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Rahul Gandhi must respect democracy, mandate of people: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has asked the Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to stop threatening Prime Minister Narendra Modi and show respect for democracy and the people’s mandate.”Rahul Gandhi is the most affected by the announcement made on 8th November, as the Congress and corruption have a strong association, and this association is breaking away due to demonetization,” said BJP leader Shrikant Sharma.”Rahul Gandhi is fighting for his existence as where there is cash, there is commission, and where there is commission, there is Congress. So, Rahul Gandhi’s quivering is relevant.” he added.Accusing Rahul Gandhi of double standards, Sharma said that he speaks on corruption, but is himself out on bail on a corruption charge and shares the stage with a chief minister who is also involved in corruption.”The Prime Minister has started a initiative against the black money to resolve the current problems of the country and people of this country are standing like stone besides him. Rahul Gandhi seems distraught and, therefore, is making these baseless statements,” he said.Sharma warned that if Rahul continues in this vein, the Congress presence in parliament could dip further from the current 44 seats it has.

Birdsong replaces boom of guns at Indo-Pak border

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

D-day for politicians? SC to hear plea seeking cancellation of exemption to political parties under IT Act

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court said it would next month hear a plea seeking quashing of a provision of the Income Tax (IT) Act on tax exemption to political parties on receiving voluntary contributions. A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and L Nageswara Rao said there was no urgency in hearing the plea as the law has been in force for over 50 years and added that it would take it up on January 11. “You are challenging a provision of the IT Act which is there since 1960s. What is the urgency? Let the matter come up before the court after vacations. This Act is going on for over 50 years,” the bench told petitioner advocate M L Sharma.Sharma urged the court to hear the matter today itself and claimed that on December 16, the government had declared that no investigation will be carried out against political parties’ accounts on deposit of old demonetised notes as per the tax exemption given under section 13A of the IT Act.He said old currency notes were being deposited in the accounts of political parties and “the problem is that they would withdraw the money”.The bench then said “what is going to happen in the next one week? Let the matter come up for hearing on January 11”.In his plea, the petitioner has claimed that political parties registered with Election Commission of India are 100 per cent exempt from paying income tax under section 13A of the IT Act, 1961, so long as they file their tax returns every assessment year along with their audited accounts, income or expenditure details and balance sheet.He has sought a direction to the CBI to register a case and investigate fundings and deposits in the accounts of political parties in demonetised currency notes.Besides, the petitioner has also sought quashing of a provision of the Representation of the People Act 1951 which relates to “special provisions in the case of certain elections”.

BJP hits back at Rahul Gandhi for ‘pro-rich’ jibe, says UPA gave loans worth Rs 36.5 lakh crore

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hitting back after Rahul Gandhi’s “pro-rich” jibe against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP alleged on Thursday that the UPA government had showered business houses with concessions and loans worth over Rs 36.5 lakh crore which the government is working to recover now. It also rejected the Congress vice president’s corruption charge against Modi, claiming even the Supreme Court had not taken note of the allegations, earlier levelled by his “political guru” Arvind Kejriwal.At a press conference soon after Gandhi’s rally in Uttar Pradesh, BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma said these allegations against Modi date back to 2013 when Gandhi was “super prime minister” and the then UPA government could find nothing despite agencies like CBI, ED and I-T working under it.Seeking to turn the tables on Gandhi over his constant efforts to paint Modi as a “pro-corporate and pro-rich”, he cited RBI figures released soon after BJP came to power in 2014 to claim that debts of Gautam Adani, Anil Ambani, Shashi and Ravi Ruia, and Sunil Mittal were Rs 72,632 crore, Rs 1.13 lakh cr, Rs 98,412 cr and Rs 57,744 cr respectively. “Rahul Gandhi has been accusing us of being pro-corporate. He should tell people why and on whose behest the UPA government let these industrialists run so much of debt…. It showered business houses with concessions and loans running into Rs 36.5 lakh crore. All these debts Modi is trying to recover,” Sharma said.He also alleged that the UPA government ensured that liquor baron Vijay Mallya was given a loan of Rs 1,500 crore despite having defaulted on bank payments.

ED raids Axis Bank’s Ahmedabad branch, detects Rs 89 cr worth illegal transactions

There seems to be no end in sight to the woes of private sector Axis Bank. According to a report in India Today, the bank’s Ahmedabad branch has now been raided and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has put transactions worth Rs 89 crore under scanner.

The raid was conducted at Mayamnagar branch of the bank and the ED scrutinised 19 accounts, the report said.

Axis Bank logo. ReutersAxis Bank logo. Reuters

Axis Bank logo. Reuters

According to I-T officials quoted in the report, these accounts, which allegedly have lax KYC compliance, saw Rs 89 crore worth of investment after the demonetisation announcement, and the amount was later transferred to beneficiary accounts. Four bank officials are also under the scanner, said the report.

The bank had been in the news in the last few days after authorities found certain branches had opened fake accounts to help tax cheats to launder their ill-gotten wealth.

The ED has already registered a money laundering case in the alleged forging of a customer’s identity to conduct huge illegal transactions in the branch of Noida for conversion of black money into white post demonetisation.

The individual, identified as N Paswan, in his complaint filed with the police has claimed that his identity has been forged and a current and a savings account was opened in his name in the said branch which was allegedly used to launder crores of rupees post demonetisation.

The bank branch, in sector 51 of Noida, is also under scanner of the income tax department owing to alleged dubious transactions using shell companies.

In the Noida case, the ED probe involves a laundering of Rs 60 crore. The officials of the agency had told PTI that they are probing more than two dozen accounts in the bank there which could have been used to perpetrate the crime of money laundering.

The bank, according to a PTI report, had suspended 24 employees and 50 accounts after the I-T raids unearthed such illegal activities.

“We are embarrassed that this has happened, but these are isolated incidents given that we have more than 3,000 branches and 50,000 employees.We have had many of our customers writing to us that the bank has done a great job and, therefore, it is disappointing that a handful of people have let us down,” MD and CEO Shikha Sharma had told The Economic Times in an earlier interview.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 14:02 IST

Sahitya Akademi winners announced, Jerry Pinto among 24 writers named

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jerry Pinto, Nasira Sharma and Vannadhasan are among 24 writers named for the prestigious Sahitya Akademi awards this year. Eight books of poetry, seven of short stories, five novels, two books of criticism, one book each of essays and play have won the award this year, according to Srinivas Rao, Secretary, Sahitya Akademi.The awards will be presented during a ceremony on February 22 next year. Rao said Sharma’s name has been selected for her Hindi novel “Paarijat”, while Pinto is in the list of winners for his English novel “Em and the Big Hoom”, Gita Upadhyay for her novel “Janmabhumi Mero Swadesh” in Nepali, Kannada novelist Boluwaru Mohammad Kunhi for “Swatantryada Ota” and Edwin JF D’souza for Konkani novel “Kale Bhangar”.The poets who feature in the list of winners are Jnan Pujari (Assamese), Anju (Bodo), Kamal Vora (Gujarati), Prabha Varma (Malayalam), Sitanath Acharya (Sanskrit), Gobinda Chandra Majhi (Santali), Nand Javeri (Sindhi) and Papini Svasankar (Telugu).Seven writers awarded for their short stories are Chhatrapal in Dongri language, Shyam Darihare (Maithili), Moirangthem Rajen (Manipuri), Asaram Lomate (Marathi), Paramamita Satpathy (Odia), Bulaki Sharma (Rajasthani) and Vannadhasan (Tamil).Aziz Hajini (Kashmiri) and Nizam Siddiqui (Urdu) have been recognised for their books criticism; Nrisinghaprasad Bhaduri (Bengali) for his essays and Swarajbir (Punjabi) for his play are also among the winners.The awards were given for books published during January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2014. The prize will include a casket containing an engraved copper-plaque, a shawl and a cheque of Rs 1 lakh.

Demonetisation: People, bankers in spot after RBI’s flip-flop adds to confusion

New Delhi: It is being called Reverse Bank of India, Rozana Bungling of India or even Rollback Bank of India and customers as well as bankers were in a spot on Wednesday after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) partially withdrew its earlier order that restricted deposits of over Rs 5,000 in spiked currency notes.

The partial rollback came after massive public anger over the central bank’s December 19 order allowing the deposit of over Rs 5,000 in now spiked Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in bank accounts only once.

This too was possible only after a “satisfactory” explanation to at least two bank officials on why this was not done earlier since 8 November when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation ostensibly to curb corruption and black money in India.



But on Wednesday, the central bank made an exception for (Know Your Customer) KYC-compliant customers — meaning those who aren’t compliant with KYC norms will still be grilled.

The RBI order created an uproar because the government had earlier asked people to go easy because money in old denominations could be deposited till December 30 and there was no need to stand in long queues outside banks.

Bank employees and customers IANS spoke to said it has been a sea of confusion for them with the government’s and RBI’s ad hocism that has shaken the country’s faith in its banking system.

“I really don’t believe an institution like RBI, which is the trustee of our money, can do this,” Naresh Kumar Aggarwal, a chemist in south Delhi, told IANS.

Aggarwal had come to a State Bank of India (SBI) branch to deposit money in old currency notes. He said he was allowed to deposit but was still “interrogated by bank officials”.

“It is not about if I was able to satisfy them with my explanation. Of course, I did that. But why question me about my own money,” the chemist wondered.

An HDFC Bank employee in south Delhi, who didn’t wish to be named, said his office has dedicated one person for keeping check on RBI’s website to see if any order has been withdrawn or changed.

“I am not joking. There is so much confusion regarding what to do and what not do. We are under stress,” he said.

“Till Wednesday afternoon, we were doing what we were asked to do on Monday. People who came to deposit more than Rs 5,000 knew it was revoked and we were still waiting for a formal order. Arguments with angry customers was but natural,” Kumar said.

For many, anger gave way to sarcasm.

Vikas Sharma, a junior lawyer in Delhi High Court, said the central bank “needs an immediate name change”.

“Something that fits what it has been doing in the past six weeks. Call it the Reverse Bank of India. Afterall, it has been reversing its own decisions,” Sharma said standing in a queue outside an ATM outlet in Noida near Delhi.

Another man from the queue shouted: “Why not the Rollback Bank of India or even Rozana (daily) Bungling of India?”

Social media was also awash with criticism .

“Within two short months, the RBI has lost credibility and legitimacy built carefully over decades. Will take a long time to restore,” tweeted Sidharth Bhatia, a journalist.

Comedian Zakir Khan wrote about “59 new rules” in 43 days since demonetisation. “Bhai tum RBI ho ya boys’ hostel ke warden? (Are you the RBI or the warden of a boys hostel)”

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 18:57 IST

Rs 5K a month won’t give luxury in cities like Delhi: Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A court in Delhi has refused to set aside an order directing a man to pay Rs 5,000 monthly interim maintenance to his estranged wife in a domestic violence case, saying the amount will not give her a luxurious life in view of the standard of living in metropolitan cities like Delhi.”Keeping in view the standard of living in metropolitan cities like Delhi, I am of the considered view that with an amount of Rs 5,000 per month, the respondent (wife) would only be able to meet her basic and minimum needs and she cannot be considered to be leading a luxurious life with such an amount, as awarded by the Metropolitan Magistrate (MM).”Hence, I do not find any illegality or infirmity in the impugned order as passed by the MM,” Additional Sessions Judge Lokesh Kumar Sharma said, while dismissing the man’s appeal.The judge also rejected his contention that he was unemployed for over a year, saying, “I do not find any merit in the submission as it is the settled proposition of law that every able bodied person is considered to be fit to maintain his wife and children.”A magisterial court had on January 16, 2015 granted a monthly interim maintenance of Rs 5,000 in favour of the woman, who had lodged a domestic violence complaint against her estranged husband.The man, in his appeal, had alleged that the woman had filed a false case in order to extort money from him and that she herself was earning nearly Rs 20,000 per month.The court dismissed the man’s plea but directed that if the woman ultimately fails to qualify on merits during trial, “then, without prejudice to further rights and contentions of the parties, she shall be liable to refund the entire amount so received by her from the man towards interim maintenance.”

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

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

1995 Tandoor murder case: Convict seeks parole, Delhi HC seeks response from govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi High Court sought the response of Delhi government on Tuesday, on a plea filed by former youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma, who is undergoing life term in the 1995 sensational Tandoor murder case, seeking parole for a period of six months to take care of his ailing parents.Justice Vipin Sanghi issued notice to the government and directed it to respond by January 25 on Sharma’s plea in which he has also challenged the November 28 order of Delhi government rejecting his application for regular parole. In his application, Sharma has claimed that his plea for regular parole was rejected by the government on “false and fictitious” ground and the authorities did not appreciate the fact that he was eligible for grant of parole.”Respondent (state) has failed to appreciate that the petitioner (Sharma) has already undergone more than 20 years in custody and six months have already elapsed from the date of termination of the previous parole,” the application, filed through advocate Amit Sahni, said.Sharma has said that his parole application should have been allowed by the authorities “considering the health and age of his parents” as he is the only son to look after them and has never misused the concession of parole or furlough granted to him earlier.Sharma had shot his wife Naina Sahni with his licensed revolver on the night of July 2, 1995, taken her body to a restaurant, chopped it into pieces and tried to burn them in the restaurant’s oven, leading the case to be popularly called the ‘Tandoor murder case’. The Supreme Court had commuted to life imprisonment the death penalty awarded to Sharma by a trial court in 2003 and upheld by the High Court in 2007, saying the murder was the outcome of “strained personal relationship” and the convict was “not a confirmed criminal”.While reducing the sentence awarded to him, the apex court had said that “life sentence is for the whole of remaining life of Sharma subject to remission granted by the appropriate government under the Code of Criminal Procedure.”

Leopard trapped in wire fence at LoC rescued

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A six-year old leopard was trapped in a multi-layer razor wire fence on Line of Control (LoC), while trying to cross over. The Army sprung in to action and sent an SOS to the wild life authorities to save the animal in distress.The male leopard had injured his leg when it tried to cross the LoC fence in the Poonch sector a few days ago. The fence is an effective anti-infiltration obstacle system established by the Army to prevent the ingress of militants into Indian side from the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). It was not immediately known whether the leopard was trying to infiltrate or exfilitrate into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir”We got a call from the Army that leopard has been trapped in the fence. We immediately rushed a rescue team to the area. They found leopard trapped in the fence. Its leg had got stuck in between the wires and the animal was trying hard to pull it out. In that process the animal suffered injuries,” Nain Chand Sharma, Wild Life Warden, Rajouri-Poonch range, told DNA.Wild life rescuers pulled out the animal from the fence in a meticulously planned operation. A veterinarian was immediately summoned who administered first aid to the animal before it was shifted to the Jammu zoo for specialised treatment.”Our veterinary doctor at zoo examined the animal and administered injection. After check up, he declared animal fit for releasing in the wild. We later took animal back and released it in its natural habitat near Mughal Road,” said Sharma.What added an interesting feature to the whole saga was that the concern shown by the Army troops who dutifully informed the wild life authorities to rescue the animal in distress.”They did not fire at the animal. Had they fired the animal would have died. In the morning troops when troops saw the animal trapped in the fence they immediately called us up,” said Sharma.Wildlife authorities said the population of leopards have increased manifold in the upper reaches of Poonch where the LoC is located. However the authorities have not been able to conduct any census since the area is highly sensitive.”It happens in this area quite often that wild animals like leopards try to cross the fence. It is not an untold story. It is a forested area. There is no fence at the zero line. At some places fence is half a kilometer ahead of the zero line in our area,” said Mohommad Harun Malik, deputy commissioner of Poonch.

