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1.5 cr free LPG connections issued to BPL households in less than 8 months

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Government has achieved its target of providing 1.5 crore free cooking gas (LPG) connections to poor households in less than 8 months.The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUJ) aimed to provide 5 crore free LPG connections to BPL families in three years.The target for the first was set at 1.5 crore.The first year target has been “achieved within a span of less than 8 months and the scheme is being implemented now across 35 states/UTs,” an official statement said.A woman member of BPL family identified through Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data is given a deposit free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection.The scheme was announced in the Budget for 2016-17 with an allocation of Rs 8,000 crore for three years.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched PMUJ on May 1 from Balia in Uttar Pradesh. “14 states/UTs having LPG coverage less than the national average, hilly states of J&K, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and all North-East States are identified as priority states for implementing the scheme,” the statement said.The top five states with maximum connections are UP (46 lakh), West Bengal (19 lakh), Bihar (19 lakh), Madhya Pradesh (17 lakh) and Rajasthan (14 lakh).These states constitutes nearly 75% of the total connections released.The households belonging to SC/ST constitute large chunk of beneficiaries with 35% of the connections being released to them. “With the implementation of PMUY, the national LPG coverage has increased from 61% (as on January 1) to 70% (as on December 12, 2016),” the statement added.

In less-cash mode, govt mulls tighter cheque bouncing law

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After demonetization, the government is now trying to fight the ‘demons’ that could come in the way of ensuring a less-cash economy. As part of this exercise, the government is examining a proposal that could lead to sterner action in cheque bouncing cases.With more people using non-cash modes for transactions, the government is facing demands, particularly from traders’ bodies, for a legal system that makes payments made through cheques more secure, according to sources.If the proposal is accepted, the government could come out with a legislation to amend the law pertaining to cheque bounce cases. Among the measures that government is examining is that the defaulter will be given a month’s time, after which, if the matter is not settled, it would attract arrest even before the case is settled, the sources said.At present, dishonour of a cheque, in view of inadequate funds in account, is a criminal offence under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Act, 1881, and can be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine of twice the amount of the cheque or both.Sources said that despite the law, there were several instances when the payee was made to wait to get the money for years after a cheque bounced. There were 18 lakh cases of cheque dishonour pending in courts across the country till 2014 end, according to a reply in Lok Sabha. While Maharashtra topped the list of such pending cases, it was followed by Gujarat, Rajasthan and West Bengal.The proposed amendments to deal with this issue, which are yet to get the final stamp of approval, could be brought in the budget session of Parliament in February. The objective is to cut down litigation and act as deterrent to defaulters.The traders, who traditionally have been BJP supporters, have expressed concerns about the problems of cheque bouncing, particularly at a time when more and more people were adopting non-cash mode of payments, the sources said.Ghanshyam Aggarwal, former co-convenor of the BJP’s traders cell, said traders’ apprehensions on various issues after demonetization, like the problems they faced due to the limit on cash withdrawal have been conveyed to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.Earlier this year, the government had notified the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015, to allow filing of cheque bounce cases in a court at the place where it was presented for clearance and not the place of issue. Litigants had to sometimes travel long distances to different places from where cheques were issued and not honoured.

Rajasthan ATS officer who helped nab Islamic State-sympathiser, kills paramour, commits suicide

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Rajasthan ATS officer, who was instrumental in the arrest of an IS-sympathiser Mohammed Sirajuddin last year, allegedly committed suicide after killing his 24-year-old paramour with his service pistol at Jagatpura here, police said today.It appears that ASP at the Anti-Terrorism Squad, Ashish Prabhakar, first murdered Poonam Sharma and then committed suicide in an SUV late last night near the under-construction Bombay Hospital, DCP South Manish Agarwal said, adding the victims had bullet wounds at their foreheads.The officer after murdering the woman informed the police control about the crime, police said.”He left two suicide notes in his briefcase. One for his wife where he apologised for choosing the wrong path and said Poonam was blackmailing him. In the other, he named six to seven persons- with whom the woman was in touch,” the DCP said.Prabhakar also mentioned that Poonam had spoilt his life and she should be punished, he said.The victims met in 2013 at a coaching centre where Poonam, who was divorced in 2011, was preparing for her civil services examinations, police said.”The forensic team has found two bullet shells, seven bullets in Prabhakar’s pistol and two beer bottles near the SUV,” Agarwal said, adding police are probing why he had mentioned the persons in his note.The post-mortem was conducted today but we are yet to receive the report, the DCP said.”Prabhakar was instrumental in the arrest of Mohammad Sirajuddhin, an IS-sympathiser December last. The NIA had filed a charge-sheet in July and maintained all the sections of the Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act,” he said.The officer is survived by his wife and two sons, who are in Class V and VII.

Rajasthan cop shoots woman, dead, kills self

Jaipur: An additional superintendent of police of the Anti-terrorist squad of Rajasthan Police allegedly shot himself dead after killing a woman on the outskirts of the city, police said on Friday.

Representational image. IBNlive

Representational image. IBNlive

Before killing himself from his service revolver, Ashish Prabhakar also allegedly shot dead a woman in his car.

The bodies were recovered from his car last night in Shivdaspura area, police said on Friday.

Prabhakar was disturbed for the last few days and left office early on Thursday evening and went to Shivdaspura area, they said.

Prima facie, Prabhakar shot the woman dead after some quarrel before allegedly committing suicide inside the car.

He had also made a call to the police control room, saying two bodies were lying in a car, before taking the extreme step.

Efforts are on to identify the woman.

The bodies have been shifted to a hospital for postmortem and the matter is being investigated, the police said.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 20:24 IST

Rajasthan govt tries to assure Gujjars on quota after stir threat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Gujjars threatening to launch a fresh agitation for quota, Rajasthan government has assured the communities under the special backward classes that it would go for appropriate solution within the framework of law to protect their interest.The Rajasthan High Court had on December 9 struck down Special Backward Classes quota given to Gujjars and five other communities by the state government as the total reservation exceeded the permissible limit of 50%. “State Government is waiting for a certified copy of the Rajasthan high court judgment so that an appropriate solution, within the framework of law, can be arrived at,” a statement said.The government said that it always showed its commitment to the welfare and uplift of Special Backward Classes (SBCs) of the state and concrete steps had been taken in the past. “The decisions taken in the interest of the communities include convening a special session of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly. “The Chief Minister had directed that all efforts have to be made to defend the legislation of 2015,” the statement said.The Rajasthan High Court has directed to suspend its December 9 order for a period of six weeks and that the appointments/admissions given by the Government of Rajasthan, pursuant to the 2015 Act, shall not be disturbed, it said Even before the orders of the High Court were passed, the Cabinet Sub-Committee constituted to look into and address issues related to the welfare of SBCs, met several times, it said.After the court order, the Gujjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti had threatened to launch a fresh agitation for quota. On November 28, 2012, the Rajasthan Cabinet had decided to provide a separate 5% quota to the SBCs without touching the 21 per cent reservation available to Other Backward Classes and taking the overall reservation in jobs and education to 54%.This had left Gujjars dissatisfied as it was susceptible to judicial rejection since its inception.Earlier too, an attempt was made to enhance five per cent of reservation over and above the prescribed limit in 2008 which was not permitted by high court. Then in 2009 and 2010, the high court had asked the OBC commission of the state to revisit the concession made by state government and after the study and recommendation of OBC Commission again, the Gujjars and five other communities were given 5% extra reservation in 2012 that has been struck down.The state has witnessed violent agitation by Gujjars several times since 2007, when the community members blocked national highways and railway tracks and were fired upon by the police.

Rajasthan ATS officer shoots himself, woman’s body found next to him

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 42-year-old cop who was recently posted in the Anti-Terror Squad has been found dead in Rajasthan in the front seat of his official car on Thursday night, reports NDTV.Superintendent of Police Ashish Prabhakar allegedly shot himself with is revolver in his car. A body of a woman in her early thirties was also found next to him. The car was parked on a road outside Jaipur. A note allegedly written by Prabhakar asking forgiveness from his wife was found by the police. According to the police, the apparent reasons for his suicide seem to be family issues.Prabhakar was posted a month ago in the ATS and was given administrative work.

All you need to know about Praveen Bakshi, the frontrunner who was superseded to post of Army Chief

When the Centre chose vice-chief of army staff, lieutenant general Bipin Rawat, to succeed the outgoing Army Chief, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, it overlooked the senior-most officer of the world’s third largest army, lieutenant general Praveen Bakshi. Here’s all you need to know about Bakshi and the possible reasons why he may have been superseded.

National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla alumni:

Bakshi is a graduate of the National Defence Academy, the premier training institute for all military officers. He was later commissioned into the Skinner’s Horse regiment.

Lt General Praveen Bakshi. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Lt General Praveen Bakshi. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Served two army commands

Lt General Bakshi has been at the helm of two major army commands, the Udhampur-based Northern Command and Kolkata-based Eastern Command.

Currently, he is the General Officer Commanding of the Eastern Command, which handles the anti-terror operations in the crucial North East states bordering China, Bhutan and Myanmar. Previously, he was the chief of staff of the Northern Command.

Experience in handling operations and commands:

While Rawat is an infantry officer, Bakshi is an armoured officer. He has commanded an armoured brigade in the Western sector, a division in the deserts of Rajasthan, and army corps in the plains of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, The Economic Times noted.

The Eastern Command chief has also been decorated with the prestigious Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and the Vishisht Seva Medal.

May become first ever chief of defence staff

Media reports suggest that Lt General Bakshi might take over as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). The proposed position was first mooted after the Kargil War. The CDS would be the one point contact for the defence minister and prime minister on matters of India’s defence security.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 17:21 IST

Making youth self-reliant is our govt’s priority: Vasundhara Raje

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Saturday said that making the youth self-reliant by equipping them with skill was the priority of her government.”For this, we would be launching the Mukhyamantri Kaushal Anudaan Yojana from the January 1, 2017 to make our youth skilled and employable,” she said.Under this new scheme, youth can avail the loan of up to Rs 1 lakh to get high quality skill development training. The state government will provide interest subsidy from 4 to 6 percent on this loan, she said.Raje was addressing a huge gathering at Umaid Stadium in Jodhpur after laying foundation stone and dedicating to public various developmental projects on the occasion of completion of three years of the state government.Reaffirming her commitment to serve the public of state, she announced the holding of the Mukhyamantri Shahari Jan Kalyan Shivirs next year. These camps shall focus on regularization of residential plots, houses and issuing of lease deeds in urban areas.While presenting the report card of 3 years of governance, Raje said “our three years’ achievements have left far behind the works of the previous government”.The Chief Minister while mentioning the flagship Bhamashah and Skill Development programmes said, Rajasthan was the first state in the country to set up ITIs in Government sector while on second position in setting up ITIs in private sector.She said that Rajasthan would now be the first state in the country to have two Skill Development Universities, first one in government and the second in private sector, she added.”We are focused on development, so we have no time for politics while the previous government had no time for development works as they were indulged in doing politics,” the chief minister said.Raje also announced policy and act for conservation and protection of cows.

Modi to address students at Banaras Hindu University on December 22: Mahesh Sharma

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav’ at Banaras Hindu University here and address the students on December 22, Union minister Mahesh Sharma said on Saturday.Sharma was in the city to inaugurate the Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav being organised by the Union Ministry of Culture.On this occasion, a government website of the Ministry of Culture www.rsmbhu2016.in was launched by the Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture.Padma Vibhushan Girija Devi, BHU Vice Chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi, Union Secretary (Culture) N K Sinha along with other officials and faculty members and students of the varsity were present at the function.The Union Minister congratulated the university for the successful organisation of the gala event. He said that such kind of festivities help in promoting and preserving the rich cultural heritage of our country.Folk art of different states added glitter to the cultural festival, which included folk songs, folk dance, Malkhambh , martial art, Bin jogi of Haryana, Kachchi ghodi of Rajasthan among others.

Robert Vadra land deal issue: Congress terms it a ‘vendetta and witch-hunt’ by BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the issue of Robert Vadra’s controversial land deals haunted the Congress again, the party on Saturday termed as “vendetta and witch-hunt” the summoning of a company linked to the son-in-law of its president Sonia Gandhi by the Enforcement Directorate.Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala claimed officials of Skylight hospitality have visited ED numerous times and supplied them whatever documents required but they have not been able to find anything either against Vadra or his company or associates.”As part of further vendetta and witch-hunt, BJP government proceeded to refer the matter to ED. Even ED has not been able to find anything,” he claimed.The reaction came after the Rajasthan High Court ordered last evening that the representative of Skylight Hospitality will have to appear before ED but allowed the presence of his lawyer “at a reasonable distance” during questioning.The order came after the company representative had moved the high court challenging the summons issued by the ED to him earlier this year in connection with a land deal in Bikaner, Rajasthan.Congress claimed that the company has been given “appropriate relief” by the court.”On account of consistent harassment and persecution, a petition for quashing was filed in which appropriate relief has been given to skylight.”This is one more instance of venal vendetta and severe campaign that BJP continues to unleash guided by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi,” Surjewala said.He claimed Skylight hospitality has supplied every document asked by it right “from inception of company as also completely unrelated things on purchase of land”.He also claimed that the land of Mahajan Firing Range was allotted by BJP government in its last tenure when Vasundhara Raje was the Chief Minister. That land was sold twice during the tenure of BJP government and all mutations have been properly entered.Out of this land, an extremely small portion was purchased by Skylight, which is a third buyer, he said.This lease was finally cancelled as wrongfully allotment by the current BJP government of Vasundhara Raje, he said, adding that two years ago an FIR was lodged by Rajastan Police after investigation.”The challan has been presented. Neither Robert Vadra nor Skylight, nor anyone associated with him is an accused in the case,” he said.However, Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal, who hails from Rajasthan, said, “The law will do its job. I just want to say if a common man would have liked to buy those lands, I am sure they wouldn’t be allowed to do so.” Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “Whenever there is been an attack on BJP on their misdoings, they just say ‘this has happened’, and ‘that had happened.’ They are enquiring about it (Vadra) for so many years why are they not able to find anything?.”The (ED) had issued the notice to the firm under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Rajasthan HC rejects plea by Robert Vadra-linked firm, directs to ED to continue probe into land deal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Rajasthan High Court directed the Enforcement Directorate to continue its probe into a land deal in Bikaner and rejected the plea of a Robert Vadra linked firm against the summons issued to them, reported TimesNow.The High Court ordered officials of Skylight Hospital, a firm linked to Vadra, to appear for interrogation by the ED. The officials must record their statement in the presence of counsel between Janyary 4 and 6, 2017, the court said. The firm had filed a plea against summons issued by the ED to appear before it.The notice had been sent after the ED had conducted extensive searches in this case in Bikaner district and other places and had claimed to have seized a number of documents. The probe is related to the purchase of 275 bigha land allegedly by the company in the Kolayat area of the border town of Bikaner.The central probe agency had registered a criminal case of money laundering in this case last year on the basis of FIRs filed by the state police after the local tehsildar had made a complaint. ED had conducted similar searches in the case in Delhi last year. Rajasthan government had in January last year cancelled the mutation (transfer of land) of 374.44 hectares of land, after the land department claimed to have found that the allotments were made in the names of “illegal private persons”.On Friday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Rahul Gandhi did not have the “guts” to expose Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the Congress vice president feared action would be taken against his brother-in-law Robert Vadra. “Rahul does not have guts to expose anything against Modi ji. The day he does it, Modi ji will arrest Robert Vadra,” he said.The chief minister was reacting to Rahul’s remarks that he wants to present detailed information about “personal corruption” by Modi in the Lok Sabha but is not being allowed to do so by the PM.

