divergence. This convergence is to be sought by moving beyond the traditional paradigm of conventional security into those of human security and human wrong. Both are ignored by the governments and societies in our region; there is a crying need for the recognition and implementation of both. Only then would we develop the perception and capacity for correctives.

A beginning therefore has to be made in regional cooperation with a focus on human security problems, on movement of people and on trade without unreasonable restrictions. The common traits in cultural traditions and historical narratives needs to be transmitted to a younger generation through conscious promotion rather than studied prevention of cultural exchanges, films, and other cultural activities.

The experience of Saarc has not been encouraging and therefore alternate strategies need to be explored. The proposed new structure would have to be voluntary and devoid of overt or covert coercion. There may be lessons to be learnt from other regional organizations.

The practical approach would be to make haste slowly, to be accommodative rather than exclusionary so that negative perceptions are allowed to fade away. Political commitment and modalities have to surface to resolve outstanding areas of disagreement. Foremost amongst these is what the Simla Agreement of 1972 called ‘a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir’. Its domestic dimensions, as well as the trans-LOC incursions, have been in the news of late. The State is doing all that is necessary to confront and repel terrorism. The State also has a duty to ensure that the rights and dignity of our citizens in the State are respected and ensured and shortcomings effectively addressed. Alienation of any segment of the citizen body within our land does not contribute to the overall health of the Republic.

Chale chalo ke who manzil abhi nahin aa’ii.

Jai Hind.”

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 10:20 IST

Fight me in Punjab: Amarinder Singh to Arvind Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh has dared Aam Aadmi Party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to contest against him in the upcoming Punjab elections.Singh, former Chief Minister of Punjab and the face of Congress campaign in the state, threw the challenge in a twitter reply to Kejriwal, who earlier in a tweet had nudged the Punjab Congress strongman asking if he was contesting against Punjab CMM Prakash Singh Badal, state deputy CM Sukhbir Badal, junior Badal’s brother-in-law Bikram Majithia or from a “safe seat”.Singh hit back instantly saying the Badal chapter in Punjab was over and that Kejriwal should come and fight elections in Punjab and he would fight Kejriwal.”Badals’ story is over. You tell me where you’re contesting from and I will come fight you there!(sic),” Amarinder tweeted.The PCC chief’s response came after Kejriwal tweeted, “Sir, r u fighting against Prakash Badal ji or sukhbir Badal or Majithia or safe seat(sic)?”Amarinder had earlier in the day accused AAP of “colluding” with Badals after the Kejriwal-led party fielded former journalist Jarnail Singh against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in Lambing constituency, saying that he was a weak candidate.

EC orders FIR against Maha BJP chief Raosaheb Danve for poll code violation

Thu, 29 Dec 2016-12:20am , Mumbai , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra Election Commission on Wednesday asked the Aurangabad district collector to file an FIR against state BJP president Raosaheb Danve for his statement where he asked voters to accept “Laxmi” before the polls.Danve had made the controversial statement at a campaign rally in Paithan in Aurangabad district on December 17 before the municipal council polls.”On the eve of elections, Laxmi comes to your house and you should accept it,” Danve had said at Paithan rally.An Election Commission official said here that the Commission had asked Aurangabad collector to file a first information report against the BJP leader for violation of model code of conduct. Earlier the Commission had served a show-cause notice to Danve who had defended himself, saying he did not mean money when he referred to “Laxmi”. Congress and AAP had complained to the Election Commission demanding action against the state BJP chief.

Jammu: Farooq Abdullah attacks people calling him ‘Pakistani’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a scathing attack on those calling him “anti-national and Pakistani”, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday said if the BJP-PDP coalition government “is not anti-national” for advocating talks with all stakeholders, including the Hurriyat, how can he be given the label for doing the same.Farooq sought “meaningful dialogue” for ending political uncertainty in Jammu and Kashmir. “PDP-BJP batted for talks with all. They entered into alliance. In their agenda of alliance it’s written they will talk to all– and also to Hurriyat,” Farooq told a public rally at Ragooda belt on Wednesday.Taking a dig at those calling him Pakistani, he said, “They (PDP-BJP) are not Pakistanis. They are not anti- nationals. When Farooq is calling for holding talks with all they allege Farooq is anti-national and Pakistani.” “We have given sacrifices for entire life and then I am being given a label,” he said.”Alongside opening channels of dialogue with Pakistan, the Centre must talk to all the stake-holders, including Hurriyat Conference,” Abdullah said.Referring to recent unrest, he blamed the coalition for bringing “unprecedented crisis” not only in the Valley but also in the Jammu region. He also referred to “harassment being caused” to weaker sections of society in Jammu by threatening eviction from the lands rehabilitated by their ancestors.”Aren t these people Dogras and integral part of the Jammu society, who are at the receiving end of the whims and fancies of the coalition dispensation,” Abdullah said.”We inherit the legacy of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh. Anybody attempting to trample upon these ethos will get befitting reply from the people,” he said and “advised the Chief Minister not to lose sense of proportion by colluding in inflicting miseries on the people”.Holding PDP responsible for “political instability” and unrest across the Valley, he said “betrayal of mandate” by aligning with the BJP engulfed Jammu and Kashmir into “unprecedented crisis”. He described the PDP-BJP alliance as one of the major causes of igniting Kashmir unrest.

Indian Olympic body stirs storm over Suresh Kalmadi role

An Indian politician charged with corruption turns down an honorary Olympic role after protests.

Former Union Home Secretary Anil Baijal likely to be new Delhi LG

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

Rahul dares PM Modi to reveal names of Swiss account holders

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of protecting black money hoarders and demanded that the names of Swiss account holders be revealed to the nation.”He (Modi) said he is going to reveal the names of those who hold Swiss accounts. The Swiss Government has given the list to Narendra Modi ji. When is he going to bring the list in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha” We want to know who the corrupt are. He should also tell why he is trying to protect these defaulters,” said Gandhi. Gandhi also continued his outburst against the government”s demonetization move and demanded answers from the Prime Minister.”Since November 8, how much black money has been recovered” How much economic loss has the nation faced” How many people became unemployed” How many people lost their lives due to demonetization and if the government has provided compensation to them and if not then why. When the PM took this decision whom did he ask, name the experts whose advice did he take” PM should give the names of those who deposited more than Rs. 25 lakhs two months before November 8,” he said.Terming the decision to ban high-denomination currency notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 as a yagna, Gandhi demanded proper compensation for those affected post this decision. “The PM has performed the yagna of demonetization for 50 families. The Congress is demanding the way compensation should be made. The limit of Rs. 24,000 should be withdrawn. By putting this limit, you are snatching away the financial independence of the people. Secondly, loans of the farmers should be waived off and bonus on 20 percent MSP should be given. Every women of the BPL family must be given Rs. 25,000. The daily wages of the MNREGA workers should be doubled,” he said.Gandhi’s fresh outburst against the ruling dispensation came a day after the anti-demonetization meeting, which was attended by all opposition parties except the Left, Janata Dal (United) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Taking on the opposition for raising objections to the demonetization drive, Prime Minister Modi yesterday described the move as a ‘safayi abhiyan’ aimed at curbing black money and corruption. Addressing a parivartan rally in Congress-ruled Uttarakhand, the Prime Minister said that the country has suffered in the past not just because of black money but also due to leadership with ‘malicious heart.’

The persecution of Zakir Naik’s lawyer is both illegal and unjust

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>By no stretch of imagination is Zakir Naik, the founder and head of NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), a benign preacher or a saintly figure. There’s no dearth of members of his own religious community who condemn him for hate-mongering and giving Islam a bad name.However, is he indulging in terrorist activities by “radicalising” Muslim youth, as the government claims? Are the lawyers defending him to be held ‘guilty by association’? If that is the case, then no lawyer worth his salt would stop shuddering before taking on the brief of anyone accused of terror offences. Only the most intrepid of lawyers would come forward to fora without fear or favour. And most Muslim lawyers would be all the more intimidated due to the persecution and hounding they might face, for the simple reason that a majority of terror-accused (most of whom finally get acquitted) happen to profess Islam as their religion.Moreover, how judicially sound is the government’s November 2016 decision to ban Naik’s IRF as a terror outfit under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), and would it stand the legal scrutiny of the tribunal being headed by Justice Suresh Kait of the Delhi High Court?
ALSO READ Notice served on legal counsel of Zakir Naik’s NGOThese questions assume prime significance because of Mumbai Police’s Crime Branch summoning Naik’s lawyer SHA Jamati for questioning, and directing him to show cause why his client’s NGO should not be banned, and prove that he is in no way either an aide or an associate in Naik’s activities. It might appear that defending Jamati for fighting his client’s case is equivalent to supporting Naik’s activities, but that is not the case.
ALSO READ Centre transfers bureaucrat who cracked down on Zakir Naik’s NGOIn fact, the two issues are intertwined, and the root lies in the wording of definitions in the UAPA. They are too sweeping in scope and give more than ample and justifiable reasons for the tribunals to pass orders which transgress constitutional principles, as researchers from the think tank Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy have pointed out in this piece.Moreover, Justice PK Shali, who headed the tribunal in 2012, had this to say: “The language of the provisions of the Act is drafted in such a manner that the Tribunal is required to see only the ‘sufficiency of the cause’ for the Central Government to declare the association to be unlawful and conversely, the onus is put on the association, either as a body of persons or as office-bearers or even as members, to show cause as to why it should not be declared as unlawful.”
ALSO READ Ban on IRF is an attack on Indian Muslims, peace, democracy and justice: Zakir NaikSuccessive reports, available here, here, and here, have exposed in detail how, under the UAPA, the banning regime works in a grossly undemocratic and illegal manner.A Lawyer’s DutyAccording to the law, a lawyer is an officer of the court and owes his duty only to his client and the court. He is not to be subjected to humiliation or any kind of harassment merely and only because he has taken up the case of someone deemed odious by a certain section of society and some members of the ruling government. Legendary British barrister, Lord Brougham, a tireless crusader of civil liberties, said in 1937: “An advocate, by the sacred duty which he owes to his client, knows in the discharge of that office but one person in the world — the client, and no other… to protect that client at all hazards and costs to all others, and among others to himself is the highest and most unquestioned of his duties… Nay, separating even the duties of a patriot from those of an advocate, and casting them if need be to the wind, he must go on reckless of the consequences…”Nancy Hollander, former president of the National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers (US), proclaims with pride and devoid of any compunction: “So let me say it: I am a terrorist lawyer, if that means I am willing to defend those accused of terrorism. I am currently defending two men imprisoned in Guantanamo and I defend others accused of terrorism. Contrary to recent attacks by those who claim to be supporters of American justice, my defence of people accused of serious and sometimes horrific crimes is not an endorsement of those crimes. Rather, it is a testament to the strength of my belief in, and commitment to, the American system of justice. Why? Because in my defence of every client, I am defending the United States Constitution and the laws and treaties to which it is bound, and I am defending the rule of law. If I am a terrorist lawyer, I also am a rule-of-law lawyer, a constitutional lawyer and a treaty lawyer.”Sadly, in recent times in India, lawyers taking up cases of those accused of terror offences are also regarded as terrorists and hounded. The trials and tribulations faced dauntlessly by the likes of Mehmood Pracha, Sarim Naved, Trideep Pais, and Shahid Azmi (who was assassinated), who have successfully secured acquittals for those accused as terrorists, can inspire many, but not all, to soldier on. Regardless of the consequences.But, for how long? It requires a Herculean effort to withstand the might of the state and its agencies.Till date, Jamati has remained unfazed and has vowed to take the government head on. Mubin Solkar, a reputed Mumbai-based criminal lawyer, is also advising Naik and has warded off threats and persecution.But, for how long should this legally-abetted thuggery be allowed to continue?

Anil Baijal to be Delhi L-G after Pranab Mukherjee accepts Najeeb Jung’s resignation

President Pranab Mukherjee, on Thursday, accepted the resignation of Najeeb Jung as Delhi Lieutenant Governor. Former Home Secretary, Anil Baijal is slated to replace him as the new administrator of the National Capital Territory, according to India Today TV.

In his career as a bureaucrat, Baijal, a 1969 batch IAS officer, has donned many hats.