DNA Evening Must Reads: Furore over army chief’s appointment; Imtiaz Ali on his film with SRK-Anushka; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Furore over army chief’s appointment: Congress demands answers, govt says permission of 10, Janpath not requiredWith the Centre announcing the name of Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as the new Chief of the Army Staff superseding two seniors for the coveted post, the Congress on Sunday demanded an answer from the government over the decision, while asserting that the Army is a public institution and the nation deserves an answer. Read more hereElection Commission seeks ban on anonymous contributions to parties above Rs 2000Seeking to stem the flow of blackmoney in polls, the Election Commission has urged the government to amend laws to ban anonymous contributions of Rs 2000 and above made to political parties. Read more hereIND vs ENG: Heartbreak for KL Rahul, but opener leads strong Indian reply on Day 4Talented opener KL Rahul displayed superb temperament but missed out on a well-deserved double century by a solitary run even though India were in a commanding position at 391 for 4 on the third day of the fifth cricket Test against England in Chennai. Read more hereEmbarrassed, upset over handful of employees: Axis Bank’s Shikha Sharma”Embarrassed and upset” over the conduct of a handful of employees bringing the organisation into disrepute, Axis Bank MD and CEO Shikha Sharma said the bank has hired KPMG to conduct a forensic audit for enhanced due diligence and building more safeguards. Read more hereImtiaz Ali FINALLY breaks silence on his film with Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma!SRK and I want to do something different in ‘The Ring’, Imtiaz said. Read more here

Four years after horrific December 16 gangrape, Nirbhaya’s mother still awaits justice

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Extremely upset with the fact that justice has not been meted out to her daughter despite four years after the horrific December 16 gang-rape incident, Nirbhaya’s mother on Friday said that no action has yet been taken against the accused despite the matter being heard in the Supreme Court and added that the situation remains the same as nobody is scared of the law.”It has been four years today, but till now justice has not been served to her (Nirbhaya). We have been trying a lot from the past four years to ensure that she gets justice, yet the accused have not been punished. The case is pending in the Supreme Court, but still we don’t know when she will get justice,” said Nirbhaya’s mother Asha Devi.”Even today the same thing is happening, small children are being assaulted which indicate that the law of the country is not working properly as it should. Nobody is scared of the law,” she said.
ALSO READ Nirbhaya rape convict Vinay Sharma attempts suicide in Tihar Jail, admitted to hospitalNirbhaya was brutally gang-raped on the intervening night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. The incident took place while she was returning with a friend after watching a movie.She died 13 days after the incident at a hospital in Singapore.
ALSO READ Delhi gangrape: Delhi HC rejects plea seeking seizure of ‘India’s Daughter’ documentaryOf the six men arrested in the case, one of the accused Ram Singh hanged himself in prison in March 2013, while another man, who was a juvenile at the time of the crime, was convicted in August and will serve the maximum sentence of three years in a reform home.The other four — Akshay, Vinay Sharma, Pawan and Mukesh — were found guilty and sentenced to death by the Delhi High Court in September 2013.
ALSO READ Amid reports of placing Delhi gangrape juvenile convict under NGO monitoring, Nirbhaya’s parents say he should remain in jailThe men have challenged the death sentence in the Supreme Court, which is currently hearing their appeal.

Corruption, caste keep poor from owning land in northern India | Reuters

By Rina Chandran

KACHHIDIH (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – For decades, Kunta lived in a hut outside Kachhidih village in Uttar Pradesh, enduring the insults of higher-caste villagers who claimed her land – which she did not legally own – for grazing cattle.She dreamed of owning just a small piece of land for her family who belong to the traditionally low-caste Dalit group.Six months ago, Kunta got her wish when the state allocated her family and eight others small plots of land a few kilometres (miles) away from their old home, after months of delays.Kunta was finally a landowner with her name on the title.Reached by a dirt track through a field, the land is some distance from the highway. There is one solar lamp post and a hand pump spewing muddy water. Huts cobbled together with straw, mud and plastic offer scant protection from the winter chill.Yet Kunta, who goes by her first name, is hopeful.”The place we lived in before was our home for many years, but it did not belong to us. The villagers harassed us and officials asked us for bribes in exchange for titles,” she said.”This is our land; perhaps we can save some money, plan for our future, for our children. No one can chase us away because we own this land,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.Landless Dalits like Kunta are at the bottom of India’s age-old social hierarchy, denied land ownership and facing slights and discrimination every day from upper-caste Hindus.Despite evidence linking landlessness and poverty, and laws to help people secure small plots of land on which to build a home and eke out a living, roughly 56 percent of India’s rural households — about 100 million families — remain landless.Most belong to low-caste or indigenous communities.”The main issue is not non-availability of land, it is corruption and caste,” said Ramesh Sharma, a senior official at rights group Ekta Parishad, which has lobbied the government for years for land for the landless poor.”Getting land allocated is in itself a challenge, then local revenue officials often ask for bribes to release the titles. High-caste villagers may object and delay it further because they just don’t want these people to get land,” he said.

Uttar Pradesh is the country’s most populous state, with a population of about 200 million. Dalits make up more than a fifth of the state’s population, but wield little power.India banned caste-based discrimination in 1955, but centuries-old attitudes persist, and lower-caste groups including Dalits are among the most marginalised communities.But Sarnath Prajapati, a revenue officer of the state, denied that caste is keeping Dalits from getting land, or that there are long delays and corruption in land allocation.”We have allocated land to the maximum extent possible. It is a priority for the state,” Prajapati said.”Sometimes, the land that is allocated may be in use by someone. Then we talk to them, and that takes time. Sometimes we have to bring the police to resolve the situation,” he said.Activist Jignesh Mevani is leading a campaign for land, asking that states give 5 acres (2 hectares) of land to each landless Dalit family so they can earn a living.The previous federal government had drafted a National Rural Homestead Bill in 2013 to provide plots measuring about 4,400 square metres (47,361 sq ft) each to landless families.

But the draft bill was never presented in parliament for approval. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who came to power in 2014, met Ekta Parishad officials earlier this year and assured them that the bill remained a priority, Sharma said.A few states including West Bengal, Odisha and Karnataka have drawn up their own laws for land allocation, giving government land and excess private land to the landless. Homestead plots, measuring just one-tenth of an acre, can deliver “significant economic and nutritional benefits”, with space to grow food, build a home, keep small livestock, and for other livelihood options, according to land advocacy Landesa.But in India’s fast growing economy, demand for land for industrial and development projects is increasing, and land allocation is beset with challenges, Landesa said.”Identification of the landless is challenging, available land for distribution is often encroached upon by dominant interests and land management committees are often not functional,” said Shipra Deo, Landesa’s Uttar Pradesh director.”Above all, caste is a big factor and very difficult to overcome, as it is so entrenched and so sensitive,” she said.

In Uttar Pradesh’s Jaunpur district, landless Dalits bear the brunt of this ancient caste discrimination.In Kachhidih village and Tardih village, Dalits are not allowed to work or live close to higher-caste people. In Kachhidih, one Dalit man was beaten up so badly after his goat entered someone else’s land that he is now bedridden and cannot work, Kunta said.Land allocated to Kunta and her neighbours was not handed over for months as other villagers argued over the proximity of the land to their fields, said village headman Madhukar Dwivedi. More than 100 families are still awaiting their titles for land that has been allocated to them, he said.”In our society, there are good people and bad people. Some people don’t want these people to get land, they just want them to live under them, in their control always,” Dwivedi said.”I want to give the titles, but I have to get the backing of the village council. There is a system, and not everyone in the system supports giving them titles,” he said.It is the same situation in Tardih, where members of the semi-nomadic Nat community who lived for decades near the village, faced harassment and delays in getting their land titles, said Najma Ahmed, one of the oldest residents.Five families recently received titles to small plots of land some distance from the village, and have built rickety huts a few metres from a stagnant pool covered in green slime.”The villagers said we were living on their land for free. But they wouldn’t let us work there,” said Ahmed, who like other women in this Muslim community wears glass bangles and a red sindoor on her forehead like married Hindu women do.”At least here we can build homes, give them to our kids. It isn’t much, but where else can we go? This is all we have.” (Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran, Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.)

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

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 21:14 IST

Was it confidential when you made demonetization policy? SC asks Centre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Friday began hearing a batch of petitions and public interest litigations (PILs) challenging the demonetization policy of the Central government, which came into effect on the midnight of November 8.Arguing for the Centre, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court that the government had taken all the necessary steps to ease inconveniences of the general public.The Supreme Court asked the Centre, “When you made the policy on demonetization, was it confidential?” Chief Justice of India TS Thakur also asked the Centre as to why the order of granting limit of Rs 24,000 per day to a person had not been complied with. The apex court will resume hearing the demonetization matter on December 14. The hearing had been adjourned on Monday and moved to Friday as CJI TS Thakur was on leave. Several petitions were filed, including one by Vivek Narayan Sharma, against the policy that has caused massive upheavals across the nation. The petitioners have questioned the government’s rationale and modus operandi behind the implementation of the policy, as it has reportedly caused inconvenience to the general public.

For these Afghan kids, India is like home now

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Four years ago, Ahmed Faizan could not even have dreamed of a life without violence and disturbance. Today, the 15-year-old Afghani refugee is not only far away from the strife but also pursuing his studies in a peaceful environment.Faizan is one of the 41 Afghani students studying in the Shaheed Hemu Kalani Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya, Lajpat Nagar. Many government schools in Delhi are running Special Training Centers (STCs) for students like Faizan, who had to leave their studies midway due to several reasons. “There is widespread violence in my country. I never thought I would be able to complete my studies. But in 2012, my family moved to India and I started studying here. It is a completely different experience altogether,” says the Class IX student.“Initially, it wasn’t easy for me to mingle with the students here. I felt like an outsider. Some students even asked us what we were doing in their country. I used to feel like returning,” he says. But gradually, he made friends and started to like his school. “Now, I have many friends,” says Faizan in fluent Hindi. “We train these students under the STC programme to bring them at the same level as other students and shift them to regular classes — VI-VIII. Some of them have never even been to schools, some had to drop out, and some are from marginalised sections of society, who never got an opportunity to study,” says BK Sharma, Principal, Shaheed Hemu Kalani Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya.The duration of the programme varies from three months to two years, depending upon the requirement of the students. “But till now, no student had to continue the STC classes for more than a year. At present, as many as 20 Afghani students are studying with regular students at our schools,” Sharma says, adding that the STC classes include both Afghani and Indian students. Sehar Jilani, 14, another Afghani migrant, is also happy, especially about the fact that she did not have to get married at a young age, like her best friend back home. “Three years ago, my best friend in Kabul got married. I was terrified at the time. I’m really happy that I have come to India. I want to study and become a doctor,” says the STC student.Jilani, who is also a part of the dramatics team of the center, had recently played the role of a child-bride, who was thrown out by her in-laws. “It is scary to think about the lives of girls who actually go through such an experience,” she says.Mohammad Sami, 15, who didn’t have to attend STC classes and got enrolled at the school directly, says India is home to him now. “India ab ghar jaisa hi lagne laga hai (India seems like home now). I would not like to go back to Afghanistan,” he says.

Demonetization: BJP accuses Rahul Gandhi of ‘mental bankruptcy’, dares him to speak in Parliament

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accusing Rahul Gandhi of levelling baseless allegations against the government to grab headlines, BJP on Thursday dared him to speak on demonetization in Parliament.Attacking the Congress Vice President, the ruling party said on the one hand he claims to speak about the interests of the common man but on the other hand Congress was stalling Parliament for three weeks and wasting public money spent on running it.Congress ran way from discussion in Parliament when it was in power and it is doing the same now when it is in the opposition, BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma alleged. “His (Rahul’s) charges against the Modi government are borne out of his incompetence and arrogance. He is competing with Arvind Kejriwal in TRP politics by levelling baseless charges on almost daily basis. He is doing so merely for headlines. He should instead speak in Parliament not outside,” Sharma said.
ALSO READ Demonetization a foolish decision, PM laughs as people suffer: Rahul GandhiHe was reacting after Rahul attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying his “foolish decision”, a reference to demonetization, has “devastated” the country.Earlier also, the Congress leader had targeted Modi over demonetization, accusing him of practising TRP politics and said the country has suffered damage due to his “vanity and incompetence”.Sharma hit out at Rahul, saying he was rattled by Modi’s offensive against black money and corruption as they are rooted in the opposition party’s culture and said the Congress leader’s allegations highlight his “mental bankruptcy”.Congress does not want Modi to take developmental measures for the poor and farmers, he said, adding that the Prime Minister’s fight is not against some political parties or persons but against corruption. “When 2G, coal block allocation and CWG scams happened during the UPA government, BJP wanted debate in Parliament but Congress ran away from it. It continues to avoid a debate even in opposition. It committed scams worth 12 lakh crore and is rattled by the Modi government’s actions,” he claimed.

