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Bihar jailbreak: 5 prisoners escape from Central Jail in Buxar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Five prisoners escaped from Central Jail in Bihar’s Buxar late Friday night, ANI reported.More details are awaited.This is the third major prison escape this year. On November 27, Khalistan Liberation Force terrorist (KLF) Harminder Singh Mintoo had escaped from Punjab’s Nabha Jail along with five others.On October 30, eight SIMI operatives escaped from Bhopal Central Jail. They were gunned down in an encounter by the state police.

DNA Morning Must Reads: Jarnail Singh vs Parkash Badal in Punjab, train derailment in Mumbai & more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AAP announces Delhi MLA Jarnail Singh as candidate against Punjab CM from home turf LambiAfter declaring MP Bhagwant Mann as candidate from Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal’s constituency Jalalabad, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) announced Delhi MLA and Sikh rights activist Jarnail Singh as candidate to contest in the electoral battle against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal from his home turf Lambi in Muktsar district. Read detailsMumbai: Five coaches of Kurla-Ambernath local derail, services on Kalyan-Karjat line suspendedFive coaches of Kurla-Ambernath local train derailed between Kalyan and Vithalwadi railway station, on Thursday morning. According to initial information, the incident took place at 5:50 am. However, no person has been injured, but services on Kalyan-Karjat line have been suspended. Read moreUP Assembly Elections | ‘No alliance with anyone’: Mulayam snubs son Akhilesh, leaves Congress in the coldSamajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav not only poured water on the dream of stitching together a grand alliance with Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), but also snubbed his son, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, by announcing 325 candidates out of total of 403 for the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. Read moreSasikala likely to be elected as AIADMK General Secretary todayVK Sasikala, former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s aide, has not revealed her cards yet but she is expected to be elected the AIADMK General Secretary on December 29 as thousands of party executives, with their supporters, flooded Chennai today. Sasikala herself is expected to stay away while the party executive committee and general council will formally elect her as the leader. Read moreDemonetization: 600 tonnes and counting, IAF on mission cash liftIn a bid to help the common man with the demonetization process, the government has been pressing the Indian Air Force (IAF) into action. From assisting in the functioning of currency printing presses 24×7 to airlifting cash, the IAF has already transported 610 tonnes of currency and will continue to do so over the next few days. Read more

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.

AAP’s Jarnail Singh to fight polls against Punjab CM Badal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AAP on Wednesday announced its candidate, MLA Jarnail Singh, against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in Lambi constituency for the upcoming Assembly polls.Addressing a gathering at Badal’s home turf Lambi, AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced Singh’s candidature and asked the audience if he would be the right man to take the Akali leader head-on. He alleged that so far, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh and Badal, as per a “tactical understanding”, have been nominating “weak” candidates against each other, so that their opponents could secure easy wins. “However, this time, we will not allow Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Singh Badal and Amarinder Singh a walkover.That is why we are fielding our strongest candidates against the three and (Bikram) Majithia to give them a taste of political dust,” Kejriwal added. Notably, AAP has fielded MP Bhagwant Mann from the Jalalabad seat held by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, while the party’s legal cell head, Himmat Singh Shergill, has been nominated from the Majitha seat represented by state Revenue Minister Majithia. Listing instances of the “tactical understanding” between the Badals and Amarinder, Kejriwal claimed that the Congress’ nominee against Sukhbir from Jalalabad could not even save his deposit, adding that in a similar move, Amarinder had fielded a weak candidate against Majithia, who could only bag 7,000 votes in the 2017 Assembly polls.Both Amarinder and Badal not only “jointly contested polls to facilitate each other’s win”, but also “shared” business interests in sand and gravel, transport, liquor and above all, in “back-up candidates” who have been embroiled in the drug trade in Punjab, he alleged. Kejriwal cited the example of senior Akali leader Sarwan Singh Phillaur, who had to step down from the cabinet after his and his son’s names cropped up in the drug trade and was subsequently welcomed by Amarinder into the Congress-fold. Akali MLA Inderbir Singh Bolaria, who was the right-hand man of Majithia, too was welcomed by the state Congress chief, he said, adding that this clearly showed that both Badal’s and Amarinder’s families had “joined hands to ruin Punjab turn-by-turn”.Jarnail Singh challenged Badal to an open debate on the “superficial” development of Punjab the Akali Dal has been talking about. “Thousands of farmers have committed suicide, youngsters are dying due to drugs…transport, liquor and cable businesses have been captured by the Badal family…is this the model of development the Badals are boasting of,” he said, adding that he will let the chief minister choose the venue and time of the debate. Others who spoke on the occasion included AAP MPs Sadhu Singh, Bhagwant Mann and senior leader Sanjay Singh.

Election Commission notifies five poll-bound states to prepare for schedule announcement

New Delhi: In an indication that assembly elections to five states could be announced anytime now, the Election Commission has asked the Centre and the state governments to implement the model code of conduct as soon as the schedule is out.

In a letter sent to the cabinet secretary and chief secretaries of the poll-bound states of Uttar Pradesh,
Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Punjab, the Commission has compiled a set of instructions issued in the past to drive home the point that model code should be implemented effectively with the announcement of poll schedule.

Poll time. ReutersPoll time. Reuters

Poll time. Reuters

The list of dos and don’ts issued by the Commission includes prevention of misuse of public place, avoiding use of official vehicles for campaigning, removing pictures of political functionaries from state government websites and bar on use of public money for advertisements to help the ruling party.

The poll panel has also reminded political parties to approach the Media Certification and Monitoring Committees at district and state level, for pre-certification of their political advertisements proposed to be issued in the
electronic media.

Sources in the Commission said assembly polls could be announced by 4 January to the five states.

Except Uttar Pradesh, which may go for a seven-phased election, the other states could have elections on a single day.

While the term of the Uttar Pradesh assembly expires on 27 May next, the terms of four state assemblies end in March next.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 17:09 IST

Rs 104 crore deposit: It is now clear why Mayawati was against demonetization, says BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after ED detected huge cash deposits in an account belonging to BSP, BJP on Tuesday took a dig at Mayawati saying now it is clear why she was protesting against the demonetization move.”It is now clear why Mayawati was protesting against it (demonetization) and why she was angry with the Centre,” party’s national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters before addressing a rally of BJP’s minroty cell in Mukerian of Punjab’s Hoshiarpur district. “Mayawati has been protesting against demonetization in the name of the poor but now the common man knows why she was against the drive,” he said.The ED yesterday detected cash deposits totaling over Rs 104 crore in an account belonging to the BSP and Rs 1.43 crore in an account belonging to party Supremo Mayawati’s brother Anand in a branch of United Bank of India in New Delhi. Hussain said many politicians are protesting against the note ban in the name of the common man but the truth is they are creating ruckus for their vested interests, Hussain said. “A drive is on against black money. In the manner we have made India Congress free, similarly we will make black money-free India. That is why the government is stressing on a cashless society,” he said.The government is working towards a cashless economy and it will help in checking black money, Hussain said.On Uttar Pradesh elections, he said there is a wave in BJP’s support and the party is fighting against corruption and nepotism. When asked if there is nepotism in Punjab, Hussain said, “They (Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his family) have achieved this with their hardwork.” Over seat distribution between SAD and BJP, he said the election will be fought as per the coalition system only.On being asked when BJP will declare candidates for Punjab polls, he said in other parties candidates contest the polls but in BJP the party itself competes in the elections. Strategies are being formed and soon candidates will be declared. “BJP has strong ties with SAD that is why the coalition is continuing but such was not the case in Odisha,” he said replying to a question on why the alliance of BJP and BJD was broken in the state.

Punjab to form elite force of 250 police personnel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A month after 14 men stormed the Nabha jail and facilitated the escape of six inmates including Khalistan Liberation Front Chief; Punjab is all set to form an elite force of 250 Punjab police personnel to tackle any emergent situations including terrorist attacks.While making the announcement, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said the elite force will be equipped with latest weapons and gadgetry. He said the vision of the government was to strengthen and modernise the police force.There have been two terrorists attacks in the state in last two years, including one in July, 2015 when terrorists killed seven people, along with a Punjab Police Superintendent when they attacked a police station in Gurdaspur district.At present, the total strength of Punjab police is 70,000 personnel and over 26,000 personnel have been recruited in the past eight years. Emphasising that 200 women have become sub-inspectors in the state police for the first time, he said a SWAT team comprising women personnel will also be formed in Punjab Police.Six Hockey players from Punjab who had recently won gold in the Asian Games were also appointed as Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), including Akashdeep Singh, Manpreet Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Gurwinder Singh Chandi, Dharamvir Singh and Sarvanjit Singh. Three other sportspersons including three-time Asian Games Gold medalist, Mandeep Kaur, Asian games silver medalist athlete Khusbir Kaur and Asian games bronze medalist Amandeep Kaur.Badal also announced that as many as 125 noted sportspersons would be recruited in Punjab police every year. “A totally transparent procedure was followed in police recruitments and even the interview was done away with to ensure that best talent comes to the fore,” said Badal as he made the poll pitch highlighting the work done by the party.Lambasting Congress, he said the Punjab Congress Chief Captain Amarinder Singh had banned recruitment during his tenure thus robbing scores of state youth of their rightful job opportunities, while SAD-BJP gave jobs to over 2.5 lakh people. The state is gearing up for Assembly elections early next year.

Special arrangements made in Bihar for Prakash Parv

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

Punjab’s first bioethanol plant set up in Bathinda

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal recently laid the foundation stone of Punjab’s first second-generation bioethanol plant at Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda district.Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan were also present on the occasion. Built on 49 acres of land, the Rs 500 crore plant offers a practical solution to the problem of stubble burning by converting crop residue into ethanol.The state-of-the-art bioethanol plant offers a long-term solution to farmer’s challenge of disposing off crop residue. Using an efficient technology, agriculture waste is converted into fuel grade ethanol, offering a permanent solution to the age-old practice of crop residue burning.Talking about the long-term benefits of the plant, Harsimrat Kaur Badal said, “The ethanol plant besides addressing environment issues; would also provide an additional income source to farmers. Around 3 lakh farmers will be benefited with extra income of more than Rs 19.20 crore per annum (at an average biomass rate of Rs 1500 per ton).”Sharing details of the ethanol plant, Harsimrast Badal said, “It would use 400 tons of agriculture residue per day or 1.28 lakh ton of biomass as fuel and shall have a production capacity of around 100 KL per ethanol per day and around 3.20 crores liters of ethanol annually. This would be enough to meet 26% of the ethanol requirement of the state.”The project shall also yield 32000 MTPA of bio-fertilisers, which shall in turn be incorporated into soil for improving soil fertility raising overall farm productivity in the state. Apart from this the plant will also yield Bio-CNG, which can be used as clean cooking fuel and fuel in vehicles. The plant will be yielding 115.20 lacs kg of Bio CNG per annum.The Bathinda MP said, “Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) was bringing this capital intensive project to the State. The second-generation ethanol bio refinery shall operate on DBT-ICT, an indigenous technology funded by the Department of Biotechnology.”

AIR plans special Punjabi service for Pakistan Punjab

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hoping to bring Pakistani Punjabis closer, reach out to the wider Punjabi diaspora and also counter neighbour Pakistan’s radio penetration in its territory, India is planning a special radio service in Punjabi.The cleverly named Des Punjab, or country Punjab, which sends out the message of cultural oneness, will be implemented by India’s national broadcaster All India Radio (AIR), a senior official told DNA.At present, a 20 KW FM transmitter installed in the Punjab border district of Fazilka carries AIR’s Urdu service for listeners in the region. Although it covers a radius of 80 km, has a penetration of up to 68 km inside Pakistan and caters to nearly 36 lakh Pakistani listeners, it misses its target as most of the audience speaks Punjabi.”So, instead of carrying on with the Urdu service, AIR has plans to revitalise its existing internal Punjabi language channel from Jalandhar and broadcast it from Fazilka. The idea is to bring the once undivided Punjab closer and make it a medium for the Punjabi diaspora across the world while countering the popularity of Pakistan’s radio channels in India’s border areas, broadcast from Okara and Lahore,” an official explained.The same Punjabi service can also be broadcast from the Amritsar tower once it is commissioned.A 20 KW FM transmitter installed at Amritsar can reach Lahore, about 30 km away, as well as Pakistan’s Gujranwala and Sialkot areas, where people are predominantly Punjabi speaking.The current Urdu service includes programmes highlighting India’s point of view on Kashmir, countering claims on India made by Pakistan media, discussions on “India’s secular values” as well as entertainment programmes on music, art and heritage. The Punjabi service bulletins will have similar content, sources said.Similar initiatives will be taken in other regions bordering Pakistan. A total of 88 transmitters will be installed across the borders. Some work on this is already underway with other FM transmitters in the process of being installed in Himbotingla in Ladakh region, Naushera in Poonch district, Patnitok in Udhampur as well as in Uri, Kargil, Amritsar, the Chautan hill in Rajasthan border and the Gujarat-Bhuj border.Many of these border areas are already covered by medium wave and short wave transmitters. This includes Kargil which offers a much longer range than FM transmitters. However, the transmission through medium wave transmitters is not clear; they are getting old and worn out and there is severe shortage of spare parts.”While FM transmitters would cater to smaller distance as compared to the existing medium wave and short wave transmitters, they would be more effective with clearer transmission. It will also ensure better reach with most people accessing FM radio on their mobile phones,” an official said.

