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1993 Bombay blasts case: HC refuses furlough to convict Rubina Menon

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has rejected the plea of 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Rubina Suleman Memon, seeking her release on furlough.

“We are not inclined to release the petitioner (Rubina) on furlough as she had been convicted by a TADA court for her involvement in terrorist activities,” said a bench of Justice VK Tahilramani and AM Badar in a recent judgement.

Rubina is also sister-in-law of Tiger Memon, believed to be living in Pakistan and one of the prime conspirators of the serial blasts that had rocked the city in March, 1993, claiming 257 lives and injuring more than 700 others.

Rubina was sentenced to life imprisonment along with three other family members by a Mumbai TADA Court in 2006, while her husband Sulieman was acquitted due to lack of evidence. Her brother-in-law Yakub was sent to the gallows on terror charges.

File image of Bombay high court. IBNlive

File image of Bombay high court. IBNlive

Rubina, currently lodged in Pune’s Yerwada prison, had applied to jail authorities for furlough leave on 22 January 2015. However, her plea was rejected on 15 January 2016. Aggrieved, she filed an appeal which was dismissed in May this year. Thereafter, she moved the High Court by a writ petition seeking furlough leave, which was rejected last week.

Rubina’s lawyer Farhana Shah argued that the three co-accused, who have also been convicted under TADA in the same case, have been released from jail temporary on leave.

They are Sardar Shahwali Khan, who was released on furlough on 9 June 2014, Nasir Abdul Kadar, who was given furlough leave on 27 June 2014 and Isa Abdul Razak Memon, who was also released on furlough on 10 June 2016, Farhana said.

As the three co-accused, who were similarly placed with Rubina in the 1993 bomb blast case, had been given furlough leave, the petitioner should also be given the same facility, i.e furlough leave, Farhana argued.

Additional Public prosecutor HJ Dedia submitted that Rubina’s application for furlough was rejected under Rule 4(4) of the Prisons (Bombay Furlough and Parole) Rules, 1959.

This Rule states that prisoners whose release is not recommended by Commissioner of Police or District Magistrate on the ground of public peace and tranquility, shall not be granted furlough.

The prosecutor said that in the order jail authorities rejecting Rubina’s furlough, it was stated that the petitioner is wife of brother of Yakub Memon. She will spend her period of furlough in Mahim area in Mumbai, where people of all communities reside.

“If she is released on parole people will turn up to meet her in large numbers and there would be a law and order problem, particularly in view of the fact that during the funeral of Yakub Memon, a huge crowd had turned up,” the order stated.

The prosecutor also pointed out that as Rubina has been convicted under TADA hence under Rule 4(13) of Prison Tules, she would not be entitled to be released on furlough, as this rule states that prisoners who are convicted for terrorist crime shall not be released.

The prosecutor argued that admittedly, the petitioner (Rubina) is convicted under TADA, hence, she is not entitled to be released on furlough. He pointed out that the Bombay High court in two decisions has held that sub rule 13 to Rule 4 is not ultra virus.

Accepting the prosecutor’s argument, the high court rejected the furlough leave petition of Rubina Memon.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 14:10 IST

Hyderabad: Eight persons named by NIA in charge sheet for attempting to carry out terror strike

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eight persons were named by NIA on Thursday in a charge sheet for allegedly attempting to carry out a terror strike by using explosive devices similar to those used by ISIS cadres during last year’s Paris attacks. The charge sheet was filed before a special NIA court at Hyderabad under various sections of IPC, Explosive Substances Act, Arms Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.They have been charged with entering into a criminal conspiracy to wage war against the country by collecting weapons and explosive materials to target public places including religious sites and sensitive government buildings in various parts of the country. Those named in the charge sheet are Abdullah Bin Ahmed Al Amoodi alias Fahad, Mohammed Ibrahim Yazdani alias Abu Abdurrahman, Habeeb Mohammed alias Abu Shaibah, Mohammed Ilyas Yazdani alias Abu Mansoor, Muzaffar Hussain Rizwan alias Abulhasan, Yasir Naimathullah alias Naimath Ullah Hussaini, Mohd Ataullah Rahman alias Ghouse and Abdul Raoof alias Mohammed Almashrifi.The NIA said that during raids at various premises on June 29, several electronic gadgets, mobile phones, hard discs, semi-automatic pistols, air rifle, pellets, target boards, explosive precursor chemicals were recovered. These can be used for preparation of triacetone triperoxide (TATP), an explosive material used in the Paris attacks.As many as 129 people were killed on November 13, 2015 when ISIS cadres used TATP substances while carrying out terror strikes at three places in Paris. TATP is easy to make, easy to set off, and susceptible to accidental detonations. The NIA also found urea, nitrate explosive and equipment for manufacturing like pet jars with liquids, capacitor, gas stove with cylinder, weighing balance, nails, knives, quartz alarm time pieces, bundle of wire.Forensic analysis of electronic gadgets seized from the accused showed online radicalisation of the accused by watching videos of ISIS, discourses and lectures of radical Islamic preachers, such as Anwar Awlaki, Abdu Sami Qasmi, Meraj Rabbani, Tausif ur Rehman, Jerjees Ansari and Zakir Naik, the agency said. Investigation has established that the members downloaded and followed ISIS propaganda videos, ISIS magazine “Dabiq”, which convinced them that ISIS was fighting for the rights of the Sunni Muslims, it said.The group associated with Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (the ISIS) and pledged their allegiance through the Bay’ah to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed Caliph of the Islamic State and formed a group called Jhund ul Khilafa Fi Bilad Al Hind (Army of the Caliph from the South India), it further said. Investigation has established the group used different methods of communication to connect within themselves and with overseas ISIS handlers, it said. This included the use of the dark net through Tor browser, use of encryption applications such as Orbot, Amn al Mujahid, an encryption program by Al-Fajr Media Centre which is an exclusive distributor of Al Qaeda’s Propaganda, Chatsecure, Telegram, and encrypted email systems, it added.They deliberately used secure communication and encryption to evade detection by law enforcement agencies. Investigation conducted so far has successfully established all the accused are members of a terrorist gang, the agency said. Each member played his role in the conspiracy. There were several meetings conducted by the members over the period where many decisions were taken on the course of action to be taken in furtherance of the conspiracy, it said.The group made efforts to go and join the ISIS ranks, took instructions from the handler, formed a terrorist group, pledged Bay’ah to the ISIS, recruited others, contributed money, utilized the funds so collected to procure raw materials, mobile phones, SIM cards, firearms, ammunition, explosive precursors, in pursuance of the terror conspiracy.All the accused conspired with a common intent to commit terrorist acts and threaten safety, security and integrity of the nation, the NIA said.

DNA Evening Must Reads: Najeeb Jung resigns; Ravichandran declared ICC Cricketer of the Year; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung submits his resignation, Kejriwal ‘surprised’Najeeb Jung, the 20th Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, stepped down from his position on Thursday. He was appointed to the post of Lt. Governor in 2013, replacing Tajender Khanna, another IAS officer. Read more here.2. After PM Modi mocks Rahul’s ‘earthquake’, Congress VP says ‘answer me’A combative Gandhi hit back at PM Modi for mocking his speech wherein the Congress vice president had accused him of having taken money from corporate groups, saying he could make fun of him but needed to answer the charges of personal corruption levelled against him. Read more here.3. Berlin Christmas market attack: Tunisian suspect’s fingerprints found on truck door, 4 arrested – mediaInvestigators found fingerprints of a Tunisian suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack on the door of the truck that ploughed through the crowds, killing 12, German media said on Thursday, as a nationwide manhunt for the migrant was underway. Read more here.4. Damage to India’s economic growth will be bigger than RBI’s estimates: ReportDamage to India’s economic growth is likely to be bigger than the RBI’s estimates, as there could be a sharper slowdown in the near-term as cash shortage is likely to extend into the first quarter of next year, says a Nomura report. Read more here.5. Great news for Indian cricket as Ravichandran Ashwin is declared ICC Cricketer of the Year for 2016It turned out to be double delight for Ravichandran Ashwin at the ICC Annual Awards on Thursday as he became only the third Indian player ever to win the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy after being named the ICC Cricketer of the Year besides the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year. Read more here.

Sheena Bora murder: CBI court reserves order on Indrani Mukherjea’s bail plea

Mumbai: A special CBI court on Wednesday reserved its order on the interim bail sought by Indrani Mukerjea, prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, to conduct post-death rituals of her father.

The CBI on Wednesday opposed her visit to Assam to conduct rituals of her father, Upendra Kumar Bora, who died there on 15 December.

In its reply to the court, the CBI also annexed an e-mail written by Indrani’s son Mikhail to the agency saying that he doesn’t want her to visit Guwahati.

Mikhail, an important witness in the case, has said that his grandfather had been bed-ridden since the last one year and he had been looking after both his grandparents for the last three years without any financial and mental support from Indrani.

He has said that his grandparents had legally adopted him as their son and he has already commenced the funeral rituals.

File image of Indrani Mukerjea. News 18

File image of Indrani Mukerjea. News 18

“Indrani has been accused of murdering my elder sister Sheena Bora and ruining my family. Therefore, it is my utmost plea to you sir that I don’t want Indrani to come to Guwahati and visit me as this will create chaos and unnecessary disturbance in my life due to media and other persons, and will hamper commencing post-death rituals of my grandfather,” Mikhail said in the mail to CBI.

In its reply to the court, the central agency has said that Indrani has filed the application in order to move out of jail and with intention to influence prosecution witness as the trial is to commence shortly.

It also said that safety and security of Indrani is required to be looked into with regard to the proposed journey to Guwahati. “There is always a possibility that she may escape from the custody,” the CBI said.

It has also said that Indrani’s mother Durga Rani died on 1 October last year, but Indrani mentioned in her plea thatshe died in November and this doesn’t reflect Indrani’s closeness with her parents.

Special public prosecutors Bharat Badami and Kavita Patil told the court that the funeral was already over and Mikhail has conducted the rituals.

“The Brahman bhojan (ritual) is kept on 27 December, while priests can be called in jail and all the rituals can be performed in the prison itself,” Badami told the court.

However, Indrani’s lawyer requested the court that if not Guwahati, she must be allowed to do the rituals in Nashik, Haridwar or Mumbai itself.

“Indrani wants to mourn. When her mother passed away she was not told about it. She needs to observe mourning, perform Sharad and offer food to Bhramins,” her lawyer said.

The court is likely to pass order on her bail application tomorrow. The court is at present hearing arguments on framing of charges.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 19:57 IST

Manipur: One police commado, two constables killed in ambush

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Manipur Police commando and two police constables were killed while nine others were injured when militants ambushed road opening parties (ROP) at two different places in Chandel district of Manipur on Thursday. Earlier reports said four personnel were killed and another four injured in the ambush at Lokchao and Bongyang areas in the hill district of Chandel.The twin attacks took place as United Naga Council (UNC) was gearing up for a mass rally in four Naga district headquarters on Thursday against the creation of the seven districts in the state by the O Ibobi Singh-led government. The first ambush occurred at Lokchao, 21 km from the border town of Moreh, when the police team was heading for Tengnoupal where Chief Minister was scheduled to attend a programme in connection with the inauguration of the newly created Tengnoupal district, which was carved out of the existing Naga-dominated Chandel district.The Chief minister was scheduled to attend another programme in connection with the formal inauguration of Kangpokpi district which was bifurcated from the Naga- dominated districts Senapati and Ukhrul districts.Ibobi Singh, who attended the formal inauguration of Tengnoupal district, returned to Imphal by a chopper, the police said. Speaking to reporters in Tengnoupal, the chief minister said, “It is of no use to attack Manipur Police and all disputes must be resolved through dialogue”.He announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the nearest kin of the police personnel killed in the ambush. The two police constables were identified as Ayub Khan and Nonglei Charang Marring.While Ayub Khan died at the Lokchao ambush spot, the other police personnel died on way to Imphal for treatment.The Manipur police commando, who succumbed to injuries in the second ambush at Bongyang, has been identified as Havildar Yengkhom Jeevan, the police said. The nine policemen were injured at Lokchao, the sources said, adding security forces rushed to the two spots in Chandel district.The nine injured were identified as Sub-Inspector(SI) Pratap, SI Sarat, SI P Samsung, Head constable Basir, Head Constable Jam Kholen, Constable Md.Lukaman, Constable M Somendro, driver Janminthang and VDF personnel Md Nasir were injured, the police said. The United Naga Council, which has been enforcing economic blockade on NH 53 and NH 39, the lifeline of the landlocked state, since November 1 last, is also demanding imposition of President’s Rule in the state.

Stone causeway of Grand Trunk road discovered in Bihar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials have discovered a 4km long and 20ft wide stone causeway built over Sone river in Bihar, which they say is a part of the Grand Trunk (GT) road built by Afghan ruler Sher Shah Suri.”The ASI is currently mapping the GT road or Uttarpath, as it was known in the ancient times, across the country, and the causeway has been discovered during this exercise,” a senior ASI official said. The project of tracing the Uttarpath is being headed by ASI DG Rakesh Tewari, who is currently out of India and was unavailable for comment.According to historians, the Uttarpath was reconstructed during Sher Shah Suri’s reign in the 16th century from present-day Afghanistan to Bangladesh and was renamed GT road by the Britishers in the 17th century. It was one of Asia’s oldest and longest road and promoted trade and commerce in the southern and central parts of the continent.The ASI official termed it one of the most important discoveries of recent times and added, “In fact, this is the first time that we have actually discovered an original part of the ancient or medieval GT road,” he said.Located between Kanbaheli in Aurangabad district and Bansa in Rohtas district, the discovered causeway (a raised road or track across a water body) is built out of 10ft long dressed sandstone slabs, and parts of it are still undamaged. “The structure and style indicate that the causeway was built in the medieval times. So far as we know, its last mention is found in Sir William Wilson Hunter’s A Statistical Account of Bengal in 1876,” another archaeologist said.Officials attributed the discovery to heavy monsoon rains in Bihar and discharge of lakhs of cusecs of water on Sone river from the Indrapuri barrage that likely washed away the sand and silt deposits on the causeway and revealed its surface.”The causeway is around one kilometre away (to the west) from the current alignment of the GT road, which may be because of the British slightly changing the alignments of the road in the late 1800s,” he said.

Patients choke as air pollution hits record high in Capital

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The onset of winter has been terrible for 30-year-old Ashish Singh. Over the last few days, he has been coughing so badly that blood is coming out from his saliva. Singh claims that he faces this horrible experience every year but this year has been the worst.”Till last year, I used to take an inhaler once a day. But this year, doctors have asked me to take it thrice a day, thanks to the pollution levels which have only got worse. In the last few days, I can feel congestion inside my chest,” said Singh, who works as an HR professional in a private firm in Gurgaon.Singh’s condition is symptomatic of the respiratory and other health-related problems in the capital this winter. Doctors said that they have witnessed an increase in the number of cases of respiratory illness this year. Cases of viral infection, cough, sneezing, respiratory tract infection and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) have also gone up this year.”The number of cases of respiratory illness have gone up by 20 per cent. This is the worst phase for those who have prolonged illnesses. Even cases of viral fever have gone up while those having a history of asthma and COPD are at their worst. Our out-patients department (OPD) is witnessing a large number of patients,” said Dr JC Suri, Professor and Head of Pulmonary Medicine at Safdarjung hospital.The problem has been made worse for patients with the onset of smog. A mixture of fog and air pollutants, smog has been especially harsh on those having a history of respiratory illness, and on children and heart patients who are advised to take special care this year. But doctors say that they are not just getting cases of respiratory illness; cases of sudden cardiac arrest and viral fever are also going up this winter.”Pollution levels have suddenly increased in the last few days, and, as a result, cases have started to come earlier, as compared to last year. We expect that the level of pollution will be higher this year, which will have an adverse affect on people’s health,” said Dr SP Byotra, senior consultant, Internal Medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.The Air Quality Index (AQI) prepared by US embassy in Delhi gives a better idea of just how bad pollution levels are in the capital. The AQI, which provides data from the embassy and consulate air quality monitors, along with additional data from the Centre and local government-monitoring stations — in New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai — showed levels of 527, 459, 458 and 420 at RK Puram, ITO, Anand Vihar, and Siri Fort, respectively.These levels are classified as hazardous as any reading above 150 is considered unhealthy, with the range 351-500 being classified as ‘hazardous’. “This can lead to serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly and respiratory problems for the general public,” said a doctor.A Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) report last year said that air pollution kills 10,000-30,000 people every year.