Hurriyat made a spelling mistake, think they meant terrorists: Ram Madhav mocks invitation to tourists

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a dig at Hurriyat’s invitation of “tourists” to Kashmir, BJP leader Ram Madhav said the separatists were more interested in welcoming “terrorists” to the state. “I consider it a spelling mistake by Hurriyat people.They might have mistakenly said tourists in place of terrorists. They always welcome terrorists (to Kashmir),” he told reporters here.The separatist leaders, who have been spearheading the five-month-long unrest in Kashmir, had in a surprise move yesterday invited tourists and pilgrims to visit the Valley to enjoy the traditional hospitality of its people while promising them safety. The BJP National General Secretary said nobody trusted the separatists and if they were so “sincere” about peace, they should stop issuing calendars (of shutdowns). “On one side, you (Hurriyat) preach terrorism and on the other, you issue calendars by shutting down shops, business establishments and educational institutions. Then, you do this drama of issuing statements of inviting tourists to Kashmir,” he said.Stating that this was the “biggest hypocrisy” by the Hurriyat, Madhav said, “If they want tourists in the Valley, they should first restore peace in the Valley. But unfortunately, they are the biggest hurdle in restoration of peace and normalcy in Kashmir.”
ALSO READ Farooq Abdullah’s statement on Hurriyat shows NC was involved in Kashmir unrest: Mehbooba MuftiHe also hit at National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah for supporting the Hurriyat’s call in this regard and questioned the leader’s “change of mind”. “Farooq Abdullah’s statement is very unfortunate and surprising. He is the same Farooq, who used to release statements against Hurriyat Conference in Kashmir Valley and today suddenly he wants to move forward on the path of Hurriyat,” he said. Abdullah, while addressing his party workers at a function to commemorate the 111th birth anniversary of his father and party founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah at Hazratbal on December 5, had said his party was not against the Hurriyat and supported the Kashmiris’ demand for their rights but it would not tread the “wrong path” for achieving these goals.Minister of State for Tourism Mahesh Sharma welcomed the “initiative”. “My big salute goes to all those who support tourism, and yes, we are for it. The vision of our great Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) is to see that the Valley comes back again. We are all prepared to see and ensure that the tourism industry in the Valley flourishes and for that any steps need to be taken, we will come a step forward. “Tourism will change the shape of the Valley and will bring the glory back…as a Tourism Minister I welcome their initiative and of course other calls will be taken by the Government of India,” Sharma told reporters here. Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said everyone should promote tourism as Jammu and Kashmir has been “very, very important” for the sector. “If there is peace in the Valley, tourism will flourish there and if tourism increases, it will economically benefit the state and its people. Promotional tourism is absolutely necessary to revive the economy because it is very important part of their social life,” Rijiju said.Two factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF, which have been spearheading the five-month-long unrest in Kashmir that has thrown life into complete disarray, had in a surprise joint statement last night invited tourists and pilgrims to visit the Valley to enjoy the traditional hospitality of its people while promising them safety. Separatist leader Yasin Malik on Wednesday invited the tourists and pilgrims to visit Kashmir, adding that the people of the valley have been ‘safeguarding and providing exemplary hospitality’ to them. Malik said the people of Kashmir have always respected, safeguarded and served their guests even during tough times.‘In 2014 there was a flood, every Kashmiri suffered because of the flood’.This year this is the fifth month as far as the unrest is going on. The pilgrims were here, tourist were here. So, do you have any one single complain from them that they are facing any kind of fear factor in Kashmir’ So, we reiterated that though the people of Kashmir are facing the worst kind of suppression through the end of the forces. As far as the tourist and the pilgrims are concerned, they are always welcomed here,’ he told ANI. ‘The tourists and pilgrims should not feel any kind of fear here. The people of Kashmir are famous for their hospitality,’ he said while extending the whole-hearted welcome to the tourists and yatris intending to visit Kashmir.Meanwhile, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said tourism is ideal for economic revival of Kashmir, adding it is in the interest of everybody.‘Promotion of tourism is absolutely necessary to revive the economy of Jammu and Kashmir. It is very important part of their social life. So, it is in the interest of everybody. We want to promote tourism in Jammu and Kashmir because Kashmir has been very important for the tourism sector,’ he said. The separatist leaders have in a surprise move invited tourists and pilgrims to visit the Valley to enjoy the traditional hospitality of its people while promising them safety.Leaders of the two factions of Hurriyat Conference issued a joint statement asking people from outside to visit the Valley reminding them of the “exemplary hospitality” extended by the Kashmiris.The Kashmir Valley is witnessing continued turmoil since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with the security forces on July 8. With inputs from PTI and ANI

Top 5 demonetisation news of the day: Prithviraj Chavan suggests Rs 200 notes; BJP leader held

The central government’s decision to demonetise high value Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes was taken after detailed deliberation and not in haste, said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday, adding that it will maintain a steady supply of new currency to ease the cash crunch. The central bank also said Rs 11.85 lakh crore or 80 percent of junked notes have come back into the system in the last one month.

“The decision was not and has not been taken in haste, but after detailed deliberations,” said RBI governor Urjit Patel, following the fifth bi-monthly monetary policy review. “The consequences that have emanated from that were taken on board. That is why the planning, the process and implementation were what it was, keeping in mind the high secrecy that had to be maintained. The central bank and the government were conscious of certain immediate difficulties for the public at large and all efforts were made to mitigate them,” he added.

Patel told the media that problems of common citizens were at “the top of our radar” and all dispensation was put into place “so that the period for disruption is minimal while we recalibrate our note supply to the denomination that were not withdrawn in terms of legal tender character”.

BJP leader arrested in Kolkata

Manish Sharma, a BJP leader and party candidate from Ranigunj in Bengal’s Burdwan district, was nabbed from Baguihati on Wednesday, while trying to exchange old currency notes in bulk, said a senior officer of the Kolkata police’s special task force.

Six other persons involved in the mining business were also arrested along with Sharma for trying to exchange old currency notes.

Bank guard fires in air to disperse crowd in Punjab

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

With an impatient crowd trying to force their way into a branch of a private bank in Punjab’s Budhlada town, a security guard fired in the air to disperse them, police said.

The security guard standing outside an HDFC Bank branch in Budhlada, nearly 190 km from Chandigarh, fired three shots in the air from his weapon after being unsettled by the rush at the bank trying to get notes exchanged. The crowd, which almost damaged the glass doors of the bank branch, ran helter-skelter after shots were fired in the air. No case was registered by the police.

CBI arrests bank official, two businessmen

The CBI arrested a senior manager of Central Bank of India and two owners of a firm in Bengaluru for allegedly violating RBI guidelines on scraping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, under sections of IPC dealing with criminal conspiracy and cheating as well as abuse of official position under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The agency had registered an FIR against S Lakshimnarayana, senior manager and branch head of Central Bank of India’s Basavanagudi branch, and directors of Omkar Parimal Mandir, S Gopal and Ashwin G Sunkur. During the searches at the residence of bank officials and private persons, the agency claimed to have recovered incriminating documents, including bank vouchers, counterfoils, DDs, property documents, hard disks and Rs 5,91,500 in cash in old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

The three were called for questioning at the CBI office in Bengaluru on Wednesday morning and were placed under arrest after they allegedly failed to answer questions.

UK MP calls on India to end stress for NRIs

Britain’s longest serving Indian-origin MP Virendra Sharma has called the Indian government to end the uncertainty surrounding demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes for NRIs and PIOs.

The 69-year-old Labour party MP said he received several calls and letters on the issue from citizens in his constituency, the heavily Indian-origin area of Ealing, Southall, in south-west London. The move has rattled many British-Indians, who make up 2.5 percent of the population of England and Wales according to a 2011 UK government census and the Indian-born MP wants New Delhi to authorise Indian banks with operations in the UK to open accounts for deposits of Indian currency.

Former CM suggests introduction of Rs 200 notes

Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has suggested that currency notes of Rs 200 denomination should be introduced, going on to say that there was no need to bring into circulation Rs 1,000 notes again.

Chavan aired this view during his speech in the state Assembly, where the Opposition parties criticised the Modi government for troubling the poor people, including farmers, vendors and villagers. On restrictions imposed upon district cooperative banks, the Opposition demanded that chief minister Devendra Fadnavis use his good offices to convince the central government and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to solve the issue, as transactions banks have come to a grinding halt.

“The rural economy is on the verge of collapse,” Chavan said, questioning the wisdom behind the demonetisation decision. Ridiculing the idea of a cashless economy, Chavan said no where in the world has such kind of economy been fully implemented.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 20:17 IST

Navy chief Lanba says INS Betwa will be operational soon

Mumbai: The Indian Navy chief, Admiral Sunil Lanba, on Tuesday visited the naval dockyard in Mumbai where INS Betwa tipped over while undocking. The navy said the Brahmaputra-class guided missile frigate will be made operational again.

The Navy chief also met the injured personnel at the naval hospital, INHS Asvini.

Specialists are likely to reach Mumbai on Wednesday for conducting an initial assessment of the damage in the next two days, navy’s spokesperson Captain DK Sharma said.

Indian Navy chief Sunil Lanba. CNN-News18

Indian Navy chief Sunil Lanba. CNN-News18

“The Navy will upright the ship and make her operational in the shortest possible time,” he said.

INS Betwa, undergoing a refit at the dry dock here, slipped and toppled over on her side, killing two sailors and injuring 14 naval personnel.

A Board of Inquiry headed by Flag Officer of Offshore Defence Advisory Group Rear Admiral Deepak Bali will look into the incident.

Admiral Lanba was briefed about the accident on Monday and the situation at the dockyard, Captain Sharma said.

A dry dock is a narrow basin or vessel that can be flooded to allow a load to be floated in, then drained to allow that load to come to rest on a dry platform. Dry docks are used for the construction, maintenance, and repair of ships and boats etc.

Undocking a ship involves its refloating.

The frigate had slipped from her dock blocks and keeled over. Officials initially said it appeared that the dock mechanism had failed.

INS Betwa — inducted in the navy in July 2004 — was part of Task Force 54, tasked to evacuate nationals of India as well as those from Sri Lanka, Nepal and Lebanon married to Indian nationals from the conflict zone during the 2006 Lebanon war, as part of Operation Sukoon.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 19:52 IST

BJP hits back at Rahul Gandhi, accuses him of ‘photo-op’ politics

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Slamming Rahul Gandhi for his barbs at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP on Friday said Congress government was responsible for policy paralysis while its government has freed the country of its “prison” and ushered in social security and curbed corruption and black money.Seeking to turn the tables on the Congress vice president over his charge that Modi practises TRP politics and suffers from arrogance and incompetence, BJP said these are in reality his attributes as he did “photo-op” politics and had even rejected his government’s decision, a sign of his arrogance.”Rahul Gandhi himself suffers from arrogance and incompetence. Had he been not incapable, the UPA government would not have suffered from policy paralysis, committed scams worth Rs 12 lakh crore and brought India a bad name. He is the biggest symbol of non-serious and negative politics in the country,” its National Secretary Shrikant Sharma said in a statement.He said Gandhi was bitter due to successive defeats his party has suffered in polls and was busy targeting Modi and his government with his disinformation campaign born out of his “politics of hate”.Taking a dig, Sharma said Gandhi is out on bail in a case of Rs 5000 crore corruption, a reference to National Herald case.Under Modi, the country is progressing fast and progress of villages, the poor and farmers is his only goal, he said.Congress has “betrayed” people by “siding” with those with black money and fake currency, he said, a reference to the party’s protests following demonetisation.Chairing the meeting of Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) for the first time, Gandhi launched an all-out attack on Modi, accusing him of practising TRP politics and making the country suffer due to his “vanity and incompetence”.

40 more SDMC schools get CCTV cameras

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to ensure students’ safety and to improve the quality of education in municipal schools, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has installed CCTV cameras in all the classrooms of 40 more schools operating under it. “The Corporation has installed CCTV cameras in 40 more schools with an aim to provide security to students,” SDMC Mayor Shyam Sharma said on Thursday.“This will ensure that the students are provided with quality education and that any untoward incident can be averted. This will also help us keep a check on teachers,” Sharma added.He further said the SDMC’s control room will enable the officers sitting in the Civic Centre to monitor the happenings in the school. At present, the SDMC manages 581 schools.

BJP hails SC verdict on national anthem

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Welcoming the Supreme Court’s order on national anthem, BJP on Wednesday said it will strengthen the spirit of nationalism and the idea of ‘Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat’.The apex court today directed that cinema halls across the country must play the national anthem before the screening of a film and people should stand up as a mark of respect. “BJP welcomes this order and commend the court for this. It will strengthen the spirit of nationalism. National anthem and tri-colour unite us as a nation and this unity will be further strengthened,” party’s National Secretary Shrikant Sharma said. A strong national spirit will help India become a ‘vishwa guru’ (world leader), he said.BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said the order is a reminder to people that they should have affection and duty towards national institutions and symbols. “Its a welcome order. Of late, there has been certain controversies. People are not standing up in cinema halls when national anthem is being played. “The SC has adjudicated and passed an order in terms of it. That has to be welcomed. It is a reminder to people that we have to have affection and duty towards our national institutions and symbols,” Kohli said.The Supreme Court also directed that the national flag should be shown on screen when the anthem is played. “People must feel this is my country and this is my motherland,” a bench of justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy said while stressing that it is the duty of every citizen of the country to show respect to the national anthem and the flag.Directing that its order be shown in electronic and print media and be followed in letter and spirit, the court said, “Time has come when people should feel they live in a nation.”

Samba attack: Infiltration might have happened through tunnel in Chamliyal, says BSF DG Sharma

Briefing the media on the Samba incident on Wednesday, BSF DG KK Sharma said that infiltration could have happened through a small tunnel in Chamliyal.

He added that as of now there was no technology to detect the tunnel and that the government was working towards border fencing.

Security personnel on the vigil following the militant attack on Nagrota Army camp, near Jammu on Wednesday. PTI

Security personnel on the vigil following the militant attack on Nagrota Army camp, near Jammu on Wednesday. PTI

Security forces killed three militants on Tuesday morning when a group of militants tried to sneak in from Pakistan through the International Border near a border outpost in Samba district of Jammu. The three militants were then killed after a “heavy firing exchange” with the Border Security Force (BSF).

The firing took place when the BSF noticed some suspicious movement in the general area of the Border Outpost Chamliyal in Samba, Jammu and Kashmir. The area was immediately cordoned off. When challenged, BSF patrol was fired upon by miscreants holed up in a tube well pumphouse, reported ANI.

Sharma also mentioned that since the 29 September surgical strikes that took place across the Line of Control, more than 15 Pakistani Rangers have been killed and more than 10 militants neutralised, along with many Pakistan border outposts destroyed.

He added that the BSF started an operation known as Operation Rustom, as they “anticipated that problems won’t be confined to LoC and will affect the IB too”.

Apparently, a 45-minute yoga session headed by Baba Ramdev has helped in getting down the “average weight of Jawans”, Sharma mentioned.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 13:28 IST

In a first, government schoolkids interact with Naval officers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was quite a day for Piyush Aggrawal. The 16-year-old was among the 120 students of Shaheed Hemu Kalani Sarvodaya Vidyalaya in Lajpat Nagar who got once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with the Indian Navy officials on Monday.”I was thrilled. I had seen the Naval life only in movies, but now I know that it is so much more than that. It is full of adventure and enthusiasm, but there are new challenges every day. We got to know about a lot of things for the first time,” the Class XII student said.As a part of the Navy Week celebrations, commemorating India’s glorious victory on Pakistan in 1971, three Indian Navy officers visited the Delhi government-run school to interact with the students.”In an attempt to create awareness among students about several career opportunities in the Indian Navy, it was decided that the officers would visit some schools and interact with them,” said an officer, requesting anonymity.The interaction included a presentation, short film screening and a question-answer round. “We were shown short films on multifarious functions of the Indian navy. The day-to-day challenges and adventures they face in real life and the sense of dignity attached to this profession,” said another Class XII student, Shrey Bansal, adding that he now envisaged a career as a doctor in the Navy.The school staffers were even more excited to be a part of the programme, expressing pride that their’s was the first school to be selected by the Navy for the initiative. “We were really excited after we received a letter from the Ministry of Defence in August this year. We made all the arrangements to make the interaction a lifetime experience for our students,” said school principal BK Sharma.At the beginning of the session, the officers asked how many of the present students wanted a career with the Indian Navy. “None of them raised their hands,” said Sharma, adding that when the question was repeated at the end of the session, more than 50 students raised their hands.