Rajasthan: Over Rs 40 lakh recovered in new Rs 2,000 currency notes

Jaipur: Over Rs 40 lakh in new Rs 2,000 currency notes have been seized from three persons in two separate cases in Rajasthan.

Seized currency notes of the Rs 2,000 denomination. PTISeized currency notes of the Rs 2,000 denomination. PTI

Seized currency notes of the Rs 2,000 denomination. PTI

Special operation group of the Rajasthan police nabbed businessmen Sunil Gupta and Priyanshu Gupta in Vidhyadhar Nagar with Rs 35 lakh in new currency notes. The accused businessmen were on the SOG’s radar since a few days, an official said.

“We sent a policeman as decoy to exchange the notes last night. They got ready to exchange old notes for 25 per cent commission after which they were caught with the money,” SP SOG Vikas Kumar said. “Of the seized amount, Rs 35 lakh are in new Rs 2,000 notes, and the remaining is in Rs 100 notes,” he said.

“The income tax department has been informed about the seizure and further action is being taken by them. We are exploring legal action against the businessmen. If possible, FIRs would also be registered with the SOG,” ADG, ATS and SOG, Umesh Mishra, said.

In another case, the Nagaur police recovered Rs 6.72 lakh in unaccounted cash, including Rs 5.68 lakh in Rs 2,000 new notes
on Wednesday. The rest of the amount is in Rs 100 and Rs 50 notes. The money was recovered from Ajit Malik in the Deedwana area.

He failed to give any satisfactory answer with regard to the money following which it was seized and the income tax department was informed, police said. “We have seized the money and forwarded the matter to Income Tax department for further investigation,” SHO, Deedwana, Jitendra Singh said.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 15:47 IST

Rs 35 lakh in new notes seized from 2 Jaipur businessmen

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two businessmen were caught here allegedly with Rs 35 lakh in new currency notes while they were exchanging old notes.Following a tip off, a team of Rajasthan police’s special operation group (SOG) nabbed Sunil Gupta and Priyanshu Gupta in Vidhyadhar nagar area and recovered around Rs 36 lakh last night.”Rs 35 lakh is in new currency notes of 2000 and remaining cash is in demonetized notes of Rs 100,” SP, SOG, Vikas Kumar said.They were allegedly getting the old notes exchanged on 25% commission, officials said.Income tax department has been informed and further probe is being carried out, Kumar said.Earlier, Deedwana police in Nagaur district of the state seized Rs 6.72 lakh of unaccounted cash from a person, including Rs 5.68 lakh in new Rs 2000 notes.Rest of the amount is in Rs 100 and Rs 50 denomination, police had said, adding they have detained Ajit Malik after he failed to give a satisfactory answer.On Tuesday, police had detained five persons with Rs 14 lakh new notes from the city outskirts in Bhankrota.Another Rs 4 lakh, including one lakh in new Rs 2000 denomination, was recovered from three persons near Taranagar of Churu district.

Maharashtra to tap e-commerce portals for revenue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pointing to the loss of revenue, a powerful committee of the Maharashtra legislature has urged the state government to consider an entry tax on cross-border transactions on e-commerce portals.”E-commerce portals like Amazon and Flipkart mention the tax in their bills if the goods are sold within the state. But when goods from outside Maharashtra are provided directly to consumers in our state, sales tax is levied by the other state. Maharashtra does not get sales tax on it and is deprived of revenue. The (finance) department must study this way of functioning. If goods are received in Maharashtra from other states through the online route, details must be procured about where it was purchased, if tax has been paid and care must be taken to ensure that Maharashtra gets the necessary revenue,” said a report of the public accounts committee (PAC) which was tabled in the state legislature on Tuesday.The committee, which is chaired by Gopaldas Agarwal, Congress MLA from Gondia, noted that while the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) would mitigate the issue to a large extent, it was necessary for the finance department to oversee the working of e-commerce portals like Amazon and Flipkart.”With regards to this, (states like) Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka have levied an entry tax for e-commerce. The department must study this tax system. In case of sale and purchase transactions where there is no record of where the goods have been purchased from or if the tax has been paid or not, it must be presumed that the goods have been transacted within Maharashtra itself and taxes must be levied accordingly,” the report said.It stressed that while details should be sought from various companies on sale and purchase transactions and where the goods were dispatched from, special attention needed to be paid to those companies whose go-downs were located on the borders of the state.”Considering these issues, the state government must take immediate measures to prevent tax evasion and submit a report to the committee in three months on the action taken,” the committee recommended.Officials said the measure was aimed at plugging tax evasion by sellers on these portals.Sales tax accounts for the highest chunk of the state government’s budgeted revenues (30.08%) at Rs 81,437.69 in 2016-17.States like Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Assam and Rajasthan have also moved to charge entry tax on e-commerce goods from other states.Computerised recordNoting that many traders did not give computerised bills to customers, the PAC said that this led to the state and Centre’s revenue being lost. “…the department must start an online system for all purchase and sales to keep a computerised record of all transactions,” the committee recommended, adding that a call centre could be started for consumers to register their complaints about merchants who did not issue bills for purchases.

Tribal man to cycle from MP to Delhi to support PM Modi’s demonetization move

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 45-year-old tribal man from Madhya Pradesh has embarked on a 15-day cycle tour to Delhi in support of the Centre’s demonetization move.Rajendra Singh, who started the journey from Kukshi town in Dhar district yesterday, also pins hope of meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the national capital to urge him that more such “tough” decisions should be taken for the country.”The main aim of this journey is to support Prime Minister, who has taken courageous decisions like surgical strikes (in PoK) and demonetization.” Singh told reporters before hitting the road.”During the course of journey, which will be completed in 15 days, I will tell the nation that people are happy with this decision. After reaching Delhi, I will request the Prime Minister to take more such tough decisions in the interest of the nation,” he said.During the expedition, Singh will pass via Badnawar and Ratlam towns in Madhya Pradesh then enter Rajasthan, where he will pedal his way via Banswada and Jaipur, before reaching Delhi.

VVIP chopper scam | CBI acting at Centre’s behest to divert attention from demonetization: Prashant Bhushan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reacting to the arrest of former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi in the AugustaWestland deal, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan on Saturday said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), is acting at the behest of the Centre and wants to divert attention from the demonetization”fiasco”.”All the facts relating to Air Chief Marshal Tyagi are known for more than two years, yet he was not arrested till now. Now, suddenly he has been arrested since this whole fiasco of demonetization,” Bhushan told ANI.Bhushan further said that had the CBI and the Centre been serious about weeding out corruption, then they should have launched an inquiry into the defence deals done by the Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand governments who have agreements with AugustaWestland. “If they are serious about (tackling) corruption, why have they not taken action in similar AugustaWestland purchases by the Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan governments?” he asked.Asserting that defence deals in India are notorious for corruption and over-pricing, Bhushan said, “Even now, in this Rafale deal, the price of the aircraft was increased more than double where the contract of Rs. 58000 crore was given to Rafale and half of that has been given to Anil Ambani’s company which has no experience in defence production.”Bhushan further alleged that the interim CBI director is acting on behest of the Centre who is a handpicked man of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah.The CBI on Friday arrested Tyagi in connection with the AgustaWestland scam, considered as one of the biggest defence scams after Bofors. Gautam Khaitan, a Delhi-based lawyer, and Sanjeev Tyagi, alias, Julie Tyagi, were also arrested by the CBI in this connection. The trio was arrested on the charges of accepting illegal gratification for exercising influence through corrupt and illegal means during the deal.

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.

Codify Personal law in two to three years, Muslim women

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Buoyed by the success of having equal rights access restored at the Haji Ali Daargah in the sense that both men and women will be allowed to the same point, the Bharatiya Muslims Mahila Andolan (BMMA) which had filed a public interest litigation demanded codification of personal law in two to three years and pledged to renew their fight to ban instant triple talaq and nikah halala. The group has also filed a public interest litigation (PIL) on the same with the Supreme Court. On Thursday while celebrating a decade of their existence at the Marathi Patrakar Sangh, the group also presented case studies of women who continued to suffer due to them. These included women from across the country who had gathered including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Bangalore and West Bengal among others. While some did not want their identities to be disclosed, others like Shabista Shaikh from Maharashtra did. “My husband one fine day said triple talaq over phone and ended our marriage. He was having an affair. Today I have a son to look after. He goes around telling everyone that I am mad. Was I not mad till the time I had a son?,” said Shaikh reciting her story. While hers was a case of direct divorce, Nagma, one of the members of BMMA from Rajasthan described how a woman in her state was divorced through triple talaq twice after being raped. “She was married and this person raped her and took her pictures. Those were shown to her husband. Her husband divorced her. She was married again but again through triple talaq she was divorced. The police is not even willing take an FIR,” informed Nagma about the case study. Cases studies of women getting to see their children after 22 years after triple talaq and that women’s consent not being considered while divorce were raised in the meet. Neha Khan, another victim of triple talaq who had come from MP said, “My question to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is that when Nikah is conducted, our consent is taken first. Should that not also be the case during divroce. They should tell us that.””Even though members of All India Personal Law Board call us names, use filthy language to describe us, we will now go ahead with renewed vigour to demand abolition of (instant) triple talaq and nikah halala,” said Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-convenor of BMMA. “In two to three years we also want the Muslim personal law to be codified should include age of marriage, custody, property rights among others. We do not recognize authority of personal law board. We have decided that we not going to be afraid and get cowed down by them or threats,” said Zakia Soman, co-convenor of BMMA.BMMA decides to rest Dargah fight for now The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) has decided to rest their case on Haji Ali Dargah. “Restoring status quo prior to 2011 when both men and women were allowed to touch the grave at the Haji Ali Dargah would have been ideal. But for now we are resting our case because we have got the legal and moral victory, trustees were good to us and at least no discrimination stands now. We have too much work before us so we are resting the Haji Ali Dargah matter for now,” said Soman.

Recent leopard death in Gurugram shows we aren’t ready to co-exist yet

The best-hated and the most feared animal in all India, whose only crime — not against the laws of nature, but against the laws of man — was that he had shed human blood, with no object of terrorising man, but only in order that he might live…

– Jim Corbett

While there is a reason for wildlife lovers in the national capital to celebrate as the forest department has confirmed the presence of a leopard around Yamuna Biodiversity Park, there is something one should really worry about. The news confirming the leopard’s presence in the capital contradicts the headlines that appeared two days later on 25 November.

A leopard was beaten to death and that too brutally, by the residents of Mandawar village in Gurugram’s Sohna area. The forest department officers who were present on the spot, say, the villagers didn’t allow them to do their job. They took the task on themselves attacking the leopard with stones, sticks, spades and what not. I mean, really!

There is no denying the fact that it attacked eight people in the village, but how does it justify what the villagers did to the leopard? The leopard probably  panicked after seeing the crowd and must have reacted; not to harm anyone, but to save herself. Shouldn’t the forest department have tried harder to tranquilise it, especially when they claim to be present on the spot and were fully equipped with tranquiliser, nets and cage?

Forest officials prepare a pyre for a dead male leopard killed tea plantation workers in Assam. Reuters

Forest officials prepare a pyre for a dead male leopard killed by tea plantation workers in Assam in 2014. Reuters

Isn’t it too early to celebrate the presence of another leopard around the National Capital Region? Are we, the humans, ready for the co-existence?

And, this is neither the first time when a leopard has come out of his habitat nor is it the first that a leopard has been beaten to death by a mob. It is the failure of a system that’s unable to control the situation when such circumstance arises, which eventually leads to loss of lives both the species, whether it’s human or the animal.

On 20 February 2015, news of a leopard death was reported in Usmanpur, the north-east area of Delhi. This was fourth such death in a row and ninth reported in between June 2014 and February 2015.

They say, “A leopard cannot change his spots.” So, is it we humans who need to change? But if people and large carnivores like leopards share a landscape, can coexistence between the two foster?

The crumbling of forests and wildlife habitat close to the cities is apparently becoming a grave reason behind the extermination of the wildlife. Although by and large, the local leopard population tries to steer clear of humans, at times, conflict becomes inevitable either because people simply see a leopard and create a havoc, or, because a leopard starts visiting human settlements in search of goats, cattle and even dogs since its prey is dwindling due to human encroachment.

The human-leopard conflict isn’t anything new to us but we generally turn a blind eye to its repercussions. The repercussions do involve us, but it largely affects the leopards. Humans still have a shelter but the leopards, unfortunately, are fast losing it. Besides, we still take pride in mob lynching and poisoning of this otherwise harmless creature.