Dense fog in Delhi to get worse by this week: MET

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Fog continued to affect the national Capital on Tuesday, as a thick layer of smog—a dangerous mix of moisture and pollutants—affected visibility and raised pollution levels. MET officials said that the coming week is going to witness ‘moderate to dense fog’ with further lowering of temperature.””From Wednesday, thick fog will cover Delhi, parts of east Haryana and the whole of UP. This is because of a system building in the Bay of Bengal changing the wind pattern over the Northern regions. The dense fog cover mixed with moisture in the winds will not allow the pollutants to dispense in the air. This is a dangerous mix, as the smog witnessed post-Diwali was still dry but in the present case it will have the moisture of the fog making the air sticky and heavy,” said R Vishen, scientist in-charge, Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC), IMD.Officials at the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) sad that the coming days will see air quality deteriorating from the already ‘severe’ levels of air pollution recorded at four of the six monitoring stations on Tuesday evening. Officials said that temperatures are also likely to dip between this period by one to two degrees though the minimum temperature is not likely to see any change.”Lowering of temperature will mean there will be less sunshine not allowing the air pollutants to be lifted away,” added Vishen.The PM 2.5 levels (fine particles that can lodge deeply into the lungs) at these stations hung between 401 mg per cubic meters to 500 mg per cubic meters — four to eight times higher than the prescribed standards (60 mg per cubic meters).Doctors said that the prevailing smog is extremely hazardous for those having a history of respiratory illness and, in particular, for children and heart patients are advised to take special care.”This transition phase has a large number of health hazards. The situation is expected to aggravate in next few days with the drop in mercury levels. Large numbers of cases of heart attacks are reported during this period,” said Dr SP Byotra, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.According to MET officials, the visibility will reduce to less than 500 meters in the coming week. On Tuesday morning, visibility was recorded at 800 meters. Transportwise, the fog affected the air, road, and rail traffic with several flights being delayed and 54 north-bound trains running behind schedule.Environment experts said the ’emergency measures’ announced by the Delhi government on November 6 and the ‘graded response action plan’ submitted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to the apex court on December 2, to combat air pollution, needed to be ‘stringently enforced’.”The plan to deal with different levels of pollution submitted in the Supreme Court on Friday now makes the neighbouring states (contributing majorly to the city’s pollution) legally bound to take action on the measures recommended to them. The plan has to be strictly enforced, to bring down pollution levels,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, Research and Advocacy & head of the air pollution and clean transportation programme, Centre for Science and Environment.Meanwhile, airport authorities also announced measures for dealing with fog today. The IGI airport has installed 18 Runway Visibility Range (RVR) equipment which will help flights land even in zero visibility. The real-time information will be given to the Air Traffic Controller, who will inform the airlines coming to Delhi so that they can schedule their landing.Commenting on the move, Delhi India Airport Ltd (DIAL) CEO, I Prabhakara Rao said: “Delhi Airport is capable of handling flight arrivals with Runway Visibility Range of up to 50 M. We aim to reduce delays and congestion due to fog, by devising a plan that would ensure smooth flow of flight information, on an almost real time basis, to the passengers.”

Cops bust Hizbul leader’s video-production facility

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The war on terror notched a major win on Friday when security forces busted a studio-cum-communication centre of Hizbul Mujahideen commander and Burhan Wani’s successor Zakir Rashid Bhat in Tral area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.The studio was busted a day after Zakir released a video threatening to target the families of the cops in case the family members of militants are harassed by the security forces in the valley.Sporting a short trimmed beard, Zakir, an engineering drop out, is seen in the video wearing a t-shirt with olive green camouflage waste-coat and trouser in a room covered with curtains. Holding a rifle in his lap, Zakir is seen armed to the teeth with four automatic rifles resting on both sides and a machine gun in front of him.Police said a joint team of cops and 42 Rashtriya Rifles raided the house of Mudasir Ahmed Gunoo at Batipora Dadsara village. They found material and articles used by Zakir for shooting videos.“During preliminary investigation it was also established that Zakir used to record videos in one of the room of the house. Some clothes and other material used by Zakir in different videos and photographs were also recovered,” said a police spokesman.Police sources said the house was converted into a hideout-cum-studio by Zakir. They also said Zakir used different settings for different videos, that he published on social media platforms, to create an impression that they are operating at will.Sources said he had also created a wardrobe of fancy battle fatigues and camouflages which were donned by him for shooting videos.Since the death of Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani, Zakir has released three videos in the valley akin to his former boss Burhan Wani who was known for using social media to reach out to the people.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi discharged from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who was on Tuesday admitted to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital following viral fever, has been discharged. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress President Sonia Gandhi was discharged from a private hospital in Delhi on Wednesday, two days after she was admitted to the facility following viral fever.”Gandhi has recovered from fever and has been discharged in stable condition,” said Dr Arun Kumar Basu, senior consultant, Department of Chest and Pulmonology Medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.69-year-old Gandhi was discharged around 11.30 AM.She was admitted to the hospital around 8 PM on November 28.Gandhi had been hospitalised for 12 days in August after she had fallen ill during a roadshow in Varanasi. She was operated upon for a shoulder injury also.

Sonia Gandhi admitted to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital

Tue, 29 Nov 2016-11:12pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress President Sonia Gandhi was admitted to a city hospital on Monday evening following viral fever and was recovering. 69-year-old Gandhi was brought to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital around 8 PM on Monday and doctors treating her said she was feeling much better on Tuesday. “Sonia Gandhi has been admitted under the care of Dr Arun Kumar Basu, senior consultant in Department of Chest and Pulmonology Medicine and his team of consultants. Gandhi’s routine tests are being conducted and is better today. She is likely to be discharged in a day or two,” Chairman of the hospital’s Board of Management DS Rana said.Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka has been with her while son Rahul visited her on Tuesday. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said there was no cause for worry and the party president will resume Parliament duty soon. “The Congress President has been admitted to a hospital following viral fever. She will be discharged within two days. She will resume her Parliament duty soon. There is no cause for worry,” he said.Gandhi had to stay at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital for 12 days in August after she had fallen ill during a roadshow in Varanasi. She was operated upon for a shoulder injury also.

NIA gets nod to prosecute Masood

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India may soon succeed in providing irrefutable evidence to the United Nations to declare Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar a global terrorist and alienate China that until now has managed to save him using its veto powers.The Union home ministry on Monday finally gave its nod to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) request to prosecute Pakistan-based Masood Azhar and three of his accomplices for their involvement in the Pathankot terror attack. The agency had sought prosecution sanction from the ministry on November 18.The sanction would allow NIA to prepare extensive charge sheet against Masood Azhar, his brother Abdul Rauf and two main handlers of the terror attack – Kashif Jaan and Shahid Latif – using evidence that it has gathered on its own and the one provided by the US agencies.The NIA will prosecute Azhar and three others mainly under Sections 18, 20 and 28 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act dealing with punishments for organising terror camps; recruiting person for committing terrorist acts; being a member of terrorist organisations; and forfeiture of property, said sources. Despite high alert, four terrorists — Abu Bakr, Umar Farooq, Nasir Hussain and Abdul Qayyum had managed to get inside the Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Pathankot on the Intervening night of December 31 and January 1. Before being neutralised by Army and NSG, they managed to kill seven security personnel during three day hold up.The NIA had shared phone conversations of the four terrorists with the handlers that they had made through the phones of Gurdaspur SP Salwinder Singh and others, financial details of JeM’s front Al-Rehmat Trust, chat messages and voice samples of handlers, addresses of the terrorists and details of their family members. Union home ministry gave its nod after it found that the evidence collected by the NIA on the basis of investigations, technical and forensic examinations and telephonic conversations provided by United States adequate.India had earlier told Pakistan that the terror attack on Pathankot airbase was planned and monitored by Maulana Masood Azhar. India’s strong assertion internationally made Pakistan to send a joint investigation team to the airbase. But after showing some intent initially, Pakistan later backtracked and refused to cooperate in the matter despite issuing of Interpol red corner notices against Azhar and three others.

Theresa May wants ‘free trade’, but unfair visa rule upsets deal for Indian students

Prime Minister Theresa May’s first official trip to India took place in the backdrop of Brexit talks. The Prime Minister was pinning her hopes on a good deal with India to shore up post-Brexit hopes. But her efforts to win the support of Indians were dashed when Modi and his top team insisted changes in visa rules for highly-skilled Indian professionals and students.

May arrived in Delhi with one agenda in the kitty — trade. But Indians on the other side were ready with a list of issues in the agenda to discuss and get a deal. Trade deal with Britain was secondary for India. Technically, UK is just one among the 28 European Union countries and India is monitoring the developments in the UK and the Eurozone. Besides Brexit, more troubles are brewing, like the rise of the far right in France, the forthcoming German elections and the Italian referendum.

As cross-border terrorism spoils the peace in Kashmir, India was looking for a strong ally in Britain to end the issue forever. They were also looking for support from the former colonial master for a firm action against fugitives hiding in Britain. India, one of the fastest growing economies, is also looking for avenues for its young population to upgrade their skills. A fair deal for it highly-skilled professionals to work in the United Kingdom is also on agenda. Indians were looking for a package, but what May put on the table was a one line agenda — trade.

Britain Prime Minister Theresa May. ReutersBritain Prime Minister Theresa May. Reuters

Britain Prime Minister Theresa May. Reuters

The British Prime Minister also annoyed Indians by telling them to take back illegal immigrants to get a fair visa rule. Indians are not looking for any favours from Britain. Australia, America and New Zealand are now favourite destinations for Indian students. UK’s loss in America’s gain. The number of Indian students studying in the US has gone up to over 1,65,000 during the academic year 2015-16, a growth of 25 percent over the previous year. According to the 2016 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, there are 1,65,918 students from India, making it the second leading country of origin among international students in the US. India accounts for one out of every six international students in the US.  Approximately three-fifths of Indian students are at the graduate level and three-fourths are in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Even Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was pleading for May to relax rules for Indian students.

“Education is vital for our students and we will define our engagement in a shared future. We must therefore encourage greater mobility and participation of young people in education and research opportunities,” Modi told May during the inauguration of Indo-UK Tech Summit. But May was firm on her strategy, which was formulated during her Home Office days. The decision to put Indian students in the net migration bracket dearly affected British universities. The rise in tuition fees, the troublesome paperwork to get visa, besides the lack of post-study opportunities deter Indian students. Their numbers are almost half now. Just 20,000 from the earlier figures of 40,000 plus.

Sir Keith Burnett, vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield, and other members of the academic brigade in the delegation were gobsmacked and furious when May and her core team defended the visa policy instead of uttering anything to please the Indian press or the politicians.

“She just wants free trade with India,” Sir Keith wrote in a blog. “Free trade means free trade, she says, good for all and nothing to do with students. She even insists that students should be labelled as migrants, which is completely potty. Even Nigel Farage didn’t want that. In any case, Indians feel doubly insulted by this position.”

India is a country with 65 percent of the population below 35 years and 50 percent of the population below 25. They are global citizens of the new world and ambitious to explore and attain new skills. Families will sacrifice their precious savings for the education of their children. That is why young Indians are flocking at embassies to seek visas to fulfill their parents’ dreams. Some may stay abroad, but the majority will return. Who can withstand the lure of 7 plus GDP rate? When the western economies are hovering over 1 percent and 2 percent, Indians are aiming a double digit growth. They want the right skills to fuel the economy. They are looking towards Britain to acquire that because of the cultural bond and the language. They want to follow the paths of Gandhi, Nehru, Sardar Patel, Ambedkar, Ramanujan… But May and her team are letting them down.

Sir Keith and other are campaigning against this. He is co-founder of the #WeAreInternational campaign to welcome and value international students, staff and research. Over 100 UK universities are supporting the campaign.

“I will not speak of the real harm that these policies will do to cities across the UK, where students are vital drivers of the local economy. Others can speak of that. But what I want — what I need — to emphasise is how we are destroying hard-earned goodwill with a huge proportion of the world’s population. You should care about this. Your children’s jobs in the future could depend on it. So I’m going to work hard to make our education the very best for potential Indian students, and make the welcome as warm as possible in Sheffield.

“Sheffield students, leaders and I founded the #WeAreInternational campaign. I am damned proud of the students and staff across the UK who have joined us to show that we are still the nation that India can be friends with. And I will be working to make clear that the vast majority of Brits welcome students from India and don’t think of them as migrants – 91 percent, in fact, in a recent survey. I will work to build collaborations with Indian universities and companies. We will continue to work together on cures for diseases and inventions that will help to make our planet more sustainable. But I must beg, and I do beg. Please listen to India before it is too late.”

The British Prime Minister also annoyed Indians by telling them to take back illegal immigrants to get a fair visa rule

Sir Keith, Lord Karan Billimoria, Modi… people are appealing. But these appeals are falling on deaf years. As the world becomes a global village, mobility is a issue for global citizens. We cannot separate free movement of people from free flow of goods, services and investment.

May defended the UK’s stance by insisting that the UK already had a ‘good system’ for applications from India. “The figures show that we issue more work visas to India than [to] the US, Australia and China put together,” May said. “Nine out of 10 visa applications from India are already accepted. So we have, I believe, a good system.”

A good system? Britain is going to pay for that “good system”. Universities are already on the brink of collapse.  Trade will not help Britain to mend those faults. While Britain is barred from signing bilateral trade deals with third countries until it has left the EU, May said that there were steps that can be taken immediately to “break down barriers and make it easier to do business”.

Britain and India need to “identify what more we can do now to unleash our businesses, industries, exporters and investors”, she said, adding, “this does not need to wait for us to leave the EU”.

In summary, the visit inks business deals worth £1.2 billion and creates 1,370 jobs. The visit also formulates a ministerial level committee to look into extradition and immigration issues. A new India-UK Urban Partnership to develop ‘smart cities’ was also announced.

Among initiatives to foster trade, Indian tycoons and their families are to gain access to the GREAT Club programme which provides assistance with visa-processing, while an estimated 10,000 executives are to benefit from a Registered Traveller service to speed their way past queues at UK airports. A benefit to 10,000 people in the country with a population of 1.3 billion.

May’s first mission to India contained a business delegation of 33, besides decision-makers from the government. The absence of Priti Patel, the Indian-origin International Development Secretary, was noticed by many. The charismatic ever-smiling Brexit poster girl could have opened new avenues for discussions.

During the Cameron era, the British machinery was fully geared up to engage with the Indian platoons on trade, diplomatic and cultural relations. It is always a mela time for journalists and there is no dearth of stories to file. How many stories you can file on trade and Brexit on a busy foreign mission? May is not Cameron and she has her own views and policies.

Dealing with India needs lots of preparations. Money is not a crucial factor for India or Indians, but relations are. Indian leaders, especially the present government, believe in karma. They want to do good karma for the youngsters. They will go an extra mile for that. The route to enter the heart of India is not through airports or seaports with huge cargo, but a simple candy to please the new generation.

India never lets its partners down. They are the largest democracy and they respect friendship. May missed that opportunity in her first mission. There are many lessons to learn from recent history. Even Cameron failed to convince Modi to sign a multi-billion deal for Eurofighter Typhoon jets. Modi enjoyed English hospitality at Chequers Court, but chose France’s Rafael for Indian Air Force.  Because India believes in liberty, equality and fraternity. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Viva la friendship.

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 13:08 IST

Did Parrikar do the navy justice by wearing a pair of sandals while commissioning INS Chennai?

Is it really that difficult to understand that a dress code carries a certain sanctity with it? In the armed forces, how you dress makes a major difference. Each uniform has a role and is worn with a certain unquestionable elan. It has a meaning, a certain sartorial arrogance that is necessary for morale.

But it seems that Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar was not aware of this when he showed up to commission INS Chennai, an indigenously designed guided missile destroyer, in Mumbai on Monday. Photographs doing the rounds on social media highlighted his casual attire, saying that he was dressed in a ‘sloppy, slovenly rude manner.’

Defence Minster Manohar Parrikar and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba with other officers during the commissioning ceremony of INS Chennai in Mumbai on Monday. PTIDefence Minster Manohar Parrikar and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba with other officers during the commissioning ceremony of INS Chennai in Mumbai on Monday. PTI

Defence Minster Manohar Parrikar and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba with other officers during the commissioning ceremony of INS Chennai in Mumbai on Monday. PTI

Imagine, you go to commission a destroyer and end up ‘destroying’ the ambience of the occasion. There you have a group of Admirals including the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, and a retired officer of high rank dressed to the hilt for a ceremony that ranks as one of the most vital in the Indian Navy’s history. In the same picture, we have Parrikar, dressed casually in chappals (slippers) as if out for a Sunday afternoon stroll.

What sort of a person goes on board a naval ship as the senior most VIP wearing chappals, with an untucked shirt hanging out of his trousers? Had he been dressed ethnically, one could have probably accepted the open-toed footwear; but sadly, that was not the case either.

When you go to a glittering ceremony where sailors are all lined up in their glorious best, proud to wear ‘INS Chennai’ on their caps and are cheering the commissioning of their floating arsenal and home, damn it man!, the least you can do is honour them for their brief, shining moment in the sun. Crisp marching, the sound of music and a chief guest in slippers!

Even the ladies invited on board were advised not to wear high heels or chappals.

This is not a grotesque version of the ‘see what a straightforward guy I am’ approach. It is actually an insult of the armed forces as Parrikar was conducting the ceremony to induct the third guided missile destroyer in the Kolkata class.

Didn’t anyone tell him about ethics, a code, a certain courtesy that you display to the officers who are honouring you. How can you not dress properly…or adequately.

This is not the first time he is doing it either. We have seen photos of him taking a guard of honour as if he was strolling down Miramar beach in Goa.

The point is that it is a big deal, it is really important and you are duty bound by the numerous perks and privileges you get as the defence minister – if nothing else – to rise to the occasion with grace and dignity.

Yes, there are those who will say, so what, it’s okay, there are bigger things in life. But disrespecting the armed forces cannot simply be ignored because we equate it with being spartan and spiritually ascetic.

You are shabby sir and it is not done. And it is not as if your prime minister is setting the low standard. On the contrary, Narendra Modi has become sartorially elegant and raised the bar ever since he assumed office. Suggest you do the same and follow your chief’s example before your ship sails away.

Until then, do not be derisive of our armed forces and their traditions.

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 19:05 IST

Demonetisation: How much unaccounted cash have the Maoists hidden in the forests?

Narendra Modi‘s stated objective behind the demonetisation exercise is to flush out black money and bring it into the system. But it would seem his police force in Chhattisgarh does not agree. And it has strong reasons to defy the order.

The police in this Maoist-hit state believe that a substantial sum of money, mostly in denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 is kept at safe dumps, buried under the soil in forest areas of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha. Now with the currency declared illegal tender, the security forces believe the Maoists will try to reach some of the safe hideouts where they have buried the money to take it out. The cops want to ensure they cannot do so. So entry points into the forest areas are under the radar.