‘Why was my sister killed?’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Just 24, she was a pillar of support to her brothers and mother, working as a dancer to help make ends meet and build a home for the family. A day after Neha Sharma was allegedly killed by cops chasing prisoners on the run, a jailbreak that should have been just a headline, far removed from their daily lives, has left an aching void in the Sharma home.”Papa ke jaane ke baad, Neha ne hi saath mil ke ghar banwaya tha. Ab ghar mein wahi nai hai (After papa’s death, Neha helped build a home for us. Now she herself is not at home),” says her elder brother, 26-year-old Karan Sharma, about his sister who was allegedly shot dead by a Punjab police constable near Nogawan village, around 25 km from here, soon after six prisoners had escaped from the Nabha jail on Sunday morning.Survived by her mother Neelam and three brothers, aged 15, 24 and 26, Neha, who worked as a dancer, was the strength of the family after their father’s death about 14 years ago. The family had taken a loan of Rs 5 lakh to build the house in Patiala which is almost complete now.”My younger brother is studying and I am looking for work. But she began working at an early age. She would earn around Rs 5,000 in every function and would save the money. She also appeared for her Class X11 exams while working,” recalls a grieving Karan.She was 19 when she began working as a troupe dancer with the Patiala- based Arman Entertainment Group and had been supporting her family since. On Sunday, Karan recounts, she left home around 10.30 am for Kaithal in Haryana, where she was supposed to perform along with three other girls.”She left at 10.30 am and told me that she would be back in the evening and we would go to the market to buy something to celebrate our mother’s birthday,” says Karan.She was reportedly sitting on the front seat with the driver, who was also the troupe manager. The three others were in the back seat. According to the police version, the driver apparently panicked when he saw the police and tried to jump the police barricade. That’s when the police opened fire. One bullet hit Neha in the chest and the other the car’s dashboard on the driver’s side. Neha was declared brought dead to the hospital. A bullet also hit a bike rider who was passing by. He has been admitted to the Samana Civil Hospital.Stunned and grief-stricken, Neha’s family denies the police version. “Half-an-hour after she left, I got a call from the driver that she has been shot. The car had slowed down and was about to stop when the police began firing. My sister was sitting on the front seat and she was hit. How could the police fire on the front end of the car if they (troupe members) had tried to escape? It was broad daylight, but the police could not notice that a woman was sitting on the front seat?” says Karan.The family says it wants justice and demands the arrest of the police constable who was arrested. “Humein bas insaaf chahiye (All we need is justice),” says Karan.Deputy Commissioner of Police, Patiala, and senior police officers have visited the family and assured them financial assistance, including a government job, to one of the family members.

Note ban: RSS affiliate SJM to ‘study’ Paytm’s Chinese connection

The Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliate, has decided to study the Chinese connection of Paytm, a company that has reaped huge benefits from the Narendra Modi government’s demonetisation exercise, a report in The Economic Times has said.

The payment solutions company is 40 percent owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba group and SJM has told the newspaper that it wants to ensure that “data shared by Indians is safe”.

“No Indian company should be sharing data with foreign companies and the investment routes should be made very transparent,” Ashwani Mahajan, co-convener of SJM, has been quoted as saying in the report.

A screen grab of Paytm siteA screen grab of Paytm site

A screen grab of Paytm site

The SJM’s move comes at a time when Paytm is seeing its business swell due to the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, which has resulted in forced digitisation of payments in the country.

After the move by the government on 8 November, there has been a surge in mobile and online payments for transactions as there is a severe crunch in cash in the system after the withdrawal of the existing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

Paytm on 21 November said it has been witnessing over 7 million transactions worth Rs 120 crore a day, helping it cross $5 billion gross merchandise value sales, four months ahead of its target.

The company said it was doing more transactions than the combined average daily usage of credit and debit cards in the country.

After the demonetisation announcement on 8 November, the company had placed full page ads with prime minister Narendra Modis’ face on front pages of newspapers, raising a controversy.

Not just Paytm, all mobile wallet companies have seen manifold growth in transactions and new users coming on board with people turning to digital platforms, as serpentine queues outside ATMs continuing to hassle cash-strapped public.

With Modi making a pitch for switching to less-cash economy in his speech on Sunday, the importance of these firms are only going to increase. An earlier report in The Economic Times had said the rural ministry has sought the help of companies like Paytm and Oxigen to help digitise cash transactions in rural areas.

Seen in this context, SJM’s move to study the Chinese connection of the company is interesting since it goes against the spirit of the initiative taken by the government.

SJM and a few other groups have been in news recently for campaigning against Chinese imports that they claimed is killing the domestic manufacturing. Some of them had even suggested a ban on these imports.

Meanwhile, Paytm founder and chief executive Vijay Shekhar Sharma has told PTI that his company is “as Indian as Maruti” and prides itself on being a representative of the “India story”.

“We are as Indian as Maruti is…We are ‘India story’ in every sense whatsoever,” Sharma has been quoted as saying in the PTI report.

Alibaba Group and its affiliate Ant Financial pumped in $680 million into Paytm’s parent One97 Communications last year, taking its total shareholding to over 40 percent in the country’s largest mobile wallet operator with close to 160 million customers.

The criticism over ownership, circulated widely through instant messaging apps, sought to pick up on sentiment of banning Chinese products.

Sharma, however, appeared unfazed by the criticism. “Everybody else has a way to say whatever they want to say. We don’t come to that level and reply,” he told PTI.

With PTI

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 12:06 IST

Demonetisation: Arvind Kejriwal questions funding of BJP MP Mahesh Sharma’s daughter’s wedding

Demonetisation: Arvind Kejriwal questions funding of BJP MP Mahesh Sharma’s daughter’s wedding


New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Mahesh Sharma following his daughter’s marriage and asked how he managed the marriage expenses in Rs 2.5 lakhs post demonetisation.

File photo of Arvind Kejriwal. Getty images

File photo of Arvind Kejriwal. Getty images

“BJP MP Mahesh Sharma’s daughter wedding. Is he making all the payments in cheque? Is he managing the marriage in Rs 2.5 lakhs? How were his notes exchanged?” Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor Kejriwal asked.

The AAP has been protesting against the central government’s demonetisation of Rs 500 and 1,000 currency notes.

The opposition has called for Bharat Band on Monday in protest against the 8 November announcement.

Serpentine queues have been witnessed outside banks and ATMs, as many anxious people waited for hours to deposit or exchange their spiked currency notes or obtain cash.

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 11:16 IST

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Demonetization woes: Daily wager from Aligarh says gets himself sterilized for money

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a shocking incident, a resident of Aligarh has allegedly got himself sterilized so that his family could come out of its cash crunch post demonetization of high-value currency notes. Puran Sharma, a daily wager, couldn’t afford a daily meal for his family after the demonetization drive and got sterilized at a nearby camp in return for monetary compensation. “I was very tired because of this demonetization, wasn’t getting money. From somewhere, I heard that monetary compensation is being given for getting sterilized. So, I went there and got it done,” said Puran Singh.Aligarh’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rupendra Goyal, however, narrated a different story altogether.Dr Goyal said Puran came to the sterilization camp organised in Khair with his wife. As his wife couldn’t be sterilized due to her poor health, the doctors on duty persuaded him to undergo the operation as part of the government’s family planning programme. “He came with his wife and was willing to sterilize his wife. But as she is deaf and dumb, we refused to do so,” said a doctor.Puran’s father claims that many people in the village undergo sterilization to collect money for their meals.

Madhya Pradesh: Man arrested for circulating ‘objectionable’ picture of PM Modi

Fri, 25 Nov 2016-05:08pm , Morena , PTI

Aslam Khan (25), who runs a mobile shop, was arrested on Thursday night for allegedly circulating an objectionable photo of the prime minister. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A man was arrested in Banmore town in Morena, Madhya Pradesh for allegedly circulating an objectionable picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media, police said on Friday.Aslam Khan (25), who runs a mobile shop, was arrested on Thursday night for allegedly circulating the objectionable photo of the Prime Minister, Banmore Sub Divisional Officer of Police (SDOP) Atmaram Sharma said.Some BJP workers came across the picture after it went viral on social media platforms, following which party workers staged a protest led by Banmore division president Rambaran Mavai before the Banmore police station. An FIR has been lodged against Khan and further investigations are on, he added.

Demonetization | Govt made people stand like beggars for their money, alleges Delhi Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As people continued to grapple with the cash crisis, Delhi Congress on Tuesday hit out at the Modi government, saying demonetisation has made people “stand like beggars” outside banks, and demanded compensation for the kin of those people who have died “due to its impact”.49-year-old Uttam Nagar resident Satish Kumar, who used to work as a vegetable vendor in Keshopur Mandi, died yesterday after he collapsed while standing in queue outside a bank to deposit Rs 50,000 in demonetized currency notes in south-west Delhi’s Najafgarh area.Senior Congress leader and former MLA Mukesh Sharma expressed his condolences to the family of the victim, and “demanded from both the Centre and the Delhi government to grant compensation to him and other such person who have died died due to the impact of demonetisation.” “It is 14 days since the demonetisation came into effect, but still long queues can be seen outside the banks, and it shows that the RBI did not provide adequate valid currency notes in banks, due to which poor and middle-class people are not able to withdraw their hard-earned money,” he was quoted as saying in a statement from his office.The former MLA also hit out at the Centre, over the inconvenience faced by people, who have marriage in their families. “Government’s bad policy has jeopardised marriages and engagements of several girls. Only a few industrialists have been made to benefit out of this exercise, while the rest of the country is suffering,” Sharma alleged.”And, if the Centre does not take appropriate measure in coming days then Congress would be forced to take to the streets, for which the government would be totally responsible,” he said.

Indore-Patna Express derailment: Passenger heard strange sound one week prior, asked to depose

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after he claimed that wheels of Indore-Patna Express had made some strange sound long before it derailed in Kanpur Rural district of Uttar Pradesh, Prakash Sharma, who had travelled between Indore and Ujjain, was on Monday asked to depose before competent authority. “A railway officer from Kanpur rang me up and asked me to be ready to depose before the competent officer regarding my statement that wheels of Indore-Patna Express made some strange sounds on November 19,” Sharma (35), a resident of Kherkheda village in MP’s Mandsaur district, said on Monday.Sharma said he was ready to cooperate and record his statement in any probe “though I have not been informed when and where I am supposed to depose.” He said four officers of Ratlam Railway Division under Western Railway came to his place on Monday and connected him to a higher official, whom he apprised about his claim in detail.”On November 19, I boarded (sleeper coach) S-2 of Indore-Patna Express around 2 PM at Indore and after an hour I alighted at Ujjain. I informed an officer in railway uniform in my coach about the strange sound of the wheels. But he didn’t take it seriously,” he had told reporters on Sunday.
ALSO READ Indore-Patna Express tragedy: Toll mounts to 146, probe into derailment beginsSharma had said that he didn’t know the name of that official. In the worst rail accident in recent years, 146 passengers were killed and more than 200 injured, when 14 coaches of the Patna-bound train derailed near Kanpur rural district early on Sunday due to suspected rail fracture.The probe into the accident began on Monday with Commissioner of Railway Safety, PK Acharya visiting the accident site and inspecting the broken track and the mangled bogies. Earlier on Monday, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu told Lok Sabha that a statutory inquiry by the commissioner of railway safety has been ordered to find the cause of the accident.

Demonetization | Illegality in issuance of Rs 2,000 note; Modi plunged country into ‘financial anarchy’: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress on Monday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of not following the law in issuance of Rs 2,000 currency notes and vowed to raise the matter inside and outside Parliament.Claiming that the PM had plunged the country into “financial anarchy”, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said the introduction of Rs 2,000 denomination notes is an “illegal act” as the the notification required to be issued under the RBI Act for printing new currency has not been issued, ignoring what is mandatory under the law.He also hit out at the Government’s move to put indelible ink on the fingers of those exchanging notes.A united opposition will raise this issue vociferously in Parliament besides making it a subject for mass movement, the Congress said.The Deputy Leader of Congress in Rajya Sabha alleged that the Prime Minister is consciously deflecting attention from key issues and “fooling poor masses by masquerading as a crusader against black money under the garb of nationalism” and said those supporting PM “and his apologists are illiterate in Constitution and in law.””The Prime Minister is squarely responsible for plunging the country into financial anarchy. There is an undeclared financial emergency without invoking the provisions of Article 360 of the Constitution.””The Prime Minister’s sensational and theatrical announcement of November 8 on demonetization had no legal sanctity as the monetary policy is the domain of the Reserve Bank of India,” Sharma said.’The introduction of Rs 2,000 currency denomination is an illegal act, since under the RBI Act no notification has been issued, and such issuance is mandatory before the introduction of a new currency note, he said.”Circulation of this illegal new currency of Rs 2000 denomination contradicts government’s move to control black money circulation and is a continued illegality,” Sharma told PTI.The Congress leader accused the Prime Minister of making misleading statements and violating the law and the Constitution multiple times.In a scathing attack on the government for its move to put ink on fingers of common people exchanging notes, he said, “Even dictators have not done what this government has done.”Only the Nazis branded people. Our citizens and foreign guests are also being branded for withdrawing money. It is a matter of shame and concern.Incredible India has been overnight converted into Indelible India,” he alleged.Sharma said the replacements of old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination are not yet ready and this scarcity has put people to inconvenience.”It is inflicting great suffering on the people, especially the poor, the farmers and the total workforce of 33 crore Indians in the unorganised sector and the farm labour,” he said.He accused the Prime Minister of having besmirched the image of India internationally as a rules based country.Major opposition parties have already come together in Parliament to take on the Government on the demonetization decision and its implementation.

Demonetization: Congress issues whip to its Parliamentarians, Opp leaders to corner Govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A united Opposition is all set to corner the government in Parliament tomorrow on the demonetization issue with the Congress issuing a whip to its parliamentarians and leaders of opposition parties slated to meet to chalk out a joint strategy.Opposition leaders will meet tomorrow morning and are likely to raise the demand of a joint parliamentary committee probe into the alleged selective leakage of demonetization information to the ruling BJP.Sources in the opposition camp said there is unanimity among all parties on the need for a comprehensive investigation into prior intimation of the decision to some people. A senior opposition leader said, “Many parties are determined to take this matter of selective leakage to the masses and jointly take on the government in Parliament. There are other worrisome aspects of the demonetization decision which we will raise in both Houses of Parliament.” The Congress is leading the deliberations with Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and Deputy Leader Anand Sharma coordinating with other opposition parties.The sources said all outfits including the TMC, JD(U), BSP, SP, NCP and Left parties are on the same page on the issue and will step up their offensive in both Houses.A senior Congress leader said a whip has been issued in both Houses to ensure the presence of all members.After the opposition leaders’ meeting, Congress will hold its own strategy meet with its MPs. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi is expected to chair the meeting.The opposition has stalled proceedings in both the Houses last week demanding the Prime Minister’s response in the matter. In the Lok Sabha, the government and the opposition have locked horns over rules to debate demonetization with Congress and TMC seeking a discussion under an adjournment motion, which permits voting. The government, however, agreed for a debate under Rule 193 which doesn’t entail voting.The Congress leader said the party is also planning “direct mass action” against the demonetization move by flagging poor implementation.