While Delhi has the Asola Bhati Wildlife Sanctuary in the Aravali hills and Rajasthan has the Sariska Tiger Reserve, the intervening Aravali areas in Haryana have no sanctuary or national park. The Aravali hills adjoining Delhi especially along the Gurugram-Faridabad highway connects Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary with the rest of the patchy jungle belt of Haryana and Rajasthan. It can serve as an important wildlife corridor if conserved. In my opinion, the Aravalis have been the leopards’ traditional habitat. There is enough wild prey in the scrub forest. There are ravines too, which make it a perfect area for the leopards to live stealthily.

In November 2014, a fully grown leopard was attempting to pass through the Delhi-Jaipur highway, having very little idea of what was going to transpire. The next few minutes brought with it the most terrible sight when an unidentified speeding vehicle ran over the animal making it lifeless. The tragic fate of leopards had probably just started to unfold.

A month later, an adult male leopard began paying surprise visits to the villagers of Abupur in Ghaziabad district. He was seen wandering around the sugarcane fields keeping terrified villagers at bay. After a few days of sightings, the leopard’s dead body was discovered in a sugarcane field near the railway track.

Just a day before that incident another leopard’s carcase was found near Pachehra village in Loni, Ghaziabad.

Although any foul play was ruled out by the forest department, the animal had reportedly died because of coming in contact with high-voltage wires laid by someone.

Is it the leopard, which seems to have forgotten its territory and dares to venture in the urban settlements, or, is it the authorities who are unable to put a halt on the rising number of leopard deaths? There isn’t a definite answer for the same, but ensuring a safe and rich prey base in leopard corridors is a need of the hour. The fragmented corridors need to be linked so that a larger habitat is available for the leopards giving them fewer chances of straying away from their habitats and ending up being prey to urbanisation.

A leopard probably enters a village in the search of food, especially the stray dogs, which are easy prey for them.

There is a need to educate people especially, the villagers living on the fringes of our Jungles… a leopard only needs a way to go back from where it has come… and being humans, this is a part of our duty. It’s high time we realised their importance in the ecosystem.

It’s a universal truth that if humans destroy wildlife and its habitat, the leopards will get even closer and that too without any prior notice. We must preserve the leopards by preserving some wilderness around us.

(The author is ex-member of  Project Tiger steering committee)

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 17:00 IST

Modi govt turned RBI into Centre’s mouthpiece, alleges AAP

Fri, 25 Nov 2016-08:00pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Aam Aadmi Party on Friday alleged that demonetization has shown the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has “turned” into a mouthpiece of the Centre under the Narendra Modi government.Party spokesperson Raghav Chadha said the RBI’s status as an institution beyond politicking has taken a hit due to the “fiasco” in the wake of the currency restriction measure announced on November 8. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has turned RBI into a BJP mouthpiece. It makes misleading statements in the public. Modi has eroded the credibility of all institutions including and the central bank is the latest casualty. Only PM is responsible for the situation RBI finds itself in,” he told a press conference.Chadha and AAP’s Delhi Convenor Dilip Pandey also demanded that a probe be initiated into alleged land deals undertaken by some BJP leaders days before demonetization was announced. Delhi Chief Minister and AAP’s National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal will address six rallies across Uttar Pradesh and BJP-ruled Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan on demonetization next month.

More trouble for Zakir Naik: NIA asks banks to freeze IRF’s accounts

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Seeking to starve controversial preacher Zakir Naik and his organisation of funds, the NIA today asked banks to freeze accounts belonging to him and his Islamic Research Foundation, which has been banned under the anti-terror law. Official sources said all the banks, where Naik’s and his organisation’s accounts were in operation, have been asked to immediately freeze those till further directions.NIA had registered a case against Naik, IRF and unnamed office bearers of the foundation under section 153-A of IPC (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), besides various sections of anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.Following this searches were conducted for three days at 20 premises during which details of bank accounts and other financial activities related to Naik and IRF were seized.The sources said the move to block his bank accounts was taken after the NIA claimed to have seized documents which showed ISIS recruit Abu Anas had received Rs 80,000 from the IRF as scholarship in October 2015.Anas, an engineer and a resident of Tonk in Rajasthan, had quit job in a Hyderabad-based company when he was arrested by the NIA in January for allegedly planning to carry out a terror strike ahead of Republic Day.The NIA claimed the probe into the IRF’s funding and distribution of money showed that Anas, who was among 16 people arrested for ISIS links at that time, had received Rs 80,000 from IRF as scholarship.NIA has also written to Union Home Ministry for banning the webiste run by the IRF and as well as suspending its online activities which inlcudes videos of speeches on social networking sites, the sources said.The Home Ministry will pass on the request to Information Technology ministry for blocking the Universal Resource Locator (URL) of the website. The NIA has been conducting searches since November 19 and raided at least 20 premises in Mumbai which are connected to the proscribed IRF or its trustees. During the search operations, video tapes and DVDs of Naik’s public speeches, documents related to property and investment, financial transactions, foreign and domestic funding to IRF as well as its associated companies, and electronic storage devices have been recovered. The NIA alleged that IRF, which was banned by the government last week under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), had close connections with some companies dealing in media, perfumes and some other sectors.

Demonetisation: SC to hear Centre’s plea for transferring currency ban cases on Wednesday

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear on Wednesday the Union government’s plea for transferring the petitions before various high courts challenging the 8 November demonetisation move.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who mentioned the petition before a bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud for an early hearing, said that the central government sought the transfer of matters to the Supreme Court or to one high court.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

There are eight to 10 matters challenging the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes currently before various High Courts including Rajasthan, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Bombay and Gujarat.

The government also sought direction that all future petitions related to the demonetisation be filed in the same court to which the apex court would refer the existing petitions.

In the course of the hearing on 18 November, the top court had said that the people were approaching the courts because they are facing serious problems.

“That only shows the magnitude of the problem. The problem is serious. You can’t shut them from coming to courts. People are frantic to get money. People are affected. We may have riots in the streets. Let them go (to the courts),” it had said when Rohatgi had sought transfer of these cases to the Supreme Court.

While not passing any order on the government’s application seeking the transfer of all the cases scattered in various High Courts and the subordinate courts, the top court had asked it to file a proper petition seeking the transfer of these cases.

In the last hearing, the top court had indicated that it may transfer these cases to a particular High Court.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 17:08 IST

Why Modi govt not passing women’s reservation bill, asks Margaret Alva

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Veteran Congress leader Margaret Alva on Sunday said the Narendra Modi government could easily ensure passage of women’s reservation bill, but it was not being brought to the Lok Sabha because the male politicians feared losing their seats.”The bill…has been passed by the Rajya Sabha and the present government has an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha. It can be passed instantly, but they are not bringing it to the Lok Sabha,” she said.”Since the bill has been passed in the Rajya Sabha, it does not get lapsed as Rajya Sabha is a permanent house. All parties are committed. So you have people who are committed to give you the support. Why are they not bringing it? Because, they are afraid that it will be passed and they don’t want to give up their seats,” she said during a discussion at the Tata Literature Live festival here.The former Rajasthan Governor also said that discrimination against women has been sanctified by religious practises and traditions.”It makes it even more difficult to break them when family laws, inheritance laws are made against women because women have not been made part of decision-making. These are laws made by men for the protection of men and women have no say,” she said.”The basic issue is impact of poverty on the lives of women….governments have just taken women, particularly poor and rural women for granted because they are not organised and they don’t have trade unions or powerful lobbies behind them,” the former Union Minister said.Alva further said the women are always looked upon as production machines, and health policies focus on lactating women and those who are about to give birth, but not those who are older and suffer from menopause trauma, or the teenage pregnancies.”These issues are not considered important. Women, once they have passed the child-bearing period, have no consequence. Women are never admitted to hospitals. Focus on issues related to womens’ health has been missing and there have been not enough voices to raise these issues,” she said.

Indore-Patna express derailment: Probe ordered; rail fracture suspected to be cause of mishap

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The train tragedy near Kanpur that left close to 100 dead could have been caused due to rail fracture, according to sources in the railways.While the exact cause of the Kanpur accident will be ascertained after the inquiry report, prima facie it indicates towards rail fracture, the sources said.Casualties also increased due to absence of modern Linke Holfmann Bush (LHB) coaches in the train, the sources added.Had there been stainless steel LHB coaches, then the damage could have been less as these coaches have more in-built safety features which can absorb shock and impact of derailment more effectively and as a result do not topple, they said.The accident comes at a time when railways are undertaking a massive brainstorming exercise to generate new innovative ideas to improve rail functioning and making the train journey a pleasant experience.Fourteen coaches of Indore-Patna Express derailed near Pukhrayan in Kanpur claiming 96 lives so far.This is the second derailment in two days as the four coaches of the Bhatinda-Jodhpur passenger train derailed yesterday at about 2 AM leaving a dozen passengers injured in Rajasthan’s Sriganganagar district.Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who has rushed to the site to monitor the situation at ground zero, ordered an inquiry into the accident which will be undertaken by Commissioner Railway Safety (Northern region).”Inquiry team will start investigation into cause of accident immediately. All necessary assistance provided to the affected, we are taking care,” Prabhu has tweeted.Poor track maintenance including lack of proper fittings and ballast on the railway lines causes fracture on the tracks.While a simple crack on track may not be of much concern, a severe fracture causing separation of the track could lead to derailment of trains.According to railway engineering department responsible for track maintenance, extreme weather condition is the primary reason for rail fractures. While the track breaks due to coefficient of linear expansion in summer, the same happens in winter due to contraction.However, a senior railway official in Railway Safety wing said lack of proper maintenance is the major reason for rail fracture and weather condition could only aggravate the situation.TMS (track maintenance service) a new software, has been launched by Prabhu recently to monitor track maintenance round-the-clock.Despite the Minister’s directive, the access to TMS is denied to safety wing and as a result, the monitoring mechanism becomes a closely guarded secret defeating the very purpose of the launching of the software application, the official said.Though railways have decided to replace all conventional coaches with modern LHB coaches gradually, the process will take time.

I have nothing else but India: Taslima Nasreen

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasrin says she had to intentionally defy all bans and threats to return to India despite being forced to leave as she has “nothing else but India”, which she hopes will encourage free thought one day. She also wishes that neighbouring countries learn from India’s example and be inspired on knowing the meaning of freedom of speech.She expresses these thoughts in her memoir “Exile”, translated from the original Bengali version ‘Nirbasan’ by Maharghya Chakraborty and published by Penguin Random House. In fact, she wrote ‘Exile’ nearly five years ago.In the book, Nasrin mentions the series of events during her seven-month struggle “leading to my ouster from West Bengal, then Rajasthan and eventually India, my house arrest, and the anxious days I had had to spend in the government safe house, beset by a scheming array of bureaucrats and ministers desperate to see me gone”.She says she was then like a lone, exiled, dissenting voice against the entire state machinery with only her wits and determination at her disposal. “Despite being forced to leave, I have eventually cocked a snook at all the prohibitions and bans and threats, and come back to India. I have come because I have nothing else but India, and because I hope India will one day truly encourage free thought. I wish to live in this country and be allowed the freedom to express my opinions even if they are contrary to others. I wish for the neighbouring nations to learn from India’s example and be inspired, they who yet do not know the meaning of freedom of speech,” she writes. Nasrin, however, says it is not that she had a completely stress-free life in India as old threats have continued and taken on new forms.

Babus to visit states to assess demonetization drive

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior bureaucrats working in central departments have been asked to visit states for on-the-spot assessment of demonetization drive and to provide their feedback.A total of 32 teams of nearly 70 senior officers–of the level of Additional Secretary and Joint Secretary– and those working as Director or Deputy Secretary have been formed by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).”The officers have been deputed to undertake field visits in various states for making on-the-spot assessment of the situation and to provide feedback thereon,” an order said. The officers have been drawn from various central government departments.Teams of three officers each would visit Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, it said. Two-member teams would visit Telangana, Kerala, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Goa and Assam. Whereas, teams of one official each would visit Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya, Manipur, Andaman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Sikkim. “Department of Economic Affairs will decide the dates/ duration of the field visits as well as the terms of the reference for the same,” the DoPT said.The Centre had on November 8 demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in order to check black money, corruption, money laundering, terror financing as well as counterfeiting of currency notes.Large number of people are queuing up at banks since then to exchange old notes and withdrawing money as ATMs are also being calibrated by the government to dispense newly-introduced Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 denomination notes.

If you can run marathon in Delhi, you can run anywhere: HC on pollution

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>If you can run a marathon in Delhi you can run anywhere, the Delhi High Court on Friday said while referring to the “hazardous” air pollution levels in New Delhi and suggested measures like immediate extinguishing of landfill fires and ensuring only CNG taxis enter the national capital to improve air quality.”If anyone can run a marathon in Delhi, they can run anywhere,” a bench of justices B D Ahmed and Jayant Nath said after it was informed that despite the high pollution levels there was going to be a marathon in the city on November 20. The court, however, asked the Delhi government to issue an advisory for the public informing them about the air quality which the bench noted contained pollutants four times more than the prescribed standard.Observing that factors like fires in landfill sites, stubble burning in neighbouring states of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, plying of all India permit diesel cabs in the city, fireworks, road dust and construction work pollute the air, the bench issued a slew of directions to address each of them.
ALSO READ Delhi pollution | Govt inaction amounts to ‘genocide’, people are being killed: HCNoting that Punjab government was “still in denial mode” regarding its contribution to air pollution in the city, the court directed it to file an affidavit, with specific timeline, indicating a “clear cut action plan” to “completely eliminate” stubble burning next year as it alone produces 17 million tonnes of straw, bulk of which was burned causing a spike in air pollution there as well as in New Delhi.On the issue of diesel cabs plying in the city, the court was told by amicus curiae, senior advocate Kailash Vasdev, that of the 1,84,000 taxis in the city, 88,623 were running on diesel. Of these 40,000 were city based while the remaining were all India permit taxis coming from other states.Observing that what happens in neighbouring states affect Delhi also, the bench directed them to come up with a “clear cut action plan” to “streamline” granting of all India permits to inter-state cabs so that diesel taxis can be turned to CNG, as taxis from there come and go out of the capital.The municipal authorities, who are responsible for landfill sites, were told to immediately extinguish the fires burning in such areas as smoke rising from there would subject people to “serious health hazards” as they contain particulate matter like PM 2.5 and 10 apart from carcinogens. Taking “judicial note” of construction sites being not cleared of rubble and debris after completion of work, the court directed the municipal corporations, DDA and Public Works Department (PWD) to take “emergent steps” to minimise air pollution. It directed the authorities to ensure that “each site is kept debri free” and that there is proper cleaning up of dust and construction rubble. “If this is done, the particulate matter which comprises construction debri and road dust shall be reduced and we would see an improvement in air quality,” the court said and listed the matter for hearing on November 25.The bench also suggested that the government should take up the responsibility of setting off fireworks during festivals, like Diwali, as is done in other countries like the US on July 4 every year. “I wonder why the government does not take over setting off of fireworks. There can be designated places where people can go and watch fireworks, like in USA on July 4 every year.There fireworks are genuine, not these spurious Chinese variety,” it said.The court, meanwhile, directed the National Capital Region Planning Board to have a meeting in next three weeks on the issue of air pollution and to file a status report on what was decided in the meeting. “Frankly speaking, this is not our job. It is yours (government and authorities). Why are you not doing anything? Each one of you. Think about the children growing up today. We are surviving because we grew up in a much cleaner environment,” the bench said after the amicus said the “buck stops” with the court and it has to issue directions to ensure reduction in air pollution.The court was hearing a PIL initiated by it on the issue of alarming levels of air pollution in the national capital.On November 10, the court had said the alarming pollution level is literally ‘capital punishment’ for Delhiites who are being robbed of three years of their lives due to it. It had held the government’s inaction and stubble burning in Punjab as being responsible for the situation. The court had said that the grave situation was leading to the “decimation” of more than 60 million life years or one million deaths, which it termed as “genocide”.