A file image of Anil Baijal. News18

A file image of Anil Baijal. News18

He retired from the service in October, 2006 as Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India. While in that ministry, he was instrumental in the designing and roll-out of the  Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) with federal grant equivalent of about Rs 60,000 crore, for improvement of infrastructure and provision of basic services in urban areas of India, according to his profile on IDFC group website, of which he is a non-executive chairman and an independent director. 

He has been the union home secretary in the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The former bureaucrat  has also been the vice-chairman of the Delhi Development Authority and had headed key public sector companies like Prasar Bharti and Indian Airlines.

In a sudden move, Jung had submitted his resignation on 22 December, ending a nearly three-and-half-year-long eventful tenure, mostly marked by bitter confrontation with AAP government.

The 65-year-old Jung, a former 1973 batch IAS officer and former vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia University, had assumed charge as Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi on 9 July, 2013.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 16:29 IST

Kerala: Party workers throw rotten eggs on Congress leader Rajmohan Unnithan’s car

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The unrest in Congress in Kerala over the selection of DCC Presidents turned ugly on Wednesday when some party workers allegedly threw rotten eggs at the vehicle of a leader Rajmohan Unnithan, who had locked horns with former KPCC chief K Muraleedharan on party issues.The incident came as a great embarrassment to Congress as it happened on a day the party is celebrating its formation day. Unnithan, who resigned from the post of KPCC spokesperson on Tuesday, was attacked allegedly by a group of Congress workers in front of the DCC Office at Kollam when he was proceeding to attend the party celebrations.Reacting to the development, KPCC President VM Sudheeran said it was unfortunate and the party would inquire about it. Sudheeran wanted party workers to desist from airing their views in public and said “party is our strength and we should strengthen it.”Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said intolerance towards criticism should be avoided and it should be taken positively. Meanwhile, Muraleedharan also termed the attack on Unnithan as unfortunate. He also wanted the party leadeship to intervene and sort out the matter.However, Unnithan alleged that “paid goons” of Muraleedharan were behind the attack. Muraleedharan and Unnithan had sparred after the former charged that party-led UDF Opposition was not functioning as an effective opposition. Joining the issue, KC Joseph, considered to be close to Chandy, came out in support of Muraleedharan and sought action against Unnithan.

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Sunderlal Patwa passes away after brief illness

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Veteran BJP leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Sunderlal Patwa passed away in Bhopal on Wednesday after a brief illness. He was 92.Patwa’s wife had died a few years back and they had no children. His nephew Surendra Patwa is Minister for Culture and Tourism in the present BJP-led state government. Patwa suffered a heart attack in the morning and was rushed to hospital where he breathed his last, Bansal Hospital’s Executive Director Dr Skand Trivedi said.Soon after getting information about Patwa’s demise, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan rushed to the hospital. Later, Chouhan condoled the death of the senior BJP leader. In a tweet, he recalled Patwa’s life-long contribution for the development of Madhya Pradesh and said his death is an irreparable loss to the state.Born on November 11, 1924, Patwa served as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister twice, first for a brief spell of less than a month in 1980 and later, riding on the Ram Mandir ‘wave’, he came back to power in March 1990.However, his second stint on the seat of power was curtailed by imposition of the President’s rule in 1992 after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. He was also elected as the Lok Sabha member from Chhindwara in the 1997 by-poll by defeating Congress strongman Kamal Nath in his home turf. Later, Nath wrested the seat from him in 1998, the party sources said.In 1999 general elections, Patwa won the Hoshangabad Lok Sabha seat and became a Cabinet-raked minister in the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government at the Centre, they added.

As Congress turns 131, Rahul Gandhi accuses BJP of ‘spreading anger’ across India

Just a day after Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad poked fun at Rahul Gandhi for his lack of maturity, the Congress vice-president hit back at the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central stating how the BJP has formed a rigid view of everything, and that Prime Minister Narendra is spreading anger across India.

Juxtaposing BJP’s ideology with that of Congress, Gandhi, speaking to Congress party workers on the 132nd foundation day of the Indian National Congress, alleged the BJP of following a rigid stance similar to its ideological head, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Rahul Gandhi. Reuters

Rahul Gandhi. Reuters

Gandhi said: “Congress is not just a party, it’s an idea. Congress means being open to a second viewpoint. It means listening to you. It means listening to others. It doesn’t have a single rigid point of view.”

Gandhi also alleged that the Modi-led government is following on the footpath of RSS and is spreading anger in the country, and called on his party workers to fight against this politics of anger. “Congress has to stand with the poor, the middle class, the labourers and the small traders. We have to go to the people. I am sure you will do this. And fight against this RSS ideology of spreading anger,” he said.

Gandhi also mocked the Narendra Modi government’s decision to demonetise the old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 on 8 November. He said that the government has sacrificed the people. “The prime minister said he is performing a yagya against black money and corruption. The yagya of demonetisation is being performed for the one percent super rich. And just like a sacrifice made in a yagya, the prime minister has sacrificed the common people,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 11:02 IST

Rahul is obsessed while Mamata is biased on demonetisation: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday has said that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s seeking a reply from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the government’s demonetisation drive is ridiculous and added that the former is obsessed with demonetization.”Rahul Gandhi is obsessed with demonetization scheme may be his party is deeply hurt with this move. Seeking reply from Prime minister is ridiculous because in every public meeting, Prime Minister is addressing, he is raising the issue and giving clarification to the people of India. It is more important to speak to the people than to these discontented elements,” said BJP leader S Prakash.He further said that more than Rs. 5 lakhs crores scandals were exposed by the CIG and other independent authorities during the Congress regime, but Rahul did not speak a word on any of scams adding,”Now when, there is no scam and only demonetization is taking place, commenting on the same issue repeatedly will not convince the people.”Congress vice-president, earlier in the day, escalated his attack on Prime Minister Modi, saying the goal of his ambitious demonetization drive has completely failed as people are continuing to suffer.Addressing the media after an anti-demonetization meeting which was attended by all the opposition parties except the Left, Janata Dal (United) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Gandhi said,”Demonetization has done absolutely nothing against corruption. What it has done instead is to leave people without any money.”Prakash also took dig at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who also went all guns blazing at the Prime Minister over his decision to scrap Rs. 500 and Rs. 000 currency notes and said that Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief?s demand is irrelevant and her crusade against demonetization is highly biased.”I think she should more focus on Saradha chit fund scam’s accused as her own MP is still in jail, may be, she has forgotten or dumped him. Let her stable it first and then look at national aspirations,? Prakash said.”Unfortunately, Mamata Banerjee’s mind is totally clouded with biased opinion over demonetization. I hope after December 31 she will realise her mistake and the benefit of demonetization will certainly be known to the people of India in coming days,” he added.

Rahul-led meeting fake attempt for unity, no wise party can join hands with Congress: Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior BJP leader and Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday dismissed the Congress-led meet of eight parties against demonetization, as a “fake attempt for unity” and said it would never succeed.”This is a fake attempt for unity and it will never succeed. No wise party can join hands with Congress. If they (some political party) are doing it, they are doing so at their own peril,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.Earlier in the day, Congress vice-President Rahul Gandhi and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee along with some regional parties at a meeting in Delhi sought to put up a united face raising the pitch against demonetization by demanding resignation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Taking a dig at Gandhi, Naidu claimed, “He has failed to bring unity in his own party. The strength of Congress (in Lok Sabha) has declined from 444 seats to 44 seats.”Referring to scams and corruption during the Congress rule, he claimed, “Earlier Opposition parties had to protest against corruption of the government. But now, the government is fighting against corruption and the opposition is fighting against the government.”

DNA Morning Must Reads: 13 coaches of Sealdah-Ajmer express derail; cash withdrawal cap may be eased; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. 13 coaches of Saeldah-Ajmer express derail near Kanpur, several injuredThirteen coaches of Ajmer-Sealdah express derail near Rura railway station in Kanpur. Read more.2. Demonetization: Withdrawal cap may be eased to Rs 4,000 per day, say sourcesAs per a reliable source, the government was seriously considering relaxing current restrictions on withdrawals from banks and ATMs. Read more.3. Rs 104 crore deposit: Mayawati plays Dalit card, says BJP misusing state power, all my cash is whiteMayawati plays Dalit card after ED disclosure on BSP a/c swelling by Rs 104 crore post-demonetization * Says BJP misusing state power to malign her. Read more.4. Demonetization | ‘Will pressure Modi to resign if fails to solve problems’: Rahul leads fractured Opposition to attack PMCongress president Sonia Gandhi, who had steered the Opposition’s unity, had invited 16 political parties, but in the end only eight turned up. Read more.5. IOA ‘honours’ tainted Kalmadi as its life presidentsKalmadi, a former Congress party Member of Parliament, has been accused of corruption while handing out contracts for the Commonwealth Games held in Delhi in 2010. Read more.

Opposition united, but some parties have local compulsions too: Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said all opposition parties — even those who did not attend a joint press conference in Delhi — were united on demonetisation and Prime Minister Narandra Modi’s alleged corruption.

The opposition is united on demonetisation and Modi’s corruption, though every party has some local compulsions and he respects it, the Congress leader said at the joint press conference in Delhi.

Rahul Gandhi's Twitter handle was hacked on 1 December. PTI

Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter handle was hacked on 1 December. PTI

Out of 16 opposition parties that opposed the government on demonetisation in the winter session of Parliament, only eight attended the joint presss conference, including the Congress, Trinamool Congress, DMK, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal-Secular, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Indian Union Muslim League and All India United Democratic Front.

“Every day, during Parliament’s winter session, all parties were together on the issue of demonetisation. Not even one party was away.

“Every party said they are together on demonetisation and Modi’s corruption. But parties also have local compulsions and we respect those compulsions,” Gandhi said.

The Congress leader said: “Opposition unity is a process and it is going forward. You can ask all opposition parties — they will tell you uniformly that they agree on the stand we are taking on demonetisation and on the Prime Minister’s corruption.”

“There are slight differences in the perspective of these parties. We are happy to embrace them. We see all opposition parties as assets, as people who represent people in this country.

“Every party have some differences, but broadly, everyone will say that demonetisation is a failed experiment. All opposition parties believe in the democratic principles,” the Congress Vice-President added.

On meeting the Prime Minister on 16 December, the last day of Parliament session, which may have irked some political parties, Gandhi said: “I did a 30-day campaign where I committed to the people of Uttar Pradesh that I’ll take two crore of their forms they had filled up and submit to the Prime Minister. I only fulfilled that commitment.”

“I told them I’ll take these personally to the PM. It was a commitment to the farmers,” he added.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 22:25 IST

Ground reality of delivering social justice in India dismal: Vice President Hamid Ansari

Bengaluru: Vice President Hamid Ansari on Tuesday said the ground reality of delivering social justice in India is dismal even after 70 years of legislating welfare laws and adjudicating measures.

“Where do we stand on the ladder of equity? This is a question that citizens of the republic can ask the state after 70 years of legislating welfare laws and adjudicating measures to deliver social justice.”

“The ground reality is dismal,” he said during the inaugural address at the 9th National Conference of the Indian Association of Lawyers here.

Quoting from a report by wealth research firm New World Wealth, the vice president said India is the 12th most inequitable economy in the world, with 45 percent of wealth controlled by millionaires.

File photo of Vice President Hamid Ansari. PTI

File photo of Vice President Hamid Ansari. PTI

Citing another report, published by financial agency Credit Suisse, he said almost half of India’s total wealth was in the hands of the richest one percent, while the top 10 percent controlled about 74 percent of it.

“The poorest 30 percent, meanwhile, had just 1.4 percent of the total wealth,” he added.

Ansari said despite significant social and economic transformation, caste hierarchies continue to remain deeply entrenched and caste relations often result in violent outcomes.

He also said that according to a 2010 report by the National Human Rights Commission on the Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes, a crime is committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes.

“Data culled from National Human Rights Commission indicates that, in 2012, 37 percent Dalits lived below the poverty line, 54 percent were undernourished, 83 per 1,000 children born in a Dalit household died before their first birthday and 45 percent remained illiterate,” he said.

The data also shows that Dalits are prevented from entering the police station in 28 percent of Indian villages, their children have been made to sit separately while eating in 39 percent government schools, and Dalits do not get mail delivered to their homes in 24 percent of villages.