Punjab Elections 2017: Captain Amarinder slams Badals, promises to jail ‘drug mafia’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh said if elected he would put behind bars those guilty of drug smuggling and “patronising” drug mafias, bringing to the fore the rampant drug abuse in the state, as he slammed the Badal family for failing to control the menace. He attacked the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and its top leaders, including Bikramjit Singh Majithia, for allegedly misleading the people with their “disinformation” campaign.Capt Amarinder was talking to reporters after some Akali, Aam Aadmi Party and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including Kamalji Singh Karwal and Yamini Gomar, officially joined Congress here.”From transport to drugs to sand, cable TV, liquor, there was nothing the Akalis had not seized control of to promote their interests,” the Congress chief alleged and vowed to eliminate “all these mafias” after coming to power in Punjab. He accused Parkash Singh Badal-led SAD and AAP of Arvind Kejriwal of a malicious campaign against Congress, rubbishing allegations his government during his tenure as chief minister from 2002 to 2007 had banned recruitments and appointments.He claimed the parties were doing it “deliberately”. The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief claimed his government had created job opportunities for 20 lakh youth and also recruited thousands of government employees.He said recruitments were kept in abeyance for some time as the treasury had no money when he began his tenure in 2002.”Had we not done so, Punjab would have plunged into an even deeper financial crisis than my government had inherited from the Akalis,” he said.He, however, said after the ban was lifted his government appointed more than 49,000 government employees and 12,000 teachers. “Neither the Badals nor AAP’s HS Phoolka have an iota of knowledge (about governance) and are simply talking out of their hat.” Promising to review only the “political appointments” made by the Badals, Capt Amarinder said no government employees’ jobs would be reviewed and his party was committed to provide employment to every family in the state.

Jung made to resign as he wanted to release Shunglu Committee report: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken claimed Najeeb Jung had to resign because he had planned to make public the Shunglu Committee report and alleged there was a “deal” between BJP and AAP on the matter.He alleged BJP does not want Congress to form governments in Goa and Punjab, and if the Shunglu Committee report were made public, AAP would have suffered great jolts in the two states, benefiting his party.The report was not made public as it would have exposed AAP and hence as per the “deal”, Jung, who wanted to release it, was made to resign.
ALSO READ I wanted to quit earlier, PM Modi asked me to carry on, says Najeeb JungThe two BJP-ruled states go to poll next year and the AAP has launched intensive election campaigns.”It seems the deal was struck between the BJP and AAP not to make public the Shunglu Committee report as it would have exposed irregularities in 200 files of Delhi government,” Maken told a press conference.
ALSO READ AAP, Cong should not do politics on Najeeb Jung’s resignation: Kiren Rijiju”Dr Najeeb Jung was to make public the Shunglu Committee report on Monday, that’s why he had to resign,” Maken said quoting “reliable source”.The two states go to poll next year and the AAP has launched intensive election campaigns.
ALSO READ Arvind Kejriwal meets Najeeb Jung, says he resigned due to personal reasons”BJP does not want the Congress party to form governments in Goa and Punjab at any cost. However, the Congress is coming to power in both the states,” he claimed.Earlier, Maken had demanded the Modi government to explain the reason behind sudden resignation by Najeeb Jung from the post of Lt Governor.He had charged the reason behind Jung’s “unceremonious exit” could be a “deal” between Narendra Modi and Kejriwal, or he was punished for poor performance of BJP in MCD bypolls, or the government wanted to place a representative of RSS on his post.Jung had formed the Committee to examine over 400 files on the AAP government decisions.

Congress’s second Punjab list out

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Treading cautiously yet again, Congress while releasing the second list of candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections in Punjab remained silent on the fate of SAD turncoats.A list of 16 candidates was released by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), which included six sitting MLAs, namely President, Indian Youth Congress (IYC), Amarinder Singh Raja Warring from Gidderbaha, Amrik Singh Dhillon from Samrala, Jagmohan Singh Kang from Kharar and Karan Kaur Brar from Muktsar. Two youth Congress leaders were also nominated, including Birenderjit Singh Pahra (Gurdaspur) and Daman Thind Bajwa (Sunam).

2017 Punjab Assembly elections: Congress releases second list of candidates

2017 Punjab Assembly elections: Congress releases second list of candidates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Superseded Gen Bakshi meets Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Ministry of Defence on Wednesday described Lt General Praveen Bakshi’s meeting with defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday as a “courtesy call”, but sources in army headquarters claimed it was the minster who sought a meeting with the Eastern Army Commander. Following the seniority principle Bakshi should have been appointed army chief, but the government selected Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, currently the vice chief.It was not just Lt Gen Bakshi but Southern Army commander Lt Gen PM Hariz was also superseded.The contrary claims led to speculation about the fate of Lt Gen Bakshi. While there was talk of his offering in his resignation, there was also buzz about the possibility of the officer being accommodated.”A top rated army commander cannot be wasted like this,” said an army officer in South Block.Sources said one of the options was to appoint him as the Permanent Chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee. Currently, the senior most among the service chiefs holds the post and there is no provision for a permanent chairman.There is also talk of Lt Gen Bakshi being sent as Ambassador. The proposed Chief of Defence Staff is also an option, but sources say there is little time for creating the position.Lt Gen Bakshi was Lt Gen Rawat’s immediate boss until recently in the Eastern Command. The decision has triggered a controversy among officers, fearing this could set a new trend of politicising the forces.Justifying the decision, the government came out with an explanation that Rawat was chosen over the other two, keeping in mind his experience in operations in Jammu and Kashmir. Analysing the volatile situation in Kashmir after a series of terror strikes, a candidate with sound knowledge of operations there was thought to be the right choice, sources said.Lt General Bakshi has commanded the 9 Corps in Yol, Himachal Pradesh, commanded an armoured brigade in the Western sector, a division in the deserts, and a corps in the plains sector of Punjab, and Jammu and Kashmir.

Either Sidhu or wife will get ticket, not both: Amarinder Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of giving party tickets to both Navjot Sidhu and his wife for the upcoming assembly polls in the state, saying the ‘one-family-one-ticket’ norm will be strictly enforced.Interestingly, the comments by Singh, who is leading Congress’ campaign in Punjab, came a day after the cricketer- turned politician met Rahul Gandhi.Congress has already finalised half of its candidates for the polls in the state and Singh said it was for the Sidhu couple to decide who among them will contest on Congress ticket. He also said there was no talk in Congress about offering Deputy Chief Minister’s post to Sidhu, adding it was all media creation.”I will meet Sidhu soon to work out the modalities of his joining the party,” the former Punjab chief minister told reporters. Asked about reports of Sidhu contesting from Amritsar East constituency where his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu is a sitting MLA, Singh said, “It was up to the Sidhu couple to decide who will contest. The party will strictly adhere to one-family- one-ticket norm in all cases.”While Navjot Kaur joined the Congress last month, Sidhu is yet to join the party. When Kaur was asked if her husband would join Congress, she had said “Hum do shareer ek aatma hai, fir ek dusre ke bina kab tak reh paenge? (We are two bodies one soul how can we live separately)”.Sidhu’s entry into Congress has been speculated for a long time. Earlier, he was in talks with AAP but the negotiations did not yield any result and led to a split in Sidhu’s recently formed outfit Awaaz-E-Punjab.Asked about selection of remaining candidates, Singh winnability will be the sole criteria and even clearly indicated that some sitting MLAs may be dropped.

Modi only leader who has taken steps to ensure safety of women: Union Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti on Tuesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the only leader who has taken steps to ensure the safety of women, preserving their “very existence”.She said no government since Independence took steps to ensure safety and well-being of women except the Modi-led government which initiated schemes like Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao to save the girl child. “Modi has done what the previous Congress governments have failed to do. He has ensured the safety of women. He has ensured that when a girl child grows up she is able to stand on her own feet and has preserved the very existence of women,” she said addressing a gathering of party cadres during BJP Mahila Morcha Sammelan here.Lauding the development works carried out by the BJP-Akali coalition in Punjab, Sadhvi Jyoti appealed to the people to give another chance to the combine for a prosperous state.Sadhvi also hit out at Congress saying, “Vice President Rahul Gandhi is today sympathising with farmers but he should know that only his party is responsible for their pathetic condition. On the other hand, the Modi government allotted the biggest budget ever for the farming sector and ensured their survival.”She claimed that Congress was agitated due to the demonitisation decision because it was the most affected.On the occasion, Punjab BJP president Vijay Sampla said by voting for BJP in the Chandigarh municipal corporation polls, people vindicated the stand of the Prime Minister and expressed confidence that BJP will achieve a similar feat in Punjab as well.Sampla said BJP was the only party which brought 33 per cent women to the political mainstream.Pathankot MLA and former state party president Ashwini Sharma too spoke on the occasion and termed the women wing as the soul of the party.The conference was attended by BJP Mahila Morcha chief Vijaya Rahatkar, vice-president Latika Sharma, state president Mona Jaiswal.

BJP hits right electoral notes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Those who were surprised that despite long queues, there had been no popular backlash against demonetization may have received some answers from the results of the recent civic body elections. Held in Maharashtra and Chandigarh, the comfortable victories acquired by the BJP in these two places, and the hostile reception accorded to UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav by spectators, who had come to cheer the junior hockey team in Lucknow on Friday, summed up the positive mood amidst the public for the saffron party.The civic body elections are a shot in the arm for the BJP in the run up to the crucial assembly elections in UP and Punjab. Across the country, as DNA reporters have been finding out, despite inconveniences, people still believed PM Modi’s act would spark magic and rid the country of corruption.Speaking after the victory, BJP MP from Chandigarh and actor Kirron Kher, said demonetization was a “vote winner for her party and expected this perception to continue during the UP and Punjab polls.”These victories come at a welcome time as BJP MPs as well as its allies were getting apprehensive about the note ban. On Tuesday, Rajya Sabha BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta had criticised his own government for changing its stance yet again on the depositing of old notes. Dasgupta was not alone. BJP ally and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, an early supporter of the move, expressed worry, saying there was no end in sight to the crisis brought about by the massive cash crunch.With Chandigarh having no assembly, the council elections are indicative of the urban mood. There were a total of 26 wards out of which BJP won 20 seats and its ally the Shrimoni Akali Dal (SAD) winning one seat. Congress’s presence was reduced to only four wards even as three former Congress mayors faced defeat. The BSP failed to make a mark and one seat was won by a BJP rebel who contested independently.Post the result, Prime Minister Modi tweeted to thank the people of Chandigarh for supporting the SAD-BJP alliance. “This shows the importance people attach to good governance,” he tweeted.Local issues had taken a back-seat in these polls, as demonetization had become the key poll plank for the parties. Congress tried to cash in on demonetization woes being faced by the people and called these elections a “litmus test for the BJP”, while the BJP highlighted how the move would help the common man by weeding out corruption.Setting the tone for these polls, BJP president Amit Shah had addressed a mega rally in Chandigarh in November where he had urged people “to vote in the name of Modi.” Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur, BJP National Spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain also addressed several rallies in different wards.The aggressive campaign executed by the BJP worked in its favour and the party upped the ante by inviting star campaigners including Bhojpuri singer-actor and North-East Delhi MP Manoj Tiwari and Bhagat Singh Koshyari, singer Hans Raj Hans and former Uttarakhand CM to woo voters from all communities.In contrast, the Congress had registered its second poorest performance in the civic polls after 1996 when it won only one seat. Infighting in the party was also to blame as some leaders alleged that they had been sidelined. The rift came out in the open when Congress leader Manish Tiwari openly criticized former Chandigarh MP from Congress, Pawan Kumar Bansal. The manifesto was also released only a day before the election.Some 700 kms away in the ‘city of nawabs’, UP CM Akhelesh Singh, while presiding the award ceremony at the the most successful men’s Junior World Cup Hockey tournament, faced hostile crowds chanting “Modi, Modi”. It was a big embarrassment for Yadav who had spent as much as Rs 100 crore on building two world class hockey turfs.Earlier, the UP CM had decided to devote more than two hours to witness the final match between India and Belgium on Sunday evening. And his presence seemed to have boosted the morale of Indian colts, who went on to create history by reclaiming the trophy after a gap of 15 years.But what followed afterwards was a complete shocker to not only the organisers but also to the entire government machinery present there. As Akhilesh begun to speak, the 18,000-plus crowd started chanting “Modi, Modi”. Yadav got embarrassed for a moment but like a true politician, he didn’t let this affect his speech.The atmosphere did improve once Yadav distributed the prizes and the same crowd did appreciate his government’s successful organisation of the tournament with huge applause in between the announcements. But there was no denying that apart from the players, Modi was the star here too.