Indore-Patna Express derails: Over 100 dead; Centre announces Rs 3.5 lakh ex-gratia

Over 100 passengers were killed and 226 injured, 76 of them seriously, when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express derailed near Pukhraya in Kanpur dehat district in the wee hours on Sunday.

Rescue officials on the spot where 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna express derailed, killing around 96 people and injuring 200, in Kanpur Dehat on Sunday. PTI

Rescue officials on the spot where 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna express derailed, killing around 96 people and injuring 200, in Kanpur Dehat on Sunday. PTI

Four coaches of the train – S1, S2, S3, S4- were badly damaged in the mishap that took place at around 3am near Pukhraya. Most of the passengers were jolted out of their sleep to find themselves among mangled remains of the bogies.

“More than 100 people have died, rescue operation is still underway,” Daljeet Singh Chaudhary (ADG, Law & order ,UP) told ANI.

He said 150 other passengers received minor injuries in the mishap. “90 bodies have been pulled out so far. There can be more bodies trapped,” Superintendent of Police, Kanpur Dehat Prabhakar Chowdhury told PTI over the phone.

Ahmad said, “Over 150 injured people have been rushed to nearby hospitals in the area. All hospitals have been asked to be alert. More than 30 ambulances have been pressed into service.”

A team of Army doctors and rescue officials have arrived at the spot. 250 police officials are also involved in carrying out the rescue and relief operations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives in the train tragedy. “Anguished beyond words on the loss of lives due to the derailing of the Patna-Indore express. My thoughts are with the bereaved families,” he said in a tweet.

Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has ordered a probe into the train tragedy and announced ex-gratia for the families of the victims.

Rs 3.5 lakh exgratia will be given for the families of those killed in the derailment and Rs 50,000 for those grievously injured, he said.

Prabhu said the Commissioner of Railway Safety will probe the reasons behind the derailment.

“All rescue and relief work is on to deal with the unfortunate accident. All medical and other help rushed.

Inquiry ordered. Situation monitored closely,” Prabhu said. Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha along with four senior railway officials have rushed to the accident spot.

MOS Railway Rajen Gohain said a fault in the tracks may have led to the derailment.

“We haven’t seen an incident like this in Indian Railways for a long time because we have taken a lot of safety measures.

“Earlier these kind of accidents used to happen because of the negligence of the driver but despite taking all safety measures this tragic incident took place.This is a cause of concern and we are investigating the reasons behind it.

“There must be a fault in the track as 14 bogeys have derailed and this happened despite regular checking of the tracks,” he said.

Taking stock of the situation, Home Minister Rajnath Singh asked the Director General of National Disaster Response Force to rush to the spot.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announced ex-gratia for the families of those killed in the mishap.

While Rs 5 lakh each will be given for families of those killed in the derailment, Rs 50,000 will be given for seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for those with simple injuries.

The Chief Minister has instructed the DGP to personally monitor the relief operations and deploy traffic police along the route of the mishap site to ensure green corridor for ambulances to reach hospitals quickly.

Kanpur district officials have been instructed to take support of Indian Medical Association to avail the services of more doctors for extending medical support to train accident patients, the CM said.

More ambulances/roadways buses have been rushed to the spot for speedy relief operations, the CM said.

DG Health & ADG (Law and Order) have also been rushed to the accident spot to monitor the relief operations. Railways Ministry spokesperson Anil Saxena said several people have been rushed to nearby hospitals with injuries, and the casualties may go up.

Accident relief train has been rushed to the spot, he said. Northern Central Railways spokesperson Vijay Kumar said that doctors and senior railway officials have reached the spot.

Rescue and relief operations were being carried out by district administration and railway officials.

Though the cause of the derailment was not known immediately, sources said the nature and timing shows that the accident was caused by a rail fracture.

However, the exact reason would be known only after an inquiry.

Buses have been pressed into service to help passengers complete their journey, Kumar said, adding that the S2 coach was severely damaged. Four AC coaches have also been derailed.

Railways have made available the following helpline numbers — Indore-07411072, Ujjain- 07342560906, Ratlam- 074121072, Orai-051621072, Jhansi- 05101072, Pokhraya- 05113270239.

Talking to reporters here, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said the government will bear the cost of treatment of the injured, and they will be provided with the best facilities.

Sinha also said that two trains, one to Indore and one to Patna respectively will take passengers to their destination.

According to the information he received, the passengers felt a big jolt right before the train derailed.

The accident took place before the glitch in the track could be spotted, Sinha said, adding strict action will be taken against anyone implicated as a result of the investigation.

Meanwhile, NDRF Director General RK Pachnanda told PTI that a total of five teams of the special rescue force, comprising 45 personnel each, have been pressed into action at
the accident site.

“The rescue teams are deploying cutters and hydraulic equipment to ensure that all the trapped passengers are evacuated safely from the rail bogies,” the DG, who has reached the accident site, said.

“As the victims are trapped inside the bogies, due care and diligence is being taken into consideration.

NDRF responders are making all possible efforts to rescue the trapped victims with the help of multi-types of latest disaster management gadgets and tools.

So far, NDRF has rescued 53 passengers including 16 badly trapped from the bogies.

The operation is still in progress.

Some additional teams are also put on stand by and shall be mobilised as per demand,” the Force said in a statement.

Railway authorities ignored a passenger’s warning, night before the mishap

Even as the main cause of the train mishap which has now claimed 96 lives and injured over 200 is not known, a man from Mandsaur district who was travelling in the same train claims that the railway authorities ignored his warnings few hours before the incident took place.

According to this report by Pradesh 18, a regular traveller of the train Prakash Sharma, who was travelling in one of the now derailed coaches S-2, had informed the railway authorities that the wheels of the train are making more noise than usual. Sharma told the authorities that he sensed something was odd because he was a regular commuter of the train.

However, the TC and authorities ignored his concern saying that it’s a regular thing.

Later, Sharma got down at Ujjain station on Saturday night. His fears were later confirmed when he heard the news of the mishap.

The Pradesh 18 report quoted him as saying that the railway authorities should have taken his concern seriously.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Nov 20, 2016 15:21 IST

Congress defends Ghulam Nabi Azad’s remark, accuses BJP of communalising issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress justified its senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s remarks drawing a comparison between the Uri terror attack casualties and the deaths after demonetization which has triggered a row, and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was communalising the issue. “There is no question of defending something that was absolutely correct. What Azad said that 20 of our soldiers laid down their lives in the Uri attack, they laid down their lives defending the country and we are proud of them.”But one autocratic decision of a dictatorial Prime Minister has killed 55 innocent people. Who is responsible for it?” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked. “Azad rightly said yesterday that if the one questioning him (the PM) is a Hindu, he is an anti-national, and if a Muslim, then a Pakistani and this country will never accept these things,” he told reporters.Surjewala said the country is proud of its soldiers who defend and laid down their lives for the country.”But what about that Indian who is secure because of sacrifice of those soldiers but who is insecure and unsafe and has to die on account of economic anarchy heaped upon by the Prime Minister. And that is the comparison that Ghulam Nabiji brought about. So if anybody is guilty, anybody is acting in an autocratic manner it is the BJP and the Modi government,” he said.”I have the right to question the Prime Minister and the Modi government cannot take away this right granted to the 125 crore Indians through the Constitution by its makers,” he said, adding Modi has first put the country’s 125 crore people to harassment and 55 people died due to his “Tughlaqi order”.Another Congress leader, Anand Sharma, also defended Azad alleging that BJP was giving communal twist to his remarks.”Ghulam Nabi Azad is not just the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha but has been the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir on whose life there have been 26 bids by terrorists.He is a man who has always stood for the nation, do we have such a situation now that BJP will decide who is a nationalist and who is not,” Sharma said.”In the Uri attack, 19 of our soldiers were martyred, but may more people have died after demonetization. It is shameful that BJP is trying to give this a communal twist,” he said.

India denies Pak navy’s ‘blatant lie’ of pushing away submarine from its waters

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Pakistani navy detected an Indian submarine off the Pakistani coast and prevented it from entering its waters, it said in a statement on Friday, prompting a denial by India as tension between the nuclear-armed rivals simmers.The submarine was detected “south of the Pakistani coast” on Monday, the navy said in a press release. “Thereafter, despite the submarine’s desperate efforts to escape detection, it was continuously tracked by Pakistan Navy Fleet units and pushed well clear of our waters,” the press release said. The Pakistan navy also released footage and photographs of what it was said was the submarine. “This is all blatant lies,” Indian navy spokesman D. K. Sharma told Reuters.”Pakistan Navy fleet units detected the presence of Indian submarines in the southern parts of Pakistani waters…and restricted their activity,” the statement by Pak spokesperson said. The spokesman claimed that Pakistan Navy had been successful in thwarting the efforts of the Indian submarines to keep their presence camouflaged. “The Navy had constantly pursued the submarines and pushed them back,” he said. “The Pakistan Navy is fully prepared to defend its borders and capable of responding to any aggression befittingly,” he added.Commodore (retd) Tasneem Ahmed, a Pakistani defence analyst, said Indian submarines would have been detected by air reconnaissance. The Indian submarines might have been on an “intelligence gathering” mission when detected by Pakistan Navy, Pakistani naval experts were quoted as saying by media reports.

Sushma Swaraj: Indians offer kidneys to ailing minister

Indians offer to donate their kidneys to the foreign minister after she says she needs a transplant.

Demonetization: Indian farmers fear losing crops & income from govt move against black money

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For Indian farmer Buddha Singh, who works a small plot of land in the village of Bajna south of New Delhi, the government’s decision to abolish 500 and 1,000 rupee bank notes to crush the shadow economy could hardly have come at a worse time.He and millions of other farmers cannot get enough cash to buy the seeds and fertilisers they need for their winter crops, threatening production of key commodities and hurting rural communities only just recovering after two years of drought.”We can’t buy our full requirements of seeds, fertiliser and pesticides on credit. There is a limit,” said Singh, a turbaned man in his 50s, who tills a two-acre field near the highway running from the capital to the holy city of Mathura.”We’re running out of time as we’ve only 10-15 days more to plant crops like wheat, mustard and chickpeas,” he added, to murmurs of assent from around 30 fellow farmers sitting under a neem tree and discussing their predicament.India’s 263 million farmers mostly live in the cash economy, exposing them to the full impact of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s shock Nov. 8 announcement that larger denomination bank notes would immediately cease to be legal tender.Modi’s drive to purge “black cash” from the economy has, at a stroke, wiped out 86 percent of the money in circulation. Delays in printing new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes mean that money could be tight for weeks to come.While city dwellers are still queuing up to exchange or deposit old money at the bank, and to draw new funds, many villagers live miles from the nearest branch and have yet to see the new notes being rushed into circulation.DRAGGED DOWNDelays to the planting season that began last month threaten to dent India’s agricultural and overall economic growth, wiping out gains for farmers who this year cashed in on decent monsoon rains after being hit by drought in 2014 and 2015.Farmers who have already spent money on ploughing and irrigation to keep the soil moist can ill afford to leave their land fallow. Late sowing typically reduces yields and increases the risk that inclement spring weather could damage crops.”In all likelihood we’ll not be able to recover our cost of cultivation as the prime sowing time has nearly lapsed,” said Prakash Chandra Sharma, another local farmer.The farmers said they spent an average of 58,000 rupees ($855) per hectare to grow wheat, only to eke out an income of 70,000 rupees. That assumes a crop yield of about 3.2 tonnes per hectare.A drop in wheat output would boost local prices that are already near record highs. Stocks are at their lowest level for nearly a decade, and even before the latest cash crunch, private traders were expected to import around 3 million tonnes this year.Devinder Sharma, an independent food and trade policy analyst, said rural communities in particular would suffer from the demonetization move.”It’s a little early to hazard a guess about the extent of crop loss,” said Sharma. “But both rural income and demand will take a big hit before things start improving from April next year.”THANKS, BUT NO THANKSIn the latest in a series of ad hoc steps, the government on Thursday allowed farmers to withdraw up to 25,000 rupees ($368) a week against their crop loans to ensure that sowing of winter crops “takes place properly”.Shaktikanta Das, a top finance ministry official, also said a time limit for farmers to pay crop insurance premiums had been extended by 15 days.But that cuts little ice with farmers, who often rely for their cash not on banks but on money lenders charging annual interest of up to 40%.”Most farmers have already availed of their farm loan for the previous summer season and, for the handful who can still withdraw, the ceiling is too low,” said Tejinder Narang, a New-Delhi-based farm expert.After selling their rice crop last month, many are stuck with old 500 and 1,000 bills they can no longer spend.They are only allowed to exchange 2,000 rupees into new money, and the rest must be deposited before the notes cease to be accepted by banks after Dec. 30.”Four banks cater to 200 villages of about 2,000 people each. It’s not easy to get your old currency notes converted,” said Harbir Singh, another local farmer.MARKETS IDLEDThe breakdown in the cash economy is causing major disruptions to the supply of produce to India’s cities, with payment alternatives such as plastic cards or digital wallet apps on smartphones yet to gain widespread acceptance.At Delhi’s Azadpur Mandi, Asia’s largest fruit and vegetable wholesale market, traders said business was at a virtual standstill, and labourers who usually earn between $4 and $6 a day sat idle.”The bosses are giving us 500 rupee bills, but we are refusing to take those notes,” said porter Raju Kumar Rathore. “Then they are telling us to collect our money after a week or 10 days. For us that is a big problem.”

Decision to put indelible ink is senseless, Fascist and Nazist act of branding people: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on accused the government of “branding” people through its “fascist act” of inking those exchanging demonetised currency notes even as it charged Prime Minister Narendra Modi with “disrespecting” Parliament by not hearing out concerns raised by members on demonetization.Party spokesperson Anand Sharma said the Modi government was “insulting and harassing” crores of Indians by subjecting them to stand in long queues to withdraw money and demanded apology from the Prime Minister and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. “The decision to put indelible ink on fingers of account holders is a senseless, Fascist and Nazist act of branding people. It is shameful that they have done so with foreign tourists. Instead of sermonising, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Finance minister should hang their heads in shame and apologise to the people,” he told PTI.He said the Prime Minister saying that he will not answer the concerns raised by opposition members in Parliament shows how he is “disrespecting” Parliament. “The PM’s stand in not being present in Parliament smacks of arrogance and disrespect for the institution of Parliament. Narendra Modi does not have the courage to face the truth and lacks the grace to apologise to the people for the suffering inflicted on crores of Indians,” he said. The Congress leader said India’s image globally has been besmirched with foreign missions issuing advisories to their citizens against travelling to India.Sharma also accused the Prime Minister of indulging in “selective leaks” from September onwards and said “it is government’s failure to maintain secrecy and selectively leak the proposed step to individuals and vested interests and groups identified with BJP.” “It is a big scam which demands an investigation. The opposition demand of JPC is fully justified and we are determined to press for it,” he said.