India is placed 130th in the Human Development Index among 188 countries, Ansari said.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 17:18 IST

‘Sahara-Birla’ papers: Why is PM shying away from independent probe, asks Sheila Dikshit

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Toeing the party line, Sheila Dikshit on Tuesday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi wondering why he was shying away from an independent probe into the ‘Sahara-Birla’ papers relating to pay-offs, days after her comments questioning autheticity of the documents put Congress on the backfoot.The Congress’ CM candidate in Uttar Pradesh also debunked speculation that she was distancing herself from the campaigning in the poll-bound state in the wake of the controversy.”Why is @PMOIndia shying from an independent and a thorough probe into the #BirlaSaharaPapers?,” Dikshit tweeted.Dikshit, whose name allegedly figured in the ‘Sahara diaries’ along with many other politicians, had trashed it, putting party Vice President Rahul Gandhi in a tight spot as he had charged Modi with taking money from corporate houses based on the document.”I have said what I had to. The ball is in the court of the @PMOIndia & others now. Will he respond and come out clean? #SaharaBirlaDiaries (sic),” Dikshit said in another tweet.With BJP targeting it following Dikshit’s comments, Congress maintained that it wanted an independent and thorough probe into the “Sahara diaries” corruption issue.There was speculation that Dikshit may not remain Congress’ chief ministerial face in Uttar Pradesh following the controversy.Rejecting the speculations, Dikshit also junked reports that she has suspended her scheduled programmes in Aligarh.”I am amused to see ‘Sheila distances herself from UP’ speculation in media. Aligarh was not on my schedule. I will be in Barabanki tomorrow,” she said.The former Delhi Chief Minister’s name purportedly figured in the list that Congress had put out in a tweet two days back as proof of its allegations against Modi which upset her.On Sunday reacting strongly to the allegations, Dikshit had vehemently denied any wrongdoings calling the charges “all hearsay”. He had said the Supreme Court had already made observations on the diaries, comments that appeared similar to BJP’s argument in defending Modi.

Indus water dispute: Pakistan’s FM talks to World Bank chief, objects to pausing arbitration process

Islamabad: World Bank President Jim Yong Kim called Pakistani Finance Minster Ishaq Dar on phone to discuss the Pakistan-India water dispute, an official said on Tuesday.

The phone call on Monday was in relation with the latest dispute concerning two hydroelectric power plants — Kishan­ganga and Ratle — that India is building on the Indus river system, Dawn online reported.

Dar earlier wrote to Kim requesting him to help settle the water dispute between the two neighbouring nations.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

He said that delaying arbitration would seriously prejudice Pakistan’s interests and rights under the bilateral Indus Waters Treaty which was signed in 1960.

The letter explained that Pakistan was not withdrawing its earlier request to the bank to appoint the chairman of the Court of Arbitration and since this process had already been “inordinately delayed”, Islamabad wanted the bank to appoint the chairman as soon as possible.

Pakistan believes that further delay would hurt the country’s interests as India was working on completing the two projects. Dar said that once the projects are completed, it will be difficult to undo them.

The treaty distributed the Indus basin rivers between the two countries, giving India control over the three eastern rivers of Beas, Ravi and Sutlej, while Pakistan has the three western rivers of Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.

The treaty empowers the World Bank to arbitrate any water dispute between India and Pakistan.

Last week, Kim in a letter to the Finance Ministers of India and Pakistan, said he had decided to “pause” the bank’s arbitration and urged the two neighbours to decide by the end of January how they wanted to settle the dispute.

Pakistan asked the bank to appoint the chairman of the Court of Arbitration while India demanded the appointment of a neutral expert.

Kim said he was “pausing” arbitration to protect the Indus Waters Treaty, which has successfully resolved previous disputes between the two neighbours.

Tension over the water dispute intensified in November when Prime Minister Narendra Modi post the Uri attack which claimed the lives of 19 soldiers, said: “Blood and water cannot flow at the same time.”

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 14:35 IST

UP polls: Sheila Dikshit ‘amused’ to see speculations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Senior Congress leader Sheila Dikshit on Tuesday rubbished reports suggesting that she has withdrawn her name as the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.The former Delhi chief minister said that she was amused to see speculations that she has distanced herself from the Uttar Pradesh polls.Meanwhile, Dikshit also threw light on her upcoming visits to various places in the politically crucial state in the run up to the assembly polls. “Aligarh was not on my schedule. I will be in Barabanki tomorrow,” Dikshit tweeted.Earlier, it was reported that the former Delhi chief minister may withdraw her candidature after her name appeared on the Sahara list.The report said that Dikshit is unhappy with her name being surfaced in the recent Sahara diary leaks and Twitter fiasco following the same.With Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over ‘ Sahara diaries’ bribery issue, a controversy erupted after the grand old party put out a list linked to it on Twitter in which a reference to Dikshit also allegedly figured.ikshit strongly denied the charges and trashed the documents, saying the Supreme Court has already made its observations on them.

‘National Herald’ case: Subramanian Swamy loses battle for documents in court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A trial court on Monday dismissed BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s request for documents claiming it to be “nothing but a fishing enquiry which is not permitted under the law.” Metropolitan Magistrate Loveleen dismissed the application a year after Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi were summoned to court in the National Herald case.The court added that by seeking the financial documents Swamy seemed to “enlarge the scope of the present proceedings.”The court observed that documents sought from the Income Tax department were not relevant to the proceedings and hence could not be ordered to be summoned. With respect to the documents sought from the Congress party—at least 10 types of documents, the court rejected the claim observing that Swamy had not yet submitted his list of witnesses in the case whom the BJP leader proposed to examine in the pre-charge stage.While requesting for documents Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), primarily to check the legality or otherwise of the loan taken from the Congress Party and to check whether the AJL was complying with the provisions of the Companies Act at the relevant time, Swamy used the terms ‘verify’, ‘see’, ‘investigate’. The court observed, that by using these terms, Swamy himself was “not aware of the contents of the said documents.”The court however, allowed Swamy a last opportunity to submit the list of his witnesses in this case and fixed the matter for February 10 to hear arguments on framing of the charges.In a complaint filed by Swamy, the BJP leader has alleged that Sonia, Rahul and others conspired to cheat and misappropriate funds. Swamy accused the Gandhis of misappropriating Congress party funds by paying Rs 50 lakh through which Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YIPL) obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore from Associate Journal Private Limited (AJPL). This, Swamy felt was fraudulent not only to the party donors but also to the State Exchequer by claiming tax exemptions.The defence led by senior advocates RS Cheema, and Rebecca John along with Ramesh Gupta among others argued that the complainant is under an obligation to file a list of witnesses and examine them before seeking documents. The defence further submitted that Swamy was trying to collect and prepare an archive of documents through the present application. The application was omnibus in nature and the documents sought to be summoned were neither relevant nor necessary.

Ball in PMO’s court, will PM Modi come clean? Sheila Dikshit on ‘Sahara diaries’

With Dikshit’s name figuring in the “Sahara diaries” bribery case, stoking a controversy, there could be uncertainty over her continuation as party’s chief ministerial face in Uttar Pradesh, party insiders feel. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior Congress leader Sheila Dikshit has denied reports of withdrawing her name as Congress chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. Earlier, it was reported that the former Delhi chief minister may withdraw her candidature after her name appeared on Sahara list. The report said that Dikshit is unhappy with her name being surfaced in the recent Sahara diary leaks, and Twitter fiasco following the same. She also said: “I have said what I had to. The ball is in court of PMO & others now. Will he respond & come out clean?”With the Congress vice-president targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over ‘ Sahara diaries’ bribery issue, a controversy erupted after the grand old party put out a list linked to it on Twitter in which a reference to Dikshit also allegedly figured. Dikshit, who is the Congress’ chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh, strongly denied the charges and trashed the documents, saying the Supreme Court has already made its observations on them.

India successfully test-fires most lethal missile Agni-V, range to cover entire China

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India successfully test-fired Agni-V on Monday, its most lethal nuclear-capable inter- continental ballistic missile that has a range of over 5,000 km covering whole of China, from Abdul Kalam island off Odisha coast. The successful test-firing on Monday will pave the way for user trial of the missile and its eventual induction into the Strategic Forces Command (SFC).”Agni 5 was successfully flight tested by DRDO at 1100 hours from Dr Abdul Kalam Island, Odisha. The full range test-flight of the missile has further boosted the indigenous missile capabilities and deterrence level of the country,” a statement by the Defence Ministry said.It added that all the radars, tracking systems and range stations tracked and monitored the flight performance and all the mission objectives were successfully met. This was the fourth test of Agni-V missile and the second one from a canister on a road mobile launcher. All the four missions have been successful.The three-stage, solid propellant surface-to-surface missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher from launch complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at about 1105 hours, DRDO sources said. About 17-metre long and weighing over 50 tonne, the missile majestically rose from the confines of its canister flawlessly and achieved all targets, sources in Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) said.The Agni-V missile has a range of over 5,000 km. At present, India possesses Agni-I with 700 km range, Agni-II with 2,000 km range, Agni-III and Agni-IV with 2,500 km to more than 3,500 range in its armoury of Agni missile series, they said. It is the fourth developmental and second canisterised trial of the missile, integrated with a sophisticated mobile launcher in its deliverable configuration that enables launch of the missile with a very short preparation time as compared to an open launch, they said.It also has advantages of higher reliability, longer shelf life, less maintenance and enhanced mobility. President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar congratulated the DRDO scientists, saying it will add tremendous strength to the country’s strategic defence and deterrence capabilities.While the first test of Agni-V was conducted on April 19, 2012, the second was on September 15, 2013 and the third on January 31, 2015 from the same base. Among the missiles of Agni series, the latest Agni-V is the most advanced having some new technologies incorporated with it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine, the sources said.Lot of new technologies developed indigenously were successfully tested in the trial. The very high accuracy Ring Laser Gyro based Inertial Navigation System (RINS) and the most modern and accurate Micro Navigation System (MINS) had ensured the missile reached the target point within few meters of accuracy, they said.

India says it is in touch with Yemen, Saudi Arabia authorities for Father Tom’s release

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India on Monday said it was in regular touch with Yemeni authorities and Saudi Arabia regarding the safe release of Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was abducted nearly nine months ago from war-torn Yemen, after a video of the priest pleading for help became viral.”You are aware of the circumstances currently prevailing in Yemen where fighting is going on with no central authority in that country.”With regard to the safe release of Father Tom who was abducted some months ago, we have been in regular touch with countries in the region, especially Saudi Arabia as also the local Yemeni authorities. Efforts continue in this regard,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.In the video, also uploaded on Facebook, Tom was seen as pleading for help from Indian government and fellow Christians including Pope Francis. However, the veracity of the video could not be ascertained.He also said “several months have gone by and my captors have made many contacts with the government of India to get me released. Honourable President and Prime Minister of India, I am very sad nothing has been done seriously in my regard. Reports have been in news that everything is being done to get me released quickly but in reality nothing seems to have happened.”He further said had he been “a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously by authorities and people and (they) would have got me released. I am from India and therefore, I perhaps am not considered as of much value”.Uzhunnalil was abducted from the port city of Aden on March 4 by militant group ISIS.

National Herald case: After setback in Delhi Court, Swamy to move SC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy on Monday said that he would file an appeal in the Supreme Court in connection with the National Herald case.Swamy’s assertion came after a Delhi Court dismissed his plea seeking documents from the Congress Party in connection with this case. “I will appeal to the Supreme Court on Patiala House Court’s order. The law is very clear that I am entitled to ask the court and summon the documents in possession of certain institutions,” he said.Rejecting Swamy’s plea, the Patiala House Court earlier in the day observed that the order was passed without giving any notice or opportunity of hearing to the opposite side. The court also directed Swamy to move the trial court again with a similar plea. Swamy alleged that the National Herald took lots of benefits from the then government.Swamy has accused Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi of allegedly conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by just paying Rs. 50 lakh through which Young Indian obtained the right to recover Rs. 90.25 crore that the Associated Journals Ltd owed to the grand old party. Besides the Congress president and her son, party leaders Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda and Young Indian are accused in this case.The court has now put up the matter on February 10 for pre-charge proceedings.On Swamy’s plea, the trial court in its January 11 and March 11 orders had sought documents from Ministries of Finance and Urban Development, Department of Corporate Affairs and Income Tax Department and 2010-11 balance sheet of the Congress party in the case, which were submitted by the INC and AJL on April 8. However on July 12, Delhi High Court had set aside both the orders of the trial court saying they were passed in a “casual manner” and “without application of mind”.Swamy then filed a fresh application before the trial court seeking summoning of certain documents while the Congress leaders and AJL sought the return of documents including its balance sheet, which had been submitted in the court. In this application, Swamy had sought documents relating to a loan given by the Congress to the AJL, the holding firm of the National Herald, saying these were necessary for the purpose of trial.During the hearing on December 9, the counsel appearing for the accused had told the court that Swamy was seeking a “fishing and roving enquiry” in the case by calling for documents from the party and the AJL as he wanted to make out a “new case” against them. Swamy, however, had termed the allegation as baseless and said his demand was legitimate.The court had on June 26, 2014, summoned Sonia, Rahul, Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda as accused in the case besides YI. It had on December 19, 2015, granted bail to Sonia, Rahul, Vora, Fernandes and Dubey, who had appeared before it pursuant to summons. Pitroda was granted bail on February 20 when he had appeared in the court. Sonia, Rahul, Vora (AICC Treasurer), Fernandes (AICC General Secretary), Dubey and Pitroda were summoned for alleged offences under section 403 (dishonest misappropriation of property), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) read with section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.