Usually, the exact location of the dumps are known only to the top committee leaders of the Maoists. The Chhattisgarh police feel a desperate Maoist leadership may pass on the word to some of their trusted tribals to take out the money since their movement into the jungle would be fraught with risk.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The police believe much of this money is gained through extortion from contractors of tendu patta (used to manufacture beedis), infrastructure firms and levy from businessmen. They also accuse Maoists of extorting from illegal mining mafia groups. Another avenue of extortion is to collect what in local parlance is called Maoist tax from vehicles passing through ‘liberated zones’.

But how much money would really be inside the forest? No one quite has a clear idea since none of those who give money under duress speak out. Any guesstimate about the amount is usually pieced together based on the literature that is confiscated after an encounter.

The Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) in a report in 2013 had pegged the money extorted at Rs 140 crore per year. But police officers on the ground consider this a conservative estimate.

The Chhattisgarh police has maintained that the outlaws who practically control the southern part of the state, collect up to Rs 2,000 crore through extortion every year. As a result of collections over the years, they believe that close to Rs 7,500 crore would be buried in Chhattisgarh at this point in time.

That this parallel economy thrives in the world of terrorism was clear when in 2007, Misir Besra, a central committee member of CPI (Maoist) was arrested. Besra reportedly revealed that the Maoists had earmarked that year Rs 42 crore for arms, ammunition and explosives, Rs 2 crore for intelligence gathering and Rs 16 crore for propaganda, computer training, documentation and transport. Besra was subsequently freed in 2009 during a daring attack on a police in the court premises in Bihar.

The Maoist extortion machine in Jharkhand also is believed to collect, according to the Union Home Ministry, close to Rs 320 crore every year. But whether it stays safe is a crucial question. In August this year, a bag containing Rs 29 lakh consisting of Rs 1,000 notes was eaten up by termites in the Chakri-Bakrakocha jungles of Jharkhand. It is believed that the bag was extortion money buried by Kanhu Ram Munda, who is one of the CPI (Maoist) leaders in Jharkhand.

Odisha and Maharashtra are other areas which yield a rich harvest though Maoist influence in these parts has been on the wane. The recent encounter last month in Malkangiri in Odisha in which 30 Maoists were killed is a pointer to the ability of the security forces to push them on the back foot and hit their leadership.

But given the expenditure incurred by the Maoists on intelligence gathering, weapons and ammunition and medical emergencies, it is not clear how much they would be putting for safekeeping in the forests. Police sources say Maoists are also reported to pay a monthly remuneration to their cadre in the range of Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 depending on their rank and tenure in the outlawed organisation.

Since 10 November, the police are also keeping an eye on banks in Maoist-affected areas for anyone coming with a large amount of money, which he cannot account for. But it is quite possible that forests are not the only hideout, given the risk of a Jharkhand-like termite attack. The overground Maoist sympathisers in villages, towns and cities could also be safekeepers of such unaccounted for cash. That will make the task of tracking down the cash trail tougher.

But if the Maoists are in possession of even a fraction of the amount estimated by the security agencies, they will be hit badly. It will cripple their operations more severely than any encounter has in the recent past as they would not be in a position to run the outfit. It is also likely to make them more reckless, going on an extortion overdrive to line their pockets with new cash.

The Prime Minister’s intention was also to track fake currency and cut off the supply to terror funding. The hit on the Maoists has been an unintended financial strike, which will bring the security forces much cheer.

First Published On : Nov 14, 2016 10:26 IST

Espionage case: Pakistani High Commission staffers sent back

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Six staffers in the Pakistani High Commission in Delhi, including ISI officials, returned to their country after New Delhi provided evidence of their involvement in running a spy ring.According to sources, those who have left include commercial counsellor Syed Furrukh Habib and first secretaries Khadim Hussain, Mudassir Cheema and Shahid Iqbal. DNA reported on Wednesday New Delhi was mounitng pressure on Pakistan to send back Habib, a senior ISI officer posted as trade counsellor in the mission who was heading the espionage network that included three other ISI officers.The cover of the ISI spy network was blown after Mehmoood Akhtar, an ISI official working in the Pakistani High Commission was held by Delhi Police last week. The police arrested four Indian agents on the revelations made by Akhtar. Akhtar also told interrogators about ISI officials runnig the network from the mission.Though there was no official confirmation on the number of diplomats leaving India, according to Pakistan High Commission sources there were six mission officials who have left or were in the process of leaving.”The decision has been taken after it became impossible for the officials to work in this vitiated atmosphere. Indian government is threatening and blackmailing our diplomats. So in this condition, it is impossible for us to stay in this country and work,” the sources alleged.The Pakistani action comes days after India declared Pakistani official Mehmood Akhtar persona non-grata for espionage activities, triggering a tit for tat action from Islamabad, which also expelled an Indian High Commission official there. Earlier, media reports emerging from Islamabad said Pakistan may ask at least two officials of the Indian High Commission to leave the country for their alleged involvement in subversive activities.Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan, Syed Haider Shah was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday and conveyed the government’s grave concern and strong protest at the recent escalation in the incidents of ceasefire violations by the Pakistan side at the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB), which have resulted into several fatalities and casualties on the Indian side among civilians and security forces personnel.The Government also registered its strong protest on the mutilation of the body of an Indian soldier by a terrorist who escaped across the Line of Control after committing the heinous crime.The Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan was conveyed the Government’s expectation that Pakistan will not take any step inimical to peace along the LoC and IB and to the security of India.

Pakistan may expel two more Indian diplomats: Report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan may ask at least two officials of the Indian High Commission to leave the country for their alleged involvement in subversive activities, a local media report said on Wednesday.The two officials were identified and their photographs were being flashed by different TV news channels.Geo TV reported that commercial counsellor Rajesh Agnihotri and press counsellor Balbir Singh may be expelled.Citing sources, the channel claimed that Agnihotri was directly linked with RAW while Singh was working for Intelligence Bureau (IB) and they were allegedly using their positions in Pakistan as cover to hide their real identities. It claimed Singh was also running a network of militants in Pakistan and expelled High Commission official Surgeet Singh was also part of his network.The development came after reports that Pakistan may call back at least four officials at its High Commission in India after they were named in a recorded statement of Mehmood Akhtar who was briefly detained and then expelled by India.They include commercial counsellor Syed Furrukh Habib and first secretaries Khadim Hussain, Mudassir Cheema and Shahid Iqbal.There were no immediate comments from the Indian High Commission about the reports.

Pakistan expels Indian diplomats Rajesh Agnihotri, Balbir Singh from the country

Pakistan expels Indian diplomats Rajesh Agnihotri, Balbir Singh from the country

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Islamabad: Pakistan has asked two officials of the Indian High Commission to leave the country for their alleged involvement in subversive activities, a local Pakistan media report said on Wednesday. The news was confirmed by CNN-News18.

File photo of Pakistan Prime MInister Nawaz Sharif. ReutersFile photo of Pakistan Prime MInister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

File photo of Pakistan Prime MInister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

While Geo TV reported that commercial counsellor Rajesh Agnihotri and press counsellor Balbir Singh may be expelled, CNN-News18 confirmed that the mission staff were asked to leave the country.

Citing sources, the channel claimed that Agnihotri was directly linked with RAW while Singh was working for Intelligence Bureau (IB) and they were allegedly using their positions in Pakistan as cover to hide their real identities.

It claimed Singh was also running a network of militants in Pakistan and expelled High Commission official Surgeet Singh was also part of his network.

The development came after reports that Pakistan may call back at least four officials at its High Commission in India after they were named in a recorded statement of Mehmood Akhtar who was briefly detained and then expelled by India.

They include commercial counsellor Syed Furrukh Habib and first secretaries Khadim Hussain, Mudassir Cheema and Shahid Iqbal.

There were no immediate comments from the Indian High Commission about the reports.

With inputs from PTI

Pakistan considers calling back four officials from India posted in High Commission

Islamabad: Pakistan is considering pulling out from India four of its officials posted in the High Commission in New Delhi, days after Indian authorities declared one diplomat persona non grata.

“This is under consideration. A final decision would be taken shortly,” a source at the Foreign Office said on Monday.

The names of the four officials — Commercial Counsellor Syed Furrukh Habib and First Secretaries Khadim Huss­ain, Mudassir Cheema and Shahid Iqbal — were made public after Indian officials released to media a recorded statement of a High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar, who was expelled from India after being declared persona non grata.

Akhtar told Dawn news that he had given the statement under duress.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“They took me to a police station after detaining me where I was forced to read out a written statement provided by them in which the names of the four officers were given and was told to state that they belonged to Pakistan’s intelligence services,” the former High Commission official, who returned to Islamabad last week, said.

Akhtar narrated how he was “manhandled and picked” from outside a zoo while on his way back from Nizamuddin shrine and taken to a Delhi police station, where he was coerced into recording a statement before being expelled from the country.

The incident has jeopardised the security of the officers and their families besides restricting the normal diplomatic functioning of the high commission.

Pakistan and India have in the past expelled each other’s diplomats and officials due to their tense relationship, but it is one of those rare occasions where one of the countries took the extreme step of revealing the identities of officers.

Pakistani officials believe that India did this on purpose to heighten the tensions.

“We consider it as a serious breach of diplomatic norms. The Indian move has complicated the already tense situation and threatened the lives of our diplomatic staff,” a Pakistani official said, adding it was a “deliberate and provocative action”.

Pak govt may pull out 4 of its officers posted at its HC after Mehmood Akhtar’s confession

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Pakistan government is considering to pull out from India four of its officers posted at the country’s High Commission in Delhi after one of its staff was declared persona non grata, says the Pakistan media. According to Dawn news, the Pakistan HC had taken the decision after the confession of the Mehmood Akhtar was made public by India.The Pakistan High Commission’s officials who are likely to be pulled out are – commercial counsellor Syed Furrukh Habib and first secretaries Khadim Huss­ain, Mudassir Cheema and Shahid Iqbal.Akhtar, the Pakistan HC staffer who was recalled, told Dawn that the confession was taken by him by coercion. “They took me to a police station after detaining me where I was forced to read out a written statement provided by them in which the names of the four officers were given and was told to state that they belonged to Pakistan’s intelligence services,” he said to the newspaper. “I was forced to read out a written statement provided by them in which the names of the four officers were given and was told to state that they belonged to Pakistan’s intelligence services,” he added.Akhtar said that he was “forced to read out a written statement provided by them in which the names of the four officers were given and was told to state that they belonged to Pakistan’s intelligence services.”He added that he was picked from a zoo while he was coming back from Nizamuddin shrine and was manhandled by security forces.Pakistani officials find the entire episode a a serious breach of diplomatic norms and a way to heighten tensions. Calling it a “deliberate and provocative action”, an officer said, “the Indian move has complicated the already tense situation and threatened the lives of our diplomatic staff.”The officer also recalled how a son of one of the officers was ridiculed by his classmates after the revelation and had to be taken back from school.

Spy ring: SP Rajya Sabha member’s PA arrested

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi Police on Saturday arrested Farhat Khan, the personal assistant of Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Rajya Sabha MP Munawwar Saleem. Khan, who belongs to Kairana in western UP, is the fourth person to be arrested as the Delhi Police busted a spy ring on Wednesday.The spy ring was being run by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official Mehmood Akhtar, who worked in the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.Akhtar could not be arrested as he enjoyed diplomatic immunity but was asked to leave the country. Khan’s involvement in the spy ring came to light during the interrogation of Akhtar. Delhi Police officers say that Khan was paid well for handing over sensitive documents to Akhtar.”The amount changed according to the kind of documents he provided. He said he would get anything from Rs 10,000 to a lakh for some documents,” said a senior police officer.Khan is said to have been associated with many political leaders since 1996. He has been working with various MPs over the last 20 years. He was also the personal assistant to another SP MP, Munawwar Hasan, in 2008.Munawwar Saleem said he was shocked to know about his personal assistant’s involvement in the espionage case. “This person was working with me for the last one year. Full police verification was done before I took him in. I am at a loss for words… And as this issue is under investigation, it would not be appropriate to say anything more,” said Saleem.Akhtar also stated in the video that he had met Khan in Delhi near the Mandi House Metro station and ever since the two had kept in touch. He has also named other officials in the Pakistan High Commission, which include Syed Farrukh Habib, Counsellor (Trade); Khadim Hussain, First Secretary (Visa); and, Muddasir Iqbal Cheema, First Secretary (Press). The police are yet to verify these claims.Akhtar also told the police that Syed Farrukh is a colonel rank officer and he worked on his directions. After Akhtar’s confessions, the Crime Branch office in Pancharipuri, the Capital’s diplomatic area, has now become a fortress with heavy deployment of security forces, as the alleged spies working for the ISI are being grilled there. Around 20 commandos from the CRPF are guarding the office as well.The Delhi Police caught Akhtar on October 26 while receiving secret documents outside the Delhi Zoo from two Indian nationals, Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir, who were residents of Nagaur, Rajasthan. The duo were held along with Akhtar. Another accused in the espionage case, Shoaib Hasan, has also been arrested.

Espionage case: Pakistan spy was trying to get classified info for possible terror strike

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mehmood Akhtar, the Pakistan High Commission official who was caught for espionage, was trying to gather classified information on deployment of Indian security forces along the western coast, possibly to carry out a strike similar to the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.Akhtar was trying to gather information pertaining to deployment of security forces along the western coast, Sir Creek and Kutch areas and also about military installations in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa, a Home Ministry official said.”There have been intelligence inputs that Pakistan’s ISI was planning to send terrorists through the sea route to carry out a Mumbai-type terror attack in India. Akhtar’s activities and his interests to gather information about the western coast buttress the intelligence inputs,” the official said.166 people lost their lives when 10 terrorists, who came through the Arabian sea from Karachi, carried out mayhem for three days in Mumbai in November 2008.Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir were handing over information to Akhtar about security forces deployment in the Sir Creek area and Kutch region when they were arrested on Thursday. The Pakistani official was to hand over the duo Rs 50,000 for getting information, the official said. Before being let off because of diplomatic immunity, Akhtar confessed to police about his role in the spy ring.Delhi Police has also done video-recording of his statement. In his statement to police, Akhtar admitted that he was part of the spy ring for more than a year. He has named a few officers of the Pakistani High Commission whom he was reporting to with all the information but police were yet to take action against them as there was no direct evidence as of now.Acting on a tip-off, Delhi Police on Thursday nabbed Akhtar, along with Ramzan and Jangir, at Delhi Zoo while a visa agent from Rajasthan, Shoaib, had managed to escape. Shoaib was detained near Jodhpur on Thursday evening and after being brought to Delhi, he was arrested.While Akhtar was declared persona non grata on Thursday, Subhash and Maulana have been arrested on charges of passing on sensitive information and defence documents and deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border. They were yesterday sent to 12-day police custody.

Pak spy Mehmood Akhtar was trying to get info to carry out possible terror strike: Official

New Delhi: Mehmood Akhtar, the Pakistan High Commission official who was caught for espionage, was trying to gather classified information on deployment of Indian security forces along the western coast, possibly to carry out a strike similar to the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

New Delhi: Copy of the forged Aadhar card of Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar who used to hire spies to get sensitive information and documents related to Army deployment from a spy network he had created. PTI

Copy of the forged Aadhar card of Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar. PTI

Akhtar was trying to gather information pertaining to deployment of security forces along the western coast, Sir Creek and Kutch areas and also about military installations in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa, a Home Ministry official said.

“There have been intelligence inputs that Pakistan’s ISI was planning to send terrorists through the sea route to carry out a Mumbai-type terror attack in India. Akhtar’s activities and his interests to gather information about the western coast buttress the intelligence inputs,” the official said.

166 people lost their lives when 10 terrorists, who came through the Arabian sea from Karachi, carried out mayhem for three days in Mumbai in November 2008.

Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir were handing over information to Akhtar about security forces deployment in the Sir Creek area and Kutch region when they were arrested yesterday.

The Pakistani official was to hand over the duo Rs 50,000 for getting information, the official said.

Before being let off because of diplomatic immunity, Akhtar confessed to police about his role in the spy ring. Delhi Police has also done video-recording of his statement.

In his statement to police, Akhtar admitted that he was part of the spy ring for more than a year.

He has named a few officers of the Pakistani High Commission whom he was reporting to with all the information but police were yet to take action against them as there was no direct evidence as of now.

Acting on a tip-off, Delhi Police yesterday nabbed Akhtar, along with Ramzan and Jangir, at Delhi Zoo while a visa agent from Rajasthan, Shoaib, had managed to escape.

Shoaib was detained near Jodhpur last evening and after being brought here, he was arrested.

While Akhtar was yesterday declared persona non grata, Subhash and Maulana have been arrested on charges of passing on sensitive information and defence documents and deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border. They were yesterday sent to 12-day police custody.

Pak spy Mehmood Akhtar was trying to get info to carry out terror strike in India: Official

New Delhi: Mehmood Akhtar, the Pakistan High Commission official who was caught for espionage, was trying to gather classified information on deployment of Indian security forces along the western coast, possibly to carry out a strike similar to the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

New Delhi: Copy of the forged Aadhar card of Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar who used to hire spies to get sensitive information and documents related to Army deployment from a spy network he had created. PTI

Copy of the forged Aadhar card of Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar. PTI

Akhtar was trying to gather information pertaining to deployment of security forces along the western coast, Sir Creek and Kutch areas and also about military installations in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa, a Home Ministry official said.

“There have been intelligence inputs that Pakistan’s ISI was planning to send terrorists through the sea route to carry out a Mumbai-type terror attack in India. Akhtar’s activities and his interests to gather information about the western coast buttress the intelligence inputs,” the official said.