From Modi Antoniette to ‘undeclared Emergency’: How Govt faced the heat in Rajya Sabha over demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The winter session of Rajya Sabha opened with a united opposition mounting an assault on the government over demonetisation, saying it had led to “economic anarchy” in the country and alleged selective leak of the information before the announcement which should be probed by a Joint Parliamentary Committee.The government rejected as baseless the opposition charge that there was “leakage” of the November 8 decision and said everyone was taken by surprise which is why there are “initial” problems.Joining ranks over the raging issue, parties like Congress, JD(U), RJD, SP, BSP, Trinamool Congress, Left and AIADMK slammed the government, particularly targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for making Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination notes invalid and said the “ill-timed” and “ill-conceived” step had severely hit the common people, the farmers and the poor.During a discussion on demonetisation, which was taken up after suspension of all business in response to notices given by a host of opposition members, a scathing attack was made on the government which strongly defended the step as one taken in national interest and to end corruption and black money, which it linked to terror activities in the country.Alleging that the information had been leaked to BJP units and ‘friends of BJP’, a number of opposition parties demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into it.During the course of 7-hour debate which remained inconclusive, there were repeated demands by the opposition members that the Prime Minister should be present in the House to listen to the members. Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said Modi, who did not come to the Rajya Sabha today, should at least be present tomorrow and possibly intervene.Congress leader Anand Sharma – File Photo Initiating the debate, Congress leader Anand Sharma used wit and humour to attack Modi, saying he was “insensitive” to problems caused to the common man.The “ill-timed” and “ill-conceived” move has unleashed “economic anarchy” in the country and benefited a few, he said.”Your government is insensitive,” he said, adding Modi was riding a bullet train in Japan when old, women and common man were queueing up at banks at 3 am to get currency to buy their daily needs.Questioning the government’s contention that the step was taken to end the menace of black money, the former Union Minister said a bigger Rs 2000 note has been brought which is similar to the paper on which ‘churan’ is sold and “sheds colour”.Sharma alleged that the information on demonetisation was selectively leaked. “Your BJP units have deposited crores of rupees (just before the November 8 decision),” he said.He quoted some media reports to support his allegation, saying State Bank of India – the country’s largest lender – knew of the decision way back in March and a Gujarati newspaper had in April published a report of move to withdraw 500 and 1000 rupee notes.Sitaram Yechury (File Photo) Among those who demanded a JPC probe were Congress’ Pramod Tiwari, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury.Congress is unequivocally opposed to black money and opposes any force that print counterfeit currency, Anand Sharma said while alleging that the government policy was to “benefit those who are your friends and hurt those who question you.”He said the government, in one stroke, took away 86.4 per cent of the over Rs 16 lakh crore currency in circulation.”Did the government think that 86 per cent of the currency in circulation was counterfeit or blackmoney,” he asked.He said an atmosphere has been created in the country where questions cannot be asked and those doing so are branded as anti-nationals.”The magnanimous Prime Minister allowed Rs 4000 of old currency to be changed… What right does the Constitution give the government to place restrictions on withdrawal of one’s hard-earned money,” the Congress leader asked, adding one has to “beg to be allowed to withdraw his own money.” He demanded a probe into “how many people bought more than Rs 1 crore of foreign currency and bullion” since April.”This is a serious issue… you never kept secrecy (about the decision),” the Congress leader said.He also wanted the Prime Minister to state where he got Rs 23,000-24,000 crore, estimated by the International Money Watch Group, for his Lok Sabha elections. He also asked if cheque or credit card payments were made to organise his rally in Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh a few days ago.Sharma said Modi had in his Goa speech had stated that those standing in line at banks were those involved in 2G spectrum and coal scam as well as holding blackmoney.”I condemn the Prime Minister for calling the poor standing in queue for his Rs 4000-4,500, blackmoney holders and scamster,” he said.The Congress leader also referred to Modi’s statement in Goa last week that certain forces were out to eliminate him and asked him to name the conspirators wanting to do so if the government has any such input.”Congress and this House will not tolerate anyone trying to harm the Prime Minister of the country,” he said.He took a dig at Modi for calling himself a ‘sanyasi’ (saint) and ‘tapasvi’, saying he was someone who “changes clothes five times a day”, has become the Prime Minister and travels around the globe.Sharma demanded that the names of persons holding accounts in Swiss bank and those revealed in the Leichtenstein and HSBC lists should be made public. The names of bank loan defaulters above Rs 5000 crore should also be made public.While the decision had put the common man to immense hardship by way of having to stand in long queues to lay hands on valid currency to meet daily needs, the information about demonetisation was selectively leaked to the “friends of BJP,” Sharma alleged.The move had branded 86 per cent of the currency in circulation black money and “everyone a criminal,” he said adding when Modi announced the plan it was expected that adequate arrangements would be made for dispensing new notes. So banks and ATMs were shut on November 9 but the expectation of normalcy from next day were dashed with queues only getting longer by the day.Piyush Goyal (File Photo) Power Minister Piyush Goyal, who spoke on behalf of the ruling side, rejected as baseless the opposition charge that there was “leakage” of the decision and said everyone was taken by surprise which is why there are “initial” problems.”There is no politics in it. It is a step taken in national interest,” he said, adding it will help the country in the long run.”If anyone has the strength to take on black money and corruption, it is the BJP government and Narendra Modi,” the minister said.He claimed that common people are out in support of the government’s move which is aimed against graft and terror and that the step will lead to curbing inflation and tax rate may come down.Goyal claimed that the country has welcomed this initiative of the Modi government and it is natural that some people who have black money and are indulging in corruption and blackmoney are worried about it.”There is no curb on honestly-earned money. So nobody should have a problem,” he added.”Desh me imandaar ka samman hua hai aur be-imaan ka nuksaan hua hai, (The honest have been honoured and the dishonest have faced losses),” he said.”I am confident that public is understanding the initial problems because the decision was kept a secret. No honest tax-payer will lose a single rupee. The loss will be of those who have amassed wealth through corruption and black money and the public should also support the government in the move,” he said.Goyal said some pain and difficulty in the implementation of such a decision is inevitable but despite that the people have strongly supported the move.He urged all the parties to support the move so that the House gives a message to the country that all are against corruption and black money.To Sharma’s charge that those questioning the government are labelled as anti-national, he said, “Understandably if someone opposes it (demonetisation), questions will be raised on whether they are against ending the menace of corruption and black money in the country.”Taking a dig at the opposition, he said, “We thought all political parties will support us in Parliament. But for some reasons they have opposed the move. It seems they are worried due to the large public favouring it and supporting the government despite the problems being faced by them.” Goyal also said BJP has already put out its poll expenses on the website and after this step all will think before indulging in corruption and black marketing.Responding to issues raised by the opposition, he said some people have been saying that seven or ten days’ time should have been given. “Secrecy is most important for such a step,” he added.Listing the benefits of the move, Goyal said interest rates will come down, inflation would be curbed and even the tax rate will come down.”If 5 people don’t pay tax, the brunt is borne by the rest of 95 percent people. And if taxes are paid, there will be more money with the Centre to carry out welfare works for farmers, women, SC and ST sections,” he added.With regard to allegations that the move has been timed to benefit BJP in the UP elections, he said such a statement itself implies that people support this step.To demands that the government should declare the names of people who have Swiss Bank accounts, Goyal said such a step will make it difficult for government to obtain more information about such accounts.But some people want the government to make the error of declaring these names and then it will have difficulty in getting this information, he claimed.Sharma said an “undeclared emergency” has put common people to grave inconvenience while crime money, ill-gotten wealth and that accrued through corruption or tax evasion is black money.The Prime Minister should answer if he considers money in the market, or in households, or with farmers, workers and employees was also blackmoney, the Congress leader questioned.Ram Gopal Yadav (File Photo)Ram Gopal Yadav, who was expelled from SP but spoke on behalf of the party, joined Anand Sharma in alleging that information on demonetisation was “leaked” and termed it as a scam. He sought a JPC probe.”A BJP leader in Punjab had tweeted on November 5 about the new Rs 2000 note. How did this happen? This is an issue of concern. There is a scam in this. This should definitely be probed,” he said.The government decision has led to lot of hardships in the villages and the villagers have stopped buying normal things like toothpaste and hair oil, he said.The common people, especially the poor and the housewives were put to great hardship through this move and if elections are held today they will teach this government a lesson, said Yadav, a leader of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.”Do not hold elections now. If you meet and ask for votes from housewives in villages, they will beat you up with ‘belan’ and you will have to embalm your back with turmeric,” he said, adding that you might lose elections if you hold early polls.”Elections are not fought with money power. You cannot win elections through money power. No one can win elections like that. Elections are won only by winning the hearts of people,” he said.Yadav said the entire House was against corrupt and drug money but lamented that an impression is being created that those opposing this are against curbing black money which is erroneous.On the Prime Minister’s remarks that he might be killed because of his move, Yadav said there should be a probe to find out who these people are and precaution should be taken.He said it should also be probed if the statement was made only for political motive.AIADMK leader Navneet Krishna said the RBI and the government have failed the rural people with this move which has threatened the saving habit of people.JD(U) Sharad Yadav, while seeking a JPC probe into the suspected leak, said the sudden move was akin to “jumping out of a moving train”.He said unlike the rich, who the PM said were standing in queue, it was the poor, handicapped and old people who were doing so to get their hands on their hard-earned money.He alleged that while loans worth Rs 7,000 crore was written off today by banks including Rs 1,200 crore of Vijay Mallya and said the Prime Minister has made the honesty of the country to stand in queues.Yadav also took a dig at Arun Jaitley, saying he was sure that the Finance Minister was not part of the decision making on demonetisation, because if he had been, Jaitley would have tipped him off. This remark left most members including Jaitley laughing.CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said of the 130 crore population in the country, only 2.6 crore have credit cards.He took a dig at Modi and narrated the infamous quote of Queen Marie Antoinette during the French revolution who had said that people can eat cakes when they don’t have bread. “We have Modi Antoinette who says ‘If you don’t have paper, use plastic'”.

Demonetization: ‘The honest have been honoured, dishonest troubled’, govt slams opposition in Rajya Sabha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader Anand Sharma on Wednesday said that an atmosphere has been created by the BJP-led NDA regime wherein questioning the government has become the parameter to decide one’s nationalism.Speaking in the Upper house, Sharma said, “I condemn the PM’s statement in Goa for mocking the people, who are standing in queues. He must apologise.””There are people, who are taking turns to stand in ATM lines. So many have died standing in line. This government has no compassion. Your government is insensitive,” he said.Continuing his outburst against the government, Sharma alleged that the ruling dispensation has brought ‘financial anarchy’ with its move to demonetize high value currency notes.”Is this law? You have brought financial anarchy to the country. If you are trying to give the impression that it is this government who has taken all actions to fight black money then you are wrong. The PM does not have the grace to admit that it was the previous government, and you are just continuing. Today, you have created an environment where you cannot ask questions because if you do, then questions are raised on your patriotism,” he added.Sharma said the whole world got the impression that India’s economy runs on black money.However, defending the Centre’s decision , Minister of State for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines Piyush Goyal said that this move has honoured the honest while troubled the dishonest.The entire nation is welcoming this step of the government. When the Prime Minister was elected, he was elected on a mandate to curb corruption and black money. For the first time, the honest have been honoured and the dishonest have been troubled. There is no obstruction on the money earned by honest means. This is no curb on anyone’s honest income. This move attacks those who have illicit cash,” Goyal said in the Rajya Sabha.”We never referred to this move as a surgical strike. If Anand Sharma ji calls it that then we consider it an endorsement of demonetisation. I appeal to the people, please be assured your honest income is not in any danger. You have till 30th December to exchange or deposit old notes, please don’t panic,” he added.Goyal further said that the people of the country brought the BJP-led NDA to power in 2014 after imposing their trust on Narendra Modi.”Almost 86 percent of the Indian currency was in Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes. Given the high ratio, it seemed obvious that a lot of it was hidden,” he added.Asserting that demonetization is an important decision which warned the black money hoarders that there is no room for black money in the economy, Goyal said the honest can go and deposit their money without fear in the banks.”Slowly and steadily the queues at the banks have been decreasing and the people are willing to face the difficulty for few days, as the decision stands in favour of the nation. Also with the new Rs. 500 and Rs. 2,000 notes in banks, the people are happy,” he added.Goyal further said that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) runs the monetary policy, adding this decision was taken after consultation with the central bank.

Demonetisation: BJP claims opposition ganging up against PM Modi

New Delhi: Hitting out at the Opposition, BJP on Tuesday said while Prime Minister Narendra Modi is working to curb black money and corruption with his demonetisation exercise, rival parties have “ganged up” against him.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Terming demonetisation as a ‘surgical strike’ on black money, BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma claimed that the general public is in the support of the move and now it has taken a shape of “people’s movement”.

He added that despite difficulties, the common man is supporting the decision.

On the other hand, opposition parties are indulging in “conspiracy” by spreading various rumours to derail this movement but the country is unitedly standing with Modi in his fight against black money and corruption, he alleged at a press conference.

“While Modi government is working day-night to remove black money and corruption from the system, these opposition parties have ganged up to remove him,” Sharma said.

Taking on SP and BSP, he said on Tuesday, these “opportunist” political outfits are raising question marks on the success of demonetisation, “where were they when Congress looted the common man through various scams in their 10 years of misrule”.

“Instead of pointing fingers, SP and BSP were supporting the Congress government at the Centre,” he added.

Calling the decision historic, Sharma said it should also be seen as a step towards electoral reforms as it will clean the electoral system by removing the use of black money and elections will become cheaper.

In the long run, this will also regularise political funding in the country, he said.

First Published On : Nov 15, 2016 16:33 IST

SC defers hearing of PIL seeking Indus Water Treaty disqualification till January

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Tuesday deferred the hearing of a petition calling for scrapping of the Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan till January.The plea has been filed by a Delhi-based lawyer M L Sharma, who has said that the treaty is unconstitutional.Sharma says the treaty is invalid as it was signed by Nehru and Khan, and that it should have been signed by the President of India.The treaty was signed on September 19, 1960 by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan President Ayub Khan. It is one of the most liberal water-sharing pacts in the world.The agreement covers six rivers – the three eastern rivers of Ravi, Beas, Sutlej and their tributaries and the three western rivers of Indus, Jhelum, Chenab and their tributaries.Water from the eastern rivers has been allocated to India, and New Delhi is obligated to let 80 percent water from the western rivers flow to Pakistan. The treaty gives the lower riparian Pakistan more ‘than four times’ the water available to India.