DNA Evening Must Reads: Updates on National Herald case, ‘Dangal’ vs ‘Sultan’ at the box office, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>National Herald case: Court dismisses Swamy’s petition seeking documents from CongressIn a relief for Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Delhi court on Monday dismissed BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s plea seeking documents and ledger books from the Congress Party and the Associated Journals Limited (AJL). Read more hereDemonetization: Problems will not end after December 30, says Rahul GandhiQuestioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his assurances to the people, Rahul Gandhi today said the “economic lockdown” will continue to hurt the poor, farmers and workers the most. Read more hereIndia needs lower taxation levels to be competitive: FM Arun JaitleyFinance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said India needs to move to a lower level of taxation to be globally competitive. Read more hereRussian military jet crash: Body of plane found in Black SeaRussian divers on Monday found the main body of the military plane that crashed in the Black Sea with 92 people onboard, an official told Russian news agencies. Read more hereSultan vs Dangal: Salman Khan or Aamir Khan – Who won the box office battle?Sultan and Dangal fight it out at the box office. Read more:

National Herald case: Relief for Sonia Gandhi, Rahul as court dismisses Swamy’s petition seeking documents

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a relief for Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Delhi court on Monday dismissed BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s plea seeking documents and ledger books from the Congress Party and the Associated Journals Limited (AJL)Swamy in his petition had alleged that Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi got hold of Associated Journals through ‘dishonest means’ which pertains to criminal misappropriation and criminal breach of trust.However the defence counsel, appearing for Gandhi, had said Swami filed a complaint in July 2013 which has no reference regarding the loan borrowed from the Congress.Swamy had alleged that he revealed a correspondence between Sardar Vallabhai Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru where the former alleged that Nehru had indulged in corrupt practices by collecting money for National Herald by giving away government contracts to undesirable parties.”The National Herald is being used by the Nehru family to collect funds and aggrandise them. I wanted to know whether Sonia and Rahul Gandhi got hold of Associated journals limited by honest means or dishonest means, My allegations is that they acquired through dishonest means which is criminal misappropriation and criminal breach of trust,” he had said.Swamy had filed an application in 2012 accusing Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others associated with Congress of conspiring to cheat in a land deal.In his complaint, Swamy had alleged that the Congress granted an interest-free loan of Rs. 90.25 crore to the AJL, owner of the National Herald newspaper, established by Jawaharlal Nehru, which was either not repaid or repaid in case. This is in violation of Section 269T of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

Tamil Nadu: DMK General Council meet on January 4

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>DMK announced that its General Council meeting on Monday, which was deferred in view of M Karunanidhi’s hospitalisation, would be held on January 4, 2017.DMK General Secretary K Anbazhagan said that the General Council, originally slated on December 20 under its President M Karunanidhi, will now be held next month.The General Council was earlier scheduled on December 20 amidst an increasing chorus from Stalin’s supporters for his elevation.Stalin, also leader of the opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, was expected to be appointed working president of the party in the General Council, the powerful decision-making body of DMK.However, the meet was deferred following Karunanidhi’s hospitalisation due to lung and throat infection.Karunanidhi was discharged from the private hospital on December 23.

Agni-V: India conducts successful missile test, President Pranab Mukherjee congratulates

Bhubaneswar: India on Monday successfully test-fired its indigenously developed intercontinental surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-V from the Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast in Balasore district.

This is the fourth and final test of the missile.

It was launched around 11.05 a.m. from a mobile launcher complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR), defence sources said.

“We are analysing the test launch after collecting information from radars. The report suggests it is a successful launch,” said an official source.

Representational image. Image courtesy News18

Representational image. Image courtesy News18

President Pranab Mukherjee congratulated the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the successful launch.

“Congratulations DRDO for successfully test firing Agni-V. It will enhance our strategic and deterrence capabilities,” Mukherjee said in a tweet.

The missile is developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program.

The Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Agni-V has the capability to strike targets anywhere in all of Asia and parts of Africa and Europe.

Agni-V is one of the most advanced missiles, which is capable of striking a target more than 5,000 km. It is about 17 metres long, 2-metre wide and has launch weight of around 50 tonnes.

The missile can carry a nuclear warhead of more than one tonne.

Once the Agni-V is inducted in the Indian military, India will join the super exclusive club of countries with ICBMs alongside the US, Russia, China, France and Britain.

The first test of Agni-V was conducted on 19 April 2012, while the second test was launched on September 15, 2013 and the third was on 31 January 2015.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 13:28 IST

Uttar Pradesh: BJP takes jibe at Yadav family, says Samajwadi Party should focus on law and order

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday taunted the ongoing feud between Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his b’te noire uncle Shivpal Yadav, saying the first family of the Samajwadi Party should resolve the ‘mahabharat’ and focus on law and order, corruption and lack of administration in the politically crucial state.BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli also used the occasion to take a jibe at reports suggesting about the possibility of a ‘mahagathbandhan’ in the run up to next year’s Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.”However, in the first family of the Samajwadi Party of Uttar Pradesh a ‘mahabharat’ is already on for quite some time. Now, it appears that there are multiple lists – one by the uncle, one by the nephew who is the Chief Minister and there are all sorts of disputes. They should resolve that,” Kohli told ANI.”As far as the people of Uttar Pradesh are concerned, they are obviously going to vote on the track record of the Samajwadi Party. The substantial issues are law and order, corruption and the lack of administration,” he added.The tussle in Uttar Pradesh’s ruling family reignited yesterday after Akhilesh drew up his own list of poll candidates and submitted it to Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, bypassing his uncle and state president Shivpal Yadav.The Chief Minister’s surprise move angered Shivpal, who is officially in-charge of ticket distribution in consultation with the party president.Shivpal tweeted that ticket distribution would be decided by ‘victory potential'”The party will not tolerate any indiscipline that might hurt the party’s image,” he tweeted.According to sources, Akhilesh while reviewing the list of candidates for 403 assembly seats expressed concern over the party giving 181 tickets to ‘tainted’ persons.This is not the first time that Akhilesh and his uncle have clashed over tickets distribution. The Chief Minister, who is of the view that his image and record is party’s strength, had earlier this month expressed displeasure over the decision to field don-turned politicians Atiq Ahmed and Mukhtar Ansari’s brother Sibaqtullah Ansari for next year’s elections.The Ansari brothers belong to Quami Ekta Dal, which recently merged with the party despite opposition from Akhilesh.Mulayam has so far made all attempts to engineer a truce between his son and brother, but seat allotment has remained a thorny issue in the Samajwadi Party.

Kirti Azad terms Arun Jaitley ‘inefficient’, seeks his resignation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Continuing his tirade against Arun Jaitley, suspended BJP leader and MP Kirti Azad on Sunday termed the Finance Minister as an “inefficient” person and sought his resignation holding him responsible for the hardships faced by the common man post-demonetisation.”It is Arun Jaitley who is bringing disrepute to the government… It is he who is responsbile for the hardships faced by the common people post-demonetization. The Finance Minister is an inefficient person and is also not an economist. He should resign,” he told reporters here.”Our Prime Minister has taken a decision (of demonetizing high value notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000) and banks are indulged in converting crores of black money into white.In whose jurisdiction these banks come? These bank come under the ambit of the Finance Ministry,” said Azad, who represents Darbhanga in Lok Sabha.The former cricketer was suspended by party chief Amit Shah on December 23 last year for publicly targeting the Finance Minister for “irregularities” in DDCA, of which Jaitley was the President for 13 years till 2013.He had also criticised Jaitley two months back saying that those “rejected” by the electorate have not only been made ministers but have become “all in all” in the government and the party.Azad attacked the government, saying it would have made sufficient arrangements and preparations to deal with the situation post-demonetisation “had its intentions been clear”.”The government’s policymakers do not have practical knowledge. Their all assessments are based on far from reality,” he alleged.While frequent raids are being conducted across the country to catch people having black money, why such raids were not conducted earlier by the Finance Ministry, Azad wondered.Cashless transaction system, which is being aggressively promoted and popularised by the government, seems to be difficult to succeed in a country like India, Azad said and added that e-payment is not cent per cent safe and secure.Demonetization has its adverse impact on farmers, labourers, workers, small traders, jewellers, he said adding that even vegetable growers are not getting fair price of their produce.”There are people (in the party), who have been rejected by the people in the elections, have not only been made ministers (in the Union government) but have actually become ‘sarve-sarva’ (all in all) both in the government and in the organisation,” Azad had told a press meet at his residence on October 23, 2016 in his Lok Sabha constituency Darbhanga.He was apparently referring to Jaitley who had lost in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls but was made Union minister.

Sonia Gandhi intervenes to revive Opposition unity over cash ban

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress is once again parading leaders of 16 political parties on Tuesday, in order to once again show a united opposition face against the demonetization.Facing flak that on the last day of the winter session of Parliament, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi had dented the 20-day Opposition unity, by going alone to meet the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the current move is aimed at to revive unity.The exact contours of the joint campaign will be announced at a press conference on Tuesday after the meeting of all leaders. The Opposition unity had gone for a toss on December 16 after the main Opposition parties the Left, the DMK and the AIADMK, the SP and the BSP took exception to Rahul’s decision to go alone to meet Modi and also to fix an appointment with the President Pranab Mukherjee on this own name, instead of the united Opposition.The Congress sources said that after this gaffe Sonia Gandhi had intervened and contacted all the leaders personally. She also preferred not to hold the meeting with these leaders at the Congress headquarters as some parties may have reservations nor does she want to project the Congress leading the new campaign.Those who have already consented to attend the meeting include West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress President Mamata Banarjee, who announced in Kolkata that she would be in the national capital for the launch of the new campaign against Modi’s ulterior motives behind the demonetization.On Tuesday, she will be addressing a joint press conference with not only Sonia Gandhi and Rahul but also the Left party and leaders of other political parties.Ahead of the joint drive, Rahul has convened a meeting of the party leaders in the Congress war room at Rakabganj Road here on Monday to brainstorm on the kind of actions that the party should propose in the meeting with all Opposition leaders.While the Congress would suggest that workers of all Opposition parties jointly take the agitation against the note ban to every corner of the country, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party may not agree for any such joint action in Uttar Pradesh in view of the impending assembly elections in the state expected to be announced next week. It is believed that parties will adopt a different strategy in five states, including UP, Punjab and Goa, going to the polls by incorporating the anti-demonetization drive in their respective poll campaigns.Also discarding the age-old policy of no personal attacks or character assassination in the political discourse which was strictly being adhered by Sonia Gandhi, Congress Vice-President has decided to go for a sustained personal attack on Modi. The decision stems from a realisation that nothing would dent his popularity so long as people believed that he is a man of impeccable integrity.”Instead of attacking the BJP or his government, the party leaders have been asked to mount similar personal attack on Modi across the country,” a Congress leader said.