Water level in 91 reservoirs dips to 68%: Government

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Water level in 91 major reservoirs in the country has plunged to 68% of their total capacity from 70% last week, the government said on FridayAccording to Water Resources Ministry, 107.449 billion cubic metre (BCM) of water was available in these reservoirs for the week ending on November 17.The stock was 127% of the storage reported during the corresponding period last year, while it is 98% of the decadal average, the Ministry said in a statement. Last week, the stock available in these reservoirs was 110.097 BCM. The total capacity of the reservoirs is 157.799 BCM.The states which have recorded less storage vis-a-vis the corresponding period last year are Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, while the water levels in reservoirs in Karnataka are equivalent to those reported last year.Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have reported better stock compared to last year.

Haryana govt seeks status quo in Satluj-Yamuna Link canal in SC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Haryana Government on Thursday moved the Supreme Court seeking a status quo in the Satluj-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue, even as the court had on Tuesday said it would hear the matter in due course of time.The apex court is now likely to hear the matter on Monday.Hearing a petition filed by a lawyer on behalf of a non-governmental organisation (NGO) for criminal contempt of court against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Tirath Singh Thakur decided to take up the SYL matter in due course of time. However, the court has not fixed a date for the hearing as of now.According to the petitioner, both father and son are saying on record that they will not follow the apex court order on the SYL canal issue.The apex court had on Thursday termed the law passed by Punjab in 2004 to terminate the SYL canal water sharing agreement with neighbouring states ‘unconstitutional’.Holding that the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act, 2004, was not in conformity with the provisions of the constitution, the court answered in the negative all the four questions referred to it in a presidential reference.A constitution bench of the court ruled that Punjab could not have taken a “unilateral” decision to terminate the agreement with Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Chandigarh to share of the Ravi-Beas river waters.Responding to the apex court’s order, Sukhbir had said that Punjab would not share water with any other state.”A decision taken at an emergency meeting of the Punjab cabinet said that Punjab Government would not allow the SYL to be built at any cost nor a single brick would be allowed to be laid for its construction by any agency,” said Sukhbir.Badal said, “As far as legal steps are concerned, advocate will advise us on what can be legally done. Our main aim is to not let the water go, and we will do anything for that. We want to assure people of Punjab that only we can do this, and resignation in Congress is just a drama.”

Islamic State operative arrested in Rajasthan

Jaipur: The anti-terrorist squad of Rajasthan today arrested an alleged Islamic State (IS) operative in Sikar district who was involved in collecting and transferring funds for the terror organisation from Dubai.

“The accused identified as Jamil Ahemad (41) works in Dubai. He is a sympathiser and operative of IS. He had been raising funds from India, Bangladesh and UAE and transferring to the IS for the last two years through hawala,” ADG-ATS Umesh Mishra said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“He was on our radar for some time. He came to India recently and visited his ancestral house in Fatehpur eight days back. He was picked up by us interrogation and was placed under arrest,” he told PTI.

Ahemad was in touch with other IS operatives on social media platform. An MBA graduate, Ahemad was working as the Assistant Financial Manager at a reputed firm in Dubai since 2003.

He has a house in Mumbai where his wife and children live, Mishra said.

“Our one team is in Mumbai and conducting searches at his house with the help of Mumbai ATS,” he said today.

Mishra said that the accused, who has been arrested under Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act, has revealed his connections in the IS and says that he has no regret.

“He is completely remorseless and supports the organisation. He said that those (terrorists) are fighting for a cause,” the officer said, adding, that he is being interrogated.

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 23:39 IST

BJP not yet decided on projecting CM face in UP polls: Amit Shah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP national president Amit Shah said on Saturday that his party has not decided whether to project anyone as its chief ministerial candidate in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.In several states like Rajasthan, Chhatishgarh, Gujarat, Goa and Madhya Pradesh no one was projected as the CM face, he said. “The party has not yet decided whether it will go to the polls projecting a CM face or not”, he said at a programme here.Shah’s reply came to a specific question whether BJP will project Home Minister Rajnath Singh or party MP Yogi Adityanath for the key post. The BJP president said that BJP is cadre-based party where internal democracy is still alive. “It is not as if being born into a particular family will make an individual a leader…all have to work hard in my party…have to sweat it out”, he said.On UP, he said there are immense possibilities and the development of the country is not possible without the development of the state. “BJP believes in politics of performance and not appeasement,” he said spelling out three priorities for UP — infrastructure development, youth-oriented employment facilities and better law and order.”Government in UP should be for people, not for a family, BJP stands for politics of performance, not appeasement,” Shah said claiming that law and order situation in BJP ruled states was much better as per the National Crime Records Bureau.To a question, Shah said, “I have to expand my party…it is not my responsibility to take care of other parties…some political parties will be weakened in times to come…my aim is to strengthen my party”.

SYL canal verdict: Capt Amarinder promises to return with two-thirds majority to nullify verdict

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh has tendered resignation along with 42 Congress MLAs on Friday after the Supreme Court’s ruling on Punjab’s water-sharing agreement with other states. Amarinder Singh told the media that hopefully they would come up with the two-thirds majority and use the constitutional powers to nullify this decision of the Supreme Court. “Once our resignation is given the matter is over. And now, it is up to the Speaker, whether he will accept it tomorrow or day after. We have no connection with Vidhan Sabha anymore,” Singh said.”We are not in the house now. We are going to people of Punjab now. Tomorrow, in every constituency of Punjab, we will burn the effigies In all the 117 constituencies. We will start wide-agitation from Abohar on November 13. Sunil Jakhar will take take out mass protests, where everyone of us will participate,” he added.In a blow to Punjab, the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that Punjab was bound to share the Ravi-Beas waters with Haryana and other states and comply with its two judgments for completion of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal.The case involves sharing of Ravi-Beas river waters largely between Punjab and Haryana, besides Rajasthan, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh.

Delhi pollution: Governments have least concern for citizens health, says NGT

New Delhi: “Governments elected by people have the least concern for the health of its citizens”, the National Green Tribunal today said as it passed a slew of directions including setting up of centralised and state level monitoring committees to prepare action plans to combat pollution in a bid to tackle environment emergencies.

Asking Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan to consider banning 10-year-old diesel vehicles from plying on the roads, the green panel said, “The time has come when all concerned authorities must show concern to improve the ambient air quality in their states.”

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The NGT directed that every state committee should, in their first meeting, notify one district where the land use of agriculture is high and make it a model district for implementing orders to stop stubble burning.

“The basic fundamental question which arises for consideration is whether state governments and especially the Delhi government can provide scientific justification as to why the people of the national capital should be exposed to such severe pollution. The governments which have been elected by people have the least concern for the health of their citizens,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.

Terming as “severe” levels of pollution when PM 10 and PM 2.5 are above 431 and 251 micrograms per cubic metre respectively in the ambient air, it said when air pollution takes such alarming proportions, immediate steps are needed to be taken as an environmental emergency.

In such situations, helicopters should be used to sprinkle water in the Delhi-NCR region, especially in those areas where pollution levels are in excess of the prescribed standard limits, the bench said.

Coming down heavily on states for not taking action against farmers burning farm residues, NGT asked them, particularly Punjab, to consider withdrawal of incentive including the grant of free power to farmers burning crops.

“In such emergency, states shall immediately provide happy seeders or other such machines in agriculture fields for removal of agriculture residue and incentives should be provided to farmers to sell their paddy straw to biomass plants, industries and board making units.

“All construction and demolition activities and transportation of construction material should be halted temporarily and stone crushers should be directed to shut down,” it said.

Delhi pollution: Capital punishment for citizens; being robbed off 3 years of their life, says High Court

New Delhi: The alarming pollution level is literally ‘capital punishment’ for Delhi’ites who are being robbed of three years of their lives due to it, Delhi High Court said on Thursday, holding government’s inaction and stubble burning in Punjab as being responsible for the “genocide”.

“It is killing us,” a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Ashutosh Kumar said, adding that the grave situation was leading to the “decimation” of more than 60 million life years or one million deaths.

It also asked whether votes were more important than the lives of those who vote. “It is literally capital punishment as the capital is being punished and that too for no offence. People are being killed in the capital. You cannot kill Delhi,” the high court said, terming reduction in life expectancy due to pollution and government inaction over it as “genocide” and “murder”.

Referring to a WHO study on the effects of air pollution published in a news article, the court said pollutants in the air in several cities of India, especially Delhi, “exceeds the standards”, as 13 out of the world’s 20 most polluted cities were in our country.

The bench also noted that Delhi had the highest number of people suffering from respiratory ailments and also deaths due to it. It said the government was duty bound to remove the threat of air pollution, but “despite repeated direction” and public opinion, the “governments responsible have not acted in the manner they should have”.

Children protest against alarmingly rising pollution in Delhi. AFP

Children protest against alarmingly rising pollution in Delhi. AFP

“As per the report, air pollution in a city like Delhi deducts three years from your life expectancy. Delhi has a population of over 20 million. So 60 million life years are being robbed from people of Delhi. With an average life expectancy of 60 years, it would mean that air pollution as its exists in Delhi takes one million lives. If this is not murder, what is? This is genocide. Government inaction is the culprit for shortening of life,” the court said.

Referring to satellite images submitted by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) in connection with stubble burning in northern India, the court said level of pollutants in the air peaked first week of November and biomass burning in Punjab was the “main culprit”.

“Unfortunately, state of Punjab is in denial mode and contests allegations that they are responsible for air pollution in Delhi. Punjab has not taken action as have the states of Haryana and Rajasthan, despite our clear warning earlier,” the court said.

The court said before issuing contempt notice to Chief Secretary of Punjab, “we want an affidavit from him indicating why our directions were not carried out and what prevented him from doing so”. It gave the counsel for Punjab time till November 18, the next date of hearing, to place the affidavit before the court.

The bench made it clear that if it was not satisfied with the affidavit, it will issue contempt notice to the Chief Secretary. It noted the submission of the counsel for Punjab that it would take “emergency measures” to put an end to stubble burning and expressed hope the steps would be implemented.

On the issue of “bursting” landfill sites and the “fires simmering” there which aggravate air pollution, the court said the only solution was to segregate the garbage and use it for generation of power.

In order to achieve this objective, the court directed the municipal authorities to put in place trash receptacles for segregation of bio-degradable and non-degradable waste.

The court said worldwide, landfills were not encouraged and emphasis was on waste recycling and an alternative was to set up waste to energy plants.

It noted the Delhi government’s proposal to convert the closed-down thermal power plant at Rajghat into a waste to energy plant (WTEP) and said the project, which is estimated to take 18 months from start to finish, should be started at the earliest.

The directions came on a PIL initiated by the court on the issue of air pollution in the city. Last month, while hearing the air pollution matter, the high court had asked the states of UP, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana to stop stubble burning for which the national capital every year grappled with the menace of haze. This was even after orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to stop the practice of burning of crop and agriculture residue.

During the hearing today, the court said bad air quality killed people and caused respiratory ailments, which in turn led to reduction in working population and loss of productivity.

“In pure economic terms, look at the cost-benefit you would have if this issue of air pollution is addressed,” the bench said.

Coming down heavily on Punjab, the court asked its counsel how it would make good the huge national economic loss that would have been caused due to closure of schools in Delhi and people falling sick and not being able to work.

“You have failed as a state,” the bench remarked while referring to Punjab waiving off agricultural loans of over Rs 80000 crore, but being unable to arrange Rs 9900 crore for procuring “rota and re-seeding machines” to reduce biomass generated after harvesting.

The counsel for Punjab, while defending the state, said the government may have been slow to start but it has taken steps like setting up biomass power plants.

He said the state required around Rs 9900 crore for the machines and has written to the Centre. Rejecting the contentions, the bench said it had warned all the states well in advance on these issues. “But you (Punjab) did nothing. There is dereliction of duty” the court said and added “put a stop to it immediately”.

It also said that despite the advance warning, “damage has been done”. Earlier, the high court had noted that stubble burning, which is not permissible under the law, was going on despite the orders of NGT and High Court.