166 people lost their lives when 10 terrorists, who came through the Arabian sea from Karachi, carried out mayhem for three days in Mumbai in November 2008.

Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir were handing over information to Akhtar about security forces deployment in the Sir Creek area and Kutch region when they were arrested yesterday.

The Pakistani official was to hand over the duo Rs 50,000 for getting information, the official said.

Before being let off because of diplomatic immunity, Akhtar confessed to police about his role in the spy ring. Delhi Police has also done video-recording of his statement.

In his statement to police, Akhtar admitted that he was part of the spy ring for more than a year.

He has named a few officers of the Pakistani High Commission whom he was reporting to with all the information but police were yet to take action against them as there was no direct evidence as of now.

Acting on a tip-off, Delhi Police yesterday nabbed Akhtar, along with Ramzan and Jangir, at Delhi Zoo while a visa agent from Rajasthan, Shoaib, had managed to escape.

Shoaib was detained near Jodhpur last evening and after being brought here, he was arrested.

While Akhtar was yesterday declared persona non grata, Subhash and Maulana have been arrested on charges of passing on sensitive information and defence documents and deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border. They were yesterday sent to 12-day police custody.

New fashion to speak against PM Modi without logic: Kiren Rijiju slams Anurag Kashyap

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Wading into the row over ban on the release of films with Pakistani artistes due to tension between the two countries, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap today said when Indian filmmakers are being penalised, the Prime Minister should also apologise for his Lahore trip. Cinema Owners Exhibitors Association of India (COEAI)’s decision has put a question mark on the release of Karan Johar’s “Ae Dil Hain Mushkil”, featuring Fawad Khan, by announcing no films with Pakistani actors will be screened in Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat and Karnataka in the aftermath of Uri attack. Kashyap, 44, said that why should only filmmakers, who have completed shoot of their respective films, have to face the situation of a ban.”@narendramodi Sir you haven’t yet said sorry for your trip to meet the Pakistani PM.. It was dec 25th. Same time KJo was shooting ADHM? Why?” Kashyap wrote on Twitter. “@narendramodi why is it that we have to face it while you can be silent?” Bringing into focus the money that the producers’ would lose when a film’s release is stalled, the “Bombay Velvet” helmer, said, “@narendramodi and you actually diverted your trip on our tax money, hile the film shot then was on money on which someone here pays interest.” “@narendramodi I am just trying to understand the situation because I am actually dumb and I don’t get it. Sorry if you feel offended.. “Btw Bharat Mata ki Jai Sir @narendramodi,” Kashyap tweeted.Reacting to the charge, MOS Home Kiren Rijiju slammed Anurag Kashyap saying that it had become the ‘fashion’ to speak against the PM without logic. He wrote on Twitter: “A new fashion has developed in India. A student or a film person can put a question or speak against PM without any logic to get into news. Earlier, Congress leader Manish Tewari on Sunday alleged that the greatest casualty since Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government came to power has been the liberal and creative spaces of India, and urged the intelligentsia to fight back the ‘dictatorship’ imposed on them in the last 28 months.Tewari used filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s diatribe against Prime Minister Modi on twitter to target the government, which he accused of being fascist.‘The greatest casualty in the last 28 months has been the liberal and creative spaces of India. Therefore, the people across the board – writers, artistes, members of the intelligentsia, people who are engaged in creative fields need to push back against this kind of dictatorship, against this kind of fascism which has been let lose,’ Tewari said.‘We created the liberal spaces in India which belongs to the people of the nation and they have to be re-appropriated by the liberal community back from the kind of fascism which has been unleashed onto it,’ he added.

Cong backs Kashyap, asks PM Modi to apologise to nation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress Party used filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s tirade against Prime Minister Narendra Modi to launch a scathing attack on the latter and said that he must tender an apology to the nation for his ‘surprise’ Pakistan visit.Bollywood film director Anurag Kashyap very correctly mentioned it and this thing that was really surprising to all the citizens of the country. How a Prime Minister can drop in Pakistan by breaking out protocols or system for attending the birthday celebrations,” Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya said. The filmmaker had yesterday come “ut in support of Karan Johar, whose upcoming directorial venture ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil featuring Fawad Khan’ is facing trouble after cinema owners association decided to stall the release of movies starring Pakistani artistes. In a series of tweets, he questioned Prime Minister Modi as to why he hasn’t apologized for meeting his Pakistani counterpart the same time when Karan Johar was shooting for ‘ADHM.’He tweeted, “Sir you haven’t yet said sorry for your trip to meet the Pakistani PM.. It was dec 25th. Same time KJo was shooting ADHM? Why?” “The world must learn from us.. We solve all our problems by blaming it on movies and banning it.. #ADHM . With you on this @karanjohar,” Kashyap tweeted. After posting an array of tweets questioning the Prime Ministre, Kashyap did some damage control by saying, “@narendramodi I am just trying to understand the situation because I am actually dumb and I don’t get it. Sorry if you feel offended..” The Cinema Owners Exhibitors Association of India (COEAI) yesterday announced that they would not screen movies starring Pakistani artistes in the four states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Goa. This has put an uncertainty on the release of ?Ae Dil Hai Mushkil? as it features Pakistani heartthrob Fawad Khan. The movie stars Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in lead roles. The decision taken by COEAI mainly covers single screen theatres and comes amid tension between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of Uri attack last month.

BRICS to advance agenda for development, peace, reform: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahead of BRICS and BIMSTEC Summits, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said he is looking forward to building bridges to new partnerships and finding common resolve and solutions to entrenched problems of the region. Modi, who will also hold bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other leaders on the sidelines of the Summits in Goa, said they will discuss ways to address “pressing international and regional challenges that stand in the way of our goals”. “I am optimistic that the BRICS Summit will strengthen intra-BRICS cooperation and advance our common agenda for development, peace, stability and reform,” the Prime Minister said in a Facebook post. New initiatives will be launched in Goa by BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) as it marks the successful operationalization of initiatives like the BRICS New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement, he said. The Prime Minister noted that India is facilitating an outreach Summit with the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sir Lanka and Thailand. “Representing nearly two thirds of humanity together, we hope to tap the potential for cooperation and the dividends this will bring,” he said on the first-ever BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit.Referring to India-Russia Annual Summit, the Prime Minister said Putin’s visit will give an opportunity to consolidate and reaffirm a unique time-tested friendship and partnership with Russia. Terming Brazil as an important strategic partner, Modi said President Michel Temer’s visit will open up new areas for cooperation with the country. “As Chair of the BRICS this year, India has embraced a stronger emphasis on promoting people-to-people linkages in diverse fields including trade, sports, education, films, scholarship, and tourism,” he said. BRICS Summit will be held in Goa on 15-16 October, followed by the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit.

UP: School principal arrested for controversial FB post on PM Modi

Fri, 14 Oct 2016-10:20am , Meerut , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A school principal has been arrested for allegedly posting controversial content on Facebook on the Prime Minister and RSS leaders on Dussehra.Mudassir Rana, who heads a private school in Saradhna area, has been charged under Section 153-A of IPC (promoting disharmony) and relevant sections of IT Act, police said here. Rana was arrested yesterday following a complaint and sent to jail, they said.It is alleged that Rana had in his Facebook post depicted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and other Sangh leaders, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and yoga guru Ramdev in an objectionable way.

Locals risk lives to save army men in Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When Kashmir is up in arms against New Delhi, a group of local Kashmiris risked their lives to rescue the army men who met with a fatal road accident at Pantha Chowk-Lasjan in the Srinagar outskirts on Sunday morning.An army vehicle with at least 12 soldiers on board skidded off the road and hit a gigantic tree causing injuries to some jawans. Some of the soldiers were stuck inside the truck. What complicated the matter was the low lying high tension wire overhead.As the soldiers were struggling to come out of the mangled truck, a group of locals rushed towards the site and started the rescue operation. Locals disconnected the high tension wire, pulled out the soldiers and shifted them to the hospital in a civilian truck.Indian Army was quick to acknowledge the gesture and thank the locals for their timely help in rescuing the soldiers in distress. “Army thanks the local youth for rescue of soldiers stuck in accident vehicle near Pantha Chowk Srinagar,” tweeted northern command of Indian Army.Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar, told dna that the army is thankful to the locals for this great humanitarian and heartwarming gesture. “It will further strengthen the bond of friendship between the awam (people) and the jawan (soldier),” he said.An amateur video shot apparently from the cell phones also went viral on the social networking sites despite the mobile internet blockade in Kashmir. The video has caught the rescue efforts of the locals live with civilian truck being used to help the injured soldiers.Main opposition party National Conference said the gesture by locals is an ideal example of the Kashmiryat (pluralistic culture). “Kashmiris always valued the Kashmiryat. And this gesture proves it once again. Kashmiris have always upheld human values,” said Nasir Aslam Wani, NC provincial president and former J&K minister of state of home.Wani said perception being created about Kashmiris is completely wrong and mistaken. “Kashmir has always maintained high human values. Even during partition Kashmir upheld this motive of humanity. However in the current unrest the government has waged war against its own people,” he said. This is however not the first time when locals have risked their lives to save others in the current unrest which has claimed over 87 lives so far.Amarnath yatris saved in pastOn July 13 a group of local Muslims defied curfew to rescue a group of Amarnath yatris, who met with a fatal road accident at Sangam on Srinagar-Jammu highway in the volatile Anantnag district. Two people including a Kashmiri driver and pilgrim died while 22 others sustained wounds when their bus had a head-on collision with a trawler on the highway in the dead of night.

Friction between Pak government, army out in the open; country’s foreign office denies report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan is finally admitting that it is being globally isolated, and, according to reports in the press there, there is a growing friction between the country’s civilian government and the army.During a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, a lawmaker of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz Sharif (PML-N), Rana Muhammad Afzal, demanded action against non-state actors, especially Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed. India maintains that Saeed planned the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and has been demanding action against him.Though the Pakistani foreign office denied that the government has asked the military to act against terrorists, Rana’s statements calls the foreign office’s bluff.Rana recalled a recent trip to France where he was sent to explain the worsening situation in Kashmir. As soon as he attempted to explain the human rights situation in Kashmir, he was asked about Saeed. “Which eggs is Hafiz Saeed laying for us that we are nurturing him?” Rana said at the standing committee meeting. He also attacked the country’s foreign policy, asking why the government is not able to put Saeed on leash.Opposition leader Aitzaz Ahsan, of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), echoed the view. Addressing a joint session of parliament, he said that Islamabad was isolated as it has given freedom to non-state actors.”The government has been completely unsuccessful in imposing restrictions on non-state actors according to the National Action Plan,” he said. Such actors continue to carry out protests, rallies and giving speeches in Islamabad, Lahore, Faisalabad and Karachi, he said.On Thursday, India also voiced its concerns on the Defence of Pakistan Committee (Difa e Pakistan) allowing banned terrorists to hold rallies. “We have always voiced our concerns at the freedom available to internationally designated terrorists in Pakistan to conduct and promote anti-India activities openly,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.Noted strategic expert and author Ahmed Rashid the two Sharifs, Nawaz and Raheel, had maintained a tenuous political relationship: the army — in some consultation with the prime minister— has overall control of Pakistan’s foreign and nuclear policy, as well as its counterterrorism strategy in Karachi and along the border with Afghanistan. In turn, the civilian government could run the economy, and, most significantly, keep control of the prime minister’s home province of Punjab — the most populous region of the country, which includes Lahore. Ironically, most of the India-specific terrorists are located in this province.Facing international heat, Pakistan’s political and military leadership have now devised a three point strategy. Quoting sources, Geo News said that the first strategy aims at completely disarming these organisations and a clear message to be sent to their financiers to stop funding them.The second involves providing a way for large organisations to be incorporated into the political mainstream. The third and the final strategy is to find ways for promoting the moral and welfare activities of these organisations.According to sources, a one-point strategy will be formulated to deal with banned organisations, which function by changing their names. A committee, headed by General (retd) Nasir Janjua and the director-general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has been formed to provide clear orders to provinces. This committee will present its report to the prime minister in two weeks.Asked if these steps will address India’s concerns, a senior government official here said that they would wait for concrete actions. Swarup said it is usual for Pakistan to deny the terrorism sponsored from its soil against its neighbours. “Elimination of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mansoor was met with similar denials. But we all know the truth,” he added.Experts here also believe that even though unrest in Kashmir had put India on the backfoot, the attacks in Uri and other places have definitely turned against Pakistan in global capitals. Brigadier Rumel Dahiya, deputy director general of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), said that India’s diplomatic offensive launched post the Uri-attacks has found echo as stamina against terrorism is coming to the brim all over the world.Swarup said that pressure by India has yielded results. “You have already seen the pressure that we have brought to bear internationally on Pakistan to cease support to cross-border terrorism. You have all seen the result at the UNGA. You have all seen the result at SAARC. You have all seen the statements by major countries like the US and Russia,” he said.

How Kashmir has risen up against the state in one of its most intense uprisings

After a long day of strict curfew on 15 August, Independence Day, 15-year old Yasir Salaam Sheikh walked out of his dense neighborhood in Srinagar’s Batmaloo area towards the main road, only to find a group of youth demonstrating against India.

Within half an hour, the demonstration was countered by government forces, who fired tear gas shells, pellets and bullets. Sheikh was shot in the chest. He died, while his father Abdul Salaam Sheikh, 52, was told that his son was injured by pellets. It was only when he left home for the hospital that he found a group of people carrying his son’s body.

Abdul Salaam is a carpenter with a family of six — three sons, a daughter and wife. But Yasir is no longer with his family. Sitting against the yellow distempered walls of a room at his home, Abdul Salaam answers a call from a relative. He says, “Aaa, yi aus khudayi syund yachun, Yasir saeb gov shaheed” (It was Allah’s will, Yasir has been martyred).”

***

A pellet victim is rushed into Srinagar's SMHS HospitalA pellet victim is rushed into Srinagar's SMHS Hospital

A pellet victim is rushed into Srinagar’s SMHS Hospital

Yasir’s was yet another civilian killing in the 10 weeks of Kashmir being under lockdown since the mass uprising started after popular rebel commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani, 22, was shot dead by government forces on 8 July in South Kashmir’s Bumdoora village.

In the daily demonstrations and rallies since, 88 civilians have been killed by government forces and more than 13,000 injured. Among the injured are more than 800 individuals who were hit by pellets in their eyes; many have lost vision in one or both eyes as a consequence.

The estimated loss to the state’s economy has been more than Rs 7,000 crore, but no one seems to be ready to return back to normalcy — not even the business community. Several hundred government forces have also been injured in stone-throwing incidents across the Valley.

In a move to douse the fire, the central government had dispatched a parliamentarians’ delegation to the state. However, almost all major pro-freedom and civil society groups boycotted the All Party Delegation of Parliament members led by the home minister Rajnath Singh, on 4 September, on the grounds that such talks haven’t borne fruit in the past.

***

A rally at Dialgam, AnantnagA rally at Dialgam, Anantnag

A rally at Dialgam, Anantnag

The uprising has shown a new face of the people, who are willing to give up their life for the struggle of Azadi — freedom. An on-duty paramilitary forces personnel in Anantnag town, with a pellet gun slung over his shoulder, told me that he has been serving in Kashmir for six years, but has never seen this level of anger. “I have seen the 2010 protests and experienced the stone-throwing also,” he said. “These are not the same people. Young children carrying stones are ready to face bullets. They come in thousands. How many can we kill at once? We can’t stop them.”

His observation seems right to someone who has managed to travel across the Valley during the uprising.

In 2010, the protests were mainly in towns. But this time, even the remotest villages are engulfed in protests and clashes with the forces. Many houses, of people associated with the government, have been attacked and government establishments torched. At night, youth guard the roads — only to announce in the village mosque if there is a police raid. Mosques are reverberating with announcements and songs of freedom. People are giving away their food to the needy and offering shelter to those who can’t get home. Since the militancy of the 1990s, this is the first time that Kashmir has stood up with just intensity against the state, which in turn is finding it hard to crush the people’s movement. As is the case with Yasir’s father Abdul Salaam, the loss of life and economy are the sacrifices one has to pay.

“We, all of Kashmir, want freedom,” says Salaam, who believes that his son’s life will not go in vain. “It needs big sacrifices and we are doing that. We will make sacrifices and it is the job of our leaders to follow up on that. I am hopeful that Kashmir will be free, that it will see the spring of freedom one day. Since Eid (7 July), I have worked only for six days. But I don’t have any regret that we lost so much: my work and my son. I’m a common man and believe me, no one’s heart is with India here. We are ready to bear the losses because we want freedom and that is a big achievement.”

***

Many people in Kashmir share similar views. The one common thing people say is that the uprising shouldn’t end like it did in 2010, when at least 120 civilians were shot dead by government forces during the National Conference and Congress government led by Omar Abdullah. People have been expecting that the pro-freedom leaders would find a political strategy other than only shutdowns. But to understand this uprising, the sentiments that are running high, one has to literally camp in Southern Kashmir — the epicenter.

On my second visit to South Kashmir in 10 weeks, I spent two weeks living with the people who are part of the demonstrations, travelling into the villages, attending public rallies, meeting stone-throwers and seeing militants hanging around. Every action in South Kashmir — the four districts: Pulwama, Anantnag, Shopian and Kulgam ê has become a symbol of defiance against India. Young men search for paint to graffiti any available surface. Fuel is somehow arranged to fill the tanks of cars and bikes, only to travel to the next day’s rally. Flags are stitched or painted and hoisted on electric poles, trees, mobile towers and shop-fronts. At almost every rally, visitors gather around a few banners that display photos of slain militants or civilians. When a slogan is raised, the response is an echo of thousands of people cutting through the dense forests.