Gandhi vs Modi: Joint opposition meeting on Monday to discuss charges of ‘personal corruption’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress is striving for uniting the opposition on the issue of Rahul Gandhi’s charges of “personal corruption” against the Prime Minister and plans are afoot for a joint press conference by its President Sonia Gandhi and other opposition leaders on December 27. While there is no formal word from Congress about the initiative or the press conference, reports from Kolkata said West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee will be attending a joint opposition meeting on December 27. She is scheduled to arrive in Delhi on Monday. Leaders of Left parties said they have been approached by Congress but are not aware of the details. They also remained non-committal about their participation in the meeting. Sources said NCP, JD(U) and some other opposition parties have also been approached by Congress for the joint meeting to step up the attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government.The sources said NCP leader Tariq Anwar, CPI leader D Raja and Mamata Banerjee have been approached, besides some other leaders. Congress is working towards projecting a united opposition to dispel the impression that cracks developed in the opposition ranks on the last day of the Winter Session of Parliament on December 16 when some parties backed out at the last minute from an opposition delegation to meet the President.Congress’ move comes close on the heels of Rahul Gandhi targeting the Prime Minister on his home turf of Mehsana in Gujarat last week in which he made the allegations against Modi. BJP leaders have dismissed the charges levelled by Rahul. The Prime Minister too had mocked Rahul, who in turn, hit back at Modi saying that the PM could make as much fun of him as he can but he should say whether the charge of corruption is correct or not. The Congress Vice President had also emphasised on an independent probe.A TMC leader said, “Our party supremo will go to Delhi tomorrow and will attend the meeting of opposition parties on December 27. In that meeting, the next line of action will be discussed.”Besides this, Banerjee is likely to hold a separate meeting with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. She will also be meeting some other leaders. The just-concluded Parliament session had seen several opposition parties getting their act together as a united force by holding daily meetings to strategise their plans to target the government. This was for the first time that such meetings to strategise opposition plans took place since Modi took charge as the Prime Minister.Meanwhile, a senior Congress leader, who declined to be identified, has raised doubts over the strategy, saying that the plan to step up attack on Modi might not hold ground as former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s name has also allegedly figured in the same documents. She has junked the charges.

What 2017 has in store for BJP…

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>If BJP retrieved some momentum back in its favour in 2016 with a maiden assembly election win in Assam, the biggest question on the minds of its top brass was whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetization gamble will pay off in the new year in a series of assembly polls, especially in Uttar Pradesh. BJP President Amit Shah will look back at the passing year with fondness as it presented him with some promising rewards and shored up his authority after back-to-back massive defeats in Delhi and Bihar in the preceding year had prompted leaders within the party, including veterans like LK Advani, to point fingers at him.The saffron party put up a creditable show in Kerala and West Bengal, two states where it has been traditionally weak, pulled off wins in bypolls held across the country, including in Assam and Madhya Pradesh, besides in local polls in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Its impressive show in Maharashtra and the tiny municipal corporation of Chandigarh was held by the party as an evidence of people’s support to demonetization at a time it has come under intense attack from a united Opposition over the decision, cited by the government as a measure against black money and corruption.While economic fallout of the radical exercise will take some time to be evaluated, there won’t be a long wait before its political implications are out in the open. Five states, including Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur, are going to the assembly polls early next year and demonetization has clearly emerged as the war cry of not only the saffron party but also its rivals, who have latched onto the hardships facing people in form of long queues outside banks and ATMs to term the measure anti-people.Besides Uttar Pradesh, it has a lot at stake in polls to three other state assemblies, including Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa. In Manipur, it has never been in power but has forged a strong regional alliance to have a realistic shot at power. In Punjab and Goa, the presence of AAP has upset the conventional poll dynamics and BJP, which is in power in both the states is trying hard to keep the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit at bay while battling its traditional rival Congress.However, it is capturing the big prize of Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha compared to 22 of four other states together, that is at the heart of BJP’s poll strategy in the fag end of the outgoing year. After taking over as the party chief in January for the second time, Shah continued with his efforts to build the organisation in states which he has identified as important for BJP’s poll prospects in 2019 Lok Sabha polls. He believes that it is imperative for the party to put up a decent performance in states like Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Telangana and Kerala– the coromandal region– besides northeastern states if it is to repeat its strong show in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.It will be hard for the party to repeat let alone better its landslide win in the western India besides the Hindi heartland of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and any loss in these regions can be made up by better shows in the coastal and northeastern states, BJP leaders believe. A win in Assam and vote share of more than 15 and 10% in Kerala and West Bengal were seen by the party as a big step to this direction.Though its performance in Tamil Nadu was disappointing it looks at ruling AIADMK as a friendly outfit with which it can have a political understanding. The untimely death of Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has brought the leadership of two parties closer as the state government leans on the central government for support.Appointments of a number of state chiefs, including in Punjab and Bihar, underlined efforts of the saffron outfit, which has for decades been identified with Brahmin-bania support base, to broaden its appeal among the backward castes and Dalits, two Hindu groups which may have supported it in the past but never embraced it.Shah surprised many within the party by appointing Manoj Tiwari as Delhi BJP president as he is seen as an outsider with no ideological upbringing of the sort its regional satraps are expected to have. It was a clear indication that he was willing to move on from the city’s entrenched leadership which has failed to deliver in polls.If 2014 was the milestone year in the BJP’s history as it emerged stronger than ever before, 2015 exposed it to the limits of solely banking on Modi’s charisma. This year, BJP used its organisational heft and credible local leadership, as in the case of Assam where Sarbananda Sonowal turned out to be its lucky mascot, to expand into newer territory. However, it will be the new year that can provide the strongest signal yet of whether its hope of a repeat of 2014 landslide in the next Lok Sabha polls will ride on firm foundations or not. Uttar Pradesh will decide.

PM Modi eyeing BMC polls, misled people about Rs 1.06 lakh crore Mumbai projects: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid foundation stones for projects worth over Rs 1.06 lakh crore in Mumbai, Congress today alleged that he “misled” about the cost of the projects which was actually much lower.”The PM announced various projects with an eye on civic polls including several Metro projects the cost of which is not more than Rs 44,000 crore,” Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam said.”By saying the total cost of projects is over Rs 1 lakh crore, the PM has lied and the statement was made only with an eye on the coming BMC polls,” he said.BJP-led Maharashtra Government had no concrete plan of action nor had it arranged funds for the projects, he said. Nirupam also said that police’s action against Congress workers yesterday created “an atmosphere of terror”. Congress workers had no plans to disrupt the PM’s rally at BKC (Bandra-Kurla Complex) but the police detained them on Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s orders, he alleged.Modi laid foundation stones for many key infrastructure projects worth over Rs 1.06 trillion in the megapolis, including the country’s longest sea-bridge and two Metro lines. “Developmental works of over Rs 1.06 trillion are getting started in a single city at a single event. This will be a big milestone in the city’s history,” the Prime Minister said at his rally. PTI MM KRK

Pakistan releases 220 Indian fishermen in goodwill gesture, expects India to ‘reciprocate’

Pakistan released 220 Indian fishermen on Sunday as a goodwill gesture aimed at easing tensions with its neighbour, officials said.

The men were arrested more than a year ago, accused of entering Pakistani waters in an area of the Arabian Sea where the border is unclear.

An image from August 2015, when another batch of Indian fishermen was released from prison, in Pakistan. Reuters

An image from August 2015, when another batch of Indian fishermen was released from prison, in Pakistan. Reuters

India is also holding Pakistani fishermen for the same reason and Pakistan hopes its gesture — on the birthday of the nation’s father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, which coincides with Christmas Day — will be reciprocated.

“We have total of 518 Indian fishermen out of which 220 are being released today as a goodwill gesture of the Pakistan government. In the next phase, 219 fishermen will be released on 5 January,” Shunail Husain Shah, a police assistant superintendent, told Reuters.

Relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours have been more fraught than usual since a crackdown by Indian forces on dissent in Indian-controlled Kashmir began in July. In September militants killed 18 soldiers at an Indian army base, an attack New Delhi blamed on Pakistan.

“We appreciate Pakistan’s goodwill gesture of releasing Indian fishermen, but we expect a similar reciprocal move by India, 156 Pakistani fishermen including 13 children are languishing in Indian jails,” Muhammad Ali Shah, president of Pakistan Fisher Folk, a fishermen’s rights body, told Reuters.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea states that fishermen who cross territorial waters can be warned and fined but not arrested, and Shah called on both countries to respect that.

One of the fishermen being released, who goes by the single name Naresh, told Reuters: “I am very happy, looking forward to meet my family back in Gujarat. We were treated nicely here, I will request the Indian government release the detained Pakistani fishermen as well.”

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 21:28 IST

Pakistan wants World Bank to ‘fulfil its obligations’ regarding the Indus Water Treaty

Sun, 25 Dec 2016-09:08pm , Islamabad , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan has asked the World Bank to “fulfil its obligations” regarding the Indus Water Treaty as it objected to the body pausing two concurrent processes related to Indo-Pak dispute over Kishenganga and Ratle project.Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in a letter to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said the Treaty does not provide for a situation wherein a party can “pause” performance of its obligations under the accord. Dar said the World Bank’s decision to pause the process of empanelment of the Court of Arbitration will seriously prejudice Pakistan’s interests and rights under the Indus Waters Treaty 1960. “It (the letter) strongly conveys that the matter of appointment of a Chairman of the Court of Arbitration has been inordinately delayed. It urged the World Bank to execute its obligations under the Indus Waters Treaty,” Radio Pakistan reported.Dar said the “pause” will merely prevent Pakistan from approaching a competent forum and having its grievances addressed. The letter is a response to Kim’s letter of December 12 in which he announced this pause to “protect the Indus Waters Treaty and to help India and Pakistan consider alternative approaches to resolving conflicting interests under the Treaty and its application to two hydroelectric power plants”.India had taken strong exception last month to the World Bank’s decision to set up a Court of Arbitration and appoint a Neutral Expert to go into Pakistan’s complaint against it over Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects in Jammu and Kashmir.

Punjab: Congress gets a boost ahead of elections, SAD, AAP and BJP leaders join party

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress got a boost on Sunday, ahead of the Punjab Assembly elections, with some leaders from Shiromani Akali Dal, Aam Aadmi Party and BJP joining the party in the presence of PCC chief Amarinder Singh here on Sunday. Former SAD leader from Atam Nagar and councillor Kamaljit Singh Karwal, once considered close to MLA Simarjit Singh, and former AAP central executive committee member Yamini Gomar were among those pledged their allegiance to Congress.Other AAP leaders to join Congress were LR Nayyar, former chief commissioner (Income Tax), and party observer Gagan Sahni. Speaking on the occasion, Punjab Congress president Amarinder said all these leaders had joined the party “unconditionally”. “They had become completely disillusioned with the policies of their respective parties and the agendas of their leaders,” he said.Amarinder hailed their joinings as another milestone in the Congress’s journey towards a “clear majority” in the upcoming Assembly polls, saying these developments highlighted the “complete wipeout” of all the other parties in the fray. Karwal, who had met Amarinder in Delhi, was associated with SAD since 2007, except for a brief period in 2014. “The anti-people policies of the party,” he said, had encouraged him to take the decision to move to the Congress.Yamini, who had openly accused Kejriwal and AAP of being “anti-Dalit, anti-Sikh and anti-Punjab,” said, “AAP was in a total mess, with its leadership befooling the people of Punjab with fake promises.” “AAP leadership is not even ready to blink its eyes over the issues of corruption and promotion of criminals in the party,” she said.Yamini said there was hardly any AAP leader who fulfilled the party’s motto of not being involved in corruption and not having criminal record. “More than 70% of the AAP volunteers, who had joined the party with an aim to see Punjab on roads of progress, are completely shattered with party leaders busy promoting their own vested interests”, she said.Many more genuine people in AAP, who were feeling suffocated there, would join Congress fold in the coming days. Yamini, who contested 2014 Lok Sabha elections on AAP ticket, said no honest person who has the interests of Punjab in his heart can remain with AAP, given the complete moral bankruptcy of its leadership.She said the Congress could save the state and its people from doom. Both Nayyar and Sahni also backed Yamini, saying AAP was a party of “corrupt and greedy individuals who had no interest in the welfare of the people of Punjab.”Meanwhile, a number of the BJP leaders from Doraha, also joined Congress. Prominent among them were Doraha BJP Mandal chief Rahul Bector, vice-president Anish Bector, secretary Varun Sharma and general secretary Anoop Bector, besides several Municipal Councillors and other BJP leaders.