PM attributes Chandigarh civic poll win to ‘good governance’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday attributed the victory of Akali Dal-BJP combine in Chandigarh municipal polls to “good governance” and thanked people and workers of the two parties for it.”Thank you to the people of Chandigarh for supporting @BJP4India & @Akali_Dal_. This shows the importance people attach to good governance,” he tweeted. “Congratulations to BJP & Akali Dal Karyakartas for working with remarkable determination on the ground and serving people. @BJP4Chandigarh,” Modi said. Akali Dal and BJP got a shot in the arm ahead of Punjab assembly polls as the alliance defeated Congress in the Chandigarh municipal corporation elections in which demonetisation had emerged as a key issue.BJP won in 20 wards out of 26, its ally SAD bagged one, four wards fell in the kitty of Congress and one ward was won by an Independent in the elections held on Sunday, an election office spokesman said.Congress had majority in the Municipal Corporation after the previous three elections. However, in the mayoral election in January this year, the BJP candidate had won. Today’s result is the biggest ever victory for any single political party in the body since its inception in 1996.

DNA Evening Must Reads: From India’s win in Chennai Test to BJP-SAD’s victory in Chandigarh Municipal polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Ahead of Punjab elections, BJP-SAD alliance sweeps Chandigarh Municipal Corporation polls The BJP-Shiromani Akali Dal alliance on Tuesday attained clear majority in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation polls winning 20 out of the 26 wards. BJP won in 20 wards, rival Congress 4 and Independent one, an election office spokesman said. Read more here.2. Germany: Angela Merkel says Berlin Christmas market attack likely a ‘terror act’A man was arrested under suspicion of ploughing a seven-tonne truck through a Christmas market in the heart of Berlin, killing 12, has been named as Naved B, a 23-year-old asylum seeker of Pakistani origin. Read what Merkel said here.3. RBI’s currency stock can last beyond December 30: Arun Jaitley”There was full preparedness. There was not a single day when RBI had not released adequate currency to banks. There was a certain level of currency that was to be released and there was full preparedness for it,” Jaitley told reporters. Read his full statement here.4. IND vs ENG: Virat Kohli and Co win Chennai Test, equal Sunil Gavaskar’s 3-decade-old recordRavindra Jadeja ripped the heart out of England’s batting order to bowl India to a thumping innings and 75-run victory in the fifth and final test on Tuesday. Read more here.5. EU accuses Facebook of giving misleading information during WhatsApp takeoverThe European Commission has charged Facebook Inc with providing misleading information during its takeover of the online messaging service WhatsApp, opening the company to a possible fine of 1 percent of its turnover. Read more here.

Chandigarh Municipal Corporation polls: Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal describes SAD-BJP win as historic and a trendsetter

Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday described the SAD-BJP alliance’s victory in the city municipal corporation election as “historic” and said it will prove as a “trendsetter” for ensuring back to back victory for the alliance for the third consecutive term in the upcoming state Assembly polls.

File photo of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. PTI

File photo of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. PTI

The BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal received a shot in the arm ahead of Punjab Assembly polls with their alliance winning 21 out of 26 seats in the Chandigarh municipal corporation elections on Tuesday. The victory gains prominence as it comes on the heels of demonetisation decision on 8 November which was a key issue raised by both the BJP and Congress in this polls.

Badal termed the win as a “trailer”, and said that the complete film would emerge after the “spectacular victory” of the alliance in the upcoming assembly polls.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Akali patriarch said, “This result (MC polls) would prove as a trendsetter for ensuring back to back victory of the alliance for the third consecutive term in the state.”

Badal said the massive mandate in favour of “pro-people policies and solid performance” of BJP at the Centre under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has silenced the opposition for unleashing “malicious propaganda to defame the government.”

An exuberant Badal congratulated all the workers and leaders of the SAD-BJP alliance and said that the alliance would repeat the feat in the 2017 Assembly polls.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 18:52 IST

Four RSS men in poll-bound Punjab get VIP security cover from Centre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Four RSS functionaries in poll- bound Punjab have been accorded a VIP security cover of paramilitary commandos by the Union government.Officials said the decision to accord an ‘X’ category security cover of CISF personnel was taken after central security agencies assessed that there was a threat to these leaders in view of an attack on Jalandhar-based Sangh leader Jagdish Gagneja early this year.The four Rashtriya Sawayamsevak Sangh leaders are Rameshwar Dass (Ludhiana), Pramod Ji (Amritsar), Ramgopal Ji (Jalandhar) and Kuldeep Ji Bhagat (Jalandhar).Sources said four separate Central Industrial Security Force teams will soon take over the task and a squad will be dispatched to Punjab.Under the ‘X’ category, about 5-6 armed commandos are deployed with each VIP, they said.A similar cover was recently accorded to a senior journalist of a TV news channel.The CISF has over 70 VIPs, including the new protectees, under it.RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval are among prominent VIPs protected by the CISF, tasked primarily to secure major civil airports and vital installations in the country.Elections to Punjab assembly are expected to be held in February-March next year along with four other states of Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur.

Demonetization breathes life into ‘zombie’ accounts

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>About 72,000 dormant accounts in public and private banks came to life in the first 17 days of demonetization with more than Rs 2,000 crore cash deposited in them. Topping the list was India’s largest public sector bank State Bank of India (SBI) with deposits of Rs 586 crore, reveals official data.The average deposit in the 72,000 accounts is Rs 2.79 lakh, a notch above the Rs 2.5 lakh limit specified by the government, according to the Financial Intelligence Unit, a specialised agency that works under the Finance ministry.Tasked with monitoring suspicious bank transactions, FIU had closely scrutinised accounts in the period between November 8-25 and found that dead accounts—those that had not been active for the last two years—had suddenly sprung to life after the government withdrew high currency notes.Almost every bank, public and private, had accepted such deposits, reveals the data accessed by DNA.While SBI heads the list, Punjab National Bank (PNB) follows second with Rs 230 crore being accepted in dormant accounts. UCO Bank (Rs 154 crore), Bank of Baroda (Rs 116 crore) and Bank of India (Rs 105 crore) are the others in the top five. Amongst the private banks, ICICI is at the top with Rs 51 crore followed by Axis Bank (Rs 36 crore) and HDFC (Rs 9 crore).The largest dormant deposit was found to be in Surat where one individual deposited Rs 3 crore in HDFC. Amongst the other stand-out transactions that have come to light is that of a garment trader depositing Rs 1 crore without quoting a PAN number in the Tirupur branch of PNB.The main intent behind declaring an account dormant or dead is to reduce the risk of frauds. Segregating these accounts leads to bank staff getting alerted to the risks involved and the due diligence needed.But after demonetization, some people are allegedly depositing unexplained cash in these zombie accounts, an expert explained.Recently, in a high profile meeting of tax officials, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) took note of 500 suspicious accounts where more than Rs 15 lakh cash was deposited.The government has started analysing where the higher-than-expected deposits came from and how they got into the system. Banks and their staff could face intense scrutiny, and possible penalties if irregularities are found, an official said.The banks did not respond to emails and repeated messages.

Will throw Badals into jail if found guilty of misconduct: Amarinder Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh asserted on Monday that he would “throw the Badals into jail if found guilty of misconduct” if Congress forms the next government in the state. He said that he would review all decisions taken by the SAD-BJP state government in the last three months.Accusing both Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his Deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal of circumventing established rules and norms to push their electoral agenda, Amarinder said, “The game plan of the Akalis had been thoroughly exposed and only a total rout in the polls could really teach them a lesson. “I will review every act of the Badals and throw them into jail if found guilty of any criminal act or misdemeanour if Congress formed the next government,” he said in a statement.Any decision taken in violation of established rules would be revoked, and the accountability would be fixed. Action would also be taken against civil servants found facilitating such violation, the former Punjab Chief Minister claimed. The senior Congress leader also hit out at the special session convened by the state Cabinet on Monday.The Governor has refused to give his assent to the ordinances and bills proposed by the Akali government in the state, thus it is clear that there is sheer desperation behind the summoning of the special session of the Assembly today, he said.Amarinder reiterated his request to the Election Commission for “immediate imposition of the Code of Conduct in the state to prevent further deterioration of political environment in the run-up to the Assembly elections.” The Congress leader also welcomed Suresh Gogia from TMC into the party fold. Punjab goes to polls next year.

Pathankot terror attack: NIA names JeM chief Masood Azhar and brother Rauf Asghar in chargesheet

New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday filed a chargesheet in the Pathankot airbase terror attack, naming Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar and three others of his organisation as accused.

In a comprehensive chargesheet filed at Panchkula Special Court about a year after attack, NIA has highlighted the role of terror group JeM in spreading mayhem in India and referred to the nefarious plans of the outfit, sources said.

The chargesheet which also named Azhar’s brother Rauf Asghar as accused, alleged that immediately after the Pathankot incident, he had hosted a video message claiming responsibility for the terror strike and glorified the role of Azhar, who was released in exchange for passengers of hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814 in 1999.

The chargesheet is likely to be used by India at various international fora to highlight the role of Masood Azhar in Pathankot terror strike carried out on 2 January this year.

Launching of a diplomatic offensive against the JeM and its chief Masood Azhar has become imperative after China continued to stonewall efforts of India to get UN sanctions against the terrorist and his group.

Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar. Reuters

Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar. Reuters

The Home Ministry had given sanction to NIA to file the chargesheet against Azhar, his brother and the two handlers — Qashif Jan and Shaid Latif – of the four terrorists, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention)Act (UAPA).

The four terrorists, after entering India from Bamiyal area of Gurdaspur, had carried out the strike at Pathankot IAF base killing eight people including seven personnel of IAF and National Security Guard (NSG).

The chargesheet named four terrorists involved in the attack.

According to NIA, the terrorists, who were killed after two days of gunfight, were identified as Nasir Hussain, Hafiz Abu Bakar, Umar Farooq and Abdul Qayum and they were residents of Vehari (Punjab), Gujranwala (Punjab), Sanghar (Sindh) and Sukkur (Sindh) of Pakistan respectively.

The chargesheet includes evidence of linking the footprints of one of the terrorists obtained from Bamiyal besides matching of DNA sample found from a soft drink can in the hijacked car of Punjab Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh, the sources said.

The Pathankot terror strike had seen a joint investigation team from Pakistan also arriving in India for carrying out a probe.

However, the Pakistani team, upon their return, claimed that India neither shared much of evidence nor allowed it to interrogate the security personnel involved in dealing with the attack.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 12:38 IST

Demonetisation: Cashlessness sting still painful on day 41

New Delhi: There was no respite in sight for cash-strapped people on Monday as queues outside banks and ATMs for withdrawing money continued across the city with rising anger and pain.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

An IANS correspondent who visited about 10 banks and ATMs across the city, found over 150 people outside Punjab National Bank and State Bank of India in Kalkaji area of south Delhi.

Similar conditions were witnessed outside the Indian Overseas Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank in Preet Vihar area in east Delhi.

Jaswant Sharma, a security guard with a law firm and resident of Kalkaji extension, told IANS: “Since the day I got my salary I am looking for an ATM to withdraw some cash. Three of my attempts have gone in vein as the ATM machine runs out of cash before my turn comes.

Asked if he supports the government’s move of scrapping the old Rs 500 and 1,000 notes, Sharma said: “I have nothing to do with the government decision, I just want to withdraw some cash as I am left with only Rs 10 in my pocket. Cash is the necessity.”

“I have borrowed the bicycle from one of my friend to reach here,” he rued.

There were around 300 people outside the Yes Bank and HDFC ATM kiosk in Kalkaji area around 12.30 a.m. which was dispensing cash till early morning.

Balkishan, a lawyer who had arrived at the ATM to withdraw cash with his 12-year-old son, told IANS: “At most of the places people in the queues do not allow withdrawal from multiple cards. So I have come with my son to withdraw money from two cards.”