Graffiti in SrinagarGraffiti in Srinagar

Graffiti in Srinagar

Graffiti in a village near AnantnagGraffiti in a village near Anantnag

Graffiti in a village near Anantnag

One picture that is omnipresent is of Burhan Muzaffar Wani, who has become the hero, followed by many militants who are in these areas. Every young boy who is in the protests wants to follow Wani. Children take out parades with handmade wooden-guns amid pro-Kashmir and anti-India slogans.

***

In one such rally at Kulgam’s Yaaripora village last month, thousands participated to reiterate their support for the uprising. Riding a bike along with a recent journalism graduate, Shoaib (name changed), through interior roads to evade government forces, in the village, we found hundreds of cars, bikes and commercial vehicles parked on the road, and people walking in groups towards the venue. Volunteers were serving food and water to the visitors while the road was dotted with flags of Pakistan, Independent Kashmir and green.

On our way back, in Redwani village, 22-year-old Waris Ahmad (name changed) told me that this uprising is different than the one in 2010. “I want us to be successful as we want plebiscite. In 2010, only cities were mainly involved. But this time, villages all over Kashmir are with the movement. Nothing will happen due to this government crackdown. When there is oppression, that means we will succeed. Politicians betrayed Kashmiris, they showed us green gardens but nothing happened. What is truth is always truth, thus Jammu Kashmir is a disputed region and the dispute has to be solved one day,” he told me.

Public rally at Yaaripora, KulgamPublic rally at Yaaripora, Kulgam

Public rally at Yaaripora, Kulgam

A collage of those killed in the uprising at a rally in Yaaripora, KulgamA collage of those killed in the uprising at a rally in Yaaripora, Kulgam

A collage of those killed in the uprising at a rally in Yaaripora, Kulgam

***

Two days before this rally, Shoaib and I travelled towards another one in Dabrun village. Before we could reach, however, Central Reserve Police Force personnel stopped us near Ashajipora, a village next to Anantnag town. After telling them where we were headed, the two CRPF men charged at us with their batons. For the next few minutes, blows from the batons rained on our arms, legs and back, even as abuses were hurled at us and we were asked to go back. Showing my press card had only intensified the beating.

I did get a chance to visit the village after a few days. There I met 27-year-old Junaid Rasool (name changed), who has lived outside Kashmir, and told me that the government should understand what is the reason for the 2008, 2010 and 2016 uprisings in Kashmir.

“In 2008, we wanted land to be returned and the situation became normal,” Junaid told me. “Today, it is not about land or any one person, people are looking for their rights. We don’t want oppression to continue. In 2010, India sent delegations here and they showed us dreams and people voted later, thinking something will happen. But nothing happened. In 2016, India is saying a terrorist was killed, that is why there is an uprising. But the point is, why did he even pick up a gun? We don’t want India or Pakistan; we want only Azadi — freedom. India claims to be a big democracy, but there is nothing like that in Kashmir. Even before we start saying something, they shoot pellets at us.”

***

The situation is similar in the northern parts of Kashmir.

Last month, thousands gathered for a rally in the Kreeri area of North Kashmir. Witnesses said that people with wires, logs and electricity poles blocked all roads to thwart any nighttime raid by government forces. “I am seeing such a situation for the first time in any North Kashmir village,” a witness told a local daily. Earlier the village was raided to arrest youth. But locals said that people were alerted, and announcements were made through mosque loud speakers and everyone was asked to come out on the roads. “We set up blockades at all the entry points to the village,” a local told the daily, “and teams were formed, which patrolled the village for the whole night.” The next day, the stage was set up in the Eidgah grounds for the rally.

***

The government’s response to such dissent has only been the use of more force. At least 6,000 people have been arrested, with more than 400 booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA). Many families have said that their children were tortured and humiliated in police stations. In one incident, in South Kashmir’s Larkipora area, eight kilometers from the town, army personnel paraded young men naked and used them as human shields.

One late night (when curfew was imposed even during the nights), I reached Larkipora along with some locals who knew the alternative routes to avoid the main road that was dotted with the Army. We went to the house of Amir Yusuf Ganai, 22, a third semester MBA student at a Chandigarh College. Ganai was shot dead by the Army on 16 August. As per witnesses, some Army personnel were coming along one side of the road, beating up people. In Larkipora market, three people were paraded naked on the road ahead of the army vehicles. Initially, there was only stone throwing by demonstrators, who were angry to see the men being paraded, but then army personnel opened fire.

By 1 pm, 12 injured people were rushed to the district hospital of Anantnag. Seven were injured by pellets, four had bullet injuries and one had been beaten up. Among them was Ganai as well. His hospital record read: “Bullet injury left side neck — Brought dead.”

“People were announcing on the mosque loudspeakers that the army – 19-RR (Rashtriya Rifles) — was wreaking havoc,” said Mohammad Yusuf Ganai, Amir’s father. “And then people came out. Amir was hit in the neck. As per the witnesses, it was Sajad Ahmad Itoo, a local army man, who shot at him. Then people went to Itoo’s house and burnt it down. Four days after, on 22 August, Amir was to return to his college to pay his fees. He was here for the June-August summer break.”

(L) Amir Suhail Ganai; (R) Shiraz Ahmad Malik(L) Amir Suhail Ganai; (R) Shiraz Ahmad Malik

(L) Amir Suhail Ganai; (R) Shiraz Ahmad Malik

Among the three men who were paraded naked was 33-year-old Shiraz Ahmad Malik, a driver. At his home in Fatehpur village, 10 kilometers from Anantnag town, lying in bed with a fractured arm and injuries all over his body, Malik tells me that there was stone throwing and he went to see what the commotion was, but fell down. “Three of us were forced to get naked and the stone throwing stopped when they [the stone throwers] saw us naked in front of the army personnel,” he said.  “We were beaten up, our clothes torn off, identity cards kept in pockets and money taken away. For 30 minutes, we were kept there. Then our arms were bound and we were taken to a camp in a vehicle. We were in the vehicle but they couldn’t take us down again due to the heavy presence of protesters. We were released later. They were beating up the two others also and one of them was severely injured… his nails were removed.”

***

The reason that this uprising has been difficult to control is people’s vehement support for militants. Burhan Wani gave a face to the rebels, who would otherwise be on their own in the forests. His killing brought them back into the larger narrative of the general public’s political sentiments. While in the south, I saw militants being celebrated as heroes. Their networks have become stronger over the last two months and a huge number of young boys have already decided to join them. In other districts of Kashmir, the intensity may not be as high as in the south, but the uprising continues in those parts as well. While it is not possible to organise rallies in Central Kashmir, protests have not halted and have spread like wildfire with each fresh killing, even as far as to many areas of the Jammu division. However, the pro-freedom leaders in South Kashmir believe that the People’s Democratic Party, whose origin and base was in the south, stabbed the people in the back.

At the Anantnag police station, Mirwaiz Qazi Yasir, a pro-freedom leader and chairman of Ummat e Islami Jammu Kashmir (that exerts strong influence in Southern Kashmir), has been detained since the day Wani was killed. He tells me that the rural south had been passive over a period of time but silence should not be deemed as peace. “Kashmir, particularly the south, has been deceived time and again by politicians,” said Yasir. “Even when they voted for different mainstream parties, they presented themselves covered in the clothes of the movement. Wailing and crying over the dead bodies of young militants gave them the impression that those people among that camp were pro-freedom. Our own people, some militant commanders or resistance leaders supported these deceiving political parties, which supported and strengthened their pro-freedom cover. There was a time in the pre-2008 era when a huge chunk of intellectuals believed that the signs of resistance have been erased among the youth. But 2008 rediscovered the movement in the present generation.”

As for where this uprising has taken Kashmir, Yasir says, “I believe this uprising has had several impacts, like transition of the movement to new generation. It strengthened the expression that we want nothing less than Azadi and this movement is goal-centric rather than leader-centric. People are growing politically mature. Gone are the times when people were considered as herds.”

The response that the parliamentary delegation received in Kashmir has proven that the people do not want a repeat of the past. While none among the pro-freedom leaders was willing to speak to the delegation, during the day, at least 600 people were injured across Kashmir in protests and clashes. Reports said that around two-dozen people sustained pellet injuries to their eyes, including a photojournalist.

In South Kashmir’s Shopian, protesters torched a new building — a local deputy commissioner’s office — after government forces stopped a scheduled public rally. With no let up in the demonstrations, continuous use of force, people like Yasir Salaam Sheikh’s father continue to believe that the loss of economy and the lives are the sacrifices one has to offer for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

But the coming days and weeks will tell whether there will be any concrete dialogue, or if it will only be another bloody summer in Kashmir.

Scientific solution needed to increase crop yield: PM Modi tells scientists

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asked the research community to come up with a scientific solution to increase crop yield keeping in mind the shrinking land and water resources and stressed the need for bringing in “right” stakeholders so that the benefit of technology can reach the common man.

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

“I have always said per drop more crop. We must also think about an inch of land and a bunch of crops,” the Prime Minister said at CSIR’s Platinum Jubilee event in New Delhi.

He asked the scientists to work on increasing the production of vegetables to not only address domestic needs, but also for exports.

He also emphasised on pursuing the goal of “time-bound delivery” to meet the needs of consumers.

“Now that we are in the 75th year…We take forward the single point agenda of time bound delivery,” Modi, who is also the President of CSIR, said.

He exhorted scientists to undertake “innovative research” especially in areas of health care, agriculture, water resources, waste management and the cleaning of the Ganga.

Emphasising the need to have ease of doing ‘Technology Business’, he asked CSIR to “bring in right stakeholders so that the benefit of technology can reach the common man”.

“A technology is considered successful if it benefits the common man. At times we invent something, but the common man is unaware of it. Can it be modified by as per the needs of the common man?” the PM asked.

He asked CSIR to explore new areas like sports research and manufacturing mobile batteries with longer life.

The Prime Minister also underlined the need for creating a value chain between research institute, industry, NGOs, service providers and consumers.

He proposed for channelising research funds in a “more effective way” and asked the Ministry to create a website on which all research grants and the work undertaken by scientists in different laboratories could be listed.

This will, he said, ensure that there is no duplicity in research, which can save both time and money.

Modi said the government intends to double the farmers income by 2022 for which he asked the scientists to develop some new varieties of crops.

“If you can develop varieties of dal, then it can be used in rain-fed areas and give a boost to production. It will also help to address the shortage of proteins in the body,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the 21st century is a technology driven century and “it is important to connect science with the common citizens in this century,” he said.

Founded in 1942, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is an arm of the Ministry of Science and Technology with 38 state of art institutes conducting researches in varied subjects ranging form aerospace to agriculture.

CM Chandrababu Naidu conducts aerial survey of rain-hit Palnadu, assures help

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With heavy rains lashing Palnadu region of Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu conducted an aerial survey of the area for the second consecutive day on Sunday and promised all help from the state government. He flew over Gurazala, Macherla and other villages in the region inspecting the damaged crops and also the overflowing rivulets and streams. Naidu landed in Dachepalli and toured the villages in the area and interacted with the locals and promised full help from his government.The Chief Minister directed officials to ensure that all necessary relief like food and drinking water are provided to the rain-hit people. “Don’t be lax. Ensure proper distribution of relief. Even if one person complains that he did not receive any relief, I will act tough on the officers,” he warned.Standing crops, mostly paddy, chilli, and cotton, suffered extensive damage in over 41,000 hectares of Guntur district alone. “Full-scale enumeration of the losses will be completed soon and affected farmers will be compensated under the Pradhan Mantri Phasal Bima Yojana. The state government will also give input subsidy to farmers to raise alternative crops,” he said.Naidu directed the Roads and Buildings Department to invite short-term tenders and complete repair and restoration of damaged roads within 30 days. “You have to complete temporary repairs in three days and restore road transport,” he told the officials.Nine persons have so far died in rain-related incidents in the state – six in Guntur and three in Visakhapatnam. Train services on Guntur-Secunderabad section, remained disrupted in last four days. The rail tracks which were washed away at some places are likely to be revived by Monday.Meanwhile, 84,107 cusecs of water flowing into the KL Rao Sagar reservoir on Krishna river, upstream the Prakasam Barrage, is being discharged as the storage level remained steady at 30 tmc ft.At Prakasam Barrage, all 70 crest gates have been lifted to discharge 1,02,272 cusecs of water into the Bay of Bengal. Inflow into the barrage was recorded at 77,954 cusecs at 3 PM on Sunday. The flood water also gushed into the Sir Arthur Cotton Barrage on river Godavari at Dowlaiswaram near Rajamahendravaram.The SAC Barrage received 2,42,368 cusecs of water and all of it is being discharged into the Bay of Bengal.

Why I filed an RTI query about our government’s preparedness for a zombie invasion

(Editor’s note: This writer’s RTI application about how our government would handle a zombie or alien invasion went viral on social media this week. But as he explains, it wasn’t a frivolous query, there was a point being made. Read on.)

There was this wonderful BBC radio programme, Yes Minister, that was later adapted into a TV series. I used to watch it on VCD, growing up.

In the opening episode, there’s this exchange between the minister’s principal private secretary Bernard Woolley, the ministry’s permanent secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby, and the permanent secretary to the cabinet Sir Arnold, on the subject of the right of the public to know what their government is up to:

Bernard: But, uh, what’s wrong with open government? I mean, why shouldn’t the public know more about what’s going on?
Sir Arnold: Are you serious?
Bernard: Well, yes sir. It’s the minister’s policy after all.
Sir Arnold: My dear boy, it’s a contradiction in terms. You can be open or you can have government.
Bernard: But surely the citizens of a democracy have a right to know.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No. They have a right to be ignorant. Knowledge only means complicity in guilt; ignorance has a certain dignity.

Which brings me to the subject to the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) and the RTI request that I filed with the Ministry of Home Affairs in March last year asking if we were prepared for an invasion by aliens and zombies.

Over the last week, I’ve been asked to explain myself by various people who know me and people who don’t know me, as though I was a schoolboy who asked his headmaster an impertinent question. I figured, instead of giving off the cuff remarks here and there to various publications, why not set the record straight here, with this publication, one that is kind enough to frequently publish my past argle bargle.

An RTI filed by this writer about our government's preparedness to deal with a zombie or alien invasion went viral on social mediaAn RTI filed by this writer about our government's preparedness to deal with a zombie or alien invasion went viral on social media

An RTI filed by this writer about our government’s preparedness to deal with a zombie or alien invasion went viral on social media

I’m going to talk about five things that I feel are quite important about this entire issue:

1. The Cause

So here’s why I did it. It was an act of protest, a simple act of non violent, and in my view at that time, patriotic protest. I live in Mumbai and back in March 2015, they had just banned beef and the home ministry had just banned a documentary on the Delhi gangrape case. Now I wasn’t for the ban but I thought the documentary was ill-timed.

What did worry me, was why the Home Ministry was was wasting time engaging on the documentary issue when there were churches being vandalised in New Delhi and a 71-year-old nun was raped in West Bengal. What shocked me more was in February, we saw them actually crack down on people who were protesting these attacks on churches. All this, while a man was being lynched by a mob in Assam because he was accused of rape, and there were genuine fears of reprisals against people of Northeastern descent. The entire “intolerance” fiasco that started in March and somehow thankfully died down (the GST Bill passed finally, yay!) was a complete waste of the government’s time and to a certain extent was kept alive by the government because they engaged with it on some level and failed to engage with it on others.

Look, I’ll be honest, I actually was a big fan of this government, I still am. I think, this government is the best shot India has at a bright and prosperous economic future, but to see the Home Ministry waste public time on nonsense like a Channel 4 Documentary, a matter which is best left for the press to sort out or the court to censor and block if it is in the public interest, while there were serious issues of national importance to deal with, does cause one to get quite annoyed with one’s government.

2. The Means

Filing a frivolous RTI is like casting a protest vote in an election. Since India introduced EVMs, the spirit of the protest vote has been lost. Ideally, it involves spoiling the ballot paper. Writing in a name like “Shaktiman” or “Donald Duck” to protest the fact that you’re unhappy with the quality of candidates that are there or you think the electoral process is unfair. But you can only vote once in five years and you really don’t get replies if you write angry letters to your minster or MP (though I do encourage you to keep trying) and neither does the ministry have a customer care number.

There is where the RTI can also serve as a vehicle to lodge a simple, non-violent, peaceful and private protest with your government, as is your right. You don’t even need to explain the purpose.

Just like a spoiled ballot, as a citizen, I chose to express my dissatisfaction with the way my government was conducting itself in this manner. I paid the fee and therefore I did not “waste” anyone’s time. It would be a waste only if they were doing it without a fee. I paid for someone to read my application, apply their mind to it and draft a reply to my application. If my tax money can go to the Central Board of Film Certification making a list of banned swear words (What I’d pay to be a fly on the wall in the meeting where they came up with that list!) I think it’s perfectly all right for a Public Information Officer to have to reply to my RTI application in exchange for a fee.

3. I shouldn’t be asked to explain myself and neither should you

The whole purpose of the RTI — and here’s where Sir Arnold and I differ — is that I think the right to information is vital to the functioning of a citizen democracy and in order for this right to be effective, it must require that citizens don’t have to explain themselves when they seek information from their government. The government is our servant and not the other way around. We owe no duty to explain to it why we seek information from it, as all information held by the government is held by it on our behalf, in trust. So we must have access to it at all times. Just like a banker cannot ask you why you want to check your account statement — especially in this case as it is your own bank, if I may be permitted to use that analogy! So I fail to see why the government or the public can ask me to approach the government or public officials with a degree of reverence or chastise me for wasting their time when they do nothing but waste mine. India’s Kafkaesque bureaucracy is not deserving of reverence and any person who has had experience dealing with it should be able to attest to the same.