Modi launches schemes to boost cashless economy: Full text of 2016’s final Mann Ki Baat

Vowing to carry forward the war against corruption and black money post-demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the government will soon operationalise a strong law to effectively deal with ‘benami’ properties and this was just the beginning.

Making his last monthly address this year in his “Mann ki Baat” programme, he defended the frequent changes in the rules of demonetisation, saying these have been done to reduce the people’s problems and defeat such forces who are out to thwart his government’s fight against black money and corruption. While on one hand, Modi noted the hardships faced by the common man due to the cash crunch, he also defended his government’s move and reiterated the benefits of a cashless economy.

The Prime Minister appeared hopeful that the nation will soon adapt to the digital mode of payment. With an eye on cashless economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also unveiled two schemes — Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi Dhan Vyapaar Yojana — for customers and traders alike to promote mobile banking and e-payments.

Here’s the English rendering of the full text of Prime Minister’s 2016’s final Mann ki Baat address.

My fellow countrymen, Namaskar, many felicitations and season’s greetings to you on the occasion of Christmas. Today is the day to give importance in our lives to service, sacrifice and compassion. Jesus had said – “The poor do not need our favours but our acceptance with affection.” In the Gospel According to Saint Luke, it is written that – “Jesus not only served the poor but also praised the service done by the poor,” and this is what real empowerment is. A tale associated with this incident is also very popular. It has been mentioned in that story that Jesus was standing near the treasury of a temple; many rich people came and donated bountifully; then a poor widow came and parted with only two copper coins. Now just two copper coins really do not amount to much. Thus it was natural that there was a lot of curiosity in the minds of the disciples gathered there. Then, Jesus declared that the widow was the greatest of those donors because while the others had donated substantially, that widow had given away all she possessed.

Today, 25th December, is also the birth anniversary of Mahamana Madan Mohan Malviyaji, who kindled resolve and self confidence in the psyche of the Indian people and gave a new direction to modern education. My most sincere and heartfelt tributes to Malviyaji on his birth anniversary. About two days ago, I had the opportunity to launch many a developmental work in Banaras, the sacred workplace of Malviyaji. I also laid the foundation stone of Mahamana Madan Mohan Malviya Cancer Centre in BHU at Varanasi. This Cancer Centre is going to be a boon for the people of not only eastern Uttar Pradesh but for the people of Jharkhand and Bihar also.

Today is also the birthday of Bharat Ratna and former Prime Minister Venerable Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji. This country can never forget Atalji’s contributions. Under his leadership, the country proudly grew in stature in the field of nuclear power also. Whether in the role of a party leader, Member of Parliament, a minister or the Prime Minister, Atalji always established an ideal. I salute Atalji on his birthday and pray to God for his good health. As a party worker I had the privilege of working with Atalji. Many memories emerge before my eyes. This morning when I tweeted, I shared a video, in which you can see for yourself how as a small party worker one had the fortune of having affection showered upon him by Atalji.
Today, on Christmas Day, as a gift the countrymen are going to get the benefit of two schemes. In a way it is the beginning of two new schemes. Throughout the entire country, be it villages or towns, the educated or the illiterate, there is an atmosphere of curiosity as to what is cashless, how cashless business can take place, how can one make purchases without using cash! Everybody wants to understand and learn from each other. To encourage this trend, to strengthen mobile banking and to inculcate the habit of making e-payments, the Government of India is launching from today encouragement schemes for consumers as well as traders. To encourage customers, the scheme is ‘Lucky Grahak Yojana’ and to encourage traders the scheme is ‘Digi Dhan Vyapaar Yojana’.

Today, on 25th December, as a Christmas gift, fifteen thousand people will get rewards through a draw system, whereby each of the fifteen thousand winners will have one thousand rupees into their accounts and this will be not for today only; starting today this scheme will continue for the next 100 days. Everyday fifteen thousand people are going to receive rewards of one thousand rupees each. In the next 100 days, lakhs of families are going to receive crores of rupees as gift, but you will be entitled to this gift only if you make use of mobile banking, e-banking, RuPay Card, UPI, USSD – such means and methods of digital payment. The draw for rewards will be done based on your use of such digital payment methods. In addition, there would be a grand draw once every week for such customers in which the prize money will be in lakhs of rupees and three months later on April 14th, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar, there would be a mega bumper draw where rewards would be in crores of rupees.
‘Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana’ is mainly for traders and businessmen. Traders should adopt this scheme themselves and should encourage their customers too in order to make their business cashless. Such traders will also be rewarded separately and there would be thousands of these rewards. The traders will run their business activities smoothly and will also have an opportunity to win rewards. This scheme has been designed keeping all sections of society in mind, with a special focus on the poor and the lower middle class segments. Therefore only those will get its benefits who make a purchase worth more than 50 rupees but less than three thousand rupees. Those who make purchases of more than three thousand rupees will not be entitled to rewards under this scheme.

Even the poor people can use USSD on simple feature or ordinary mobile phones to buy and sell goods as well as make payments and thus all of them can also become prospective beneficiaries of this reward scheme. In rural areas too, people can buy or sell through AEPS and they can also win rewards. Many will be surprised to know that now there are about 30 Crore, i.e. 300 million RuPay Cards in India, out of which 200 million RuPay Cards belong to poor families which have ‘Jan Dhan’ accounts. These 300 million people can immediately become part of this rewards scheme. I have confidence that the countrymen will evince interest in this system and if you enquire from the young people around you, they would surely be aware of these things and on your asking will tell you about these. Come on, if there is a child studying in 10th or 12th standard in your family, he or she will also be able to teach you well about this. It is as simple as sending WhatsApp messages on the mobile.

My dear countrymen, I feel delighted to learn that the awareness about how to use technology, making e-payments, making online payments is spreading very fast. During the past few days, the cashless transactions, or cashless trading has increased by 200 to 300%. To give cashless trading a big impetus, Government of India has taken a very major decision. The business community, our traders can well comprehend how momentous this decision is. Those businessmen who adopt digital transactions, who develop online payment process instead of cash transactions in their trade activities will get Income Tax rebate.

I congratulate all the states and union territories, who have promoted this campaign in their own way. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu is the head of a committee which is considering various schemes under this. However, I have seen that the governments also have initiated and implemented many schemes. I’ve been told that Assam Government has decided to grant a 10% discount on property tax and business license fee if payments are made through digital transaction. The branches of Grameen, that is, Rural Banks there getting 75% of their customers to make at least two digital transactions between January and March will get 50 thousands rupees rewards from the government. They have announced that under the ‘Uttam Panchayat for Digi-Transaction’, rewards of 5 lakh rupees will be given to villages doing 100% digital transaction till 31st March, 2017. Assam Government has decided to reward 5 thousand rupees to the first 10 farmers as ‘Digital Krishak Shiromani’, who will buy seeds and fertilizers entirely through digital payments. I congratulate Assam Government and also all those state governments who have taken such initiatives.

A number of organisations have also successfully carried out many experiments to promote digital transactions amongst the rural folk and poor farmers. I have been told that GNFC or Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals Limited, which primarily manufactures fertilizers, has installed a thousand PoS machines for sale of fertilizers for the convenience of farmers and in just a few days 35 thousand farmers were sold 5 lakh sacs of fertilizers on digital payment and this was accomplished in only two weeks! And the interesting fact is that compared to last year the fertilizer sales of GNFC have gone up by 27 percent.

Brothers and sisters, the informal sector occupies a major segment in our economy and in our pattern of life and mostly these people are paid wages for their labour and hard work in cash. They are paid their salaries in cash and we know that due to this, they are exploited also. If they are to receive 100 rupees, they get only 80 rupees, if they are to be paid 80 rupees, they are given only 50 rupees. They are deprived of facilities like insurance and those associated with health sector. But now the practice of cashless payment is being adopted; the money is being directly deposited into banks. In a way, the informal sector is getting converted into the formal sector, exploitation is coming to an end, the cut, which had to be paid earlier, has stopped now and it has become possible for the worker, the artisan, such poor persons to get their full amount of money. In addition, they are also becoming entitled to the other benefits due to them.
Our country is blessed with the maximum number of young people. Thus, we are favourably placed for using technology. A country like India should be ahead of everybody else in this field. Our youth have benefitted quite a lot from ‘Start-Ups’. This digital movement is a golden opportunity for our youth. They should impart to this as much strength as they can with their new ideas, technology and processes. But we must also connect with the drive to rid the country of black money and corruption with all our might.

My dear countrymen, I request every month before ‘Mann Ki Baat’ that you please give your suggestions, share your thoughts; and of the thousands of such suggestions received this time on MyGov, on NarendraModiApp, I can definitely say that 80 to 90% suggestions were pertaining to the war against corruption and black money, there was mention of demonetization. After I examined all the suggestions, I can say that these can macroscopically be roughly divided into three categories. Some have written in detail about people facing difficulties and encountering inconveniences. The other group of correspondents have stressed that this is such a good work being carried out for the welfare of the country, such a sacred task but they have also noted that in spite of this there are many scams being committed and new avenues of dishonesty are being explored. The third group is the one which has, while wholeheartedly supporting the action being taken, clearly stressed that this fight must be carried forward; corruption and black money must be completely destroyed and if this requires even more tough steps to be taken, those must be taken. We have many people writing this most emphatically.

I am thankful to the countrymen for helping me by writing these innumerable letters to me. Shriman Gurumani Kewal has written on MyGov – “This step of reigning in black money is praiseworthy. We citizens are facing some difficulties, but we are all fighting against corruption and we are happy that we are making a contribution in this fight. We are battling corruption, black money etc on the lines of Military Forces.” The sentiment behind Gurumani Kewalji’s text is being echoed in every nook and corner of the country. All of us are experiencing it. When the people face problems, undergo hardships, rare will be a fellow human being who will not empathise. I feel as much pain as you do. But when a task is taken up with a noble objective, to realise a lofty intent, with a clear conscience, the countrymen stay firm courageously amidst all these trials and tribulations. These people are the real Agents of Change, pioneers of transformation. I thank people for one more reason. They have not only braved hardships, but have also powerfully given a retort to those limited few who have been trying to mislead them.

So many rumours were spread, even the fight against corruption and black money was sought to be tainted with shades of communalism. Somebody spread a rumour that the spelling on the currency note was faulty, someone said salt prices had spiraled, someone proclaimed that the 2000 rupee note would also be withdrawn, even 500 and 100 rupee denominations notes were rumoured to be on their way out. But I have seen that despite rampant rumour mongering, citizens have stood firm with their faith intact. And not just that, many people came to the fore and through their creativity and intelligence, exposed the rumour mongers, brought out the falsity of the rumours and established the truth. I salute this great ability of the people also from the core of my heart.

My dear countrymen, I am experiencing one thing every moment. When a hundred and twenty five crore countrymen are standing by you, nothing is impossible. The people represent the will of the Almighty and their blessings become His blessings. I thank the people of this country and salute them for participating in this Mahayagya against black money and corruption with utmost zeal. It was my earnest wish that the ongoing campaign against corruption and black money, including the realm of political parties and political funding, be discussed extensively in the Parliament. Had the House functioned properly, there would have been comprehensive deliberation. Some people are spreading rumours that political parties enjoy all kinds of concessions. These people are absolutely in the wrong. The law applies equally to all. Whether it is an individual, an organisation or a political party, everyone has to abide by law and one will have to. People, who cannot endorse corruption and black money openly, resort to searching for faults of the government relentlessly.

Another issue which comes up is this. Why are rules changed time and again? This government is for the sake of the people. The government continuously endeavours to take a feedback from them. What are the areas of difficulty for the people? What are the rules that are creating hindrances? And what are the possible solutions? The government, being a sensitive government, amends rules as required, keeping the convenience of the people as its foremost consideration, so that citizens are not subjected to hardships. On the other hand, as I’d said earlier, on the 8th to be precise, this drive, this war is an extraordinary one. For the past 70 years, what kind of forces are involved in this murky enterprise of perfidy and corruption? How mighty are they? When I have resolved to wage battle against them, they too come up with new tactics everyday to thwart the government’s efforts. To counter these new offensives, we too have to devise appropriate new responses and antidotes. When the opponents keep on trying out new tactics, we have to counteract decisively, since we have resolved to eradicate the corrupt, shady businesses and black money.