“We cannot stand in bank or ATM queue everyday, what comes in mere Rs 2,500,” he asked.

However, similar situation was witnessed outside the banks on Monday morning, which opened after Sunday. Hundreds of people were seen waiting for their turn.

Balwinder Singh, a resident of South Extension Part II who was standing outside Punjab National Bank in south Delhi, told IANS: “It is completely mismanaged show.”

“The government has made the middle and working class people suffer. Today I have skipped my office for the third time since demonetisation to withdraw cash.”

“Is government going to pay me for the days I have skipped my office to withdraw some cash?” he said.

Echoing similar opinion, Neha Sharma, an IT professional working with an MNC in Noida, said: “We cannot skip office everytime by giving the excuse that we need to withdraw some cash.”

“The government has set the limit of Rs 24,000 a week, but the bank officials are only giving Rs 4,000,” she rued.

“How do we manage our expenses for whole month in just Rs 4,000,” she asked.

Serpentine queues have been witnessed across the country after the government’s November 8 decision to spike higher currency notes to curb “black money and corruption”.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 12:32 IST

Punjab: 600 gm heroin and Rs 12 lakh in new notes seized, three people arrested

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three persons have been arrested with 600 gram of heroin and Rs 12 lakh in new high-value currency in Punjab’s Amritsar district, police said on Sunday. The three were arrested outside a Suvidha centre in Pataka market on Chamrang road before they could deliver the heroin.The counter-intelligence unit arrested Karaj Singh, Malkeet Singh and Jaswinder Singh – all residents of Ghulami wala village in Ferozepur district – following a tip-off, said Inspector General of Police MF Farooqui. Police said a total of Rs 15.49 lakh was seized from them, and out of that Rs 12 lakh were in the new high-value notes.On Thursday, Punjab police arrested Gurnam Singh and recovered 5 kg of heroin from his possession. The police said the contraband was smuggled into India from Pakistan. Gurnam has sold a part of the heroin to the three persons arrested today, police said, adding that the three had come here to deliver the heroin to someone in Amritsar. The accused have been booked under relevant sections of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

In Modi’s cashless economy 5-6% from every transaction will go to rich people: Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking in Goa Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi hit out at PM Modi’s demonetization scheme. He said at a rally that 1% of the rich people have acquired 60% of the country’s money. He was quoted saying by ANI: “In the last 2 and half years, 1% rich people have acquired 60% of country’s money.” He further said: “All cash is not black money & all black money is not cash. Demonetization has targeted the poor, the cash economy of our country. Cong wants to eradicate corruption from country; If NDA govt wants to take a step against it, party will give its 100% support. But demonetization drama isn’t fight against corruption, black money. It’s an attack on India’s 99% honest people , cash economy, weak people.” He further said: “1% super-rich people usurped Rs 8 lakh crore from India’s banks. When they didn’t return money, you(Centre) called it non-performing asset.” He added: “Nov 8 ko khade hote hain jaise Obamaji khade hote hai aur kaha,”jo jebh mein paisa hai Hindustan k gareeb logon woh ab kagaz ho gye (On November 8, he stood up like Obama and said: “The money in poor people’s pockets is now paper.)He added: “Yeh surgical strike nahi thi yeh Hindustan ke imaandar logon pe “firebombing” thi (This wasn’t a surgical strike on India’s honest people, this was a firebombing.)”He added: “In last 2.5 years, PM Modi waived off Rs 1,10,000 crore of these people. After demonetization, he waived off Vijay Mallya’s Rs 1200 crore. Demonetization is all about “gareebon se paisa kheechon, ameeron ko paisa seechon.”Earlier, a Congress delegation today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to highlight the plight of farmers in the country and demanded a loan waiver for them. During the meeting, which came in the backdrop of Gandhi’s fierce attack on the Prime Minister over demonetisation, top Congress leaders presented a memorandum to Modi on demands of farmers including loan waiver, reducing power bills to half and remunerative MSP for farm produce.The delegation included Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, deputy leaders in both Houses Anand Sharma and Jyotiraditya Scindia, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh and UP Congress chief Raj Babbar.After the meeting, the Congress Vice President said that Modi heard them patiently but did not commit anything.”We, Congress party delegation, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the plight of farmers of this country. Every single day, a farmer is committing suicide in Punjab. Farmers are committing suicide all over the country.”The government has removed the import duty on wheat.This is a devastating blow. So we went to the Prime Minister to request him on behalf of farmers of this country to waive their loans,” he told reporters.He said the Prime Minister accepted that the situation of farmers is serious but did not say anything on loan waiver.Sources said the Prime Minister gave the delegation a patient hearing and told Rahul Gandhi to “keep meeting him”.Gandhi has been targeting the Prime Minister often, with his latest offensive being on demonetisation. He claimed on Wednesday that he had information about alleged “personal corruption” of the Prime Minister, but the BJP dismissed it as a “joke”.Gandhi had raised the farmers issue during his recent Deoria to Delhi yatra in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. The Congress has collected over 2 crore “Kisan maang patras” from across Uttar Pradesh and over 34 lakh from Punjab which also goes to polls early next year.

Demonetisation: Rahul Gandhi urges Narendra Modi to waive off farmer loans, PM non-committal

New Delhi: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Friday met Prime minister Narendra Modi seeking a waiver of loans given to farmers.

A Gandhi-led Congress delegation also raised the issue of farmer suicides with Modi and urged him to write off the loans given to farmers like it has been done in the case of corporates.

File photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

File photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

“Thousands of farmers are committing suicide across the country. Every single day a farmer is committing suicide in Punjab. We met the Prime Minister and apprised him about the plight of farmers across the country,” Gandhi told the media.

“This government has waived off loans of Rs 1.40 lakh crore to corporates. So we urged the government to waive off the loans of the farmers as well,” he said.

The delegation comprised senior Congress leaders including Punjab state unit chief Captain Amarinder Singh and Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge.

Gandhi also said that the government decision to remove import duty on wheat was a “terrible blow” to the farmers.

“The Prime Minister too admitted the condition of the farmers to be grave. But he did not say anything about waiving off the loans to farmers,” he said.

Gandhi’s meeting with Modi comes days after he vowed to expose the Prime Minister’s “personal complicity in corruption”.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 15:59 IST

No intention to discriminate but must ensure uniformity: SC on barring IAF personnel from sporting beards

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> IAF personnel cannot sport a beard on religious grounds, the Supreme Court said making it clear that policies on personal appearance are “not intended to discriminate against religious beliefs” but to “ensure uniformity and discipline” which are indispensable to every armed force.The apex court observed that for the effective functioning of a large combat force, the members must bond together by a sense of espirit-de-corps, “without distinctions of caste, creed, colour or religion” and while on duty, every member of the Indian Air Force is required to wear uniform and not display any sign distinguishing one from another.”Regulations and policies in regard to personal appearance are not intended to discriminate against religious beliefs nor do they have the effect of doing so. Their object and purpose is to ensure uniformity, cohesiveness, discipline and order which are indispensable to the air force, as indeed to every armed force of the Union,” a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said while dismissing appeals of two Muslim personnel of IAF.Airmen Mohammed Zubair and Ansari Aaftab Ahmed had challenged dismissal of their plea by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in which they had sought setting aside of the air force order directing them to shave off their beard. By an August 26, 2005 communication, the personnel were informed that under the current policy of the air force dated February 24, 2003 and July 9, 2003 an airman was not permitted to have a beard on religious grounds.The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, said there was no merit in the appeals as they were unable to show that their case falls within the ambit of Regulation 425(b) which says “personnel whose religion prohibits the cutting of the hair or shaving of the face of its members will be permitted to grow hair or retain beard”.”In the circumstances, the commanding officer was acting within his jurisdiction in the interest of maintaining discipline of the air force. The appellant having been enrolled as a member of the air force was necessarily required to abide by the discipline of the force,” the court said.

Ban sale of liquor on all National, State Highways from 1 April: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a ban on all liquor shops on national as well as state highways across the country and made it clear that licenses of existing shops will not be renewed after 31 March next year.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur also directed that all signages indicating presence of liquor vends will be prohibited on national and state highways.

The bench also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao said the existing licenses of liquor shops across the highways will not be renewed after 31 March, 2017.

Last week, the apex court had expressed concern over 1.5 lakh fatalities every year in road mishaps, saying it may direct closure of liquor vends on national and state highways across the nation, besides removal of the signages indicating their location.

The apex court, while reserving verdict on 7 December on a batch of pleas seeking a direction to amend excise laws to ensure that no liquor is sold alongside highways, came down heavily on the Punjab government for seeking relaxation and permitting liquor shops near highways if they are “elevated” ones and the vend are under or near it.

“Look at the number of licences you (Punjab) have given. Because the liquor lobby is so powerful, everyone is happy. The excise department is happy, the excise minister is happy and the state government is also happy that they are making money. If a person dies due to this, you give Rs one or 1.5 lakh. That is it. You should take a stand which is helpful for the society,” the bench had said.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Reminding the state government of its constitutional obligation to prohibit liquor sale, the bench had asked the state to do something for general public considering that nearly 1.5 lakh people were dying every year.

The bench had also expressed unhappiness over alleged inaction by various states in removing liquor shops alongside roads which give rise to drunken driving and consequential fatalities.

It had said that revenue generation cannot be a “valid reason” for a state or a Union territory to give licence for liquor shops on highways and the authorities should adopt a positive attitude to remove the menace.

The bench had also rapped the Centre for not doing anything concrete for the last 10 years forcing the court to “step in”.

Earlier, the court had sought a response from the Centre, states and Union territories on the pleas seeking a direction to amend excise laws to ensure that no liquor is sold alongside highways.

Several pleas have been filed on the issue including the one which referred to the 2015 report of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and said almost five lakh accidents occurred last year in India, killing 1,46,000 people and leaving thrice the number injured.

It was alleged that despite recommendation of a committee to ban of sale of alcohol on state and national highways, states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were sticking to their prevailing excise policies under which licences were being issued to liquor shops along the highways.

“An analysis of road accident data 2015 reveals that around 1,374 accidents and 400 deaths take place every day on Indian roads, resulting in 57 accidents and loss of 17 lives on an average every hour.

“India being a signatory to the Brasilia Declaration, it is imperative that policy guidelines are framed to control road accidents. Also, the excise policies of Indian states and Union territories should be amended to conform to the spirit of Article 47 r/w Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” one of the pleas had said.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 13:00 IST

Pathankot: Abandoned car found near Indo-Pak border raises alert

Chandigarh: Security agencies sounded an alert in the border belt of Pathankot in North Punjab on Thursday morning after an abandoned car was found there and villagers told the police that some suspicious people were spotted earlier.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The Punjab Police and other security agencies were carrying out searches in the area, police officers said.

Pathankot district police chief Rakesh Kaushal said that the car was found abandoned near Farwal village, close to the India-Pakistan international border. The vehicle was being searched.

It had a number plate of neighbouring troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Bamiyal sector, where the car was found, is close to the border of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir’s border with Pakistan.

Terrorists from Pakistan had infiltrated from this area earlier. The terror attack on Pathankot airbase on 2 January, was carried out by terrorists who had used the route from this sector to enter India.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 12:13 IST

Task force on Indus Water Treaty in one week’s time

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government has finalised the details of a task force on Indus Water Treaty, which will be formed within one week, with the aim to stop river waters going waste in Pakistan.”The government wants to ensure surplus water for farmers in border states of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. This can easily be done by stopping water from Indian rivers which flows into Pakistan from going waste there,” a source said. The Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 covers the water distribution and sharing rights of six rivers — Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum. “Framework for the task force on Indus Water Treaty has been prepared. The task force will comprise 6 to 7 members and will be formed within a week,” the source said.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently said that Sutlej, Beas, Ravi waters belong to India and is not being used in Pakistan. Every drop of this water will be stopped and would be given to farmers of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, Modi had said in a public meeting. Meanwhile, the World Bank which had brokered the treaty in 1960, has paused the separate processes initiated by India and Pakistan under the Indus Waters Treaty to allow the two countries to consider alternative ways to resolve their disagreements.India had taken strong exception last month to the World Bank’s decision to set up a Court of Arbitration to look into Pakistan’s complaint against it over Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects in Jammu and Kashmir.Surprised at the World Bank’s decision to appoint a neutral expert, as sought by the Indian government, and at the same time establish a Court of Arbitration as wanted by Pakistan, India had said proceeding with both the steps simultaneously was “legally untenable”.