4. They don’t like answering uncomfortable questions via RTI

Do you remember the whole Bharat Mata Ki Jai controversy? So when that happened I actually wondered if “Bharat Mata” was a protected emblem by the Government of India and if there was any direction asking us to say the same. I also wondered if there was a difference between “Bharat Mata” and “Jai Hind”. Worse, since everyone was being branded as “anti national”, I wanted to know if there was a certificate course I could take to prove my patriotism. I filed an RTI asking them this question. They denied me this information. They didn’t say no. They said this information was outside the scope of the RTI Act. Which is funny, because they were simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ questions and the ministry has answered ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ questions in the past. Obviously the minster of state for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju won’t tweet that application (although it is also online) as a waste of time (wonder why!).

My queryMy query

My query

The government's responseThe government's response

The government’s response

The same thing with the ministry of External Affairs — I filed an RTI asking them a simple set of questions concerting treaties that India is party to. I asked them if we have treaties with the Arab States allowing employers there to confiscate passports of Indian citizens who go there to work. The Treaties division is in Delhi, so I did file it at the right place. But instead of answering questions one and two they told me to apply to each consulate in each country in the Persian Gulf! If replies like this keep coming, the RTI ends up becoming a generally useless mechanism.

screenshot 3screenshot 3

My RTI query

The government's responseThe government's response

The government’s response

5. The information is public, lives are at risk if this is the case

They’ve started this process of uploading RTI requests (unreacted) along with the replies. While they claim this is in the interest of transparency, no useful purpose other than intimation can be served by uploading full applications complete with full names, address and mobile numbers on the websites of the ministry. In fact if you go the ministry of Home Affairs website, you can search for an RTI application by just giving a person’s full name. You don’t even need to give that RTI number to find it. I’m all for transparency and in fact I would have found it perfectly sporting had the government uploaded my RTI online but with my telephone number and address redacted. But they have not done this and if anyone has filed an RTI in the past they are also vulnerable to this.

This is how easy to track down who has filed an RTIThis is how easy to track down who has filed an RTI

This is how easy to track down who has filed an RTI

However, the fact is it’s a far more secure system to actually track an RTI application than it is to view a disposed off one online. Another example of a Kafkaesque procedure. While, my RTI may be a ‘frivolous joke’, there are a lot of serious people using the RTI to expose scams and effect some serious change. Putting their RTI details online, risks and compromises their security. This is utterly irresponsible behaviour on the government’s part and all of us should be concerned about this. Who’s going to ask for information to expose a scam if you have to do it in front of the scamster, eh?

So it’s funny, but it’s also not that funny. I guess that’s what you get with open government.

Also, before anyone calls me “anti national” for doing and saying all this, I’m willing to swear an oath of allegiance to this government and the Prime Minister on affidavit if that helps everyone take what I’ve said seriously. Bharat Mata Ki Jai!

Bandipora encounter: Firing between militants, security personnel in Kashmir kills one terrorist

Early on Thursday morning, suspected militants and security personnel are engaged in a gunfight in Bandipora district of Jammu and Kashmir. According to latest updates, the firing is ongoing.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

According to ANI, one of the terrorists has been gunned down and an operation is still underway.

Greater Kashmir reported that the encounter is ensuring in Aragam village of the district. According to the army officer quoted by the report, the encounter had “erputed after forces cordoned off a house located in the forests” in Aragam village. The army officer also mentioned that terrorists were holed up inside the house and that there was firing going on from both sides.

This attack comes just days after the Uri attacks which claimed the lives of 18 soldiers, leaving several others injured. In the Uri attacks, explosions and gunfire erupted as the militants attacked the camp, which is located barely few metres away from the Army’s Brigade Headquarters in Uri town, 102 kms from Srinagar.

Firstpost’s Sameer Yasir has reported that the Army confirmed that the Uri attacks were carried out by terrorists belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant outfit based in Pakistan.

According to an IndiaSpend report, the army’s combat death toll in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is 64 this year (until 18 September), the highest since 2010, when 69 soldiers died.

Kashmir protests: Boy’s funeral draws thousands

Thousands reportedly defy a curfew in Kashmir to attend the funeral of a schoolboy whose body was found riddled with shotgun pellet wounds.

26/11 Mumbai attacks: ‘Financier’ sent to judicial remand, ‘case returns to 2009 phase’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The alleged financier of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, who supplied nearly Rs 4 million to the LeT men, has been sent to judicial remand after the Pakistani anti-terrorism court hearing the case did not allow the FIA to have his custody for more days. Sufayan Zafar has joined the other six suspects – Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hammad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Mohammad Younis Anjum – in the high-security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, where they are lodged since 2009.Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operations commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the Mumbai attack, is living at an undisclosed location after being released from jail on bail over a year ago. The anti-terrorism court sent Zafar on the judicial remand on Saturday noting that the Federal Investigation Agency had been given enough time to probe the suspect, a source in the FIA said on Monday. He is accused of providing Rs 3.98 million to co-accused Riaz through account no. 2338-2 of the Muslim Commercial Bank’s Drigh Road branch in Karachi and account no. 2464-0 of the Allied Bank’s Drigh Colony branch in Karachi prior to the Mumbai terror attack.During interrogation by the FIA, he was quizzed over providing millions of rupees to the suspected terrorists of the Mumbai attack case, his relations with them and other absconding suspects, the source said. “The FIA has interrogated Zafar for providing financial assistance to the co-accused in the Mumbai case besides his connection with the terrorists and the LeT. He was also interrogated for the channel/source from which he got the huge sum of money to provide it to the co-accused,” he said.Zafar was absconding after being declared proclaimed offender in the Mumbai case. He was arrested early this month (on August 3 or 4) from his hideout in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. A resident of Gujrawala district of Punjab – some 80 kms from Lahore, Zafar is among 21 other absconding suspects wanted in this high-profile case. According to court documents, the other suspects who allegedly arranged funds for the attacks include undertrial Ahmed and Anjum and proclaimed offenders Mohammad Usman Zia, Mukhtar Ahmed, Abbas Nasir and Javed Iqbal.The FIA wanted more time to investigate him further, the source said, adding that the agency would indict him along with the seven other suspects of the case in the trial court after completing his challan. The trial court will resume the hearing of the case on September 7 after over a month-long court summer vacation. Defence lawyers are of the view that indicting Zafar along with the seven accused may further delay the conclusion of the case, which has been pending in an anti-terrorism court (ATC) since 2009, due to repeating the exercise of cross- examining witnesses in the light of the new arrest. “Since the trial is being conducted under Section 21-M of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, Zafar may be tried along with seven suspects for an offence they are alleged to have committed in connivance with each other,” Raja Rizwan Abbasi, counsel for Lakhvi, told the Dawn. “The Mumbai attack case has returned to 2009 when the trial against the seven suspects began,” Abbasi said. He further said that seven years after its commencement, the case was still at zero point and the prosecution would take another seven to eight years to repeat the exercise.”The interned accused cannot wait for such a long period and have the right to move the court for post-arrest bail,” he said, adding the prosecution had no option but to seek a joint trial of Zafar along with the seven suspects. The prosecution has concluded evidence of all 68 Pakistani witnesses and requested the court to summon 24 Indian witnesses. The trial proceedings have come to a halt as India is yet to send 24 witnesses to Pakistan for recording of their statements in the trial court.Pakistan says the trial cannot be concluded unless India sends its nationals for recording their statements in the case. As many as 166 people were killed and over 250 injured in the attack carried out by 10 LeT men. Nine assailants were killed while the lone survivor, Ajmal Kasab, was captured and later executed.

45 days and counting: Kashmir tense as another teenaged-boy dies after teargas shelling

Srinagar remained under curfew on Monday after a teenager was killed by a teargas shell here on Sunday, even as normal life in Kashmir was paralysed for the 45th day due to restrictions and strike in the wake of violence following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

Curfew continues to be in force in entire Srinagar district as well as in Anantnag town. Curfew has also been clamped in Khansahib town of Budgam district of central Kashmir as a precautionary measure, a police official said.

He said curfew was lifted from Pampore town on Monday in view of the improving situation. However, the official said, restrictions on the assembly of four or more people under Section 144 Crpc have been imposed in the town and elsewhere in the Valley where there is no curfew.

This is to maintain law and order, he said. A youth, Irfan Wani, was killed in downtown area of the city yesterday after he was hit by a tear gar shell. The official said restrictions around Lal Chowk city centre in the summer capital here, which were imposed on August 14, were also eased out on Monday.

Security jawans stand guard as tension prevails in Srinagar on Sunday. PTI

Security jawans stand guard as tension prevails in Srinagar on Sunday. PTI

People with curfew passes are being allowed to move around Lal Chowk, he said. The separatist camp, which is spearheading the agitation in the Valley over the civilian killings during the protests against Wani’s killing, has asked people to march towards Tehsil headquarters Monday.

As many as 65 persons, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the clashes that began on July 9.

Meanwhile, normal life remained paralysed for the 45th consecutive day due to curfew, restrictions and separatist sponsored strike following Wani’s killing in an encounter with security forces.

Shops, private offices, educational institutions and petrol pumps remained closed while public transport continued to be off roads.The attendance in government offices and banks was also affected.

Mobile Internet also continued to remain suspended in the entire Valley, where the outgoing facility on prepaid mobiles remained barred. The separatist camp, headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, has extended the agitation till 25 August.

Meanwhile, a joint delegation of opposition parties led by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and apprised him of the ground situation with an appeal to adopt a political approach in dealing with the unrest in the Valley.

Besides Omar, the delegation — comprising a seven-member team of state Congress led by its PCC chief G A Mir, CPM MLA M Y Tarigami, eight-member team of main opposition National Conference including its provincial chiefs Nasir Wani and Davinder Rana — has been camping in the national capital and meeting political leaders from the government and opposition.

The delegation apprised the Prime Minister that the tried and tested formulations of dealing with the political issue in Kashmir administratively rather than politically has further exasperated the situation and “created an unprecedented sense of disaffection and disenchantment”, especially among the youth.

Flagging the issue of continued protests in which many youths have fallen victim to the ongoing protest including a young teenager named Irfan who was killed last night when a teargas shell burst on his chest in downtown, the memorandum requested the Prime Minister to announce “an immediate ban on pellet guns that have caused grievous injuries in the current unrest and maimed and blinded many young boys and girls”.

“We also request you to advise relevant quarters against the policy of mass harassment, raids and arrests as this has worsened an already volatile situation in the state and goes against the values and principles of our democratic fabric and ethos,” the memorandum said.

Meanwhile, ANI tweeted Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti as saying: “It’s a really good thing if there is solution found by opposition meeting President and PM for restoring peace.”

With inputs from PTI

Sonia’s health much better now, says Rahul

New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi is “much better now” and will be “up and about very soon”, Rahul Gandhi said on Saturday.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi. PTICongress President Sonia Gandhi. PTI

Congress President Sonia Gandhi. PTI

The 69 year-old Congress president was discharged from the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital here two days back after successfully undergoing a minor procedure.

She was earlier in the hospital for 11 days for treatment of fever, dehydration and a shoulder injury.

At a function at which noted singer Shubha Mudgal was presented the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award, the Congress Vice President said that Sonia was “very keen” to attend the event, but he and Priyanka Gandhi did not allow her.

Rahul said though his mother was “very very impatient” to attend the programme, he and his sister told her that she should “rest a little bit”.

“She is much much better now and will be up and about very soon,” he remarked.

Gandhi, who is recuperating after falling ill during a roadshow in Varanasi, also did not visit the Vir Bhumi memorial here on the 72nd birth anniversary of her husband and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

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

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

India avoiding talks with Pakistan due to Kashmir: Sartaj Aziz

India was “shying away” from peace talks with Pakistan to avoid discussions on Kashmir and other issues, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said on Wednesday. He said Pakistan was not shying away from talks.”It is actually India which is shying away as it knows that it has to discuss Kashmir and other issues on the dialogue table,” Aziz said, commenting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks during a television interview.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Prime Minister Modi’s logic is beyond perception,” he said. “We have a format of comprehensive and composite dialogue with India that includes issues like people-to-people contact, visa and fishermen issue, trade and economic cooperation, Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek,” Aziz was quoted as saying by Radio Pakistan.He said that the Indian army had stakes in Siachen and when last time both the governments reached an agreement, the Indian army rejected it. In the interview on Monday, Modi had said that due to his diplomatic efforts, the world had seen India was not reluctant to engage with Pakistan.”Our approach has created difficulties for Pakistan, and they find it hard to respond on the matter in the international community,” said Modi. The relations between the two sides deteriorated after Pathankot attack earlier this year and all efforts have failed to revive the peace talks.

Gulbarg case: Ahmedabad Court postpones sentencing of 24 convicts to 10 June

Ahmedabad: Counsel for the 24 convicted in the 2002 Gulbarg Society massacre, which left 69 people including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri dead, on Thursday sought lenient punishment for those guilty by the court which indicated that it will on Friday decide on the date of pronouncement of the quantum of sentence.

The special SIT court is hearing arguments made by the defence on mitigating circumstances and other factors before determining the sentence for the convicts.

The court had on 2 June convicted 24 people and acquitted 36 others. AFP

Gulbarg Society. The court had on 2 June convicted 24 people and acquitted 36 others. AFP

On Monday, prosecution had sought death penalty for all the 24 people convicted for the gruesome killings.

Special Judge PB Desai on Thursday heard the lawyer for accused Abhay Bhardwaj, who presented lengthy arguments against demands for capital punishment or life sentence till death, made by the prosecution lawyer.

The judge said the date for pronouncement of quantum of sentence will be decided tomorrow after hearing the SIT lawyer, especially on the aspects of compensation to families of the victims, which has been sought by the victims’ lawyer.

The court had on 2 June convicted 24 people and acquitted 36 others, while dropping conspiracy charges. Out of the total 66 accused, six had died during the trial. Of the 24 convicted, 11 have been charged with murder, while 13 others including VHP leader Atul Vaidya, have been convicted for lesser offences.

While making his submission, Bhardwaj said the court should consider mitigating circumstances for convicts including their prior criminal record, age, socio-economic background, possibility of rehabilitation, and whether they can reform, before pronouncing their sentence.

Citing various judgements of the Supreme Court, he argued that all judgements are on reformative thinking unless prosecution proves that the convicts can’t be reformed under any circumstances.

He cited the case of Mohammad Jamaluddin Nasir who was found guilty of killing five policemen and injuring 13 others during attack on American Centre in Kolkata, and whose capital punishment was reduced to life sentence by the Supreme Court.

He also cited the case of Vyas Ram, a member of Ranbir Sena who was found guilty of killing 35 considered to be communist sympathizers in a Bihar village, whose capital punishment was also reduced to life sentence.

“If the state can’t establish that the convict is a menace to society, then capital punishment should not be considered…even for those convicted of lesser punishment, leniency and minimum punishment is required. The accused while on bail began normal life by integrating themselves
without creating any trouble for even the witnesses even when living in the same locality,” he argued.

Bhardwaj also said that sentence of imprisonment for life necessarily means jail term till death with power vested in the state to remit or commute as deemed fit. He also cited SC judgements where the apex court held that the sentences should be given concurrently and not consecutively.

“When an accused is sentenced for one major offence and found guilty of ancillary provisions, then all sentences would be required to be ordered concurrently and not consecutively,” he argued.

Public prosecutor representing the Supreme Court- appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), R C Kodekar, had on Monday sought nothing less than death sentence or jail term till death for all 24 convicts.

Kodekar had said all 24 convicts were found guilty of offence under section 149 of the IPC and therefore required to be treated on par when the sentence is pronounced.

Lawyer for the victim, SM Vora had also sought maximum punishment for the accused and argued that sentencing for each offence should not run concurrently so that they spend their entire life in jail.

The Gulbarg Society massacre here on 28 February, 2002 when Narendra Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister shook the nation when a mob of 400 people set about attacking the society in the heart of Ahmedabad and killed the residents including Jafri. It was one of the nine cases of the 2002 Gujarat riots probed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT.

The incident had taken place a day after S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was burnt near Godhra train station in which 58 ‘kar sevaks’ going to Ayodhya were killed.

The Supreme Court, which has been monitoring the case, had directed the SIT court to give its verdict by 31 May.

During the course of trial, as many as 338 witnesses were cross-examined, with four different judges having presided over the case.

Of the 66 accused named by the SIT in the case, nine are behind bars, while others are out on bail.

17-year-old girl gangraped by five, including two minors in Chhattisgarh

Raigarh: A 17-year-old girl was allegedly gangraped by five persons, including two minor boys, at a village in Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh, following which all the accused have been held, police said Tuesday.

After the incident that took place last week, the victim had tried to end her life by consuming pesticide. Currently, she is in a critical state and undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Raigarh, according to police.

Three of the accused — Mohan Sahu (50), Mahesh Sahu (25), and Gulshan Chandra (21) — have been booked under IPC Section 376 (g) (gangrape) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

“The incident had taken place on 23 May at Uchh Bhatti village, located around 65 km away from the district headquarter, when the victim was at home along with her elder sister,” City Superintendent of Police (CSP) Satyendra Pandey said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image of Chhattisgarh police. AFP

However, the crime came to light on Monday when the minor girl was admitted to Raigarh district hospital in a serious condition, he said.

“The victim’s parents are labourers and had gone to a different state for work. On the night of 23 May, the accused Mohan Sahu stormed into the victim’s house along with his four friends and locked her elder sister in a room and then took turns to rape the girl,” he said.

The accused fled from the spot after committing the crime, he said.