On the other hand, many people have mentioned in their letters all kinds of wrongdoing which are going on; how newer wily ways and means are being devised. In this context, I offer my heartiest salutations to my dear countrymen for one very remarkable thing. These days you must be seeing on T.V. and newspapers, everyday many new people are being taken into custody, currency notes are being seized, raids are being carried out. Influential persons are being caught. How has all this been made possible? Should I let out the secret? The secret is that my sources of such information are people themselves. Information being received from common citizens is many times higher than that being obtained through government machinery. And we are by and large being successful in our operations on account of the awareness and alertness that the people have displayed. Can anyone imagine the level of risk, which the aware citizen of my country is taking to expose such elements! The information received has largely proved to be fruitful. For those of you wanting to share such information, you can send it on an e-mail address set up by the government for this purpose. You can also provide it on MyGov. The government is committed to fight all such wrongdoings and maladies. And when we have your active support, this fight becomes much easier.

Thirdly, there is another group of letter writers, also existing in large numbers. They say – Modiji, do not feel exhausted, do not stop and take the most stringent measures that you can. Now that you have chosen this path, the journey should culminate at its intended and logical destination. I specially thank writers of such letters, since their writing exudes a certain confidence, fortified with blessings. I sincerely assure you that this is in no way going to be a full stop. This is just the beginning. We have to win this battle and the question of feeling exhausted or stopping simply does not arise. Armed with the good wishes of a hundred and twenty five crore countrymen, there is no question of a retreat. You are possibly aware of a Law about Benami Property in our country which came into being in 1988, but neither were its rules ever framed, nor was it notified. It just lay dormant gathering dust. We have retrieved it and turned it into an incisive law against ‘Benami Property’. In the coming days, this law will also become operational. For the benefit of the Nation, for the benefit of the people, whatever needs to be done will be accorded our top priority.

My dear countrymen, I had mentioned in last month’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ that even amidst these hardships our farmers toiled tirelessly and broke last year’s record in sowing. It is a sign of good times for the agricultural sector. The diligent hard work by this country’s workers, and farmers, and youth has scripted a new chapter of success with flying colours. Recently India proudly inscribed her name in various sectors of the global economic scenario. It is solely on account of the tireless exertions of our countrymen that on myriad indicators, India has charted an upward trajectory in global rankings. India’s ranking has gone up in the Doing Business Report of the World Bank. We are trying our best to raise the level of the business practices in India to match the best practices in the world on equal footing. And we are succeeding in that. In the World Investment Report released by UNCTAD, India’s position has risen to third in the Top Prospective Host Economies for 2016-18. In the Global Competitive Report of the World Economic Forum, India has made a big leap upwards by 32 ranks. In the Global Innovation Index 2016, we have moved up 16 rungs and in the Logistics Performance Index 2016 of the World Bank, we have risen by 19 ranks. There are many reports whose evaluation indicate that India is taking rapid strides ahead.

My dear countrymen, this time the session of Parliament became the object of ire of our countrymen. Indignation was expressed everywhere about the activities in the Parliament. The President and Vice President also explicitly expressed their displeasure. But even in such a situation, sometimes good things also take place which create a sense of satisfaction in the mind. Amid the din in Parliament, an excellent task was accomplished, which has not attracted due attention of the country. Brothers and sisters, today with pride and joy I would like to mention that a bill in connection with my government’s mission on Divyangjan, that is, differently or specially abled people was passed in Parliament. For this, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all the members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. On behalf of millions of Divyangjan of the country I express my thanks. Our government is committed to the welfare of Divyaangs. Personally too, I have strived to lend momentum to this campaign. My intention was to ensure that the Divyangjan secure their due rights and also the honour and dignity that they are entitled to. Our efforts and our trust were fortified by our Divyaang brothers and sisters when they returned with 4 medals from the Paralympics. With their triumph, not only did they do the Nation proud, they pleasantly surprised many people through their capabilities and prowess. Our Divyaang brothers and sisters are an invaluable heritage, a precious endowment, just as every citizen of the country is.

Today I am immensely delighted that the passing of this Law for the welfare of the Divyaangjan will open up additional avenues of employment for them. In government jobs, the extent of reservation for them has been enhanced to 4%. Special provisions have been provided for in this Law for their education, facilities and also for grievances. The extent of sensitivity of the government towards the Divyaangs can be assessed by the fact that during the last two years, the central government set up 4350 camps for Divyaangs, spent 352 crore rupees for distributing implements to 5,80,000 Divyaang brothers and sisters. The government has passed the new law in consonance with the spirit expressed by the United Nations. Earlier there were seven Divyaang categories; now adding fourteen new categories this has been expanded to twenty-one categories. Many such new categories of Divyaangs have been included thereby providing them for the first time justice and opportunities. For example, categories like Thalassemia, Parkinson’s, or for that matter Dwarfism have been included.

My young friends, during the last few weeks, news items coming in from the world of sports have made all of us proud. Being Indians, it is but natural for us to feel elated. In the cricket series against England, India has triumphed 4-0. In this, the performance of some of the younger players deserves a special word of praise. The young Karun Nair scored a triple century and K. L. Rahul played a brilliant 199 run innings. Test captain Virat Kohli batted extremely well and also provided inspiring leadership. Indian Cricket team’s off-spin bowler R. Ashwin has been declared ‘Cricketer of the Year’ as well as ‘Best Test Cricketer’ by the ICC for the year 2016. My heartiest congratulations and many good wishes go to all of them. After a gap of 15 years, there was good news, in fact grand news from the hockey arena too. The Junior Hockey Team lifted the World Cup. This festive occasion came to us after fifteen years as the Junior Hockey team won the World Cup. Heartiest congratulations to these young players for this grand feat. This achievement is a very good omen for the future of our Hockey team. Last month our Women players too won laurels. Indian Women’s Hockey Team won the Asian Champions Trophy and just a few days ago in the under-18 Asia Cup, Indian Women’s Hockey Team secured the Bronze Medal. I congratulate all our Cricket and Hockey team players from the core of my heart.

My dear countrymen, may 2017 be a year full of joy and enthusiasm; may all your resolves be crowned with success; let us scale newer heights of progress; may the poorest of the poor get an opportunity to lead a better and fuller life of happiness and contentment; may 2017 be like this for all of us. For the year 2017, my best and brightest wishes to all my countrymen. Many, many thanks.

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 18:02 IST

DNA Morning Must Reads: PM kicks off development projects; Harjeet Singh talks hockey; Christmas 2016, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. PM Modi sounds BMC poll bugle with Mumbai growth pitch; kicks off projects worth Rs 1.06 lakh crEyeing ensuing elections, including the one to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday underlined the importance of development. Read more here2. From Saudi Arabia to Hyderabad, journey of ‘Army of the Caliph in South India’When 30-year-old Hyderabad youth Ibrahim Yazdani returned to his city from Saudi Arabia, he was convinced that ISIS was fighting a justifiable war against President Bashar Al Assad’s forces. Continue reading here3. Budget 2017: PM promises more difficult reforms; wants higher taxes from marketWith a little over two months left for the Budget, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised more “sound and prudent economic policies.” Read more here4. For 10 days, 25 of us were a family. We played like one as well: Harjeet SinghIndia’s World Cup-winning junior hockey captain Harjeet Singh talks about secret to his team’s incredible journey to title, his belief in this bunch repeating their heroics for seniors and why he made cups of tea for his teammates. Read more here5. DNA After Hrs goes the Grinch way for Christmas, gifts stars naughty giftsHo, Ho, Ho! Here’s what our bad Santa wants to gift these stars. He doesn’t have a naughty-or-nice list. But they’re sure getting something from us. Read more here

Protesting on 100 ft high mobile tower since last 50 days, Punjab teacher finally climbed down

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Around 50 days after he climbed a 100-ft high mobile tower near Punjab Chief Minister, Prakash Singh Badal’s residence in Chandigarh to demand a government job, Deepak Kumar, 35, an elementary school teacher from Fazilka in Punjab finally called off his protest and got down from the tower after he was given the appointment letter on Saturday.Kumar, 35, had climbed the tower in Sector 3, Chandigarh on November 3, along with another teacher, Rakesh, 31, from Gurdaspur and had been atop the tower ever since. Both the teachers had passed the Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) conducted by the state government to fill posts of elementary teachers for Class 1 to 5, but were not shortlisted for the jobs.Over 300 such teachers under the banner and ETT Pass Unemployed Teachers Union had been protesting in various parts of Punjab, including Bathinda and Jalalabad demanding jobs. However, the government asserted that TET was an eligibility test and did not guarantee a job. The posts which are left vacant are those of reserved categories including that of ex-servicemen quota and freedom fighters, but the protesting teachers demanded that the seats be de-reserved and they should be hired.As others continued the sit-in protest on ground, Kumar sustained on a minimal supply of food and water on the tower, and bore the winter chill as temperatures dropped during the night. He sat determined, not to get down until he was given the appointment letter. Various attempts by the police to convince him to get down had failed to deter him.On Saturday morning, when the government issued a joining letter, he agreed to climb down.”Deepak has called off the protest after he was given an appointment letter by the government. But, there has been no decision on the other 360 teachers who are still waiting for jobs. We have decided to continue our sit-in protest till our demands are met,” said ETT Union President, Amarjit Singh Kamboj from Bathinda. The teachers have been demanding that all the candidates who had qualified the TET during 2011-16 be given government jobs.

From Saudi Arabia to Hyderabad, journey of ‘Army of the Caliph in South India’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When 30-year-old Hyderabad youth Ibrahim Yazdani returned to his city from Saudi Arabia, he was convinced that ISIS was fighting a justifiable war against President Bashar Al Assad’s forces. As soon as Ibrahim landed in India, he roped in his younger brother Illyas in a group that was later known as “Jhund Ul Khalifa al Hind Fl Bilad” or Army of the Caliph in South India.The group affiliated to the ISIS is now being considered by the NIA as the most dangerous of all modules that the probe agency busted in 2016. What did the Hyderabad module do for it to be perceived as such has now been elaborated in a chargesheet filed by the NIA last week.InceptionWhile the NIA cites their socio-religious background as one of the factors behind their decision to join ISIS, the journey to see the world as believers and non-believers actually started from trading company in Saudi Arabia when Ibrahim Yazdani, considered to be one of the main conspirators behind the module, met a Jordanian national by the name of Suhayb Al Abudi.MotivationOn his return to India, he tried multiple times to go to Syria through countries like Turkey or Greece, but was later directed by his handler to stay back in his country and do ” Allah’s work in India”. And thus the module was formed. In its analysis of the group, the NIA states the accused are followers of the pure Salafi sect of lslam, also known as the Ahle Hadeeth sect which teaches a puritanical form of lslam. ” Some of the accused are original Ahle Hadeeth followers whereas others got influenced and came in the fold of this sect. The followers of this sect believe that the Laws of the Shariah are the words of Allah and are immutable and, therefore, they want restoration of the Shariah Law. Some extreme radical followers of this sect preach a world view that the modern day democracy is against the tenets of lslam, since laws in a democracy are made by man. Such extreme radical ideologues of this sect see the world as divided between the believers and the non-believers. In their world view, even a fellow Muslim is an apostate, if he does not follow the pure Salafi interpretation of lslam”.Technology employed and the recruitment processSocial media remains the key factor for making the recruitment possible. In fact, in this particular case, NIA has listed the extent of how the module was well versed with applications to avoid getting exposed. Interestingly, the Baya’h (oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr Baghdadi) was written on a piece of paper, uploaded online and sent to an ISIS handler who in turn told the recruits to delete the same to avoid detection. Other than cloud-based instant messaging services like Telegram, the youth are claimed to have a good hold over other internet tools such as Tor browser, Amn AL Mujahid, Chat secure, Orbot, Orfox and Trillian applications.Allegiance to ISIS chief Abu Bakr BaghdadiThe loyalty towards the ISIS chief is showcased in the chargsheet at many instances during which the recruits were asked to owe their allegiance. In one instance a recruit, who is now classified as a protected witness, was told by accused Ataullah Rehman that “if he died without signing a Bay’ah, he would die the death of an ignorant (Jahiliyyat ki Maut)”.From chemicals to pellet gunsIn terms of collecting weapons, the Hyderabad module showed a lot of capability according to NIA. From travelling to Ajmer in Rajasthan to Nanded in Maharashtra. From acquiring weapons and chemicals to collecting funds, NIA has said the group was effective to acquire arms and ammunition to allegedly conduct large scale terror acts. Among the material allegedly recovered from the accused are chemicals such as Urea, 2-Chloro 9- Methyl Acridine, Methylene Chloride, Acetone, Hydrogen peroxide, Nitric Acid used to prepare explosives. Other recoveries include three knives, 17 live rounds, face masks, air guns and pellet guns which came to be known for their usage to quell anti-India protests in Kashmir.