Winter Session: Opposition parties meet to finalise strategy, say demonetization is ‘scripted scam’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Seeking to corner the government in Parliament on the demonetization issue, major opposition parties, including arch rivals TMC and CPI(M), today held deliberations to finalise a common strategy alleging that the decision was a “scripted scam” which was leaked to the ruling BJP much in advance.The meeting, held in the chamber of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, saw rivals TMC and Left coming together with leaders of YSR Congress, JMM, RJD and JDU to discuss ways to put the Government on the mat in Parliament. The leaders decided to meet again tomorrow to finalise a common strategy as today’s meeting remained inconclusive in absence of leaders from BSP, SP, DMK and NCP. The Winter Session of Parliament starts from November 16.After the meeting, Azad said there was consensus among parties against black money but equally everyone felt that the Government had leaked the demonetization information to the ruling BJP and a “scripted scam”. “There was consensus against black money in the meeting but everyone was against the way demonetization was implemented. It came suddenly and the information was leaked to the ruling party while other parties learnt of it only two hours before it was to roll out. This is a scam and we will raise it in Parliament,” Azad said.Asked if opposition parties will join the TMC delegation to the President on November 16, Azad said, “The question is not who is going with them or who is leading. The question is when to go, which date to go, whether to go mid-session or later.”To a question about whether there was consensus on anything in the meeting, Azad said there was consensus on questioning the Government over the way the decision was leaked to the ruling party.”There is a difference between us and the Government so far as logic of demonetization goes. The Government says it has done what it has done whether people live or die. We are saying we are against black money but also against the way demonetization was implemented.”The government leaked it to the ruling party. Rest of the parties were told only two hours in advance. People are also being inconvenienced all over. We will meet again tomorrow to discuss these issues since all parties were not present today. We don’t have to evolve a one day strategy. It has to be a strategy for the whole session,” said AzadAs the opposition appeared undecided on the ways to raisethe matter in Parliament, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the meeting today sought that Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes be permitted for white transactions till December 31, to help people.Asked if CPI(M) will join TMC during a visit to the President, Yechury said, “Most parties agreed that the issue must first be raised in Parliament. Everyone has given notices. We will ask the government to allow old currency notes to be legal tender for all public utilities and essential item purchases till December 31.” JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said leaders of the opposition parties would hold talks again tomorrow and that all were united.”Our attempt is to put up a united opposition. We will let you know about our course of action,” he said. CPI leader D Raja said the government’s decision on demonetization has triggered “unprecedented hardship and sufferings” for the common people and the opposition will put up a united front against it. “The government cannot doubt the common people as dishonest. The decision is affecting a large section of public and it needs to be raised in Parliament. There is consensus on this. Tomorrow several other parties will be meeting and will further hold discussion on the issue,” he said.Congress leader Anand Sharma, attacking Modi, said he has subjected farmers, labourers, housewives and the poor people to a situation which is “unprecedented”. Referring to Modi’s emotion-laced speech in Goa yesterday, Sharma said, “The Prime Minister has mastered the art of theatrics. He continues to insult those who are standing in queues. “He is insensitive. We feel the manner in which the demonetization has been done is a scam as BJP leaders were informed about it far in advance,” he said.

Congress workers pay heed to Rahul Gandhi’s message, help people waiting in bank queues

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With common people facing major hardships due to paucity of cash in the wake of the demonetisation move, Congress in Madhya Pradesh set up stalls outside some banks on Sunday and served refreshments to those standing in long queues. “We had put some stalls in front of banks in the state capital, including Jahangirabad and Bairagarh localities, and served water and tea to people, especially senior citizens,” said Congress district president and state unit party general secretary PC Sharma.Long queues have been seen outsides banks since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced scrapping of bank notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 to curb black money. Banks remained open on Sunday to cater to the huge rush of people who wanted to either withdraw/deposit their money or get the defunct denominations exchanged for lower value legal tender.Sharma said Congress members helped old and illiterate people to fill up requisite forms to get their demonetised money exchanged at the banks. State Congress chief spokesman KK Mishra said, “We have been informed officially by our cadres that around 35 such camps were put up at different districts outside Bhopal.” Mishra said such stalls may continue till the banking system is back to normal.
ALSO READ Politics adds to currency chaosBlaming the BJP-led Central government for the plight of people post demonetisation move, he said that common people, especially poor and farmers are run out of money and running from the pillar to post for cash.

Smog lifts, but companies’ view of polluted Delhi skies is dim | Reuters

By Rajesh Kumar Singh

NEW DELHI As New Delhi grappled with its worst smog in 17 years, the head of India’s largest mobile payment firm got on a plane and left, one of thousands of professionals escaping pollution that could cost the capital and the broader economy dear.Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of PayTM payment start-up, left last Sunday for a temporary stay in Mumbai, worried about the impact of hazardous clouds of dust, smoke and fumes that hang over Delhi during the winter months.”It became very visibly clear that it is going to be tough in Delhi, especially with young kids,” Sharma said in Mumbai.”We were worried that it could create long-term (health) problems.”His company, which has considered moving from its base outside Delhi, has installed air purifiers, brought in plants and masks and offered extra health assistance.Telecoms operator Idea Cellular and others have allowed more employees to work at home, and hired buses so that car traffic is reduced – all at their own expense.A few companies are thriving from the heavy smog hanging over the city earlier this month – providers of face masks and air purifiers have seen sales soar.But others, like the car manufacturers, are in the firing line of local and national politicians who want to reduce the deadly haze, while estate agents and tour operators have complained of a slowdown in business.Delhi, home to around 17 million people, is among the fastest growing states in India. Its $84 billion economy has been expanding at more than 8 percent for the past two years, faster than a 7.4 percent national average.Its air quality, meanwhile, has deteriorated, even by the standards of a country with some of the world’s most polluted cities. Conditions had improved by Friday, but the problem is perennial and has been particularly acute this winter.Companies have yet to tot up the cost of a week of coughing, spluttering and watering eyes, but local industry lobby group Assocham estimates “several billions of dollars” of new investments are under threat.A study by the World Bank shows Asia’s third-largest economy lost 8.5 percent of its GDP in 2013 due to air pollution.

Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), a global real estate services firm serving large corporates, said some clients were reconsidering Delhi as a base, as costs of working there rise.”This is increasing their operational costs as they are being made to spend more to provide a healthy workplace to their employees,” said Santosh Kumar, a senior executive at the firm.Delhi’s image is deteriorating more widely, a headache for tour promoters and a government touting “Brand India”.Some local tour operators say they are already receiving requests from overseas partners to redraw the itinerary of foreign tourists to avoid even an overnight stay in Delhi. Business travelers say they are cancelling trips.”The ongoing tourism season, which is yet to pick up, could see a maximum hit,” Assocham said.

Expatriates are also thinking twice about living in the Indian capital. JLL’s Kumar said more smog could see foreigners packing their bags, a blow to real estate as well as employment.Lisa Akerman, a Swedish national who lives in an affluent Delhi neighborhood, said authorities needed to do much more than they were.Akerman moved to the city two years ago with her family and has taken measures to ensure clean air in her apartment for her two small daughters. Still, the choking smog left her worried about their health.Earlier this week, she decided to take them out of the city for a while.”The pollution level is too much for the children,” she said by ‘phone from Goa, where she is camping with her kids. “While I love Delhi, its air quality will be a major consideration in deciding whether we want to extend our stay here.”

The local government has taken steps to reduce traffic amid widespread public anger at pollution that has caused choking, wheezing and breathlessness.Licenses are being withdrawn for diesel-powered vehicles older than 15 years, and authorities are considering resuming an “odd-even” scheme, under which cars can only travel in the city on alternate days depending on their registration number.Those steps, and the risk that India’s courts will impose stricter rules on emissions, are a potential blow to foreign and domestic carmakers, some of whom have asked for greater clarity.But not everyone is complaining about the smog.Japan’s Daikin has seen sales of air purifiers increase by up to three times since the Hindu Diwali festival, and its stock that had been expected to last until March is exhausted. To meet growing orders, the Osaka-based air-conditioner maker increased shipments from its Thai factory by 50 percent.Nirvana India, which distributes the Vogmask face mask in South Asia, reported soaring sales.It sold 300 to 400 pieces a week around this time last year, but since Diwali at the end of October, it has sold 5,000-8,000 a week and is seeking emergency stocks from Singapore, China and Korea.”Earlier, only expats, patients and government departments would buy these masks,” said chief executive Jaidhar Gupta. “Now everyone is buying.” (Additional reporting by Devidutta Tripathy in Mumbai and Manoj Kumar in New Delhi; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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

Would have been better if Burhan Wani wasn’t killed: Vice Chancellor Jammu University

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Vice Chancellor Jammu University Prof R D Sharma has courted controversy by saying it would have been “better” if Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani was kept in jail instead of being killed.”If we would have kept him (Burhan) in jail for entire life, it would have better than killing him. I feel so.Killing a militant is ok and those who have done deaths and destruction should be killed. The problem in Kashmir is that people are still with militancy…We need to understand this,” Sharma told media at a function yesterday. He said an “issued was created” by killing the militant.”What a big issue was created by killing a militant. I don’t know whether I am saying right or wrong? If we would have arrested him, the career of school children would not have been spoiled. I am saying this not as politician but as an educationist,” he said.Sharma said students in Kashmir are “dedicated, well organised and career conscious but would fight if they feel they are being harassed”. “They (Kashmiri students) are very enlightened. It was a surprise and shock for me as to why they don’t go to schools and colleges. It is sensitive issue. I am not a politician, I am a educationist,” he added. His statement today sparked protests by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha following which he issued a statement saying his views be interpreted in the light of academic pursuits only.”It is clarified and impressed upon that the statement given by the vice chancellor, which is already available on the social media as well, be interpreted in the light of academic pursuits only, as it in no way was aimed to promote or protect the interests or hurt the sentiments of any individual. Communication gap caused, if any, is regretted,” a statement quoted Sharma as saying.He said, “It is unfortunate that some vested interests have started twisting the statement to satiate their own objectives”.”We should take lessons from it. If one militant’s killing can create this situation for four-long months, where families, parents and children become adamant and want Kashmir issue to be resolved…This is an eye opener for all of us. We need to change our strategy,” he said.BJYM today held protests over Sharma’s remarks, saying as an academician he should stick to his work only. State General Secretary, BJYM, Vikas Choudhary said he (Sharma) has given his statement at a time when there was unrest in the state and “our jawans were giving sacrifices for the nation”. President, Chamber of Commerce and Industry Jammu, Rakesh Gupta said the chamber was concerned about the statement by the vice chancellor.

Picture of Fadnavis with guy who hatched conspiracy to kill Advani goes viral

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A photograph purportedly showing Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis with a “criminal” went viral on social media on Tuesday, prompting Aam Aadmi Party to launch a scathing attack on the BJP-led state government.According to AAP national spokesperson Preeti Sharma Menon, the man seen in the photo with the CM was Akbar Hussain alias Raju Batla, who has a string of cases registered against him. Raising question about safety and security of citizens, Sharma alleged the state was “unsafe” and the Home department, headed by Fadnavis, as well as police have been “compromised” by the mafia. “Law and order seems to have swept away in Maharashtra completely and the antics of Maharashtra Police have created a sense of fear amongst the citizens. Are they capable of safeguarding our state?,” she asked.Earlier, a photograph purportedly showing Fadnavis with an alleged Pune-based gangster Kamlakar Kisan alias Baba Bodke had gone viral. “Raju Batla is a history sheeter who has 23 cases registered against him. The cases vary from smuggling, extortion, attempt to murder and murder. He was arrested in a conspiracy to assassinate BJP Leader LK Advani,” Sharma claimed. “In the past few months, there has been a spike in criminal activities. Horrific rapes of children and attacks on police officers themselves have shaken the confidence of citizens. If that was not enough, there is a creeping fear that the current government is cosying up with criminals,” she alleged.”A man who should be externed or put behind the bars is found enjoying the company of Chief Minister. This is ridiculous and extremely unacceptable,” she claimed.Responding to the allegations, the Chief Minister’s Office said, “It is not right to rake up old baseless issues and create doubts in minds of people.” As per the CMO, the said photo was taken at a 2015 function. “In 2015, Congress corporator Khairunisa Hussain and her husband Akbar Hussain alias Raju Batla had attended Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s function. The CM shook hands and clicked pictures with all who stood in the queue to meet him.”Elected representatives and their families were invited on August 15 at Mumbai University. Government officials, counsel generals of various countries, civic officials attended the programme,” it said in a statement. Referring to the controversy over Fadnavis’ photo with Bodke, the statement said, “One Ujwala Havre had come to meet Fadnavis to invite him for launch of a mobile application on women safety in Pune. Two people had come with her and requested the CM for a photograph before leaving.”

Gandhiji’s grandson who led him in historic Dandi march passes away

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Kanu Gandhi passed away on Monday in Surat after prolonged illness. The 87-year-old Kanu was admitted to a charitable hospitable in Surat in a critical condition with little financial support.On May 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken to Kanu to enquire about his health. On his direction, Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma had even met Kanu and assured all possible help.A former NASA scientist, Kanu was the energetic little boy who led his grandfather, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi holding his stick on the beaches of Gujarat’s Dandi village during the historic Salt Satyagraha of March-April 1930.Image Courtesy: mkgandhi-sarvodaya.orgThe picture has been etched in public memory for over eight decades and even immortalised in memorials on the Salt Satyagraha at Mumbai’s Juhu Beach and several other parts of the country.

Man files petition against PM; judge hands him court ban

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a first-of-its-kind order to discourage the filing of frivolous petitions, a Delhi court has barred a Delhi resident from entering the court complex for filing a “bizarre” complaint against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The complainant, Ashish Sharma, had sought legal action against Modi, accusing him of “using the recent surgical strikes against Pakistan for political gain.”In the normal course of action, frivolous or bizarre petitions are often dismissed by courts with the imposition of a fine and a reprimand but Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Sumit Dass at the Patiala House Courts Complex seems to have set a precedent.In his order, the CMM said the right to freedom of speech and expression does not authorise a person to heap “insults” against higher authorities, such as the Prime Minister and the government. “Honourable Prime Minister is the leader of this country…Government acts cannot be subject matter of any sort of litigation as attempted herein.”The CMM added in his order: “I have dwelled on the aspect of imposition of cost. However, to my mind, the same would not subserve the ends of justice in as much as same would not prevent recurrence of filing of such complaints, better course is to prevent this litigant from entering the court complex without permission of the learned District and Sessions Judge (DSJ).”Legal experts have termed the order “excessive” and said that the judge has infringed upon the complainant’s fundamental rights. They said that somebody can only be barred from entering a public place if he is a threat to law and order or if that person is guilty of contempt of court.Accordin to Senior Lawyer Geeta Luthra, “Very strong and cogent reasons are required to bar somebody from attending a public hearing. This order seems unprecedented. Unless an inquiry is conducted, and if that inquiry shows that the person is continuously filing frivolous cases, thereby wasting precious judicial time and public money, such an order appears to be excessive.”In his complaint, Sharma had also accused the PM of “playing” with the lives of Indian citizens, especially its soldiers. The complaint was filed on October 15 under section 200 of CrPC.The CMM found no merit in the complaint and called the complainant a “publicity monger” and a “misguided zealot”.The judge said that Sharma will be allowed to enter the court only if he has to attend a hearing and that too with the permission of the DSJ. Forwarding his order to the DSJ, who is the seniormost in the court complex, the magistrate also asked the DSJ to pass further directions in this regard.