Demonetization: ED seizes Rs 2.19 crore cash in Chandigarh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Enforcement Directorate seized Rs 2.19 crore on Wednesday from here as part of its operation to check hawala trade in the wake of demonetization.Officials said the sleuths of the agency swooped down on the premises of the cloth trader and few other locations here, based on a tip off received by them about huge illegal currency stashing. While the ED said Rs 18 lakh in new notes was recovered, Punjab Police said Rs 69.35 lakh in new currency was recovered during the raid. The action has been taken under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and the searches are still on, they said. Chandigarh DSP Ram Gopal said a team led by ED’s Deputy Director Gurnam Singh conducted a raid and seized Rs 1.50 crore in demonetized currency and Rs 69.35 lakh in new currency.The raid was carried out at house of one Inderpal Mahajan. He has been arrested and a case has been registered against him, the DSP said. He said the ED team has seized notes for further verification.The Enforcement Directorate has been carrying out searches and enquiry at various places in the wake of demonetization.

No harm in UCC: Ahmadiyya Muslims

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has declared support to Uniform Civil Code (UCC), saying the loyalty to the nation is also an important constituent of the faith.Opposing the rigid stand of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and other Muslim groups, leaders of the community on Tuesday said the Islamic Sharia (laws) were liberal enough to accommodate solutions to the evolving problems.In most of the Islamic countries, the community is declared non-Muslim for their belief that their founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmed had attained prophethood. While the primary constituent of Islamic faith is that Prophet Muhammad was the final messenger from God.Therefore, Ahmadiyya movement in India and the Bahá’í movement of West Asia, (which recognises their leader Bahaullah as prophet) originated almost at the same time have been declared infidels by the mainstream Muslims scholars. There are around 1.5 lakh Ahmadiyya community members in the country. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908), founded this movement in Qadian town of Punjab in 1889.Though the Indian law regards Ahmadis as Muslims, Pakistan under the secular leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto declared them as non-Muslims in 1973.The Chief Secretary of Ahmadiyya sect Shiraz Ahmed said there was no sanction to triple talaq in one go. “We recognise that Islamic law can be interpreted as per requirements. We must bring real Islamic teachings to the knowledge of government and public, where it is mentioned that granting divorce to a women must have gaps, to allow reconciliation and rapprochement,” he said.The community is organising 12th annual congregation on December 26-28 in the Qadian city, where participants from 50 countries are expected to arrive, including a large delegation from Pakistan. Last year, around 5,000 people from Pakistan had attended the event but this year their confirmation is yet to received, said Tariq Ahmad Ahmadiyya, spokesperson of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jaamat India.“Generally their confirmation is received late as border clearance issues are to be managed. But those coming by flights will definitely participate despite the tension between the two countries,” he said.The event will be marked by a world religions session in which people from different faiths will suggest solutions to the problems faced by world, Shiraz added. On the last day, a televised address will be given by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, worldwide head of the community based in London. “The message of love and loyalty towards ones nation will also be emphasised during the discussions at the event,” Shiraz said.The objective of this jalsa or the congregation is to present the peaceful teachings of Islam. Likewise to call people towards their creator, to develop love and affection and promoting brotherhood are among the noble objectives, said the organisers.Rejecting that there was any political motive or an attempt to confuse Muslims, organisers said the gathering had no other motive, but spiritual where people from all over the world will participate. The community spans over 209 countries.

Government in a fix on clearing Avinash Rai Khanna’s name as NHRC member, plans wider consultation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing flak for clearing BJP vice president Avinash Rai Khanna’s name as member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the government is now planning to hold wider consultations. Name of Khanna, a Rajya Sabha member from Punjab and BJP in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir, was cleared by the panel headed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month. If chosen, he would have been the first active politician to be appointed as a member of the NHRC, which is headed by a former chief justice of India.Besides a former chief justice as its chairperson, the other three full-time members, as per the Protection of Human Rights Act, should include a former chief justice of a high court and two others “from amongst persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights”.“We are still in the process of clearing the names after other stakeholders (for the selection) raised objections on the name. We also need to seek the concurrence of Rai before finalising his name. He has not shown inclination until now,” said a senior official in the union home ministry. Though the appointment panel also had leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Congress and other political parties have threatened to raise the matter in the Parliament if the appointment is finalised.Besides, the move has also been contested a young student of Noida who challenged the validity of the recommendation by the Prime Minister led panel to appoint Khanna.In her petition, Anupriya Nagori said that the decision making process as well as the recommendation were in violation of the statutory prohibition contained in Section 24 (3) of the Protection of Human Rights Act and Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.Khanna’s cannot be appointed as per Section 24(3) of the PHRA as anybody who has remained member of a state human rights commission cannot be the member of NHRC and Khanna had served in Punjab state human rights commission (SHRC) some years ago.

The drug mayhem: Is Mumbai next?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The film Udta Punjab, which received mixed reactions, exposed the extent of drug abuse in Punjab. According to research conducted by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCB) in 2014, there were 14,274 cases reported in Mumbai, as compared to 14,483 cases in Punjab. There are more than 500 de-addiction centres in India nursing users back to health is one thing, but speak to a few others and they will tell you how deep this problem is and why it may never go away.Afiz* is 28-years old and works in a call centre in Mumbai. He gave up studying in class 11 and was introduced to drugs by a group of girls at a party. “At 16, I was introduced to weed, soon I explored chemical drugs and began to score for myself. Having done ganja, cocaine and acid (LSD), charas (cannabis) is my favourite and I do it every day.”Drug addiction is not gender relative. Jane* is an 18-year-old, who in school was introduced to chemical drugs, says, “I was 14 then and peddlers were easily available. I do meth (Methamphetamine) regularly. It’s in a crystal form and one has to crush it into a powder and snort it. I have never regretted doing drugs and hope to never visit a de-addiction centre,” she says.Just as one cannot do business without understanding its network, Ashok*, a 24-year-old former drug peddler, claims to have a thorough understanding of the peddling network in Mumbai. Having started with chemical drugs at the age of 13, he has tried most of the varieties. “I have done LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide), Hash (MD5), OMG (a form of weed), MCAT (meow-meow), crystal meth, opium, and charas. I peddled for a few years where I would buy maal (meth and charas) for Rs 7,000 a tola (ten grams) and sell it for over Rs 25,000 in one day. My customers ranged from young teenagers to married men of 50 and 60 years. Today every age group is hooked.”Describing it as the perfect business until he was caught, he adds, “Five years ago no one knew what meth was, and a few of us were selling it. At the time people were jealous of the money I made and alerted the police. I was thrashed for three days and paid two and a half lakhs to get out.”The drug routeColleges and bars where the young hang out are vantage point for peddlers, who find Mumbai’s youth a vulnerable and easy target. Groups of users we spoke to told us that each drug is treated and smuggled differently.Meth is sourced from Gujarat and charas from Manali and Kashmir. A minimum of three middlemen are involved before the drug is passed on to small peddlers. “You can get these drugs everywhere, from street children to selected paan shops, one just needs to have a contact number. Call and fix up a meeting place for exchange,” says Ashok, holding out a black substance in his palm. “This is some of the best charas you will get around here,” he says confidently, to a largely startled group that wasn’t expecting any ‘substance’ during the interview. The education continues. “If it smells sweet and fresh, then it’s a good buy. There are college students peddling for the extra money, but fail to choose their stuff (drugs) wisely, nevertheless it gets sold.”Drug abuse in MaharashtraThough an earnest attempt has been made to curtail peddling in the city, the numbers are not very impressive. Mumbai Police along with the Anti-Narcotics Cell have caught 191 persons in the possession of illegal drugs, 159 cases have been registered and 13,297 persons have been caught consuming these drugs in Maharastra in 2016. Also, records with the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment show 43,180 persons have checked in for de-addiction treatment in Maharashtra since 2007. “Drug addiction is definitely rising,”’ says Yusuf Merchant, one of India’s leading anti-drug crusaders who has been in the field for over two decades. This year, he says, 700 teenagers enrolled for de-addiction at his centre. “Hooked on to new party drugs such as MCAT also known as “meow-meow” along with many others, 90% of my patients are from the age group of 16-21 years,” he says.Fr Joseph H. Pereira, founder of Kripa, a well-known de-addiction centre in Maharashtra, with branches in other parts of India as well, expresses discontent with the success rate of de-addiction. “We used to have a success rate of 60%, however owing to different forms of drugs today, a patient is unable to resist, and gets hooked to alcoholism or cannabis known as soft drugs.” Our society is not ready to deal with the reality of drug abuse, says Dr. Merchant. A drug addict is looked at as a criminal rather than a patient who is in need of treatment. There is a stigma attached to seeking help for de-addiction. Today one does not need to be a smoker, he can just snort the drug, he says. “But whatever method one chooses, the disconnect with the family and influence from peers are the prime reasons of why a person becomes an addict,” he adds. Failed by our disciplinary systemsIn the deep suburbs of Mumbai is Deepak*, a student from Mira Road who earlier used drugs and then peddled for a while. He talks about the unholy nexus between the police and peddlers. “When a peddler is caught, the police are aware of how the business is doing, accordingly they take their cut,” he says. Another tactic employed is to round up the users and extort money from them rather than from the peddlers. A user recounts the time when he was caught doing weed and was caught by the cops. “The peddler was right there with us, but I was the only one arrested. He demanded Rs 5,000 from me. I didn’t have it on me, but had to call my friend to release me on this bail.” The next morning, the same cop and the peddler who sold it to me were seen hanging out together,’’ he adds. Authorities point out that this is very common, and attacking the symptom rather than the malaise itself will make little headway in correcting the problem.Not all is lostDe-addiction centres now say that the chances of relapse have moved as high as 60%. For the few who have managed to stay in the 40 %, it is like walking on thin ice. “When I look at life, I consider myself fortunate to be given a second chance,” says 23-year-old Mahesh*. He was addicted to chemical drugs at the age of 18 and spent seven months in a de-addiction centre. Today, he is a writer and director with prominent shows like Savdhan India, Crime Patrol and Gumrah. “Although my experience with drugs has helped me write better and bring out true characters, I would not wish it for anybody.” Having been off drugs, he is one of the many examples of a success story as to what may seem like an indefinite problem. Looking aheadThe problem is not the lack of recreational spaces, but the misuse of these very spaces for illegal activities. Fr Joe says that religion as a whole has failed to impart moral values among youth and there is a need for the right kind of awareness. While numerous organizations engage in the awareness of drug abuse, just this won’t suffice. “After a person is made aware of drugs and addiction, instead of resisting it, s/he may be tempted to try it out. I have put together a group of ‘stars’, the ones free from alcohol and drugs for a period of one year and over, from well-lived sober lives. We ask them to testify and be examples while conducting any kind of awareness program,” he says. This not only makes a person aware of drug abuse as a problem but works as an example of how not to get it wrong. *Names changed on request of anonymity

Delhi court sends KLF chief Harminder Singh Mintoo to Tihar jail for two days

New Delhi: Khalistani Liberation Force (KLF) chief Harminder Singh Mintoo was on Monday sent to judicial custody till 14 December by a Delhi Court when the Punjab Police plea for his transit remand will be considered.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

Metropolitan Magistrate Satvir Singh Lamba sent the accused to Tihar Jail after the Delhi Police said they did not require him for further custodial interrogation, asking the probe agency to produce him before the court concerned on the next date of hearing.

After that, Punjab Police personnel moved a plea seeking Mintoo’s transit remand, claiming that they require him for unearthing the larger conspiracy. The plea will also be taken up on 14 December.

The court had on 28 November sent Mintoo to Delhi Police custody for seven days which was later extended till on Monday.

The Delhi Police had earlier submitted that they needed his custody to know about the role of “insiders and outsiders” who assisted him and five others in fleeing from Nabha jail in Patiala.

It had said that the role of Inter-Services Intelligence and some terror organisations was required to be probed in the case as he had also visited Pakistan.

According to the Delhi Police, one loaded pistol and six live cartridges were recovered from his possession. He was earlier a member of Babbar Khalsa International and later floated his own group, they said.

Mintoo was nabbed from a Delhi railway station, a day after he escaped with five other inmates from the prison.

UP Police had on 27 November arrested the alleged “mastermind” of the daring daylight jailbreak, Parminder Singh, from Kairana in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district when the getaway vehicle — a Toyota Fortuner — was stopped at a police picket.

He had escaped along with five other prisoners in a sensational prison break after armed men in police uniform tricked the sentries into opening the gates and fled with the inmates while firing a hail of bullets.