Jordanian national radicalised Hyderabad’s ISIS suspect: NIA

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A deceased Jordanian man has emerged as the one behind “initiating” a Hyderabadi man into the fold of the jihadist ideology, an act which culminated in the formation of an Islamic State (IS)-affiliated group in India. The terrorist group later named itself the Jhund Ul Khalifa al-Hind Fl Bilad or Army of the Caliph in south India.A charge sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday stated that it was between June 2013 and 2014 that Mohammed Ibrahim Yazdani, 30, met Jordanian national who went by the name Suhayb Al Abudi. Ibrahim was then working at the Riyadh-based Bazee Trading Company and made friends with the Jordanian, who was also working in the same company.According to the NIA, Abudi showed Ibrahim several videos of Syrian forces allegedly committing atrocities on Sunni Muslims. Through this, he convinced him that Syrian President Bashar Al Assad was the man responsible for these atrocities.”He (Abudi) also argued that Bashar Al Assad, the Syrian President, was committing atrocities on Sunni Muslims in Syria and the lS was waging jihad against the Assad government. lbrahim Yazdani visited India in June, 2014 for two months, but he kept communicating with Suhayb Al Abudi on Facebook,” reads the NIA document accessed by DNA.According to the probe agency, when IS declared itself a Caliphate under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in June 2014, and seized large areas in Syria and Iraq, Ibrahim was allegedly highly influenced by the declaration of the Caliphate and had come to a firm belief that it was every Muslim’s bounden duty to perform Hijrah, i.e. migration to the Caliphate.However, his plans hit a roadblock soon when he got to know that Abudi had been killed in Syria in September 2014. The news was broken to him by an individual named Sulaiman who identified himself as the brother of Abudi.Subsequently, after months of following the changing geopolitical situation in Iraq and Syria on Twitter and other social media websites, Ibrahim managed to get in touch with a person who identified himself as, “Abu lssa Al Amriki,” in January 2015.It was Amriki who became the main handler of the Hyderabad module of IS and guided the group through Ibrahim. He advised the 30-year-old not to visit Syria or Iraq and instead directed that, “he should carry on the work of Allah from India itself.”Investigators have referred to the Hyderabad module as the most dangerous in India, citing factors like covert methods employed to recruit the youth, the way in which the members of the terrorist module communicated with each other, and the expertise of the IS handler and those employed to collect arms and ammunition.Everything seemed to go as per plan as Ibrahim managed to recruit several youth from Hyderabad including his own younger brother — till June 29, the date when the NIA finally busted the module. But investigators say that interest in the Hyderabad module was on the wane with some youth, allegedly recruited by Ibrahim — and whose identities are protected by the NIA— left the group right before an alleged terror attack could have been carried. The chargesheet lists out four Protected Witnesses PW’s, who were recruited by Ibrahim and other members of the Hyderabad module at some point of time.In its charge sheet, NIA mentions a youth who was recruited and, “then grew fearful as he did not approve of the plans for the terrorist acts by the group. He then stage-managed his exit from the group by disappearing on the 15 May, 2016, by spreading a message that he was picked up by the police/NlA and questioned about his activities.” This was more than a month before the group was busted.NIA has claimed that even after his exit, the group continued to make plans of carrying terror attacks, but this was after disbanding for a period of five days.Starting May 29, it was business as usual, with the members of the module given different duties, including collecting weapons, planning escape routes, collecting money, and so on. On June 19, three years after Ibrahim was initiated into the jihadist fold, held a meeting during an iftar at the home of another accused named Habeeb Mohammad.It was on this day that Ibrahim, who himself was radicalized by Jordanian nationals, would try to do the same to two other individuals or protected witnesses. Ten days later, however the whole operation came at a staggering halt with NIA making the first arrest.

Those who did bhoomipoojan yesterday will not get chance to do it officially: Fadnavis mocks Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking potshots at the opposition Congress for performing “bhumipoojan” of Pune Metro on Friday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Saturday people will never give them an opportunity to perform official foundation stone laying ceremonies. “Those who performed the ‘bhumipoojan’ yesterday were not authorised to do so. Many years ago, when I was small, during a visit to Delhi’s Red fort, I gave a speech like Prime Minister. This does not make me a Prime Minister,” the Chief Minister said at the event here where foundation stone for Pune Metro was laid down by Prime Minister Naredra Modi. “Similarly, those who did the ‘bhumipoojan’ yesterday will never get a chance to perform ‘bhumipoojan’ officially,” Fadnavis said.He said the file containing 256 queries regarding the project were pending at the desk of the previous (Maharashtra) Chief Minister. “There were issues of alignment which was resolved in our time, a new DPR was made. All issues related to the proposed second phase of Hinjewadi-Shivajinagar will be completed by March and in April next year. We will invite Modiji for the launch of the second phase,” Fadnavis said.He said the proposed International Airport in Pune and Metro will help the city to emerge as a start up capital in the country. NCP president Sharad Pawar, union minister Nitin Gadkari, Prakash Javdekar, Venkaiah Naidu were present on the occasion. Naidu said the Centre and the state government will share the funding for Pune Metro.With civic elections round the corner, the Pune unit of Congress had performed the ‘bhoomipujan’ of the Pune Metro Rail project on Friday.

As Modi-Uddhav shares stage, BJP-Sena strains comes to fore

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Strains in relations between BJP and Shiv Sena came to the fore during a public meeting addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray’s speech was interrupted for a while,apparently by BJP supporters present among the audience.The reaction of BJP workers was in response to Shiv Sena activists causing disturbance during the speech of state revenue minister Chandrakant Patil. Uddhav shared the dais with PM Modi and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at the MMRDA ground in the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) here, after laying foundation of various big ticket infrastructure projects.Thackeray’s speech was interrupted for a while after some of the BJP supporters started chanting “Modi, Modi,” which made the Shiv Sena chief to stop for a while. Earlier, when Patil’s speech was disturbed, Devendra Fadnavis personally intervened and controlled the crowd.Earlier this week, during the inauguration of Ram Mandir station here, Shiv Sena and BJP workers had sparred over by indulging in sloganeering and interrupting the speeches of senior leaders. Shiv Sena has been criticising various decisions of Prime Minister Modi as well as those taken by the Fadnavis government from time-to-time.

Anna Hazare writes letter to Kejriwal, says painful that Delhi CM didn’t fulfill promises

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare today castigated Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for “not fulfilling the promise” of putting his party’s donors list in public domain, at a time when the AAP has been questioning the Congress and BJP over their source of funding.In a letter to Kejriwal, dated December 23, the veteran activist, popularly known as Anna and also a ‘father-figure’ for the AAP, took a dig at the Delhi Chief Minister and said if change has to be brought into the system, then the leadership should “walk the talk”. “For the betterment of country and the society, I kept aside several important works related to people in Maharashtra and gave you my time without any selfish interest and dreamt big for the country. But my dream has been shattered,” Hazare, who launched an anti-graft crusade, said.He also referred to a letter written to him by Munish Raizada, a US-based medico and suspended AAP member, pointing out that donors’ records have gone off the party website since June 2016. Raizada also launched ‘no chanda’ (no donation) satyagraha at Raj Ghat today. AAP’s national treasurer Raghav Chadha claimed that Hazare was being misled by Congress leaders on the issue while the BJP is using state agencies to threaten its donors.On behalf of Kejriwal, he also challenged BJP President Amit Shah and Congress President Sonia Gandhi to come out clean on party donors and have a debate on the issue at Jantar Mantar. “You made several promises, which includes putting the donations received by the AAP on the party website. “The talks of social change, which we espoused, are fading and politics and money are becoming important. The sense of humility is also fading.”Or else, you would not have taken off the names of people from your website who gave donations to the party during trying times,” Hazare said.He also expressed displeasure over functioning of the AAP. Hazare said that while other parties get donations from people for their “selfish interests”, people give funds to AAP to bring in change. “You penned a book on Gram Swaraj. The way you are going…is this the way to Gram Swaraj? This is the question before me. What is the difference between your party and other political outfits?” Hazare said.”You promised change to me and the people. It pains because the promise has not been fulfilled. You have made several such promises to me and people,” Hazare said.Chadha said AAP is the only party that has transparency in its source of funding and 92 per cent of its donations come through banking channels like net banking, credit and debit card and cheques. “Congress leaders like Muish Raizada are misleading Anna while BJP uses state agenices to harass our donors. Raizada has joined the Congress,” Chadha claimed.

Real empowerment of women possible only through education: President Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said real empowerment of women would be possible only through education, encouragement of economic self-dependence and provision of opportunities enabling the unfolding of one’s full potential. The President praised the leading role played by the Mahila Dakshata Samiti in women’s empowerment and recalled the contributions of the Samiti’s founding members such as Suman Krishankant, Prof. Pramila Dandavate and Smt. Mridula Sinha, the Governor of Goa.”The only long lasting solution is to create cooperative structures comprising the government and private stake holders as well as civil society. In fact, the developmental goals of health, education, livelihood etc. cannot be achieved by the government alone. Such co-operative structures are relevant for all of them,” President Mukherjee said at the inauguration of the Bansilal Malani College of Nursing established by the Mahila Dakshata Samiti in Hyderabad on Saturday.Speaking on the occasion, the President expressed concern over the deficiencies in the health infrastructure of the country. The President said there is a phenomenal shortage of about 2.4 million nurses in our country and a decrease in the number of nurses from about 1.65 million in 2009 to about 1.56 million in 2015. “This indicated a worry-some trend. At the same time, our infrastructure also comprises of just 1.53 lakh sub-centres, 85000 PHCs and about 5000 Community Health Centres in a nation of 130 crore people living in more than 5000 towns and 6.4 lakh villages. It is essential to look for models wherein all stake-holders participate rather than the government alone,” he added.The President said it is unfortunate that today when average overall literacy in India was 74%, women’s literacy is less than 65%. He said a society which does not empower its women will end up as a loser and called for renewed efforts in this direction.

DNA Evening Must Reads: PM Modi lays foundation stone of Shivaji Memorial; Ranji Trophy; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Demonetization: People who benefited for 70 years trying to scuttle move, says PM ModiPM Narendra Modi is in Maharashtra today for foundation stone laying ceremony of Shivaji memorial, Mumbai & Pune metro train project. Catch the live updates of PM Modi’s visits here.2. Dhulagarh riot: BJP central team stopped from entering violence-hit villageA team of central leaders of BJP were stopped from entering the village at Dhulagarh, Howrah on Saturday afternoon, where communal clashes erupted last week.Read more here.3. PM Modi lays Foundation for Rs 3,600-crore grand memorial for Shivaji MaharajPrime Minister Narendra Modi laid the Foundation for a Rs 3,600-crore grand memorial for Shivaji Maharaj off the city coast on Saturday, an event that comes a few months ahead of the civic polls and amid tussle among parties to claim the legacy of the 17th century warrior king. Read more here.4. Sixth grader sues Pak President House officials for ‘plagiarising his speech’A sixth grader in Pakistan, through his father, has sued officials at the President House at the Islamabad High Court, accusing them for plagiarising and using his speech without his consent. Read more here.5. Ranji Trophy: Top Indian stars bite the dust as Karnataka humbled by Tamil Nadu in 2 daysKarnataka had two Gen-Next superstars of Indian cricket but a Tamil Nadu pace attack, with a cumulative experience of 35 matches, did the star turn to script a stunning seven-wicket victory inside two days in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final in Visakhapatnam on Saturday. Read more here.6. Dangal vs Sultan: Aamir Khan or Salman Khan – who won the first day box office battle?When Aamir Khan and Salman Khan both decided to do a wrestling film each, comparisons were bound to happen. Salman’s Sultan released last July and it did a business of over Rs 300 crore at the box office. Has Aamir been able to beat Salman’s record? Read here

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