SYL verdict: All you need to know about the 61-year long Satluj-Yamuna Link row

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab suffered a serious setback on Thursday as the Supreme Court held as unconstitutional the 2004 law passed by it to terminate the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal water sharing agreement with neighbouring states.The judgement makes it clear that the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 is “unconstitutional” and Punjab could not have taken a “unilateral” decision to terminate the water sharing agreement with Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Chandigarh.1955: Agreement signed by Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, RajasthanAs per the agreement of 1955, signed between the states of Punjab, Pepsu, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan, Punjab (including Pepsu) was allocated 7.20 Million Acre Feet (MAF) surplus waters of the Ravi and Beas estimated at 15.85 MAF, based on flow series of 1921-45, excluding pro-partition use, Rajasthan was allocated 8.0 MAF and Jammu and Kashmir 0.65 MAF.Haryana was carved out on the reorganization of erstwhile state of Punjab on November 1, 1966, and as per Section 78 of the Reorganization Act of 1966, the right to receive and to utilize the waters available for distribution, as a result of the Bhakra Nangal Project and BEAS Project, became the right of the successor states in such proportion as may be made by an agreement entered into by the said states after consultation with the central government.This Section also provided that if no such agreement was entered into within two years of the appointed day, the Centre may by orders determine the shares of the States having regard to the purpose of the projects.1976: Punjab filed a suit in SC challenging the validity of the Section 78 of the Reorganization ActAs per SC’s 1976 notification, Haryana was allocated 3.5 MAF, Punjab 3.5 MAF and Delhi 0.2 MAF out of the total water of 7.2 MAF to be allocated amongst the three from the total available 15.2 MAF water of the Satluj, Ravi and Beas. The remaining water was to go to other states, including Jammu and Kashmir.The first litigation in the water sharing dispute came in 1976 when Punjab was dissatisfied and filed a suit in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the Section 78 of the Reorganization Act. Haryana also filed a suit for implementing the Centre’s notification of April 24, 1976.The portion of the canal in Haryana was started during October 1976 and was completed in June 1980 at an expenditure of Rs 56 Crore. As Haryana could not utilize its share without a carrier channel in the Punjab territory, Haryana took up the matter with Punjab in the year 1976 to construct the SYL Canal and deposited Rs 1.0 Crore in November 1976 and another Rs 1 Crore in March, 1979.Haryana filed a suit against Punjab for failure to take up construction of SYL Canal in their territory. Punjab also filed a suit in the apex court on July 11, 1979 challenging the orders of Centre of March, 1976.1981: Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan signed an agreement to share the waters of rivers Ravi, Beas and SatlujDuring pendency of the suit, however, an agreement was entered into Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan on December 31, 1981, under which 17.17 MAF surplus Ravi Beas waters, assessed on revised flow series of 1921-60, were agreed to be allocated to Punjab 4.22 MAF, Haryana 3.50 MAF, Rajasthan 8.60 MAF, J-K 0.65 MAF and Delhi 0.20 MAF. It was further stipulated in the Agreement, known as the Indira Gandhi Award of 1981 that Punjab would complete the SYL Canal within a period of 2 years, i.e. up to December 31,1983. Haryana and Punjab withdrew their pending suits from SC. Former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh got this agreement and all other subsequent agreements annulled “to protect the interests of the border state” even though this agreement was signed with Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister. Earlier in 1960 the Indus Waters Treaty was signed between India and Pakistan under which water of the Ravi, Beas and Satluj were reserved for exclusive use by India after transition period.Six years later in 1966 when Punjab was reorganized, the Section 78 of the Reorganization Act provided for the apportioning of rights and liabilities of the existing state of Punjab among the successor states (Haryana and Himachal Pradesh) in relation to the Bhakhra-Nangal project and the Beas project, by agreement entered into by the states after consultation with the Centre.But since the 1981 Indira Gandhi award failed to see the light of the day and she was assassinated in 1984, her son and successor Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi initiated steps to resolve the inter-state issues and on July 24, 1985 the ‘The Punjab Settlement’ popularly known as the ‘Rajiv Longowal Accord’ was signed at Delhi with a new deadline, August 15, 1986, being set for the completion of the SYL canal to carry Haryana’s share of Ravi Beas water.Paragraph 9 of this accord, bearing the question of sharing of river waters provided that the farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan will continue to get waters not less than what they were using from the Ravi Beas system as on July 1, 1985. Water used for consumptive purposes will remain unaffected.The claim of Punjab and Haryana regarding the shares in their remaining water was to be referred for adjudication to a Tribunal to be presided over by a Supreme Court Judge. The decision of this tribunal was to be rendered within six months and was to be binding on both parties. All legal and constitutional steps in this respect were to be taken expeditiously.The construction of the SYL Canal was to continue and the canal was to be completed by August 15, 1986. In pursuance of the Rajiv Longowal Accord the Centre- constituted a Tribunal namely Ravi Beas Waters Tribunal (Eradi Tribunal) on April 2, 1986. The tribunal gave its report on January 30, 1987 and the quantum of water used by the farmers and other consumptive users of the three party states as on 1st July 1985, was estimated for Punjab at 3.106 MAF.The Punjab share was inclusive of 0.352 MAF of permissive use allowed by Rajasthan under clause (ii) of the 1981 agreement and subject thereto but was exclusive of the pre-partition use of 1.98 MAF as well as 0.32 MAF in Shah Nehar Canal areas. The share of Haryana was 1.620 MAF and Rajasthan 4.985 MAF (This figure is exclusive of the pre-partition use of 1.11 MAF).The Eradi Tribunal on adjudication of the claims of Punjab and Haryana regarding the shares in their remaining waters, the tribunal decided to allocate surplus Ravi Beas waters to Punjab 5.00 MAF and Haryana 3.83 MAF. The Tribunal stressed the need for the completion of the SYL canal “at an early date since this canal is lifeline for the farmers of Haryana.”The Eradi Tribunal in its report increased the surplus Ravi Beas waters by another 1.11 MAF available downstream of run stations, fixed the total availability at 18.28 MAF. It provided Punjab 5.00 MAF, Haryana 3.83 MAF, Rajasthan 8.60 MAF, J-K 0.65 MAF and Delhi 0.20 MAF. But both Punjab and Haryana Governments filed the applications under Section 5(3) of the Interstate Water Disputes Act, 1956 for some clarifications/guidance on the report of the Tribunal.Haryana prayed to clarify and confirm that the usages of the three states, to allocate the remaining 4.831 MAF of un-allocated Ravi Beas waters below the run stations to the state of Haryana, while Punjab sought modification of Tribunal’s findings regarding verification of waters used by the various states because it is contrary to the provisions of the “Punjab Settlement”.Punjab also challenged the decision of Tribunal that Haryana and Rajasthan are Indus Basin States being erroneous and also the Decision of the tribunal rejecting the contention of Punjab having sole proprietary/Ownership rights of Ravi-Beas rivers being against the legal provisions. Punjab had then itself challenged the finding of the Tribunal regarding holding valid the two agreements of 1955 and 1981 and the order of 1976 being erroneous.But due to disturbed conditions in Punjab, the tribunal could not assemble for conclusive hearing on these applications. The Tribunal was then adjourned sine die in April, 1989.Realizing that the progress of construction of SYL Canal in Punjab portion was not going up to the targeted schedule, Haryana took up the matter with Prime Minister and at a meeting on December 16, 1986, it was decided that entire cost of SYL Canal will be borne by the Centre.The work was resumed and progress continued till July 23, 1990 when work came to a halt due to gunning down of two senior engineers and some others of Punjab including the Chief Engineer and the Superintending Engineer engaged on the work.Haryana on November 23, 1990 wrote to Prime Minister to entrust the balance work to some Central Agency like National Hydel Power Corporation, Border Roads Organization (BRO) or any other suitable agency. As a result, the construction of the canal was decided to be handed over to BRO by Government of India on February 20, 1991 but there could not be any progress.Thereafter the issue was highlighted by Haryana at various levels and fora but the construction activities could not be resumed even though 95 per cent of the work in Punjab portion stood completed up to June, 1990.Not only that there is uncertainty but a substantial amount of money spent has not been put to any use. The project cost which is being funded by the Centre since December 16, 1986 has escalated from Rs 176 Crore in 1983 to an estimated cost of Rs 601 Crore (11/94 price index level). The cost is likely to escalate further as an amount of Rs 679.90 Crore has been spent in Punjab portion up to September 2001.Due to continuous delay in the completion of the canal, Haryana is unable to fully utilize about 3 lakh hectares of irrigation potential already created in the state and is losing incremental agricultural production of over 8 lakh tones per annum amounting to several Crore of rupees besides having drinking water scarcity in several parts of the State. SYL Canal is being misused by Punjab for passing their flood waters to Haryana territories, adding miseries to the farmers of Haryana, state irrigation department officials say.After all the efforts of Haryana to persuade Punjab directly and through the Union Government to get the SYL Canal completed did not materialize, Haryana approached the Apex Court through suit No-1 of 1995 filed in November 95. The suit was refilled as suit No-6 of 1996 after issuance of notices under section 80 C P C. The hearings of this case were held in the Apex Court during the year 1996 to 2001.2002: SC directs Punjab to complete construction of SYL canal within a yearThe Supreme Court passed an order on January 15, 2002 and directed Punjab government that SYL Canal should be completed within a period of one year. In case state of Punjab fails to accomplish the task within the stipulated period, then the Union Government should get the work done through its own agencies as expeditiously as possible.2004: Punjab enacts the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004Punjab enacted the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 just two days before the July 15,2004 deadline when the Centre was to take over physical possession of the Canal from Punjab Irrigation Department and hand over the construction to the CPWD for completion of the disputed Canal.Punjab had all along maintained that “justice” should be done as per the recognized international riparian laws. The state had taken the stand that endeavour should be to determine the share of Punjab rivers on acknowledged principles of distribution and allocation between the “riparian” states, namely, on the basis of the equitable share of each state.Interestingly, none of the states that have been a party to the unsolved issue is a riparian state, except Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. The other non-riparian states are Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi.

Delhi pollution: HC claims govt inaction, ‘stubble burning’ responsible for reducing life expectancy

New Delhi: Government inaction and stubble burning in Punjab are the real culprits in robbing 20 million Delhi’ites of three years of their life expectancy, which amounts to “genocide” and “murder”, Delhi High Court said on Thursday.

“It is killing us,” a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Ashutosh Kumar said, adding that the grave situation was leading to the “decimation” of more than 60 million life years or one million deaths.

It also asked whether votes were more important than the lives of those who vote.

The bench made the serious observation while referring to a recent environment study published in a weekly.

“As per the report, air pollution in a city like Delhi deducts three years from your life expectancy. Delhi has a population of over 20 million. So 60 million life years are being decimated and killed. It is akin to one million deaths. If this is not murder, what is? This is genocide.

“Government inaction is the culprit for shortening of life. Look at the enormity of the matter. Something drastic needs to be done. Is vote bank more important or the man or woman behind the vote,” it said, adding “Punjab (stubble burning) is killing us”.

The court said as per various reports, Delhi has been termed as the worst city in India in terms of air quality.

Bad air quality not only kills people, but also leads to respiratory ailments, the court said and added that these led to reduction in working population and loss of productivity.

“In pure economic terms, look at the cost-benefit you would have if this issue of air pollution is addressed,” the bench said while hearing a PIL initiated by the court on the issue of air pollution in the city.

Last month, while hearing the air pollution matter, the high court had asked the states of UP, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana to prevent stubble burning for which the national capital every year grappled with the menace of haze even after orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to stop the practice of burning of crop and agriculture residue.

Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), meanwhile, showed the court satellite images from NASA showing the extent of biomass or crop burning in northern India.

Referring to the images, the bench and amicus curiae Kailash Vasdev said the main culprit was Punjab where majority of fires were happening.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Vasdev said that while Haryana and Rajasthan have taken steps like training farmers, employing new tools for cutting crops, recycling the biomass and using it for power generation, Punjab was only asking for money.

He also said that as per Punjab’s affidavit, it was bringing in political issues and angles as well as citing economic constraints in preventing biomass burning.

Agreeing with the amicus, the bench also said the state appeared to be “in denial” even though the extent of biomass burning was “much, much more” there than in other states, with resultant smoke reaching as far as Madhya Pradesh.

The bench then asked the counsel for Punjab how it would apologise to the people who have died and those who continue to suffer respiratory diseases due to air pollution caused by biomass burning.

The court also asked how the state would make good the huge national economic loss that would have been caused due to closure of schools in Delhi and people falling sick and not being able to work.

“You have failed as a state,” the bench remarked while referring to Punjab waiving off agricultural loans of over Rs 80000 crore, but being unable to arrange Rs 9900 crore for procuring “rota and re-seeding machines” to reduce biomass generated after harvesting.

The counsel for Punjab, while defending the state, said the government may have been slow to start but it has taken steps like setting up biomass power plants.

He said the state required around Rs 9900 crore for the machines and has written to the Centre.

Rejecting the contentions, the bench said it had warned all the states well in advance on these issues.

“But you (Punjab) did nothing. There is dereliction of duty. Does your Chief Secretary intend to continue in that position? We are contemplating issuing contempt notice to him. You can reply to that,” the court said and added “put a stop to it immediately”.

It also said that despite the advance warning, “damage has been done” and the actions of Punjab was akin to “capital punishment” for the people of Delhi.

“Literally capital punishment as the capital is punished and that too for no offence. People are being killed in the capital,” the bench said.

Earlier, the high court had noted that stubble burning, which is not permissible under the law, was going on despite the orders of NGT and HC. “This practice has gone unabated year after year and Delhi has been engulfed in haze, constituents of which are aerosols from stubble burning and dust”.

It had said that effects of pollution were felt by every citizen, particularly the elderly and children who experienced difficulty in breathing, and it manifested itself in long term effect like “reduction in longevity”.

Expressing hope that the law and court orders would be followed in letter and spirit, the bench had directed the four states to file status reports regarding action taken by them to ensure stubble burning practice is eliminated.

The court was hearing a PIL initiated by it on the issue of air pollution in the national capital and had asked the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab about their action plan to stop the practice of stubble burning, undertaken by farmers to clear the fields before sowing the next crop after Diwali.

Punjab government, represented by advocate Naginder Benipal, had said immediate action was required by Haryana as it was much closer to Delhi. Haryana government had said it has already started taking action in compliance with the orders of NGT.

Rajasthan government said its Chief Secretary has held meetings on how to deal with the issue and said the pollution control board of the state should also be made a party.