Mintoo, who was wanted in ten terror cases, was arrested by Punjab Police after he was deported from Thailand in November 2014.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 17:06 IST

Delay in candidates’ list unnerves Cong leaders

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday attempted to sooth nerves of his partymen who are getting uneasy in the wake of delay in declaration of candidates for the upcoming assembly elections. Singh said that the delay in announcement would not impact the campaigning by the Congress candidates, who would get ample time. On speculation surrounding ticket allocation for senior party leader Manish Tiwari, he said the decision is vested with the Congress president Sonia Gandhi. He said that the state unit would request Priyanka Gandhi to join the electioneering to boost party’s fortunes.Singh, the face of Congress in Punjab said that he would move the court over the demonetisation related deaths. He also extended full support to the proposed strike by the industries over the issue on December 16.Extending his support to the Chamber of Industrial & Commercial Undertakings, Ludhiana, also said that the impact of demonetization on the state’s industries, already in the doldrums.

SAD has no chance in Punjab, main fight between Congress and AAP: Captain Amarinder

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh claimed the fight in the upcoming state polls is between his party and AAP, whose “standing is on the decline” and they had to bring 50,000 people from other states for campaigning.Speaking about the ruling SAD-BJP alliance, he claimed, “The fight is between Congress and AAP. SAD-BJP alliance is nowhere.”Welcoming into Congress fold AAP founding member and its state vice president C M Lakhanpal along with three leaders P K Sharma, Iqbal Pannu and Barpur Singh, Amarinder claimed the party’s graph is coming down as people of Punjab is disillusioned.He also said, “Arvind Kejriwal’s claim that if his party comes to power in Punjab a Dalit will be made the deputy chief minister is fraudulent. There is no Sikh or Dalit minister in his Delhi government.””Kejriwal is merely trying to befool the people of Punjab through such misleading statements. AAP had absolutely no standing in Punjab and had brought 50,000 people from other states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar for campaigning,” the Punjab Congress chief claimed.Amarinder said the new entrants to his party will get ticket where Congress did not have active candidates as of now.The newly inducted leaders expressed their unconditional support for Congress and alleged that AAP has “failed to meet people’s expectations in the state and is on decline”. PTI JTR NSDWill request Priyanka to campaign: Amarinder Singh Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh said that he will request Priyanka Gandhi to campaign for the party along with her mother Sonia Gandhi and brother Rahul Gandhi in the upcoming state Assembly elections.”Both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi would be campaigning for Congress in Punjab and I would also request Priyanka Gandhi to help with the electioneering in the state,” he told reporters here.Hitting out at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s announcement that a Dalit will become the Deputy chief minister of Punjab if AAP comes to power in the polls, Singh said, “The AAP government in Delhi has no Sikh or Dalit minister.”On being questioned over the delay in announcing the party candidates for the state polls, slated for 2017, the senior Congress leader said, “SAD and AAP are one-member and one-family party respectively, while Congress is a well-structured organisation that works on principles and processes.”He said the delay in the announcement would have no impact on the prospects of victory of Congress candidates in the polls, adding that they would get ample time to engage in electioneering.”We are a large party which needed to go through systems and processes to ensure proper ticket allocation,” Singh said.On being asked whether Manish Tewari will contest the Assembly election, the former Punjab chief minister said the Congress President would take a final call on it.Asked about the chances of cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu joining Congress, Singh said he was yet to announce his decision, which the party has left to him.

Punjab election 2017: Sufi singer-turned-politician Hans Raj Hans quits Congress, joins BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two months ahead of Punjab Assembly elections, Sufi singer-turned-politician Hans Raj Hans has quit Congress. Hans joined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at party headquarters in Delhi, in presence of BJP Chief Amit Shah on Saturday.A former member of ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Hans had contested the Lok Sabha elections from Jhalandhar in 2009, but faced defeat. He had left SAD and joined Congress in February early this year and was welcomed by Punjab Congress Chief Captain Amarinder Singh. However, the relations had struck a sour chord after Hans was not selected to be nominated for the Rajya Sabha seat and another leader Shamsher Singh Dullo was elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha.Miffed over being sidelined, he had lambasted Congress leaders in a party Dalit Outreach programme in September and alleged discrimination of the Balmiki community which he represented.On Saturday, he called Prime Minister, Narendra Modi a ‘Babbar sher’ and said that he was influenced by various key decisions taken by Modi. A Padam Shree awardee, Hans is popular for his Sufi songs and hails from Jalandhar in Punjab. The state is set for Assembly elections in February next year.

Cold wave in North India: Multiple flights cancelled in Delhi due to fog, 16 dead in 24 hours in UP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As cold wave sweeps over North India, nine international and 15 domestic flights were delayed in Delhi due to poor visibility resulting from fog. Dense fog cover was also reported in Amritsar, Punjab.In Uttar Pradesh, 16 people have died in the last 24 hours due to cold wave, ANI reported.In view of intense cold condition and fog, authorities in Gautam Buddha Nagar and Ghaziabad districts have ordered all private and government schools to change timings. Gautam Buddha Nagar District Magistrate N P Singh today ordered change of school timings for Nursery to Class VIII with effect from December 9. District Inspector of Schools (DIOS) Muneesh Kumar said, “New timing of schools are 9.30 AM to 3 PM. It will be effective till next order is issued by the DM.” Meanwhile in Ghaziabad, District Magistrate Nidhi Kesarwani order that instead of 8 AM, now schools will open at 9 AM.For Friday, the Met Department has warned of shallow to moderate fog at isolated places over Assam and Meghalaya, Nagaland-Manipur-Mizoram-Tripura, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi, Punjab, north Rajasthan and north Madhya Pradesh.

May direct closure of liquor shops on highways: SC expresses concern on growing road accidents

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Concerned over 1.5 lakh fatalities every year in road mishaps, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said it may direct closure of liquour vend on national and state highways across the nation, besides removal of the signages indicating their location.The apex court, while reserving verdict on a batch of pleas seeking a direction to amend excise laws to ensure that no liquor is sold alongside highways, came down heavily on the Punjab government for seeking relaxation and permitting liquor shops near highways if they are “elevated” ones and the vend are under or near it. “Look at the number of licences you (Punjab) have given. Because the liquor lobby is so powerful, everyone is happy.The excise department is happy, the excise minister is happy and the state government is also happy that they are making money. If a person dies due to this, you give Rs one or 1.5 lakh. That is it. You should take a stand which is helpful for the society,” the bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said. Reminding the state government of its constitutional obligation to prohibit liquor sale, the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, said, “You are speaking the langauge of liquor vendors… Is this your endeavour to seek prohibition. Nearly 1.5 lakh people die every year…We are asking you to do something for the general public.”The bench also expressed its unhappiness over alleged inaction by various states in removing liquor shops alongside roads which give rise to drunken driving and consequential fatalities.It said that revenue generation cannot be a “valid reason” for a state or a Union territory to give licence for liquor shops on highways and the authorities should adopt a positive attitude to remove the menace.The court also rapped the Centre for not doing anything concrete leading it to “step in”. “Government of India is now saying that the liquor shops (on the national and state highways) should be removed. For the last 10 years, nothing has happened and that is why we have stepped in,” the bench said. Earlier, the court had sought the response from the Centre, states and Union territories on the pleas seeking a direction to amend excise laws to ensure that no liquor is sold alongside highways. During the hearing, the bench was in disagreement with the suggestion of the Justice (Retd) K S Radhakrishnan committee on road safety that there should not be a liquor shop within 100-metre range of a highway. “We do not understand this 100-metre business. The people will park their vehicles on highways and go to the liqour shops,” it said. The bench indicated that either there should not be any liquor shops near highways or there should not be “signages or hordings or visible advertisements” indicating address of such shops.”Today we are examining whether we can direct closure of all liquor shops on highways or they should be 100 metres away from such highways,” it said at the outset. There are several pleas pending in the apex court on the issue. One of the pleas has referred to the 2015 report of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and said that almost five lakh accidents occurred last year in India, killing 1,46,000 people and leaving thrice the number injured.It has been alleged that despite the recommendation of a committee to ban of sale of alcohol on state and national highway, states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were sticking to their prevailing excise policies under which licences were being issued to liquor shops along the highways.”An analysis of road accident data 2015 reveals that around 1,374 accidents and 400 deaths take place every day on Indian roads, resulting in 57 accidents and loss of 17 lives on an average every hour. “India being a signatory to the Brasilia Declaration, it is imperative that policy guidelines are framed to control road accidents. Also, the excise policies of Indian states and Union territories should be amended to conform to the spirit of Article 47 r/w Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” one of the pleas has said

Supreme Court may ban sale of alcohol, signage along national and state highways

New Delhi: Concerned about the over 1.5 lakh fatalities every year in road mishaps, the Supreme Court said it may direct closure of liquour shops on national and state highways across the country, besides removal of signages indicating their location.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The apex court, while reserving verdict on a batch of pleas seeking a direction to amend excise laws to ensure that no liquor is sold alongside highways, came down heavily on the Punjab government for seeking relaxation and permitting liquor shops near highways if they are “elevated” ones and the vend are under or near it.

“Look at the number of licences you (Punjab) have given. Because the liquor lobby is so powerful, everyone is happy. The excise department is happy, the excise minister is happy and the state government is also happy that they are making money. If a person dies due to this, you give Rs one or 1.5 lakh. That is it. You should take a stand which is helpful for the society,” the bench headed by chief justice TS Thakur said.

Reminding the state government of its constitutional obligation to prohibit liquor sale, the bench, also comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, said, “You are speaking the langauge of liquor vendors. Is this your endeavour to seek prohibition? Nearly 1.5 lakh people die every year. We are asking you to do something for the general public.”

The bench also expressed its unhappiness over alleged inaction by various states in removing liquor shops alongside roads which give rise to drunken driving and consequential fatalities. It said that revenue generation cannot be a “valid reason” for a state or a Union territory to give licence for liquor shops on highways and the authorities should adopt a positive attitude to remove the menace.

The court also rapped the Centre for not doing anything concrete leading it to “step in”. “The government of India is now saying that the liquor shops (on the national and state highways) should be removed. For the last 10 years, nothing has happened and that is why we have stepped in,” the bench said.

Earlier, the court had sought the response from the Centre, states and Union territories on the pleas seeking a direction to amend excise laws to ensure that no liquor is sold alongside highways.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 21:00 IST

Justice JS Khehar to be next Chief Justice of India

Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Tuesday recommended to the government that Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar be appointed his successor when he demits office on 3 January, said informed sources.

Justice Khehar happens to the senior-most judge after the CJI and should succeed to the post on the principle of seniority. As Chief Justice, he will have a tenure of over seven months as he would be retiring on 28 August, 2017.

Supreme Court of India. ReutersSupreme Court of India. Reuters

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

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

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

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

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

Having done LL.B and LL.M from Punjab University, Chandigarh, Justice Khehar was awarded Gold Medal for securing first position in the university in LL.M examination.

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

He was elevated as Chief Justice of Uttrakhand High Court on 29 November, 2009. Later he was transferred as Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court.

Justice Khehar was elevated as judge of the Supreme Court on 13 September, 2011.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 21:28 IST

Punjab govt locks horns with Sikh extremists

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Shriomani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance government in Punjab has locked horns with the extremist Sikh elements on the issue of permitting the Sikh religious congregation, Sarbat Khalsa, on eve of assembly elections. With no word from the administration, the organisers have postponed the event to December 18. The government believes that the congregation, like last year, will be used to whip up passions against the Badal government.It is third time that the event has been postponed since the initial date of November 10, with the Punjab government making all attempts to ensure that the event is not held at all. The radical Sikhs were not allowed to put up tents at the venue and police continue to remain deployed. A petition filed by the organisers against the administration’s orders is pending before the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the next hearing is scheduled for December 6.The event has also caught the Opposition Congress on the horns of a dilemma. Though from behind the scenes, its leaders are supporting the organisers of Sarbat Khalsa, but the party also wants to distance itself publicly for fear of losing Hindu voters in the coming polls.“We had filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the next hearing is on December 6. Since we are yet to get permission, we are likely to postpone the event to December 18,” said Simranjit Singh Mann, President, SAD (Amritsar), while talking to DNA. The organisers have accused Punjab government for trying to scuttle the voice of Sikhs by denying permission to hold the event.Asserting that it was a fundamental right and that government cannot stop the gathering, Mann said, “The government cannot take away our fundamental right to hold a gathering. It is an eternal right and we will hold the congregation, irrespective of the upcoming elections.”The Sarbat Khalsa is organised by radical Sikhs to discuss political, social and religious issues of extreme importance to the Sikh community. Last year, the congregation had witnessed massive participation from Sikhs and had appointed Jagtar Singh Hawara, the jailed assassin of Beant Singh, as the Jathedar. It also passed 13 resolutions challenging the authority of SGPC and revoked Panth Rattan honours given to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. As Punjab elections are two months away, the ruling party is wary of the seething resentment growing among radical Sikhs.