“Following the incident, the girl tried to commit suicide by consuming pesticide on the same night, but was admitted to Sarangarh hospital by her neighbours, who rushed to her house after hearing her screams,” Pandey said.

When the girl’s condition deteriorated and she developed infection in her kidneys, she was shifted to a private hospital, where the doctors informed the police about the case, the CSP said, adding, her statement was recorded.

“Based on her statement, a case been lodged with Kosir Police Station against the accused,” he said.

The girl is undergoing treatment at ICU and her condition is said to be critical, the CSP said.

President Mukherjee wraps six-day state visit to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea

President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday left for home from Auckland, wrapping up his six-day official visit to Papua New Guinea (PNG) and New Zealand where he met top leaders of the two countries and inked a few important deals as part of India’s ‘Act East’ policy.Concluding the three-day visit to New Zealand as part of the second leg of his two-nation tour, Mukherjee talked about co-operation in agriculture, dairy, food processing, education and skill development as well as high technology between the two countries. During the course of the visit, India and New Zealand also signed a deal that opens the door for direct flights between the two countries with an aim to boost tourism and trade sectors.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mukherjee’s trip is the first high-level visit from India in 20 years after Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to the island nation.
ALSO READ Without dissent, parliamentary system is dysfunctional: President MukherjeeProminent amongst whom he met here include New Zealand Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae and Prime Minister John Key. Earlier, as part of his two-day maiden state visit to PNG, the President had sought for freedom of navigation saying sea lanes of communications should be devoid of tension and rivalry.The two nations, as part of measures to strengthen bilateral ties and ensuring energy security, signed a few agreements even as India offered a US $100 million line of credit for development of infrastructure in PNG and agreed to jointly develop new avenues of cooperation to explore and develop the Pacific nation’s vast oil and gas resources.India also offered the country, during the visit, its technology, financial wherewithal, skilled manpower and institutional support to harness the mineral-rich country’s abundant natural resources and establish mutually beneficial economic and commercial ventures. The President, while in PNG, met his counterpart Sir Michael Ogio.

President Mukherjee arrives in New Zealand on second leg of his two nation tour

After his landmark visit to Papua New Guinea, President Pranab Mukherjee arrived in Auckland early Saturday morning on a three-day visit to New Zealand.This is for the first time that an Indian President is visiting this country in the Southern Hemisphere. During his sojourn, the President will meet the Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae. Prime Minister John Key and the leader of Opposition Andrew Little will call on him.The President will lay a wreath at the Auckland War Memorial and address the students of Auckland University of Technology. He will also address a Business Forum and Indian Diaspora. With a population of about 4.5 million, New Zealand historically shares close and cordial ties with India.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As many as 1, 75, 000 persons of Indian origin have made New Zealand their permanent home. There are about 23, 000 Indian students in New Zealand. The country has become a favourite destination for location shooting by Indian Film producers.
ALSO READ President Mukherjee embarks on two-nation tour to Papua New Guinea and New ZealandThe Wellington City Council has submitted a proposal for establishing a sister-city relationship between Wellington and New Delhi. To improve connectivity between the two countries, a bilateral Air Services Agreement is likely to be signed during this visit of the President.The New Zealand Government is also keen to enhance defence cooperation with India.

In a first, anti-IS flags make debut in Kashmir

For a change, the anti-Islamic State (IS) banners have made a debut in the militancy-hit Kashmir valley.Masked youth waved anti-IS banners in Nowhatta area of the sensitive old Srinagar city post Friday prayers before vanishing in the thin air.A banner, showing an IS commander wearing a bushy beard with the outfit’s black flag with Kalima (the first basic fundamental of Islam) in the backdrop, was waved by the small group of youth after they scaled a small wall. It had a banner headline written in Urdu, screaming: “Allah does not permit us to wage jihad against Israel”. And on the bottom it asked: “Does Allah allow you to bomb mosques?”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The banners were put up in the area which is notorious for waving IS, Pakistan and other flags, mostly after the Friday prayers. It is always followed by heavy stone-pelting on the security forces’ deployments.”Obviously, it is a positive trend. For the first time it has happened. Whenever we arrest a stone pelter, we counsel him…make him understand what is right and what is wrong. May be this worked,” Mudasir Shafi, station house officer of Nowhatta police station, told dna.Sajid Khaliq, superintendent of police, North City, told dna, said though it is too premature to say anything, it seems to be a change of heart among the youth.”Our endeavor has always been to get to closer to people. Hopefully, it (putting up anti-IS flag) will help us in our endeavor,” Sajid Khaliq, superintendent of police, North City, told dna.Separatists too have jumped onto the bandwagon to claim credit for the change of heart among some of the youth. “It’s a victory of our stand. From the day one we have been saying they (IS) are not Mujahids but terrorists. Now, people are getting aware which is a great thing. We should be able to differentiate and tell the world that our movement has nothing to do with terrorism,” said Ayaz Akbar, spokesman of hard-line faction of Hurriyat Conference, led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani.Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), the ruling alliance partner of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), went gaga saying this proves that Kashmiris do not support terrorism in any form. “These IS flags were shown by certain anti-Kashmir elements. Displaying the anti-IS flags by some youth is a very good sign. It shows people of Jammu and Kashmir does not support terrorism in any form,” said Khalid Jahangir, BJP spokesman for Kashmir.In the last few years, the Kashmir valley has been witnessing hoisting of IS flags and banners by some masked youth particularly in old city after Friday prayers.Police had picked up several youth since the hoisting of the flags in 2014, but investigation did not reveal any organisational structure for the IS in the valley. Even separatist leaders including pro-Pakistan Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani have openly condemned IS and stated that there are no traces of the dreaded outfit in the valley.Last year director general of police K Rajendra Kumar had ruled out IS presence in the Kashmir valley. “Every case (of raising IS flags) is being investigated. We have not seen such (IS) ideology in Kashmir,” Rajendra told reporters at Kishtwar in Jammu division on November 16.

Sushma Swaraj impresses Iranian leadership; convinces Russia, Chinese on Indo-US logistics deal

Soon after agreeing in-principle to finalise a Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) with the United States for the purpose of sharing military bases, including providing facilities of refuelling and repair, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Iran and then Moscow to interact with her Russian and Chinese counterparts has proved a fine act of balance.At the Russia, China and India tri-lateral ministerial conference on Monday, Swaraj sought active participation of countries in various activities in India. She also invited Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping to attend the BRICS Summit, scheduled to be held in Goa in October.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The visit coming soon after the landmark Indo-US logistics exchange agreement was being described as the toughest diplomatic assignment for Swaraj, who was expected to face tough questioning from her Russian and Chinese counterparts. Both the countries are apprehensive about American military presence close to their borders. During her bilateral discussions with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, Swaraj raised the issue of China blocking its bid to have Jaish-e-Mohammed chief and Pathankot terror attack mastermind Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist by the United Nations. Official sources said the issue was raised by Swaraj besides deliberations on a range of issues.Last July, China had similarly halted India’s move in the UN to take action against Pakistan for its release of Mumbai terror attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. Swaraj also favoured frequent meetings between the two sides to step up engagement. “We are meeting after a long gap and I think we should meet quite frequently. Because things are moving very fast in the world and if we meet frequently, we will be able to deliberate on those,” she said.At the Conference, without referring to China, Swaraj did mention double standards of some countries while dealing with terrorism. “If we continue to adopt double standards in dealing with terrorism it will have serious consequences not just for our own countries, but the international community as a whole,” she said. She asked RIC countries to lead the way in getting the international community together to counter terrorism through joint action, including at the UN.During her interaction with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, official sources said, Swaraj raised issues of the killing of an Indian and the death of two Indian girl students Pooja Kallur and Karishma Bhonsle, both from Maharashtra in a fire tragedy besides discussing key bilateral matters. During their meeting, Swaraj raised the issue of the killing of Yasir Javed, a businessman from Srinagar who died in Russia’s Kazan city last month following an attack on him by a group of local goons, and enquired about the progress of investigation into the case. Two girls were studying at Smolensk Medical Academy in Russia and lost their lives in a fire accident in February.Earlier, China had hinted, it might raise the issue of Indo-US logistics exchange agreement with Indian leaders. Currently Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is also visiting Beijing. Its official media had said that India’s diplomatic manoeuvring risks dampening cooperation among the China-Russia-India triangle and the BRICS. Both Russia and China aware now awaiting wording of the agreement to actually get an idea of US logistics in the region. India is planning to sign similar pacts with 27 countries. So far, India has already signed these with Australia, Singapore and Thailand.

Sushma Swaraj to take up death of Indian students, attack on businessman on Russia trip

On the eve of her visit to Russia, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday said that she will take up the death of two Indians in a fire tragedy and killing of another Indian in that country during her talks with the authorities. Swaraj today left for a two-nation three-day visit to Iran and Russia. She will go to Moscow from Tehran tomorrow where she will participate in the annual Foreign Ministers’ meeting of RIC (Russia, India and China). “I am going to Moscow. The final investigation report into fire tragedy in which we lost Pooja Kallur and Krishma Bhonsle is on my agenda. “I will also take up the matter of Yasir an Indian national from Srinagar who was killed in Kazan (Russia),” Swaraj said in a series of tweets. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Besides attending the RIC meeting, she is also expected to have a bilateral meet with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow. Two Indian girl students were killed in a fire at the Smolensk Medical Academy in western Russia in February while a Kashmiri businessman died after being attacked by unidentified men last month.

Be Our Pondati: Hilarious video by IIT Madras students on marriage proposals

Arranged marriages are the norm in India and three students from IIT Madras have made a video with a hilarious take on it. Krupa Varghese, Anukripa Elango and Asmita Ghosh from IIT Madras created a video as part of Saahitya 2016′s Sir Mix-A-Lot song parody contest.Parodying Carly Rae Jepson’s ‘Call me maybe’, turning it into a hilarious song that has become the talk of the Internet. The three rewrote the lyrics of the song and made it into a matrimonial ad. The parody sees a mother-in-law sing about looking for a good wife (pondati) for her son. The mother-in-law goes on to describe all of her son’s good qualities, including money and good looks, and then asks, “Do you have what it takes to be his wife?” <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The song went up on YouTube on April 4 and has got nearly 160,000 views since then. You just can’t miss this one!Watch the video here:

NIA seeks remand of three Bharuch double murder accused

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), probing the 2015 murder of two BJP leaders in Bharuch, on Monday moved a Special Court here seeking the remand of three accused in the case lodged in Sabarmati Jail. In its application, the central agency sought three-day custody of the accused Nasir Khan Pathan, Abdul Salim Ghanchi and Shoaib Zoaid who are among 12 persons arrested in the case.The Special Court, presided by Principal Judge P B Desai, fixed April 13 for hearing the plea. The NIA lawyer told the Court that the anti-terror agency needs the custody of the trio, who are under judicial remand, for questioning and to ferret out more details about the case. The agency is probing the murder of two BJP leaders Shirish Bangali and Pragnesh Mistry. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bangali was a former President of Bharuch district BJP unit while Mistry was General Secretary of local branch of Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the saffron outfit. Both were shot dead by assailants in Bharuch, about 190km from here, on November 2 last year.The NIA was handed over the case after Gujarat Police probe showed that the duo were murdered to avenge riots in Mumbai and Gujarat in 1993 and 2002 respectively.

Why doesn’t Pakistan want NIA on its soil? Kashif Jan’s there

Security agencies suspect that the real reason behind Pakistan’s reluctance to let the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe the links of the Pathankot attack on their land lie in the identification of Kashif Jan, the main handler of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists.Indian agencies uncovered the Kashif’s mask by securing two of his Facebook grabs, despite him deleting his Facebook profile within hours of the terror strikes on the Pathankot airbase.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Who is Kashif JanKashif is supposed to be very close to JeM chief Masood Azhar and the main operative behind the attack. Agencies claim that Kashif himself had come to drop the terrorists near the Indian border across the Bamiyal village of Gurdaspur district in Punjab.The terrorists and the arms and ammunition that had come in two Pajero SUVs were offloaded under Kashif’s personal supervision, sources said.Kashif, a seasoned handler of terrorists, had left his Karachi number on his Facebook profile that helped Indian agencies connect the dots to link him with four slain terrorists – Abdul Qayum, Nasir Hussain, Hafiz Abu Bakar and Umar Farooq.On their way to the Pathankot airbase, one of the terrorists used Gurdaspur SP Salwinder Singh’s friend Rajesh Verma’s mobile and called a number (+923453030***), which was traced to Kashif. Sources said that at least five calls were made to Kashif from Verma’s mobile.”Obviously, Pakistan is aware that if NIA secures the access of Kashif, it will blow off the cover of Masood Azhar and his brother Rauf and others involved in planning the attack. We provided clear proofs of JeM’s involvement, including Kashif’s FB grabs, phone number and call-intercept details to the visiting Joint Investigation Team (JIT).”The non-bailable warrants issued by the NIA court pin their culpability and explain the reluctance of Pakistan to allow the NIA team a visit,” said a highly placed source.Indian agencies believe that Kashif and other handlers like Saad Mughal, whom Pakistan claimed to have arrested, are actually being provided shelter by the ISI and the reason to include an ISI official in the JIT was to assess how much the Indian agencies know about them and their role.Indian agencies are also of the view that most of the other wanted JeM terrorists — Ilyas Qasmi, Shafiq, Talha, Awais and Rasheed — are roaming free and no operation has been launched against JeM’s terror training centre at Madrasa Usman-o-Ali in Bahawalpur.Equipped with the new details and the NBW, India would again approach the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Masood Azhar and others.The proposal is being drafted again to let China come on board with India in the UN. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval are expected to speak to their Chinese counterparts in the coming days.

Trio from Team Modi to raise Maulana Masood Azhar issue with China

India is taking up the issue of Pakistan’s reluctance to investigate the Pathankot attack and prosecution of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar with the world community.Three members of Team Modi – external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, defence minister Manohar Parrikar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval – will take up the issue with their Chinese counterparts over the next fortnight.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Following the Pathankot attack, India had approached the UN to include Azhar in the Security Council’s 1267 sanctions list, headed by the al Qaeda sanctions committee. Although the JeM was banned by the UN in 2001, the move to impose sanctions on Azhar has been repeatedly vetoed by China.While Swaraj is expected to meet her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of a trilateral in Moscow on April 18, Doval is travelling to Beijing for a strategic dialogue with his counterpart Yang Jiechi. Doval will follow Parrikar, who will also be in Beijing for talks.Sources said that all three have been asked to sensitise the Chinese leadership over the issues of Pakistan-backed terrorists and the threats it bring to regional peace and stability.Early this week, foreign secretary S Jaishankar said the issue of Azhar was taken at a “fairly high level” with Beijing, and will be pursued at the UN level as well. India and China will resume their border dialogue almost after after a year. The two sides were scheduled to hold talks in January but Doval cancelled his visit to Beijing in the wake of the Pathankot attack.Even though, unlike in the past, India didn’t publicly raise the pitch against Pakistan envoy Abdul Basit’s aggressive remarks on April 7 and his unilateral ‘suspension’ of the India-Pakistan peace talks, Doval is reported to have expressed dissatisfaction to his Pakistan counterpart Lt General Nasir Khan Janjua late Friday night on telephone.Sources in the security establishment said that Doval told Nasir that the unwillingness to investigate the Pathankot attack and Basit’s statements would negatively affect the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Islamabad in November for the 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit. In case Modi decides not to travel, the summit will be in jeopardy.It seems that India’s patience with the non-performance of SAARC is also waning out. India has already handed out a not-so-subtle warning to Islamabad, making it clear that the Modi government will go ahead in forging regional connectivity with other countries, with or without Pakistan.Jaishankar said that India will ‘itself drive regional cooperation, rather than be driven by it.’ Pakistan recently opted out of the SAARC satellite being promoted by India. Pakistan has been also blocking the SAARC Motor Vehicle Agreement. But New Delhi, sensing the mood in Islamabad, implemented it last year by taking the sub-regional route of BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal).This would go a long way in plugging an important loophole in terms of connectivity as far as these four SAARC nations are concerned.Meanwhile, the US has urged Pakistan and India to engage in dialogue and not to suspend it.