DNA Morning Must Reads: Latest on Buldhana gang-rape; Govt’s GST deadline; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Buldhana: One of the 12 minor tribal students raped at knifepoint for 6 monthsTwo accused absconding * Police say the number of victims likely to go up. Read more.2. Govt could skid on GST deadline due to Centre-states turf warGST Council could not come to consensus on the issue dual control on Friday due to difference between bureaucrats; finance ministers will hold a “political meeting” on November 20. Read more.3. Govt on NDTV ban: Nation comes firstThe BJP stated that it respects freedom of the press, but national security cannot be compromised. Read more.4. India v/s England: Dominance of Indian team should continue – Rohit SharmaThe 29-year-old got serious while talking about the upcoming five-match Test series against England starting on November 9. Read more.5. A step forward in my global career: Deepika PadukoneDeepika Padukone will attend MTV EMAs and present an award there. Read more.

Pak waging proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir, will be given befitting reply, warns Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said Pakistan is waging a proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir but the neighbouring country will be given a befitting reply.”Pakistan has always been trying to occupy Jammu and Kashmir, and we consider this land (Jammu and Kashmir) and its people as our integral part. “After facing defeat in face-to-face battles, Pakistan is now engaging in a proxy war on this paradise on the earth. They also targetted others parts of the country. Our soldiers are fighting this battle professionally,” Parikkar, who was on a two-day visit to Kashmir, said at a function here.The Defence Minister, accompanied by Army Chief General Dalbir Singh, was here to pay homage to Major Somnath Sharma, the first Param Vir Chakra awardee of independent India and other soldiers who laid down their lives while pushing back an offensive by Pakistani raiders to control Srinagar Airport in 1947. “On this occasion, let us renew the pledge to give fitting reply to the proxy war and end terrorism here,” Parikkar said addressing a gathering of ex-servicemen.The Defence Minister said Pakistan was trying to mislead its own people and the people of Kashmir. “There is a popularly elected government here which is for the benefit of the Kashmiri people and take them on the path of development”. He said misguided youth are today hitting at Kashmiriyat and destorying the future of Kashmiri children by burning down schools. “The schools are important as the knowledge gained there will stay with the children forever. Wealth can end but not knowledge,” he said.Parikkar said he has told the army officers to look into the issue, but the pressure should also come from the villages for saving the schools. “For the last four months, many anti-social elements sponsored by Pakistan–who have nothing to do with the peace-loving people of Kashmir–have dealt a blow to the economy of Kashmir,” he said.Parrikar said the state had tremendous economic potential, especially in Information Technology and tourism sectors “Yesterday, I went to Uri and I saw the tin-roofs over the houses. This state has the economic potential that these tin-roofs can be gold-plated if not made of gold. For that we need peace. There is huge potential in IT and tourism. “The natural beauty of Kashmir is unparalleled, though as a Goan, I will always say Goa is a little more beautiful,” he added. He appealed to people of Jammu and Kashmir to give up the path of violence and contribute in nation building process.Paying tributes to Major Somnath and other soldiers, Parrikar said it is a matter of pride that he has been able to come to Budgam. “Here our brave soldiers fought valiantly and made the supreme sacrifice. I am excited to see such a large number of ex-servicemen from the valley here who have fought shoulder-to -shoulder with their countrymen for upholding the unity and integrity of the country.”Today we are paying homage to Major Somnath Sharma, the first Param Vir Chakra awardee, and other soldiers who attained martyrdom in 1947. I pay tributes on behalf of entire nation to the martyrs. It is because of the sacrifices of these martyrs and others after them that we are able to hold our heads high with pride and live in this paradise on earth,” he said.

Court to consider plea against CBI closure report in Maneka Gandhi case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A special court would next month consider a protest petition against CBI’s move to close a case against Union Minister Maneka Gandhi and two others for sanctioning Rs 50 lakh grant to a trust allegedly in a “fraudulent” manner in 2001.Special CBI Judge Anju Bajaj Chandna on Thursday heard arguments by complainant V M Singh, who has filed the protest petition, and fixed the matter for December one for further proceedings.The complainant contended that the court should not accept CBI’s closure report as it has been wrongly filed.The court had in 2008 refused to accept the closure report filed by the probe agency and asked CBI to further investigate the matter. However, CBI had again approached the court, saying the “allegations levelled against Gandhi and two others could not be substantiated”.An FIR was lodged by CBI in 2006 against Maneka Gandhi, now the Women and Child Development Minister, Dr F U Siddiqui, former secretary of Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF) and Dr Vijay Sharma, former Managing Trustee of Gandhi Rural Welfare Trust (GRWT).It had alleged that Gandhi, in conspiracy with Siddiqui, had sanctioned a grant of Rs 50 lakh to GRWT from MAEF in an irregular manner to construct a nursing college building at Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh and caused undue favour to Sharma. CBI alleged that another amount of Rs 10.40 lakh was sanctioned to GRWT by S K Verma, the then District Magistrate of Pilibhit, from Gandhi’s MPLADS (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) funds for purchase of two ambulances.Fund was released to GRWT Managing Trustee Ramakant Rampal. It had alleged that Rampal had purchased two jeeps which had cost much less than the approved models and failed to get them certified by the chief medical officer. The vehicles were also used for personal work by the managing trustee.The agency had again filed a closure report, saying “during the course of further investigation, the allegations levelled against Maneka Gandhi, Dr F U Siddiqui and Dr Vijay Sharma could not be substantiated.” “It is, therefore, prayed that the closure report dated December 30, 2008, collectively read with this report, may kindly be accepted,” it said. The final report is pending in the court.The FIR in the case was lodged for the alleged offences under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with section 420 (cheating) of the IPC and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. PTIIn its closure report, CBI said the trust had purchasedIn its closure report, CBI said the trust had purchased two jeeps with ambulance fixtures on September 15, 2003 for Rs 9,85,008, while the balance amount was returned to the government exchequer as per the terms of sanction. “As such no financial irregularity could be pointed out in the matter of purchase of ambulances and the change in vehicle model was found to be on justified grounds,” it said.”Investigation further revealed that the DM, Pilibhit, approved purchase of two Mahindra Voyager ambulances. A cheque dated July 27, 2003 amounting to Rs 10.40 lakh was received by GRWT for purchase of Mahindra ambulances AC Euro-II.”Since production of this model of vehicle was temporarily stopped, the company offered to sell Mahindra DI ambulance which according to the company was rugged, reliable and easily serviceable in semi-urban and rural areas,” the agency said.Regarding sanction of funds, CBI said during further probe, it had come on record that since the sanction was subject to submission of documents with regard to land and site plan, the amount was “released only after completion of the documentary formalities.” It said the funds released by both MAEF and the district administration of Pilibhit have been fully utilised by the GRWT for the purposes.

Goa DGP Muktesh Chander tweets appealing people to boycott ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Goa’s Director General of Police Muktesh Chander has appealed people to boycott Karan Johar’s latest film “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” for allegedly insulting legendary playback singer Mohammad Rafi.Chander is upset over the dialogue in the movie which allegedly equates singing of Rafi to crying. In the film, Anushka Sharma is seen telling Ranbir Kapoor, “Mohammad Rafi? Woh gaate kam, rote zyada the na?”The singer’s family has taken objection to the dialogue in the movie which was embroiled in a controversy before its release as it featured Pakistani actor Fawad Khan.
ALSO READ Watch: Anushka Sharma now sings ‘Cutie Pie’ from ADHM to her dog”Md Rafi was one of the greatest singers of India and needs no certificate from anyone. If you are a Rafi fan, boycott this movie,” Chander tweeted.The 1988 batch IPS officer, who is posted as Director General of Police also quoted a national newspaper report which has interviewed Shahid Rafi, the son of the late singer.Chander could not be contacted for his comment despite repeated calls and text messages while his office confirmed that he is in Delhi to attend official meeting.The movie had earlier faced protests when MNS had raised a flag against the presence of Pakistani artists in Indian films.The stand-off between MNS chief Raj Thackeray and Johar was resolved after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadanavis struck a truce between them.

Congress will pay heavily for glorifying SIMI, warns BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday warned the opposition Congress party about paying heavily for questioning the authenticity of the police encounter with eight SIMI terrorists on the outskirts of Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal, and added that the latter is in the business of glorifying terrorists.”Glorifying terrorists and questioning the martyrdom of our soldiers has become a habit of the ‘Italy’ Congress. When Mohan Chand Sharma was killed in the Batla encounter case, Digvijay Singh raised questions on his martyrdom, they even asked for proof of surgical strikes, Congress will pay heavily for glorifying terrorists,” BJP leader Shrikant Sharma told ANI.The opposition parties has been cornering the BJP ruled- Madhya Pradesh Government over the killing of eight people from the banned SIMI group.The Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, yesterday, questioned the authenticity of the encounter video.Singh wondered as to what is the reason that only Muslims break out of jail and not Hindus while stating that he was against all those playing politics in the name of religion.The Communist Party of India (CPI) dubbed the SIMI encounter as ‘dubious’ and demanded an explanation from the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led government.In response, Chouhan condemned the opposition parties for indulging in votebank politics.”I don’t know what sort of political mudslinging has begun. Few leaders of our nation cannot see the martyrdom of our soldiers. They cannot see the sacrifice of Ramashankar Yadav. They are the ones who murdered Shiv Prasad Kushwaha. They killed Sitaram Yadav in Khandwa. Some people are doing vote bank politics on this matter which is highly condemnable. One must refrain from doing this,” he said.The chief minister said it is extremely unfortunate that they do not utter a word about the martyrdom of the soldiers.Bhopal Inspector General of Police Yogesh Choudhary on Monday defended its action to open fire on the terrorists, saying the escapees were neutralized in ‘retaliatory’ fire, adding that the suspects have been continuously perpetrating serious offences and also killed police constables in 2008 and 2011.On Monday, eight terrorists of the banned group SIMI were killed in an encounter after escaping from the Bhopal Central Jail.

Pak High Commission has become an ISI den: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi has become an “ISI den” and is “breaking” all laws, the BJP today said, stressing that the Union government has taken cognisance of it and will take appropriate action.”The reality is that the high commission here has become an ISI den. It is breaking all rules and laws…Its work is no longer about diplomatic relationship. It has become a centre of smuggling information from here to there (Pakistan),” party National Secretary Shrikant Sharma said. He was responding to reports that more Pakistani High Commission officials may be involved in the alleged spy ring recently busted by Delhi Police.”The Indian government has taken cognizance of it and will take appropriate action,” he said.At a press conference, he also termed as unfortunate the attack on Hindus and their temples in Bangladesh and said the Indian government will take up the matter with the neighbouring country. “Our government will speak to the government (of Bangladesh) in this regard. The Hindus there and their religious places should not be targeted due to some incident there. They should be given security,” he said.

Culture Minister’s faux pas: Calls New Zealand PM John Key ‘McCullum’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Minister of Culture Mahesh Sharma made a faux pas at an event in Delhi when he addressed New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key as “McCullum”. The event was organised to promote New Zealand tourism in India and apart from Sharma and Key, Brendon McCullum, who earlier skippered that country’s cricket team in all three forms of the game, was also present.The gaffe happened when Sharma began his speech, addressing Key as “His excellency Prime Minister McCullum”. Moments after the minister made the blunder, Bollywood actor Sidharth Malhotra, who is New Zealand tourism’s ambassador in India, rose to speak but could not recall Sharma’s name. After fumbling for a few seconds, he said wittily “It’s payback time”.The event was aimed at promoting cultural exchanges between the two countries and, ignoring the mix up, Key said New Zealand is looking forward to having more Indian tourists visiting the nation.He said getting Malhotra on board was their way of attracting youngsters from India to visit the country which is one of the best destinations for adventure and nature tourism. Malhotra, who visited New Zealand last year to shoot some promotional videos, was presented an All Blacks (rugby team) jersey by the Prime Minister and, to honour the foreign dignitary on his India visit, the actor gifted him a handmade lion depicting confidence and power. The 31-year-old actor will be travelling across New Zealand for around 10 days to shoot a new set of promotional videos.

Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma addresses New Zealand PM John Key ‘His excellency PM McCullum’

New Delhi: Minister of Culture Mahesh Sharma made a faux pas at an event in New Delhi when he addressed New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key as “McCullum”.

The event was organised to promote New Zealand tourism in India and, apart from Sharma and Key, Brendon McCullum, who earlier skippered that country’s cricket team in all three forms of the game, was also present.

The gaffe happened when Sharma began his speech, addressing Key as “His excellency Prime Minister McCullum”.

A file photo of Union Minister of Culture ad Tourism, Mahesh Sharma. Reuters

A file photo of Union Minister of Culture ad Tourism, Mahesh Sharma. Reuters

Moments after the minister made the blunder, Bollywood actor Sidharth Malhotra, who is New Zealand tourism’s ambassador in India, rose to speak but could not recall Sharma’s name. After fumbling for a few seconds, he said wittily “It’s payback time”.

The event was aimed at promoting cultural exchanges between the two countries and, ignoring the mix-up, Key said New Zealand is looking forward to having more Indian tourists visiting the nation.

He said getting Malhotra on board was their way of attracting youngsters from India to visit the country which is one of the best destinations for adventure and nature tourism.

Malhotra, who visited New Zealand last year to shoot some promotional videos, was presented an All Blacks (rugby team) jersey by the Prime Minister and, to honour the foreign dignitary on his India visit, the actor gifted him a handmade lion depicting confidence and power.

The 31-year-old actor will be travelling across New Zealand for around 10 days to shoot a new set of promotional videos.

BJP terms family feud in SP as ‘fixed match’ to keep attention away from Akhilesh’s ‘failures’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> BJP on Wednesday described the ongoing feud in the ruling Yadav family in Uttar Pradesh as a “high voltage drama” aimed at keeping the media and public attention away from the “failures” of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.It also latched onto a High Court order, which criticised the state government for not taking adequate preventive health measures, to lash out at the Samajwadi Party and BSP, saying while the state”s health has gone done, the wealth of Yadav clan and Mayawati and her kin have gone up. Its National Secretary Shrikant Sharma also told a press conference that BJP, if elected to power, will probe “scams” that occurred under the SP and previous BSP governments and punish the guilty as he claimed that they were not held to account so far as both the regional parties ignored corruption cases involving each other’s governments. “The health of UP continues to decline. But the condition of families ruling SP, BSP and Congress is good. Their wealth is increasing,” he said.The family feud in the Yadav family is a “fixed match”, he alleged. “Akhilesh Yadav has failed on all fronts. The high voltage drama we are all seeing is a scripted event done to ensure that the media and public do not pay attention to his failures,” he said. Giving details, he said there is a shortage of 1288 primary health centres and while only 2905 are available in the state. Against the requirement of 3092 specialist doctors only 484 are available and out of 20521 sub centres health workers are not present in 14291, he added.While across the country the average load on a hospital is of 61000 people, in UP it is 2.5 lakh, he said, lashing out at Yadav and previous Mayawati governments for their “failures” on the health front.The High Court, which slammed the government for its lack of facilities to deal with malaria and chikungunya, said the constitutional system has completely failed and wondered why the President”s Rule should not be imposed in the state, Sharma noted.If the Chief Minister had any morality left, he would have resigned, he said. Only BJP is capable of providing education, health and other facilities to the people of the state, he claimed, adding that they have made up their mind to vote the saffron party to power. “People in their mind have rejected the Akhilesh Yadav government. They will do so formally in the elections.”

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