Three, including main accused arrested in Punjab dancer murder case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two persons, including the main accused, were arrested on Monday in connection with the murder of a dancer during a marriage ceremony in Bathinda, police said on Monday.Lucky Goel (Billa), who allegedly shot dead the dancer, and Sanjay Goel, whose weapon was allegedly used in the incident, have been arrested, Bathinda DSP (Maur) Davinder Singh said.According to the police, the prime accused Lucky Goel has no criminal background. Sanjay who is the son of a former municipal corporation councillor, is being produced in the court. Both the friends, Sanjay and Lucky are small time business owners in Maur Mandi.On Saturday night Kulwinder Kaur (22) was shot dead on stage allegedly by an inebriated Billa after he was not allowed to dance with her troupe during the marriage function of a local commission agent’s son in Maur in Bathinda.A group of the groom’s friends, who were allegedly drunk, were firing in the air and tried to come on to the stage to join the dancers, police said. On being prevented from dancing on stage, one of the men from the group, Billa, allegedly opened fire with his .12 bore gun, hitting Kulwinder in her head.
ALSO READ Watch: Dancer shot dead on stage by drunk man in Punjab wedding Besides, police have arrested the owner of the marriage palace, Jagseer Singh, for allowing use of weapons at the venue and a case has been registered against the groom’s parents. (With inputs from India Today.)

Will instal laser walls at Indo-Pak border to check infiltration: Kiren Rijiju

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government will instal laser walls and other technologically advanced systems at the India-Pakistan border to thwart any infiltration attempt from across the border, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said in Gurdaspur on Sunday. He said that the work in this regard will be completed in a year.The minister of state for home affairs paid tributes to Saheed Ram Parkash on his 25th martyrdom anniversary, organised at Qadian town in the district. The “laser walls” or fence are being monitored by Border Security Force (BSF) which guards the Indo-Pak IB in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat.A dozen “laser walls” have been already made operational along the Indo-Pak International Border in Punjab to plug the porous riverine and treacherous terrain and keep an effective vigil against intruders and terrorists exploiting the frontier areas to cross over.The decision to instal these laser walls was taken by BSF two years ago keeping in mind the vulnerability of the border in these areas as barbed wire fencing could not be installed in many infiltration prone areas due to treacherous terrain or marshy riverine topography.After the Pathankot terror attack in January, where it was suspected that terrorists crossed over from Pakistan by breaching the IB from Bamiyal area in Punjab, Union Home Ministry and BSF have sped up the deployment and activation of these walls along the long and winding border. Use of scientific technology and heightened vigil on riverine frontiers while guarding the Indo-Pak border were among the suggestions given by the Home Ministry-appointed committee which also flagged gaps and vulnerability in border fencing.The committee, headed by former Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta, was set up following the terror attack on Pathankot air base and it submitted its report to Home Minister Rajnath Singh in August last. Of the 3,323 km long Indo-Pak border, 1,225 kms falls in Jammu and Kashmir (including Line of Control), 553 kms in Punjab, 1,037 kms in Rajasthan and 508 kms in Gujarat.

A nation of believers: Nilanjan Ray captures several facets of faith in Indian society

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three years after he picked up his camera and set off across India to capture ‘Faith’ in all its dimensions, award winning photographer Nilanjan Ray took a break to exhibit his work in Delhi. The black-and-white photographs he has shot are confirmation that India, for all its modernity, remains fundamentally a society anchored firmly to faith.Ray travelled through his native West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to bring to life a telling narrative of people and communities held together in body and soul by their faith in beliefs that may even border on superstition.In Hajipur in Bihar, Ray came across a group of men brutally beating a woman. “I stopped by to wonder what was happening. The kind of assault she was subjected to would have killed me. I was scared but I went closer. This was their way of dealing with a ‘possessed’ woman. When she lost consciousness, a priest came forward, put his feet on her head, and commanded the evil spirit to leave the woman’s body. Then she was dragged to a nearby river and given a bath. The men went home believing the spirit had fled the woman’s body,” says Ray. “Even more incredible was the fact that none of them were aware of my presence or me photographing them. They were all so engrossed in exorcising the so called possessed woman.” The photograph of the priest commanding the spirit to leave accompanied by the beating of drums has made it to the exhibition currently on at the India International Centre in Delhi.But not all the photographs evoke fear like this one. There are also poignant frames of men and women involved in the intensely personal and communal aspect of prayer. Ray’s keen eye for detail and contrast also reveals the vast social and cultural mosaic that India is. From Agra, with the Taj Mahal as the backdrop, a woman shrouded in a white cloth is about to immerse herself in the waters of the Yamuna on Chhath Puja.In an adjacent frame, three women, all with their heads covered in immaculate white, are about to immerse themselves in the holy, but polluted, waters of the Ganga at Varanasi. The visual effect of the darkness of the water into which the women will momentarily immerse themselves and the white covering their bodies is evocative of the river’s present pitiable state and the fervor of the devotee who cannot be deterred by such considerations.One of the most intriguing moments captured by Ray is one of two babies laid on a wet stone floor with a leg moving over them. For an instant it would evoke horror but like many of Ray’s photographs it essentially captures the idiosyncratic practices that mark faith in India.“It is from a temple in Kolkata on the banks of the Ganga. A woman who has taken a dip in the river is treated as a devi. The belief is that if the devi stretches over an infant, the child will be blessed,” says Ray. During Muharram, Ray came across two men flogging themselves in the back with sharp knives tied at the end of a rope. “The lacerations were deep and I was also splattered with their blood while getting close to them,” Ray says. After the exhibition closes on December 6, Ray will travel to Punjab and then Kerala to take forward his photographic project.

BSF foils intrusion bid in Gurdaspur, kills Pakistani intruder

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BSF has foiled a cross-border intrusion bid after it shot dead a Pakistani intruder at Border Out Post Dhindha in Gurdaspur sector of Punjab.”BSF troops of Border Out Post Dhindha Sector Gurdaspur observed suspicious movement of a Pakistani intruder who crossed the International Border and came inside the Indian territory. BSF troops challenged him to stop but the intruder continued with his aggressive posture. Hence, BSF troops opened fire in self-defence and killed him,” a BSF official said. This incident took place at around 8 pm Friday night. Due to the enhanced vigil of BSF troops, the attempt of anti-national elements has been thwarted,” the official said.Keeping in view the vulnerability of border due to ongoing cultivation or tilling season and heightened activities of smugglers, Inspector General, BSF (Punjab Frontier), Anil Paliwal has issued operational guidelines to all the sectors under Punjab Frontier for further strengthening the border domination to effectively check the menace of narcotics smuggling and activities of anti-national elements on Punjab border with Pakistan, he said.The official said directions were also issued to field commanders to maintain extra vigil on the border to thwart the attempts of smugglers and anti-national elements. He said tactical operations are being mounted to foil the attempts of smugglers and intruders during this foggy season.

Heart of Asia conference: PM Modi, Afghan President Ghani likely to hold talks today evening

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani will reach here this evening to take part in the annual conference of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process.They are also likely to hold bilateral talks to strengthen India-Afghanistan ties, an official said here.They are also scheduled to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple, the official said.Modi and Ghani will jointly inaugurate the ministerial deliberations of Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, which is being attended by nearly 40 countries and leading groupings like the European Union.Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Foreign Policy Advisor Sartaj Aziz is scheduled to reach Amritsar on Sunday to attend the ministerial conference. Aziz will return on the same day.With External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj indisposed, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will represent India in the ministerial conference. He is reaching here on Sunday.To showcase rich culture and heritage of Punjab, the state government is hosting a dinner for the visiting dignitaries at a heritage village, named ‘Sadda Pind’ or ‘our village’, located on the outskirts of this holy city.Modi and Ghani will also attend the dinner hosted by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Intruder shot dead by BSF in Pathankot

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BSF has foiled a cross-border intrusion bid after its troopers shot down a suspect at Dhinda post in Pathankot district of Punjab.BSF personnel shot the intruder dead on Friday night after he came close to the border fencing in Bamiyal area, a police official posted in Pathankot said today.Meanwhile, a massive search operation was launched yesterday by Punjab police, Himachal Pradesh police and army in Pathankot after a local resident claimed to have spotted four to five armed men roaming around suspiciously.As many as 250 security personnel, including SWAT commandos, were deployed in the search operation in the hilly areas located on the border of Punjab and HP.Pathankot had seen a major terror attack in January this year when heavily-armed terrorists who had sneaked in from across the border attacked an air base.On July 27 last year, Dinanagar in Punjab’s Gurdaspur was also targeted by terrorists.

‘Towering protests’ by teachers gathers pace, government says no go

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As winter sets in and nights become steadily colder, they sit firm on their 100-feet-high perch, determined to not get off till the government accepts their demand for jobs as teachers. And one month after Rakesh Kumar and Deepak Kumar climbed a mobile tower here, at least 40 more have joined the cause on the water towers in Jalalabad this week.In the early hours of November 3, Rakesh, 31, from Gurdaspur and Deepak, 35, from Fazilka ascended the mobile tower near Punjab Bhavan. Both had passed the government’s Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) but were not provided jobs. As they sit, undeterred by dipping temperatures, staying for a month with minimal food and somehow managing their daily body needs, the protests have snowballed across the state.On Wednesday, 40 others, including 13 women, joined them from various districts, who climbed different water towers, a’la Sholay, in Jalalabad, which is also Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal’s constituency. Efforts by the police to remove the protesters failed after they threatened to immolate themselves.As the issue acquired political overtones, AAP MP from Sangrur, Bhagwant Mann, met the protesters on Wednesday. The government said there were no job guarantees.”We have carried out recruitment as per procedures. The TET is an eligibility test and does not guarantee a job. The posts left vacant are those reserved for ex-servicemen, freedom fighters and others. The education department cannot alone take a call to de-reserve it. There are set procedures,” Punjab Education Minister Daljit Singh Cheema told DNA.The protests, which have seen hundreds of teachers express solidarity, is being held under the banner of Elementary Teachers Training (ETT) Teachers Eligibility Test (TET)-Pass Unemployed Teachers Union. The teachers are demanding that all candidates who had qualified TET from 2011-16 be given government jobs.The education department had advertised 6,505 posts of elementary teachers for Classes I to V. As many as 5,500 teachers qualified the test. Of these, 4,800 were given appointment letters. That left about 700 teachers, who had qualified the exam, without jobs.Union members say the government should de-reserve the posts and recruit qualifying candidates. “There are vacant posts and qualified candidates are still jobless. We will not give up and will protest in other districts as well,” said Amarjit Singh Kamboj, president of the union.The desperation is growing with each passing day, say the protestors.”We are left with no option but to leave our homes and sit on protest. We had been waiting for over three years. There are over 1,000 vacant posts, but the government does not want to recruit us,” said Anju, who has passed TET.”There has been complete mismanagement by the government. After completing Class XII, I enrolled for the two-year diploma for elementary teachers. I qualified TET in 2011 and since then I have been waiting, counting on government assurances. We have been left in the lurch as we cannot even get a teaching job elsewhere with only a diploma,” added Kamal Thakur.

Nagrota, Uri attacks: LeT, JeM and Afzal Guru Squad’s free run in Pakistan should worry Delhi

Now that it looks like the fidayeen attack on 16 Corps at Nagrota in Jammu was carried out by the Afzal Guru Squad (AGS) of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, it is obvious that both the Jaish and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are almost competing to inflict cuts on India’s self-esteem and pride. If the terror attack at Dinanagar in Gurdaspur district in July 2015 was the handiwork of the Lashkar, Jaish hit in Pathankot in January this year. Uri in September was a Lashkar operation and now Nagrota carries the Jaish stamp, with a note written in Urdu bearing the ‘AGS’ name.

There is little to distinguish between the two terror groups that are said to be at the beck and call of the Pakistan Army establishment and the ISI. The AGS, a force of about 300 well-trained hardcore terrorists, is meant to carry out spectacular high-profile attacks. The Lashkar also carries out suicide attacks but this outfit is comparatively discreet and less flashy.

The Jaish carried out the Parliament attack in 2001, in which Afzal Guru was named as a conspirator. That is why it chose the nomenclature of AGS, that was formed after the hanging of Afzal Guru in February 2013, to embarrass India.