DPCC, represented by advocate Sanjeev Ralli, had said that directions were given by NGT to these states last year itself to stop stubble burning, so let them also show what they have done so far.

The bench, thereafter, had said that any action taken by the states can be seen from the air quality data collected by the 20 monitoring stations in Delhi run by DPCC, Central Pollution Control Board and Ministry of Earth Sciences.

It had directed all the three agencies “to ensure that data is recorded for entire month of October and November 2016 and a comparative chart be placed before us comparing current year data with previous year and also comparing with August and September months of 2016”.

Delhi pollution: In a first, NGT passes orders to tackle ’emergency’ like situation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a significant order to crack down on air pollution in case of an ’emergency’ like situation, the National Green Tribunal’s chairperson bench has issued specific actions that Delhi and neighbouring states should follow. This is the first time that the NGT or any court issued directions for emergency situations. The directions will be applicable to Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. It has also passed a series of other directions to tackle air pollution.According to the NGT order, whenever pollution of PM10 and PM2.5 (particles smaller than 10 micrometers and 2.5 micrometers diameter) reaches a severe level of 431 and 251 respectively, the following measures should be taken. 1. Helicopters should sprinkle water in the Delhi-NCR region, especially in those areas where pollution levels are in excess of prescribed standard limits.2. States shall immediately provide happy seeders or other such machines in agriculture fields for removal of agriculture residue and incentives should be provided to farmers to sell their paddy straw to biomass plants, industries and board making unit.3. State governments shall issue orders to all companies, plants and public undertakings to discharge CSR responsibilities and collect agriculture residue from farm fields by providing farmers with monetary support and financial incentives.4. In emergency situations, stone crushers should be directed to shut down.5. If thermal power plants, hot mix plants and brick kilns are found to be emitting pollution more than prescribed standards during an emergency situation they should be shut down temporarily till they reduce level of emissions.6. In emergency situations, all construction and demolition activities and transportation of construction material should be halted temporarily.7. Government schools and municipal schools should be provided air purifiers.8. NGT has ordered constitution of an interstate Central committee and also state committees to enforce their orders on vehicular pollution, dust pollution, solid waste burning and paddy straw burning. The Central committee has to prepare an action plan for environmental emergency as well as prevention and control of pollution.9. Each state committee in their first meeting has to notify one district where land use of agriculture is high and make it a model district for implementing orders to stop crop burning.10. All the five state governments have to begin vacuum cleaning of roads to prevent dust pollution and mixing of dust and vehicular pollution. Gradually, states should completely move towards mechanical cleaning of roads.11. NGT also ordered that Delhi should strictly enforce their existing order on deregistering diesel vehicles older than ten years and petrol vehicles older than 15 years. Other states have also been ordered to consider ban on old diesel and petrol vehicles.

SC to pronounce verdict on Satluj-Yamuna Link canal presidential reference

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce its verdict on Wednesday on the presidential reference of 2004 on the controversy relating to sharing of water from Satluj-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal by north India states including Punjab and Haryana.A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice A R Dave, who is demitting office on November 18, reserved the verdict on May 12 after the Centre maintained its earlier stand of 2004, that the states concerned should settle their disputes on the matter by themselves.The Centre had said it was not taking sides and was maintaining a neutral stand in the matter in which the court has recorded the stand of other states — Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir.During the hearing of the case, while Punjab Assembly passed a law to return the land acquired on its side for the construction of SYL canal, the Haryana government approached the apex court which directed the status quo to be maintained.The court has also appointed the Union Home Secretary and Punjab’s Chief Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP) as the ‘joint receiver’ of land and other property meant for SYL canal. Isolated by other stakeholders over the dispute over water-sharing of SYL canal, Punjab has earlier said the apex court was not bound to answer the presidential reference made at the instance of the Centre which had no power to resolve the dispute.The Parkash Singh Badal government has submitted that a fresh tribunal be set up to resolve all disputes with other states including Haryana on all aspects, which will also cover the riparian rights and the dwindling flow of water. nIt had said a fresh tribunal was sought in 2003, about 18 months before the 2004 law, to review the 1981 Longowal Accord on river water-sharing in view of depleting flow and other changed circumstances.The water-sharing agreement was among Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir. On Haryana’s demand, Punjab has said that after its creation in 1966, it had become a riparian state of the Yamuna and was getting its share. At the same time, it had lost its riparian rights after it was carved out of Punjab.

See what you have done: NGT to states

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) Chairperson on Monday took strong exception to the inaction of the Delhi, Punjab and Haryana governments in taking preventive measures to control the Capital’s poor air quality. The NGT’s observations came even as air quality and visibility improved owing to a wind speed of 15 kmph. From an early morning peak of 1,600 micograms/metre cube (ug/m3), PM10 pollution more than halved at 500ug/m3 in Anand Vihar, Delhi’s most polluted spot. For the first time after the onset of smog, visibility crossed 1,000m at Palam and 1,800m at Safdarjung.NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar came down hard on the Delhi government. “What preventive steps did you take on air pollution in the Capital? Why didn’t your authorities sprinkle water on roads earlier? Why can’t you use helicopters to create artificial rain to control the dust pollution? Are they only meant to carry your officials?” Justice Kumar asked.The Bench also said that despite an “emergency” and continuous smog, Delhi government and authorities concerned from the neighbouring states were putting blame on each, instead of bothering about pollution’s impact on citizens.After slamming the Delhi government, the bench questioned the Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan governments for not clamping down on the burning of paddy straw, which has exacerbated the Capital’s pollution crisis. “What are you doing to control crop burning in your states? In Punjab, 70% of agricultural lands are burning. Don’t you owe some responsibility? You people don’t worry about people’s health. Children are not able to go out due to the smog. See, what have you done to Delhi,” the Bench said.Every year, after harvesting the Kharif crops, farmers across Punjab and Haryana set paddy straw on fire to clear agricultural fields for sowing of Rabi cropsThe tribunal also referred to the satellite images of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to point out that the straw burning was one of the major factors contributing to smog. Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and UP are to submit status reports on straw burning before NGT on Tuesday.

Delhi Pollution: Centre to convene emergency meeting of states today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Centre will convene an emergency meeting of Environment Ministers of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh on Monday to tackle the alarming level of pollution in Delhi.Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave will chair the meeting to chalk out an action plan to control the rising pollution levels.Talking to media in New Delhi yesterday, Dave said that no one should indulge in a political blame-game to fight pollution in the national capital. He appealed for a united response to tackle the problem. He said that the ISRO images show that the role of neighbouring states and their contribution is only 20% and blaming them would not work.Meanwhile, the Delhi Government has decided to close all schools for the next three days and shut down all constructions and demolitions for five days. Addressing media after holding a Cabinet meeting to discuss the issue yesterday afternoon, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that he won’t point fingers at anyone and stressed on the need to sit down and come out with a solution. He sought the Centre’s support, saying the Delhi Cabinet has discussed about artificial rain. He said, emergency measures are the need of the hour instead of politicising the Delhi’s pollution issue.The Delhi Government has announced several emergency measures to tackle the unprecedented level of pollution plaguing Delhi and the NCR. Water sprinkling on roads will begin tomorrow and vacuum cleaning measures to deal with dust pollution will start next week. Badarpur thermal power plant will be closed for ten days from Monday. Landfill sites fire will be extinguished and transportation of fly ash will be stopped for 10 days. City government is also planning to bring back Odd Even scheme soon and preparations are already on. Delhi residents have been advised to remain indoors and not venture outside unnecessarily.The MeT department has forecast little improvement in the current weather condition for the next three days. Cases of respiratory problems have risen in the city with people rushing to medical stored to buy air masks.

Gold ornaments, cash looted in separate incidents in Mathura

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eight people, including two teachers, were robbed of gold ornaments and cash worth lakhs of rupees in two separate incidents here, police said on Saturday.In Jajampatti village, bandits looted Rs 90,000, two gold chains and cell-phones at gunpoint from six pilgrims coming from Kota in Rajasthan, DSP (Goverdhan) Ajai Kumar said.The incident took place near the Gopalpur curve under Magorra police station on Saturday night, police said, adding a FIR was lodged by one Krishna Mohan Bansal.”The bandits, who were in a car, stopped the victims’ vehicle near the curve by overtaking it. They were on their way to attend a discourse on Bhagwatam in Vrindavan,” he said.In a separate incident, two motorcycle-borne men looted a gold chain and cell-phones from two women teachers this morning in Dabdaba village, police said.The incident took place near Anandvan Colony when the teachers were going to school on a scooty. The victims have lodged a case at the Highway police station, they said.No arrests have been made in any of the incidents, police added.

Rs 3,000 crore worth Mandrax drug seized, Mumbai-based bizman held

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In what is deemed to be one of the biggest seizures of Narcotic Drugs Psychotropic Substances (NDPS), the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has seized about 23.5 tonnes of Mandrax tablets (methaqualone) at Udaipur in Rajasthan. Mandrax is a banned psychotropic substance under Schedule I of the NDPS ACT, 1985.The mastermind of the syndicate, a Mumbai-based businessman, has been arrested. A follow-up operation is under way to nab the others involved.DRI officers seized the tablets after raiding the premises of M/s Marudhar Drinks, Bhamasha Industial Area, Kaladwas, Udaipur, on a tip-off on October 28. They detected a hidden room filled with cartons of Mandrax tablets and seized about 2 crore of them, worth over Rs 3,000 crore. The DRI claimed that it is one of the largest seizures of methaqualone not just in India, but in the entire world.The major raw material for Mandrax is acetic anhydride, which was manufactured by the syndicate at Shreenath Industries, Rajsamand. The other raw materials for methaqualone are anthranillic acid, which was imported from Indonesia through the Kandla Port by misdeclaring it as mallic anhydride, ortho toloudiene, phosporous trichloride and locally procured caustic soda.Methaqualone is a depressant and its overdose can lead to coma and death. It is used as a recreational drug in Africa and Asia. It is commonly known as Mandrax, M-pills, buttons, or smarties, and is usually smoked with cannabis.In the past, the DRI has neutralised 10 factories across several states manufacturing various types of synthetic drugs like mephedrone, ketamine, alprazolam and precursor chemicals like ephedrine. In the last five years, the DRI has seized more than 540 kg of heroin, and 7.4 tonnes of ephedrine, along with other narcotics and psychotropic substances. The DRI has been in active liaison with international agencies to combat the menace of drug abuse.The DRI was assisted by the Border Security Force (BSF) during the Udaipur raid.

DRI seizes banned drug worth over Rs 3000 crore; Bollywood producer arrested

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In its biggest-ever drug seizure, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has seized a huge haul of banned narcotic substance worth over Rs 3,000 crore from a factory in Udaipur and also arrested Bollywood producer Subash Dudhani in this connection.On October 28, DRI officials raided the premises of Udaipur-based Marudhar Drinks and detected a room filled with cartons of banned Mandrax tablets. “The total number of tablets are estimated to be about 2 crore in numbers with a weight of about 23.5 metric tonnes. The international market value of seized tablets is estimated to be over Rs 3,000 crore,” CBEC chairperson Najib Shah said.This is the biggest ever drug seizure done by DRI, the investigative arm of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC). “We have arrested the mastermind and efforts are underway to nab others involved with the drug syndicate,” he said.Shah said that Subhas Dudhani, who has produced Bollywood films, also had businesses and properties in Mumbai.The information came to DRI Mumbai and then it was traced to Udaipur and with active assistance from Border Security Force (BSF), the mastermind was arrested.The drug is commonly known as Mandrax,M-Pills, buttons or smarties and is usually smoked mixed with cannabis. It is used as a recreational drug in Africa and Asia. “The consignment was manufactured in Rajasthan and consigned for Mozambique or South Africa,” he said.In last 5 years, the DRI has seized more than 540 kgs of heroin and 7,409 kgs of ephedrine along with other narcotics and psychotropic substances.In recent past, the DRI has also neutralised 10 other factories manufacturing synthetic drugs like Mephedrone, Ketamine, Alprazolam and Ephedrine, across several states.

Expelled Pakistan High Commission staffer claimed 16 others from the mission also in spy ring

New Delhi: The Pakistan High Commission employee, who was recently expelled by India for spying, had named 16 other “staffers” who were also allegedly involved in the espionage ring, police said on Tuesday.

During his joint interrogation by Delhi Police and intelligence agencies, expelled Pakistani High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar had claimed that 16 other employees of the diplomatic mission were in touch with spies for extracting sensitive information and documents pertaining to army and BSF deployment, said a senior police officer privy to the probe.

His claims are still being verified and, if found to be true, the police might write to the Ministry of External Affairs to take the matter forward, the officer said.

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Crime Branch teams are raiding various places in Rajasthan to apprehend the locals who were providing confidential documents and information to Akhtar, who allegedly headed the espionage racket.

Two teams of Crime Branch are currently in Rajasthan along with the other arrested accused — Maulana Ramzan, Subhash Jangir and Shoaib — to seek details of paramilitary personnel who might be involved in leaking information to them, sources said. Two persons have also been detained in Rajasthan and are currently being questioned, said the officer.

“It is suspected that some retired officers were in touch with the arrested spies,” he said.

Samajwadi Party’s Rajya Sabha MP Munavvar Saleem’s personal assistant Farhat Khan was also arrested last week in connection with the espionage racket. The Pakistan High Commission staffer was caught receiving secret documents here on 26 October.

Ramzan and Jangir, residents of Nagaur, Rajasthan, were held along with Akhtar. Another accused Shoaib was detained in Jodhpur and brought to Delhi by the police where he was arrested.