NIT Srinagar clashes: Don’t question our nationalism, say Jammu and Kashmir cops

National Institute of Technology (NIT) crisis has stirred a new nationalism debate with Jammu and Kashmir police officers taking to the social media expressing displeasure against the maligning of the force which has sacrificed over 1,500 men in the war against militancy.Jammu and Kashmir police has been facing flak for using cane charge against the students when they tried to lead a march to exit the main gate of the campus on Tuesday evening.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Leading the charge are the non-local students who have gone hammer and tongs against the local police and even demanding their removal and deployment of the central forces on the campus.
ALSO READ NIT Srinagar clash: We don’t need certificate of nationalism, says Jammu & Kashmir police after criticismWhat added another dimension to the whole crisis were some voices questioning the nationalism of the force. This prompted some of the officers to take to social networking sites in a bid to silence the critics.”Many of my colleagues have been asking and many more must be thinking `whose war are we fighting?’…… All I can tell them is that, this is just another phase and will pass.. Further Jammu and Kashmir Police doesn’t need any certificate …” wrote Firoz Yahya, deputy superintendent of Jammu and Kashmir Police in the facebook post.
ALSO READ NIT Srinagar unrest: ‘Anxious’ parents fear safety of children; Deputy CM says those responsible will not be sparedYahya noted that they must continue doing the good work within the ambit of law and nothing shall deter them. “Good common people who we serve may be alienated with us for reasons more than one and our good work shall certainly help us win their hearts”, he said.Joining the chorus, senior superintendent of police (Crime) Mubassir Latifi said Jammu and Kashmir Police doesn’t need any certificate of nationalism or impartiality from those whose valour doesn’t extend beyond their keypads. “J&K Police is a saga of sacrifice and courage and has brought this State out of a madness called terrorism,” he wrote on his facebook wall.War against terror has claimed the lives of over 5,500 security forces men and officers in the strife torn Jammu and Kashmir in the last 24 years. Of which more than 1,500 men and officers of Jammu and Kashmir police have sacrificed their lives fighting militants.Even as Jammu and Kashmir policemen tried to set the records straight, there were fresh protests in the NIT on Friday. Non local students tried to march towards the gate but they were not allowed. Later they dispersed peacefully. Students were pressing for the shifting of NIT out of Kashmir and other demands.Waking up to the crisis, Board of Governors (BOG) of NIT Srinagar has issued a public appeal urging students to help in restoring peace on the campus.”Friends I have been very distressed at the recent turn of events at the Institute. As I have said earlier, as chairman of BOG, my dream and my endeavour would be to see the institute improve its standard, excel at least in certain areas and improve its rating further among the engineering and technology institute of the country,” said Dr MI Zarabi, chairman BOG, NIT.Zarabi noted it is his dream that NIT Srinagar grows into an institution that serves as a leading example of amity among the people from different regions and faiths.”I sincerely appeal to all our students to help restore normalcy and peruse their academic career in right earnest and help the institute scale greats heights,” he saidOn the other side, local Kashmiri students too have submitted a memorandum to the ministry of human resource development (MHRD) team opposing permanently stationing of central or armed security forces, saying it will make the campus vulnerable to disturbance.”Let’s make this very clear. They are demanding the presence of armed security on the grounds of an educational institute. This is not acceptable here, or anywhere in the world. In the past, security forces used to reside in the hostel. This set a tone of hostility and fear amongst every student and parent,” read the memorandum.Chief secretary of Jammu and Kashmir BR Sharma told dna that state government is trying its best to resolve the NIT crisis soon. “We are trying to do our best. We are hopeful to resolve the crisis soon,” he said.On some of the police officers taking to social media to silence the critics of the force, Sharma said he has not comments to offer on that. “The role (in fighting militancy) of J&K police is for everybody to see,” he said.

Hurriyat hopes Indo-Pak dialogue would be carried forward

The Hurriyat Conference on Friday expressed hope that the dialogue process between India and Pakistan would be carried forward as people of Kashmir are desirous of friendly relations between the two countries.Chief of its moderate faction Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the resolution of Kashmir issue will help the two countries to reach a consensus on other outstanding issues like Sir Creek, Siachen, water and trade. “Sincerity and seriousness is imperative for resolving all outstanding issues including Kashmir,” the Mirwaiz said addressing a Friday congregation at Jamia Masjid here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said the political leadership of the two countries needs to raise above mere statements and demonstrate “political farsightedness” and “maturity” and take “solid steps” to resolve Kashmir.Meanwhile, the amalgam’s hardline faction said it was not surprised by the suspension of dialogue.Reacting to Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s statement that the peace process with India was “suspended”, Hurriyat said unless India gives up its “unrealistic approach”, the dialogue between the two countries will always be considered as a “time consuming exercise” and “no positive outcome” can be expected from it.He said the key for peace, prosperity and development in the sub-continent lies in the resolution of Kashmir issue.

India, Pakistan must display political maturity to resolve Kashmir issue, says Hurriyat

Srinagar: The Hurriyat Conference on Friday expressed hope that the dialogue process between India and Pakistan would be carried forward as people of Kashmir are desirous of friendly relations between the two countries.

Chief of its moderate faction Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the resolution of Kashmir issue will help the two countries to reach a consensus on other outstanding issues like Sir Creek, Siachen, water and trade.

A file photo of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. ReutersA file photo of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Reuters

A file photo of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Reuters

“Sincerity and seriousness is imperative for resolving all outstanding issues including Kashmir,” the Mirwaiz said addressing a Friday congregation at Jamia Masjid in Srinagar.

He said the political leadership of the two countries needs to raise above mere statements and demonstrate “political farsightedness” and “maturity” and take “solid steps” to resolve Kashmir.

Meanwhile, the amalgam’s hardline faction said it was not surprised by the suspension of dialogue.

Reacting to Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s statement that the peace process with India was “suspended”, Hurriyat said unless India gives up its “unrealistic approach”, the dialogue between the two countries will always be considered as a “time consuming exercise” and “no positive outcome” can be expected from it.

He said the key for peace, prosperity and development in the sub-continent lies in the resolution of Kashmir issue.

NIT Srinagar clash: We don’t need certificate of nationalism, says Jammu & Kashmir police after criticism

Under fire over the lathicharge against outstation students of the NIT in Srinagar, two senior officers of the Jammu and Kashmir Police have hit back, saying they don’t need “certificate” of nationalism or impartiality from anyone.The police officers–Mubassir Latifi, a SSP posted with the elite crime branch and Firoz Yehya, DySP at Baramulla Headquarters–took to social media on Thursday to vent their anguish over the criticism against the state police for the action against the students in the wake of the unrest at the National Institute of Technology(NIT).<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”J and K Police doesn’t need any certificate of nationalism or impartiality from those whose valour doesn’t extend beyond their keypads,” Latifi posted on his ‘Facebook’ account. #JKPolice doesn’t need any certificate of nationalism or impartiality from those whose valour doesn’t extend beyond…
Mubassir Latifi on Wednesday, April 6, 2016 Many of my colleagues have been asking and many more must be thinking “whose war are we fighting?”…… All I can tell…
Firoz Yehya on Wednesday, April 6, 2016″J and K Police is a saga of sacrifice and courage and has brought this state out of a madness called terrorism,” Latifi, a Masters in Law, said.”Jammu and Kashmir Police doesn’t discriminate on the basis of who’s local and who’s non-local. Neither do we enjoy beating up people. Force is used only for maintenance of law and order and to disperse unlawful assembly of people,” he added.He said anyone resorting to violence was committing a crime. “Someone resorting to violence is committing a crime and police knows how to take on crime,” he wrote.Yehya said that many of his colleagues have been asking and many more must be thinking “whose war are we fighting?””Many of my colleagues have been asking and many more must be thinking ‘whose war are we fighting?’ All I can tell them is that, this is just another phase and will pass.Further, JK Police doesn’t need any certificate…We must continue doing the good work within the ambit of law and nothing shall deter us….Good common people who we serve may be alienated with us for reasons more than one and our good work shall certainly help us win their hearts,” Yehya, a Masters in Economics, said.Yehya reminded the critics that the state police has taken tough action against its own officers wherever they have been found guilty of overstepping their jurisdiction.”Those who are seen to be doing anything other than what law permits them to do will be taken to task…please remember JKP must be one of the few Police forces which has the courage to take action against proven offences by officers of high rank and officials of its own force,” Yehya said.”Police action is not doubted when a student from any other institute is booked for breaking law, but there’s controversy while we are dealing with students of a particular institute!” wrote Yehya.The police resorted to lathicharge of the outstation students on April 5 when they were making attempts to come out on the road from the campus, located on the banks of Dal lake. The students tried to push their way out of campus and march on the streets of Hazratbal in a bid to return to their home. They allegedly pushed a senior police officer following which the police swung into action and chased them back to their rooms.On Thursday, police released several video clippings which showed the outstation students, carrying the national flag, indulging in vandalism. Yehya said the complete video coverage of the incident at NIT would have “achieved zero debate and low TRP” for some news channels. “It’s all economics, u see,” he said.In an apparent message to TV channels during the discussion on the social networking site, he said “intelligence lies in checking out the whole set of facts rather than seeing partially true scenes on videos meant to evoke sentiments of common and less intelligent people.”Some lampoons celebrated the defeat of Indian cricket team, other lampoons reacted and vandalised the institution. The authorities of the institution didn’t step in and one thing led to another,” he said.Police has registered two FIRs against unknown persons relating to incidents of violence on NIT campus on April 1 and April 5. The clashes broke out between local and outstation students last week following India’s defeat by West Indies in the World T20 Cup. Police has maintained that on April 5, the NIT students tried to take out a march outside the campus but were stopped.”The police deployment stopped them from doing so and told them to move back. The mob resorted to violence and assaulted the policemen, including officers, and started stone pelting,” a police official said.He said in retaliatory action to chase away the violent mob, some students got injured who were provided first aid.

Pathankot probe: India says ‘stage-managed’ allegations are ‘double-speak’ by Pakistan

Pakistan media reports that the Pathankot terror attack was “stage-managed” by India are seen in New Delhi as “double-speak” by Pakistan’s security establishment.

“The report in a Pakistan pro-government daily only shows that ISI and Pakistan Army were doing double-speak. India has provided irrefutable evidence to Pakistan Joint Investigation Team (JIT) during their visit here regarding the involvement of Pak-based terrorists,” a government source said.

File image of the Pakistan investigative team. IBN Live

File image of the Pakistan investigative team. IBN Live

The news report in daily Pakistan Today quoted an unnamed JIT member as saying that the attack was nothing but “vicious propaganda” against Pakistan as Indian authorities did not have any evidence to back their claims.

Rebutting the report, another government source said the evidence provided to JIT can stand international scrutiny and expressed surprise over media reports emerging that the NIA had not provided enough evidence to the visiting team.

“The JIT was handed over whatever they asked for which included certified copies of statements of witnesses, DNA reports of four terrorists, memos of articles seized from them,” the source said.

Pakistan had made a request under section 188 of Criminal procedure Code of Pakistan for collecting the evidence from the NIA.

The call data records of the two phones snatched from Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh and his jeweller friend Rajesh Verma which were used by the terrorists to call a number in Pakistan were also shared with the JIT, the source said.

India also shared the conversation recorded between Nasir Hussain, one of the four terrorists who carried out the attack on IAF base during the intervening night of 1 and 2 January, with his mother Khayyam Babber. The NIA has asked for a DNA sample from Nasir’s family.

The agency has also handed over call recordings of terrorists holed up inside the IAF base with their handlers including Kashif Jaan, who has since been missing.

The Pakistani JIT had asked NIA to hand over swabs of four terrorists identified as Nasir Hussain (Punjab province), Abu Bakar, (Gujranwala), Umar Farooq and Abdul Qayum (both from Sindh).

However, the NIA handed over to the visitors the DNA report of the terrorists and asked them to match those with their family members, the sources said.

The Pakistani JIT headed by Additional Inspector General of Police, Counter Terrorism Department, Muhammad Tahir Rai and also including ISI’s Lt Col Tanvir Ahmed, had recorded statements of 16 people.

The list for recording the witnesses was submitted to the NIA by the Pakistani team.

The 16 witnesses questioned in all included Singh, Verma and cook Madan Gopal. The three were kidnapped by the Pathankot attack perpetrators belonging to the banned Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed on the intervening night of 31 December, 2015 and 1 January, 2016.

The terrorists had allegedly dumped Verma after slitting his throat and continued their journey with Singh and Gopal before jettisoning them a few kilometres away from the strategic air base at Pathankot.

The terrorists entered the air base and mounted the brazen assault on the intervening night of 1 and 2 January. In the fierce encounter that ensued, seven security personnel besides four terrorists were killed.

What the Pakistani JIT report said

The JIT “says the attack was a drama staged to malign Pakistan,” according to a report in Pakistan Today. It further said that the JIT report, which will be submitted to Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the next few days, has even concluded that Indian authorities had prior information about the terrorists.

The report also quoted a member of the JIT as saying that the NIA officer’s murder on Saturday night in Uttar Pradesh showed that “Indian establishment wants to keep the matter under wraps.”

The same source also told Pakistan Today that the JIT concluded that the standoff between the Indian army and “alleged” terrorists ended within hours after the attack, which apparently made it clear that the attack was a drama staged to malign Pakistan.

“The Indian authorities made it a three-day drama to get maximum attention from the world community in order to malign Pakistan,” Pakistan Today quoted the JIT report as saying.

The source also told Pakistan Today that no “major” damage was done to the base and that the perimeter lights at the airbase were not functional on the day of the attack, which apparently raises questions about whether India had prior information about the terrorists.

This is not the first time, though, that the Pakistani media and the JIT have made allegations of hiding evidence against India.

On 28 March, a report by Pakistani news channel Dunya News had said that Indian authorities showed “signs of reluctance” when the JIT asked them for information and evidence.

“Sketches of the attackers, footage of the closed-circuit television, duty registers of the Border Security Force (BSF), details of the bank accounts, service records, post-mortem report of the driver who died in the car accident at the time of the incident and the FIR of that car’s snatching have not been given to the Pakistani investigation team,” a report in Pakistani newspaper Daily Times had said.

The report had further said that post-mortem and DNA reports of the terrorists involved and phone records and information about the commander of Pathankot airbase had not been given to the JIT.

The Dunya News report had further claimed that the stances of the Indian government and BSF regarding the terror attack were contradicting each other.

Moreover, the report had said that while Indian authorities had said that terrorists had entered the Pathankot airbase after climbing ten-feet walls, no ropes were found as evidence.

These claims by the Pakistani media had come just a day after it was found that Pakistan’s electronic media regulatory body (PEMRA) on Sunday had released a statement for the Pakistani media, asking them to be “professional” and “responsible” when reporting on the Lahore attacks, unlike the Indian media.

What is truly surprising about the Pakistani JIT report’s claim is that it comes just days after the same JIT admitted that the terrorists were from Pakistan. Reports had, in fact, also suggested that Pakistan had enough evidence to link them to extremist group Jaish-e-Mohammad.

Moreover, during the beginning of the investigation, Indian investigators had said that the visiting officials did not “contradict” any of the evidence submitted by the NIA.

“The fact that they did not contradict or made any adverse comment or observation is a positive sign,” sources had told IANS.

(With inputs from agencies)

Choppy waters: 59 Indian fishermen from Gujarat arrested in Pakistan

Karachi: Fifty-nine Indian fishermen have been arrested and their 10 boats seized by Pakistani authorities for allegedly violating the country’s territorial waters.

The fishermen were arrested by Pakistan’s Maritime Security Agency (MSA) while they were fishing in Sir Creek, a disputed area on the maritime border of Sindh and Gujarat.

“The fishermen were presented before a magistrate today and have been sent to judicial remand,” a senior police officer said.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The MSA detained them here yesterday and seized 10 boats. The fishermen belong to Gujarat.

The 59 fishermen have been taken into custody and cases have been lodged against them under section 3 and 4 of the Foreigners Act and 3 and 9 of the Fisheries Act, the Express Tribune quoted a police official as saying.

Both Indian and Pakistani fishermen are often arrested for illegal fishing since the Arabian Sea border is not clearly defined and many boats lack the technology to fix their precise location.

In two goodwill gestures last month, Pakistan freed 86 fishermen in two batches each.

Some 377 more Indian prisoners are languishing in the Malir jail out of whom 116 have to complete their sentences while the remaining 261 are undertrials.

Farmer bodies seek commercialisation of GM mustard to increase yield

New Delhi: A consortium of six farmer bodies on Wednesday demanded for commercialisation of genetically modified Mustard crop saying this will help in increasing yield and farmers income in the country by more than Rs 1,000 crore.

Representational image. REUTERS

Representational image. REUTERS

The representatives of consortium also submitted a petition in this regard to Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and Minister of State for Agriculture Mohanbhai Kundariya.

The commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) mustard crop is presently under the consideration of biotech regulator Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC).

“Through this petition we demand the government to give us the right to choose the technology we wish to put in our farms. As farmers, we are of the opinion that GM technology can successfully co-exist with conventional hybrid as well as organic farming,” Consortium of Indian farmers Association Secretary General P Chengal Reddy told reporters.

Reddy further said India imports huge quantities of edible oil which can also be extracted from GM crops.

“The commercialisation of GM mustard would help in a big way reducing the import of edible oil,” he added.

Kisan Coordination Committee Chairman US Mann said that hat GM mustard can easily repeat the success story of GM cotton.

“As per the initial studies, GM Mustard has the potential to increase yield between 20-30 per cent which is significant enough for the commercial cultivation of any crop. The hybrid if adopted could bring a total additional benefit to farmers between Rs 162 crore to Rs 1,118 crore during the peak cultivation season,” Mann said.

The other farmer bodies which are part of the consortium are Sir Choudhary Choturam Bhartiya Kisan Samiti (BKS), Consortium of Indian Farmers Association, Kisan Coordination Committee, Shetkari Sanghatana Trust, United Farmers Empowerment Initiative (UFEI) & Confederation of NGOs of Rural India (CNRI).

Pathankot attack: Meeting between Joint Investigation Team, NIA underway

The meeting between National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials and a five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from Pakistan, which arrived here yesterday to probe the deadly terrorist attack on the Pathankot Air Force Base, is currently underway at the NIA headquarter.According to sources, the JIT comprises of Punjab Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) AIG Rai Tahir as convener, Intelligence Bureau Lahore Deputy Director General Azim Arshad, Lt. Col Tanvir Ahmed of the ISI, Lt, Col Irfan Mirza of MI and Gujranwala CTD Investigating Officer Shahid Tanveer.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The team would visit Pathankot on March 29.The NIA investigators are expected to seek details on arrests in Pakistan and the action it has taken on the basis of intercepted telephone call records handed over by NSA Ajit Doval to his Pakistani counterpart, Lieutenant General Nasir Janjua.This is for the first time in over two -and- a- half decades that Pakistan will be joining investigations in a terror attack, which was executed by Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militants.The Indian authorities are still working on modalities authorities. As of now, it is said that they will not go by road and will only fly to Pathankot.Reports state that the team’s movement would be restricted only to the area of the engagement between security forces and JeM terrorists.On January 2, terrorists attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station, part of the Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force.Four terrorists were killed and two security personnel were martyred in the gun battle.

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