Army personnel take position during encounter after militants attacked an Army camp in Nagrota on the outskirts of Jammu on Tuesday morning. PTIArmy personnel take position during encounter after militants attacked an Army camp in Nagrota on the outskirts of Jammu on Tuesday morning. PTI

Army personnel take position during encounter after militants attacked an Army camp in Nagrota on the outskirts of Jammu on Tuesday morning. PTI

But while the Jaish, through the AGS, always leaves behind its imprint to claim credit, the Lashkar seldom does so. The Lashkar often even removes markings on their clothes which can be traced to Pakistan. Only if they are carrying medicines on them, those may carry a ‘Manufactured in Pakistan’ sign. It is then left to the Indian sleuths to decipher the identity of the fidayeens through seized communication sets.

The mobile phones used by Lashkar operatives have ‘Skipe’, which is an in-house Lashkar communication system developed four years ago. Another voice tool used is ‘Vibar’. Both are similar to the original apps — no originality is shown in designing new names — but the Lashkar has improvised it with a coded matrix sheet. Most of the code language is Urdu, with a few English words thrown in. Each matrix sheet is valid only for a couple of weeks, overlapping terror strikes and is extremely tough to decode.

Security experts point out that on a few occasions the Lashkar has even let Hizbul Mujahideen take credit for a strike, carried out by the LeT. These are non-fidayeen attacks since Hizbul is not known to undertake suicide attacks. This serves the Pakistani purpose of projecting as if it is an indigenous resistance to the Indian state. It makes the Hizbul look better and, on the face of it, gives the so-called movement for azaadi of Kashmir some moral legitimacy.

Lashkar, founded by dreaded terrorist Hafiz Saeed in 1987, is a bigger outfit than the Jaish with a far greater reach. Jaish was founded around 2000 by Masood Azhar, who was freed by India in return for the Kandahar hijack hostages. Both groups co-exist and apparently enjoy a free run inside Pakistan. This anecdote recounted by an asset of the Indian intelligence establishment, who had gotten close to the top commanders of the Lashkar, gives a peep into the free run the terror operatives enjoy inside Pakistan.

“He would be taken around in SUVs along with gun-toting Lashkar operatives. Whenever the vehicle would be stopped by the police at a security barricade, all they had to do was roll down the window and say ‘Lashkar se hai‘ and they would be given a green channel,” said a handler from the Indian side. The same red carpet treatment is given to Jaish operatives as well. Proof that in Pakistan, the state and the deep state co-exist in harmony, united by hate against India. Bans imposed on terror outfits are not worth the Pakistan government paper they are printed on.

The recruitment zone for Lashkar is Punjab province, given that the leadership of the outfit is dominated by people like Hafiz Saeed, who hails from the province. It targets the impoverished peasantry of Punjab, who are largely uneducated or at best, semi-literate. The Ajmal Kasab kind.

Finding young men willing to turn fidayeen is not much of a challenge, given that the Lashkar and the Jaish feed them a toxic cocktail of radicalisation, anti-India and anti-Hindu audio-visual material, with the temptation of 72 virgins in heaven thrown in. Cheaper young boys are available if picked up from the impoverished Waziristan and Sind provinces. While a Punjab recruit gets (Pakistani) Rs 5 lakh for his family after he is gone, the ones from Sind and Waziristan get only about Rs 2 lakh.

From India’s point of view, what is worrying is that over 250 terrorists of both outfits who have infiltrated into the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region between June and November are, according to sources, comfortably ensconced in habitations in small towns and villages. The fact that the locals do not give them up, by reporting them to the state, is a dangerous sign. As winter sets in, their presence on Indian soil is proof that New Delhi and Srinagar’s ability to effectively police many parts of the troubled state, especially south Kashmir, has been severely compromised.

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 11:20 IST

Terrorists took tunnel route to infiltrate into Chamliyal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The three terrorists killed by the Border Security Force in Chamliyal area of Ramgarh sector in Jammu on Tuesday had probably crawled more than 100 metres inside a tunnel to hide detection and infiltrate. The BSF troopers discovered this when its jawans chanced upon a 2X2 feet wide tunnel in the middle of a field near the international border.The BSF recovered three AK 47s with 20 loaded magazines, 517 rounds, one 8 mm pistol, two radio sets, GPS, mobiles, 20 hand grenades, seven IEDs and camouflage uniforms from the slain terrorists suggesting they posed grave security threat. To hoodwink BSF jawans, the terrorists had dug the tunnel’s opening about 75-80 metres from the IB near a tube well in an open field in Chamliyal, BSF claimed.“When we found no breach along the fencing after killing the militants, we decided to check the nearby fields where farming is done and has soft soil. There we found the tunnel this morning. It’s suspected that the killed militants had used tunnel to crawl and infiltrate inside India,” said BSF director general, KK Sharma addressing the annual DG’s press conference.Sharma said a parallel cannot be drawn yet between Nagrota attack on Army Corps HQ and Chamliyal and it was part of the investigation to find out if the two had any connection.“We had stepped up vigilance post surgical strikes by the Army… We had deployed “depth nakas” (deep trenches) across the fence that helped us to detect and neutralise the three militants. We could not detect the militants immediately as it was Amavasya (moonless) night,” said Sharma. This, however, leaves out the question why the BSF could not detect the sound or vibration when the tunnel was being dug up from Pakistani side. Even if terrorists did not use machine for tunnel boring, the equipment they used would have made some noise beneath the ground. Sharma said they are yet to find out how deep the tunnel runs beneath the ground.According to BSF officials, the possibility of infiltration through tunnels is very high in the large geographical spread along the IB in Jammu and Punjab because of the soft soil, heavy undergrowth and open crop fields. The only way is to randomly dig deep nakas or deep trenches based on intelligence inputs close to the fencing and lie low to detect over ground movement of militants.

Nevada man pleads guilty to conspiracy for attacks in India | Reuters

A Nevada man who prosecutors say conspired to provide materials and support to co-conspirators to carry out terrorist attacks in India aimed at creating an independent Sikh state pleaded guilty on Tuesday to federal charges.Balwinder Singh, 42, made the plea in U.S. District Court in Reno as part of an agreement with prosecutors, the Department of Justice said in a written statement. Singh, who was arrested in December 2013, faces a maximum of 15 years in prison during his sentencing in February, although federal guidelines typically call for less time.

According to prosecutors Singh, also known as Jhaji, Happy Possi and Baljit, plotted terrorist attacks in India with several other people as part of a movement to create a Sikh state in the Punjab region.Prosecutors said Singh bought two sets of night vision goggles and gave them to a co-conspirator who was planning to carry out the attack, which was thwarted when the man was prevented from boarding a flight to Bangkok at San Francisco International Airport.

Singh is a citizen of India and a permanent U.S. resident, according to prosecutors.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Richard Chang)

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

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 01:01 IST

Politics make strange bedfellows: BJP takes dig at Navjot Kaur for joining Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab BJP on Tuesday took a dig at former MP Navjot Singh Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu for joining Congress, alleging that it reeked of sheer opportunism on part of the Sidhus and Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh. “Politics does make strange bedfellows. It is the same Navjot Kaur Sidhu who used to deride Amarinder Singh and slam his lifestyle as socially unacceptable and now she has shown no qualms in joining his party,” Punjab BJP secretary Vineet Joshi, in a release issued here, said.”Kaur had termed the PPCC chief as power hungry slamming him for going into ‘hibernation’ for four years and earning profits sitting in Dubai without showing any concern either for his party, his workers or for Punjab. She had said that with elections round the corner, Captain had suddenly started paying lip-service. Sidhu had once given Amarinder a big zero out of ten for his performance as Amritsar’s representative in the Parliament,” he alleged.Joshi said, “Similarly Amarinder Singh’s feelings about the couple are not hidden from anyone. He had ridiculed Navjot Singh Sidhu by stating that politics was serious business not a comedy show and that he never wanted another trouble-maker after Jagmeet Brar to be in his party.”Now, when both husband and wife were left lurching high and dry, they suddenly found an alternative and that too in the same person who according to her bore an unacceptable behaviour. This is sheer opportunism at play.”Kaur, who had contested last Punjab assembly polls on BJP ticket, has joined Congress along with former hockey captain Pargat Singh.

Hope India, Pakistan will resolve water issue themselves: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed hope that India and Pakistan will bilaterally resolve issues over water-sharing, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the waters of Sutlej, Beas and Ravi rivers that rightfully belong to India will be stopped from going waste in Pakistan.”We will take a look at the issue on water. Obviously, we hope it’s something that the two parties can resolve themselves,” Ban’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters at the daily press briefing here yesterday when asked about Modi’s remarks on the Indus Water Treaty amid escalating tensions between the two nations.Addressing a rally in Punjab last week, Modi had said the waters of Sutlej, Beas and Ravi rivers that rightfully belong to India will be stopped from going waste in Pakistan and he will ensure that Indian farmers in India utilise it. PTI YAS “Now, every drop of this water will be stopped and I will give that to farmers of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir and Indian farmers. I am committed to this,” he had said.Last week, during a Security Council debate on water, peace and security, Ban had cited the Indus Water Treaty signed by India and Pakistan as well as other similar agreements “as instruments promoting stability and peace” and said “shared water resources often generated cooperation”.During the debate, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi had warned against use of water as instrument of coercion or war.She had said the 1960 Indus Water Treaty is an example of what can be achieved through bilateral agreements but also a case study of what could wrong if such agreements are not honoured or threatened with abrogation by a state party.Separately, Ban had also expressed deep concern last week over the deterioration of the situation along the Line of Control in Kashmir in recent days, saying he “trusts” India and Pakistan can find “common ground” and work towards a sustainable peace.The UN Chief had called on all involved to prioritise the restoration of calm and stability in order to prevent any further escalation and loss of life.When asked during the briefing about Indian-Pakistan tensions at the border, Dujarric referred to Ban’s remarks saying the increasing tensions over the Line of Control are of “great concern to the Secretary General”.

Khalistan militant Harminder Singh Mintoo tells Delhi police he has 2 ISI handlers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Khalistan Liberation Force chief Harminder Singh Mintoo who was caught by the Delhi police after his escape from Nabha jail has reportedly told the Delhi police that he received instructions from ISI, the Pakistan spy agency. As per The Hindustan Times, the 49-year-old militant also revealed the names of the two alleged ISI handlers. He also said that one of the ISI handler was from Lahore in Pakistan and the other possibly from Germany, which was supposed to be his and other escaped prisoners final destination before they were caught. Mintoo reportedly told his handlers about the escape plan following which he was given Rs 25,000 through a common contact.Police is yet to verify his claims about having ISI handlers to make sure he is not misleading them.As per PTI report, he has also said that he was in touch with terror groups in Pakistan, the Punjab police had said. “Mintoo was in touch with associates of terror groups in Pakistan,” Punjab Director General of Police Suresh Arora. The dreaded terrorist would be subject to “intensive interrogation” when he would be brought from Delhi, the DGP said.Pinda was from Kairana in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district by UP Police.In a sensational jailbreak, Mintoo escaped on Sunday along with five other prisoners after armed men in police uniform stormed the high-security Nabha prison in Patiala. He was nabbed from Nizamuddin railway station in Delhi. Mintoo escaped along with five other prisoners in a sensational jailbreak after armed men in police uniform tricked the sentries into opening the gates of the jail in Patiala, nearly 200 km from here, and bolted out with the inmates while firing a hail of bullets. Officials said efforts are on to nab the other prisoners who managed to flee. Mintoo was arrested by Punjab Police after he was deported from Thailand in November 2014. He was wanted in ten terror cases. The KLF chief was brought to India along with his key aide Gurpeet Singh ‘Gopi’ after Punjab Police, in coordination with central agencies, traced them in Thailand, a senior police official said. Among the escapees was another terrorist Kashmira Singh, according to Punjab police chief Suresh Arora.With agency inputs.

Nabha jailbreak mastermind Parminder Singh’s aides held in Doon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two close aides of Nabha jailbreak mastermind Parminder Singh alias Penda have been arrested here with police suspecting that the incident may have been plotted at their hideout in the city.Geeta Arora, wife of Penda’s friend Sunil Arora with whom the jailbreak mastermind was staying in a rented accommodation in the city’s Raipur area and an aide Aditya Mehra were arrested from their hideout yesterday, SSP Sadanand Date said.However, Sunil Arora along with another accomplice managed to escape, he said. Sunil is a close friend of Penda who was staying with the Aroras for six months till he left the city five days ahead of the jailbreak to execute it.Date said the jailbreak in all likelihood was plotted at their hideout in the city.Several fake vehicle number plates, voter IDs, sim cards, mobile phones, bullets, material used for making a bomb and Rs 2 lakh in cash have been recovered from the house where the duo was arrested, the SSP said.Khalistan Liberation Front Chief Harminder Singh Mintoo, who had escaped from Nabha jail in Punjab along with five other inmates on Sunday, was nabbed from Nizamuddin railway station here.

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