Espionage case: Expelled Pak spy claimed 16 colleagues also involved

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Pakistan High Commission employee, who was recently expelled by India for spying, had named 16 other “staffers” who were also allegedly involved in the espionage ring, police said on Tuesday. During his joint interrogation by Delhi Police and intelligence agencies, expelled Pakistani High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar had claimed that 16 other employees of the diplomatic mission were in touch with spies for extracting sensitive information and documents pertaining to army and BSF deployment, said a senior police officer privy to the probe. His claims are still being verified and, if found to be true, the police might write to the Ministry of External Affairs to take the matter forward, the officer said.Crime Branch teams are raiding various places in Rajasthan to apprehend the locals who were providing confidential documents and information to Akhtar, who allegedly headed the espionage racket.Two teams of Crime Branch are currently in Rajasthan along with the other arrested accused– Maulana Ramzan, Subhash Jangir and Shoaib– to seek details of paramilitary personnel who might be involved in leaking information to them, sources said. Two persons have also been detained in Rajasthan and are currently being questioned, said the officer.”It is suspected that some retired officers were in touch with the arrested spies,” he said. Samajwadi Party’s Rajya Sabha MP Munavvar Saleem’s personal assistant Farhat Khan was also arrested last week in connection with the espionage racket. The Pakistan High Commission staffer was caught receiving secret documents here on October 26.Ramzan and Jangir, residents of Nagaur, Rajasthan, were held along with Akhtar. Another accused Shoaib was detained in Jodhpur and brought to Delhi by the police where he was arrested.

Espionage case: Appointed PA after Parl checks; will support probe, says SP MP Munawwar Saleem

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After his Personal Assistant Farhat was arrested for being involved in an espionage racket, Samajwadi Party MP Munnawar Saleem on Saturday has said that he was not aware of his aide’s activities. “I had appointed the PA a year back after due parliamentary checks, I am ready to extend all support during probe,” Saleem said. He also said that the police had given clearance to Farhat when he was appointed as his PA. Farhat was detained last night by the Delhi Crime Branch officer in connection with the espionage racket in which a Pakistan High Commission staffer was expelled from the country and three persons were arrested. He is currently being interrogated by the officials.Delhi Police is also trying to nab other members of the racket who, it believes, were in close contact with Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar who was caught receiving secret documents here on October 26.Two others, Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir, residents of Nagaur, Rajasthan, were held along with Akhtar. Another accused Shoaib was detained in Jodhpur and brought to Delhi by the police where he was arrested.

Pak espionage racket: Phablet recovered from arrested spy Shoaib

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Espionage ring accused Shoaib was arrested after being brought from Jodhpur, with police claiming that he was in touch with the expelled Pakistan High Commission staffer for the last three-four years and had visited the neighbouring country six times.Investigators said they will try to recover data from a ‘phablet’ seized from his possession, which he had tried to damage when police in Jodhpur detained him last evening, and question him along with the two other alleged spies Subhash Jangir and Maulana Ramzan arrested in the case. It is alleged that Shoaib, who is a passport and visa agent, had been responsible for recruiting Subhash and Maulana in the module. “Shoaib visited Pakistan where his maternal grandparents live at least six times,” said Ravindra Yada, joint commissioner of police (Crime).He was in touch with the Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar for the last three-four years, he said. Yadav said that some documents and a phablet were recovered from Shoaib.”There were some classified documents recovered from him. A phablet was also found with him. He had tried to damage the phablet so that the data cannot be recovered but we will try to recover the information,” added Yadav. While Subhash and Maulana had told th police that Shoaib was also present at the Delhi Zoo when they were handing over the documents to Akhtar, Shoaib told the police that he was present at a hotel.”He had stayed in the hotel while the other two went to the zoo for handing over documents. When he saw that the mobile phones of the other two were switched off, he sensed something wrong,” said Yadav. The officer also said that Shoaib will be questioned along with Subhash and Maulana to clear the contradictions in their versions. Shoaib’s family has a clothes shop in Jodhpur. He was involved in his family business and was also working as a passport and visa agent. Shoaib was detained near Jodhpur last evening after Delhi police alerted the local police. While Akhtar was yesterday declared persona non grata, Subhash and Maulana have been arrested on charges of sharing of sensitive information and defence documents and deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border. They were sent to 12-day police custody. Shoaib had come in contact with Maulana around one-and- a-half years back and lured him into activities of collecting vital information about installations of army and paramilitary forces in Gujarat and Rajasthan, an officer said. “We had sent a request to Jodhpur Police about detaining Shoaib and last evening he was detained,” said the officer.

Espionage case: India gives 48 hours deadline for Pak spy to leave country

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India declared a Pakistan High Commission staffer ‘persona non-grata’ for spying and asked him to leave the country within 48 hours after he was caught by Delhi Police with sensitive defence documents, including those about deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border.”Today morning Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned the Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit and informed him that India had intercepted an official of the Pakistan High Commission in the pursuit of espionage and that he was being declared persona non-grata,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.”The Pakistan High Commission has been informed that Mehmood Akhtar and his family must return to Pakistan by October 29. The Foreign Secretary also strongly conveyed to the Pak High Commissioner that the Pak High Commission must ensure that none of its members indulge in activities inimical to India, or behave in a manner that is incompatible with their diplomatic status,” Swarup said.He also rejected Pakistani allegations of “mishandling” Akhtar, saying he was treated with “utmost courtesy”. “When he was handed over to the Pakistan High Commission in the presence of a ministry official, Akhtar himself said he was treated well,” he added.Swarup said Akhtar told the police that he had joined the Baloch Regiment of the Pakistan Army in 1997 and came on deputation to the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) in 2013 and posted in September 2013 to the Pakistan High Commission where he is presently working as Assistant to Farukh Habib, Counsellor (Trade).Vikas Swarup slams PakistanAsserting that terror has become the “central motive” in India’s interactions with Pakistan, Swarup said it was important that Pakistan takes action to honour various commitments it has made, including at the highest level, that it will dismantle the terror infrastructure and will not allow its soil to be used for such activities against any country, including India.”The terrorist attack in Uri and continuing attacks with repeated frequency in parts of Jammu and Kashmir are being carried out with the support of Pakistan. It is a matter of great concern that instead of taking action against the cancer, Pakistan takes shelter under denial and abjuration. LeT, JeM are active under various aegis and find support from state organs of Pakistan,” Swarup said.Reacting strongly to Pakistan’s denial of charges as “false and unsubstantiated” and that it was an attempt by India to divert attention from Kashmir issue, Swarup said there was no “rationale” behind the claim as Akhtar was caught “red-handed” committing an illegal act.”We are happy that we nipped the ISI spy ring in the bud,” he said, adding that “denial that has come out from Pakistan is something which has by now become quite characteristic (of that country).”On remarks of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan that India was trying to “implode” Pakistan, the Spokesperson said if today that country is feeling isolated, it is because of “misguided policies”.Mehmood Akhtar produced fake Aadhar cardGiving details of how Akhtar was caught, Swarup said following intelligence inputs for the last six months relating to espionage involving vital installations of army and paramilitary forces, Akhtar was intercepted by Delhi Police in the forenoon yesterday while he was receiving sensitive documents pertaining to national security from two persons.Although initially Akhtar masqueraded as an Indian national and even produced a fake Aadhar card, he later admitted that he worked at the Pakistan High Commission and requested that the mission be informed of the developments.Earlier, at a press conference, Delhi Police said acting on inputs, its crime branch took the staffer identified as Mehmood Akhtar into custody after he was found in possession of certain defence documents. Akhtar was released after questioning as he enjoys diplomatic immunity, police said.The crime branch has also arrested two persons, residents of Rajasthan, for allegedly passing on sensitive information to Akhtar, they said. “The alleged spies are residents of Rajasthan working for Pakistan’s ISI. They were in touch with the staff here at Pakistan High Commission and were providing sensitive information,” said a senior police officer.Those arrested have been identified as Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir, he said.

Laser wall across LoC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Drawing a virtual border inside Pakistan, motion sensors and a technology upgrade for laser walls that will detect any break-ins are part of the high-tech plan to strengthen the India-Pakistan international border against infiltration.In a breakthrough for border defence systems in the country, the Border Security Force (BSF) upgraded the laser wall technology being used along the border in late September- early October, it is learnt. Using infra red rays and laser beams, the laser walls cannot just detect when there is a breach but can also tell differentiate between man and beast.BSF officers stand next to a laser transmitter at the western frontierEarlier this year, the BSF had confirmed the installation of CRON laser walls at certain areas along the border, after a wait of two years, post the decision. These virtual walls will keep a vigil on intrusion attempts from across the western border.”The surgical strike made the situation at the borders more tense and we were requested to upgrade all existing systems with the newer KVI-101S (technology) since the BSF believes that this time around the intrusion attempts will increase,” said Tushar Chhabra, founder of CRON Systems. “The plan is to cover the entire frontier with the new laser walls by February-March next year,” he told DNA.Laser wall shown during a demonstrationThough minor upgrades of the intrusion detection systems were done over the months, it was following the surgical strike that a new series of virtual laser walls were installed on eight kilometres of the border.”The KVI-101S system requires very little human intervention, has smarter detection capabilities and the encryptions are hack-proof. The previous technology was not capable of managing in marshy lands, which is the condition in most frontier areas. With the new KVI series, that problem has been resolved,” Chhabra said.The other side of the western border as seen from the wires.The new technology, he explained, uses next generation IR optics to provide all weather and harsh terrain early detection capabilities.According to former BSF inspector general Rakesh Sharma, who first adopted the technology,“Human error can never be neglected and therefore BSF needs the latest technology to guard our borders because the counterpart will never stop attempting (to intrude). I am proud to know that these systems are being made in India.”What’s nextWhile the laser walls are already up, India is also planning to look beyond the actual international border (IB) by drawing virtual borders inside Pakistan. Hoping to “completely seal” the international border with Pakistan in the next two years, home ministry officials explained that GPS coordinates of longitude and latitude fixed at least 200 metres to one kilometre inside Pakistan side would be used as a virtual border. This would be continuously monitored by a sequence of high definition and thermal imaging cameras fitted on balloons and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).”We are planning to use this kind of latest high end technology in areas that are inaccessible due to the very difficult terrain. The idea is to check the infiltration attempts before the terrorists reach the actual border; for this, the key is having enough response time in hand,” an official told DNA.The plan to plug the unguarded 181.85 kilometre part of the border also includes other high end technologies like ground penetrating radars, motion sensors, thermal imagers, smart fences, speedboats, hovercrafts and drones. Though it looks easy on paper, officials admitted that it would be extremely tough to complete the task by December 2018 as these patches run through the marshlands of the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, the sands of Rajasthan and the riverine region in Punjab and Jammu where rivers and nullahs crisscross the international border in many places.”We need different technology and different barrier strategy for each terrain because of their dissimilar natures,” said the official.In the marshy area of Kutch, where movement is difficult, balloons and UAVs with high definition mounted cameras and hovercrafts on ground may be used. In the riverine patches, a favourite infiltration route that official believe was used for the Dinanagar and Pathankot attacks, a variety of surveillance equipment like motion sensors, infrared and thermal imagers, UAVs and high speedboats as well as choppers for quick response are likely to be deployed.In Rajasthan. where shifting sand dunes make the three-four metre high fences redundant, the ministry plans to increase the height of the fences to 10-12 metres high as well as deploy motion sensors and ground penetrating radars to check tunnels.While bringing in technology is not a problem, the biggest challenge before the ministry is to train BSF personnel. “For this we need jawans with both brain and brawn who have the mindset to adapt to the new technology. The next two years will also be dedicated to train and induct a large number of BSF personnel who can effectively put the new technology to use,” said the official.While the border between India and Pakistan runs for about 3,000 kilometres, the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir between the two countries is about 800 kilometres. Of the 182 odd kilometres of unguarded border, about 30 are in Rajasthan where the sand dunes keep shifting, 55 in the marshlands of Rann of Kutch in Gujarat and 100 in riverine areas of Punjab and JammuA further upgradation of the laser wall with a system called miCRON, which will enable encrypted communication for five-layer fencing, complete automation of border holding, is being designed and manufactured in India. The pilot will be seen in February-March in Jammu. This will make the Jammu border one of the most Intrusion proof borders in the world.CRON also confirms in its website that it is working working on automated drones and smart fencing. This will add an additional layer of defence to India’s borders and critical facilities.

BSF catches Pakistan trained falcon from Anupgadh near International Border

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A trained falcon from Pakistan has been caught by the Border Security Force (BSF) in Anupgadh near the International Border in Rajasthan’s Bikaner District.However, no transmitter or antenna has been found on it. As per the BSF sources, the trained falcon probably belongs to Saudi sheikhs who hunt Houbara bustards in Pakistan. It has been handed over to the Forest Department of Anupgadh. A tag has been found on the falcon’s body.The Houbara bustard is an endangered migratory bird, whose meat is prized by elite Arab sheikhs for its aphrodisiac value. It is listed in the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals, also known as the Bonn Convention, and is declared as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).Each year, several thousand Houbara bustards traverse a 2,000-km migratory route from Central Asia to the southern deserts of Pakistan and Iran, and return with the onset of summer.

SC asks Rajasthan govt to respond to Asaram Bapu’s bail pleas

SC asks Rajasthan govt to respond to Asaram Bapu’s bail pleas

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Rajasthan government to respond to the bail pleas of self-styled religious figure Asaram Bapu who is facing trial in rape cases.

File image of Asaram Bapu. AFP

File image of Asaram Bapu. AFP

A bench of Justices AK Sikri and NV Ramana issued notice to the state government and sought its reply on two separate interim and regular bail pleas of Asaram. Senior advocate and noted jurist Soli Sorabjee appearing for Asaram said he has been in jail for three years and needed to be granted bail.

The bench said it will take up the plea for interim bail on 24 October and for regular bail at a later stage. On 3 October, a medical board of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) had told the apex Court that the health condition of Asaram was stable.

Asaram had refused to undergo several tests, the seven-member board had also said in its report filed before the bench of Justices AK Sikri and NV Ramana. On 11 August, the apex court had denied interim bail to Asaram in a rape case and directed AIIMS to set up a medical board to ascertain his health condition before taking up his regular bail plea.

Asaram was arrested by Jodhpur Police on 31 August, 2013 and has been in jail since then. On 9 August, the High Court had rejected his bail application in the rape case. A teenage girl had accused him of sexual assault at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur. The girl, who belonged to Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, was a student living in the ashram.

Markandey Katju dumped but BCCI still defiant

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The officials of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) convened for yet another special general meeting today in New Delhi. There was no major change in the cricket body’s stand as far as it’s opposition to some of the guidelines suggested by the Supreme Court appointed Justice Lodha Commission.Except three units — Tripura, Rajasthan and Vidarbha, who have accepted the Lodha panel recommendations — the other members of the board yet again formed line behind board president Anurag Thakur.However, the board decided to part ways with former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju, who was as their point man to deal with Lodha panel.A senior board member, not wishing to be recognised, said, “Justice Katju is no more involved with us. We are no longer looking at his advice. ‘Unko toh side pe hataya hai abhi’ (He has been moved aside). Our senior counsel (Kapil Sibal) will put forward practical difficulties on implementing the recommendations to the Court in the next hearing on Monday,” the official added.Talking about the outcome of the SGM, the board member told dna over phone, “Our lawyers are yet to complete arguments in the court. Let our counsel Sibal continue arguments on Monday then only we will decide future course of action.”It has been learnt that almost all the board units were united against the ‘One State One Vote, One person One post, age cap, cooling off period’ and decided to go down fighting if it comes to that stage.Only three full members — Tripura, Vidarbha and Rajasthan — have accepted the SC orders till date and it has now been learnt that Hyderabad Cricket Association has also given an affidavit in a lower court informing acceptance of the Lodha recommendations.Vidarbha Cricket Association did not attend Saturday’s SGM again after it had missed the last one in Mumbai on October 1.The suspended Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) deputy president Mehmood Abdi also turned up for the SGM but only met BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke.BCCI president Thakur, who has to file his personal affidavit in the Court on Monday, was also discussed during the SGM.Apex court had in the last hearing directed Thakur to file an affidavit and clarify whether he had asked the ICC to write that Lodha panel suggestions amounted to government interference and could also lead to suspension from the world body.This came after dna reported in Sept. 10 report that ICC chief Shashank Manohar and CEO Dave Richardson were present during the time of this discussion along with few other heads of international cricket bodies.The three-member bench of SC has warned BCCI to fall in line or face consequences after Sibal apparently stormed out of the last hearing. All eyes are now on the Supreme Court.

Rajasthan: 61-year-old man playing ‘Hanuman’ in Ramleela, slips from rope, dies during act

Rajasthan: 61-year-old man playing ‘Hanuman’ in Ramleela, slips from rope, dies during act

Updated: Oct 12, 2016 11:08 IST

#Bikaner #Hanuman #NewsTracker #Rajasthan #Ramleela

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Bikaner: A 61-year-old man playing Hanumana in a ‘Ramleela’ died while climbing down a rope during the act at Lunkaransar, police said on Tuesday.

Dhanna Ram fell on the stage from a height of 10 feet and died on the spot last night, they said.

He was enacting the part from the Ramayana where Hanumana brings ‘Sanjeevani Booti’.

Ram was a known local artiste and had been playing Hanumana’s role for the last 40 years, police said.

Bikaner MP Arjun Ram Meghwal has expressed his condolences to his family.

Congress leader Ashok Gehlot too expressed his condolences.

Won’t count bullets if attacked, will retaliate: Home Minister Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India never attacks anyone but will retaliate and “not count the bullets” if attacked, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said after assessing security on border with Pakistan in the wake of surgical strikes. Singh, who visited BSF’s Munabao Border Outpost, assured the security personnel that the government will do everything to improve the border infrastructure, including completing the floodlighting and a parallel road along the fencing, and their service conditions.”Our heritage is ‘Vasudev Kutumbakam’ meaning the whole world is one family. We do not intend to occupy others land. We never open fire first, but if attacked, in retaliation we never count the bullets after pulling the trigger,” he said addressing the BSF personnel on the second day of his Rajasthan visit.Singh also lauded the BSF personnel who guard the borders effectively despite adverse temperature and difficult desert terrain guard. He also said that damaged border fence at some places will be urgently repaired and will be inspected periodically.Floodlighting and a parallel road along the border fencing will also be completed to facilitate effective border patrolling, according to an official release. Noting that some of the border outposts do not have proper telephone facility, the minister said that mobile connectivity will be improved with the sanction of more mobile towers close to the border and in the meantime more satellite phones will also be provided at the BOPs.The Home Ministry will also address the shortage of bullet proof jackets and also consider procuring lighter ones. He also expressed concern over shortage of drinking water facility at some of the outposts and mentioned that a survey would be conducted on the feasibility of providing piped water supply to all the BOPs.On camp security, Singh said that the BSF proposal for constructing safety walls and ring bunds on the periphery of the Battalion headquarters and border outposts will be examined.”The issue of camouflage uniform being uncomfortable in the hot temperature flagged by the BSF personnel will also be addressed,” the release quoting Singh as saying.Singh said the Director General, BSF and Secretary (Border Management) accompanying him have taken note of all issues of concern raised by the BSF troopers at the BOPs. The Minister had visited Murar and adjoining border outposts in Jaisalmer district and interacted with the BSF jawans on Friday.

Will seal Indo-Pak border by December 2018: Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid rising tensions in the Indo-Pak ties, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said that the Home Ministry had decided to seal the India-Pakistan border by December 2018. Speaking to the media after reviewing the security situation with the home ministers and senior officials of the four bordering states, Singh said, “We will start a new concept called Border Security Grid, and the inputs from all the border states will be taken.”Singh also said that the nation’s security will never be compromised. “Tension between India and Pakistan has increased; countrymen should trust security forces and stand by them,” he said.Singh chaired the security meeting attended by Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal, Gujarat’s Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja, and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary Brij Raj Sharma.Senior BSF officials were present at the meeting which reviewed the security arrangements on the border in the wake of rising tensions between the two countries after a surgical strike by the Indian army on terror camps across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.The Union Home Minister will also tour border areas of Rajasthan and visit outposts to assess the situation along the Indo-Pak border.(With agency inputs)

Rajnath Singh chairs security review meeting in Jaisalmer with states bordering Pakistan

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday reached Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, where he is currently chairing a security review meeting amid repeated incidents of skirmishes along the Indo-Pak international border, according to ANI.

The home minister, on a two-day visit to Rajasthan, was welcomed by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia at the airport. Rajnath is heading a security review meeting in Jaisalmer with chief ministers of four states whose boundaries touch Pakistan and top BSF officials.

File image of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTIFile image of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

File image of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

During the two-day visit, Singh will also hold meetings with top BSF officials and chair a meeting with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, officials said.

The four chief  ministers will deliberate on ways to completely seal the Indo-Pak border.

“It is a meeting of the Union Home Minister with the Home Ministers of the four states. Since the Chief Ministers and the Deputy Chief Minister (of Punjab) are holding the Home portfolio, they are participating in the meeting,” a Home Ministry official said.

According to Times Now, decission might be taken to fence and seal-off the border where no physical barriers exist. In places where putting up physical barriers is not possible due to geographical limitations, decission may be taken to deploy technological solutions such as including deployment of cameras, sensors, radars, lasers, etc,  according to The Indian Express.

During the two-day trip, the Home Minister will tour border areas of Rajasthan and will visit Munabao, Border outpost in Barmer and interact with BSF personnel.

Singh will also visit Murar, BoP in Jaisalmer and asses the situation along the Indo-Pak border. The meeting is being called to bring a synergy among the state police forces and Border Security Force, which guards the Indo-Pak border. Issues concerning the states are also expected to be discussed in the two-day deliberations, the officials said.

There have been many incidents of infiltration of terrorists through the border in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir and trans-border smuggling of goods, narcotics and fake Indian currency notes in Rajasthan and Gujarat, they said.

Of the 3,323-km-long Indo-Pak border, 1,225 km falls in Jammu and Kashmir (including Line of Control), 553 km in Punjab, 1,037 km in Rajasthan and 508 km in Gujarat.

After the security review meet in Jaisalmer, Rajnath will hold a meeting with BSF officials in Barmer on 8 October, according to the Barmer Collector Sudhir Sharma. Elaborate arrangements are being made for the visit, he said.

With inputs from PTI

Rajnath Singh to meet CMs of border states

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the tension between India and Pakistan continued to escalate on Tuesday – with the latter opening a new front in Naushera sector in Kashmir, firing indiscriminately on Indian forward posts using small and heavy weapons – Home Minister Rajnath Singh has called a meeting of chief ministers of states that share boundary with Pakistan on October 6-7.The meeting, expected to be attended by chief ministers of Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir at a forward location in Jaisalmer sector of Rajasthan, is meant to serve as a warning to Islamabad that New Delhi is not taking the current escalation lightly and is fully prepared to handle any situation, be it an act of aggression, sources said.The border inspection will also be attended by director general of the BSF, KK Pathak and union home secretary, Rajiv Mehrishi among other top officials of the agencies.Equipped with the report of the committee formed under former home secretary Madhukar Gupta, the team will also visit border outposts guarded by the BSF at forward locations to have a first-hand view and understanding of how security can be strengthened at the International Border by equipping the BSF to stop Pakistan-backed infiltration and smuggling of counterfeit currency notes and drugs.”The Home Minister may visit forward locations in Punjab and Jammu sectors soon, especially the riverine area from where the perpetrators of Dinanagar and Pathankot attack supposed to have entered into India,” said sources.The Centre has already advised states to get the villages vacated in Punjab and Jammu that lie close to the border and bear the brunt of heavy artillery and mortar shelling whenever tension escalate between the two countries.Union home ministry is keen to implement the comprehensive integrated border management solutions (CIBMS) as recommended by the Madhukar Gupta committee to make the border secure and impregnable from any kind of infiltration bids by Pakistan.In a recent meeting, Rajnath had reviewed the upgradation of existing border outposts to composite BOPs, construction of advance fibre-reinforced polymer posts (FRPs) on high altitude, forward defended localities on LoC in J&K and the acquisition of land for newly-sanctioned battalions.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle seen close to Indo-Pak border; tension prevailing: BSF

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BSF on Tuesday said ‘tension’ prevails along the western front in the wake of surgical strikes conducted by Indian forces and it has witnessed movement of UAVs very close to the Indo-Pak border in the recent past.As part of measures to beef up overall security, the border guarding force has also reviewed the preparedness of security mechanisms along the eastern front with Bangladesh so that terrorists are not able to use that country to sneak into India and launch attacks.”No doubt, the overall vigil has been increased (along western borders). All the defence and security forces establishments are on their highest alert. There is tension on the western border..we are having active engagement (with Pakistan) at the Line of Control and we are receiving shelling from the other side. However, we are in supportive role at the LoC (to army),” BSF Director General K K Sharma told reporters here.He said the BSF and their Bangladeshi counterparts Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), as part of the bi-annual talks that concluded here today, also did “touch upon” the security situation post the surgical strikes conducted by army across the LoC and that both the forces are on “high vigil.” “There is no new input (about Bangladeshi territory being used by terrorists)…however, vigil has been increased along the Indo-Bangla border too,” he said.Sharma added that while there is “tension” at the International Border (IB) that runs along Jammu, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat, there has been no ceasefire violation till now in these areas.”We have noticed UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) coming 100 meters upto the border…may be they (Pakistani forces) want to check our preparedness but I can assure you that we are fully capable of giving a befitting reply and we will not allow any nefarious design of terrorists to succeed,” he said.The BSF chief added the force has not issued any order for vacating villages on the border and such directives may have been issued by the respective civil administrations of the states.”We are even allowing Indian farmers to go to their farms which are beyond the Indo-Pak fence. We have never said vacate villages, people may have shifted out as precautionary measure. Now, people who had gone are coming back. There has been no untoward incident at the IB till now,” he said.Talking about a recent incident at the Attari-Wagah retreat ceremony, Sharma said an incident was reported where a “stone” was thrown towards the Indian side but it did not hit anyone and the matter was brought to the notice of their counterparts Pakistan Rangers.

Tension prevails along Indo-Pak border in wake of surgical strikes: BSF

New Delhi: On Tuesday, the BSF said that “tension” prevails along the western front in the wake of surgical strikes conducted by Indian forces and it has witnessed movement of UAVs very close to the Indo-Pak border in the recent past.

As part of measures to beef up overall security, the border guarding force has also reviewed the preparedness of security mechanisms along the eastern front with Bangladesh so that terrorists are not able to use that country to sneak into India and launch attacks.

“No doubt, the overall vigil has been increased (along western borders). All the defence and security forces establishments are on their highest alert. There is tension on the western border..we are having active engagement (with Pakistan) at the Line of Control and we are receiving shelling from the other side. However, we are in supportive role at the LoC (to army),” BSF Director General K K Sharma told reporters.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

He said the BSF and their Bangladeshi counterparts Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), as part of the bi-annual talks that concluded on Tuesday, also did “touch upon” the security situation post the surgical strikes conducted by army across the LoC and that both the forces are on “high vigil.”

“There is no new input (about Bangladeshi territory being used by terrorists)…however, vigil has been increased along the Indo-Bangla border too,” he said.

Sharma added that while there is “tension” at the International Border (IB) that runs along Jammu, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat, there has been no ceasefire violation till now in these areas.

“We have noticed UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) coming 100 meters upto the border…may be they (Pakistani forces) want to check our preparedness but I can assure you that we are fully capable of giving a befitting reply and we will not allow any nefarious design of terrorists to succeed,” he said.

The BSF chief added the force has not issued any order for vacating villages on the border and such directives may have been issued by the respective civil administrations of the states.

“We are even allowing Indian farmers to go to their farms which are beyond the Indo-Pak fence. We have never said vacate villages, people may have shifted out as precautionary measure. Now, people who had gone are coming back. There has been no untoward incident at the IB till now,” he said.

Talking about a recent incident at the Attari-Wagah retreat ceremony, Sharma said an incident was reported where a “stone” was thrown towards the Indian side but it did not hit anyone and the matter was brought to the notice of their counterparts Pakistan Rangers.

Rajasthan: Indian Air Force aircraft crashes near Indo-Pak border

Mon, 3 Oct 2016-06:26pm , Jaipur , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Jaguar aircraft of Indian Air Force crashed on Monday in Pokhran area of Rajasthan, but both the pilots ejected safely.The aircraft was on routine training sortie when the incident occurred in the area which is near the Indo-Pak border, defence spokesperson Lt Col Manish Ojha said. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered, he said.

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