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Demonetization: Tejaswi Yadav backs Mamata’s ‘super emergency’ assertion

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav on Wednesday backed Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s assertion that the present situation in the country after the Centre’s demonetization drive is a ‘super emergency.’Yadav said, “The situation in the entire nation is very bad post this demonetization drive. There is no solution to the problems being faced by the people as promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.””The situation is worse in downtrodden areas which are not well connected with the cities, do not have the facilities of ATMs and other modern techniques. Several people have lost their lives due to demonetization. However, the Prime Minister has said nothing over this. So, I think the statements made by Mamata Banerjee that is a super emergency is absolutely correct,” he added.The TMC chief on Tuesday led the attack on the Centre over their demonetization move alleging that the government had completely destroyed the federal structure.”It is not emergency; it’s super emergency. Just that it has not been officially declared,” said Banerjee addressing the media after an anti-demonetization meeting which was attended by all the opposition parties except the Left, Janata Dal (United) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).”Demonetization is a mega scam, biggest one after independence. The government is looting money of the poor and giving it to rich in the form of loans,” she added.The West Bengal Chief Minister further questioned Prime Minister Modi whether he would resign if things don’t get back to normal even after 50 days.”Even if after 50 days, things will not change. Will the Prime Minister resign,” she said.The TMC chief also accused the Modi government of pushing the country 20 years back.”In push for cashless economy, Modi government has become baseless. It’s a total loss of face for them,” she said while describing the situation prevailing in the country as ‘super emergency’.The West Bengal Chief Minister also insisted that all the opposition parties will make a common minimum agenda program.”Modi ji said we will have ‘acche din’. Is this what he meant by acche din? People are troubled. The country has been robbed in the name of acche din. In the name of cashless, Modi Government has gone baseless. It has become totally faceless,” she said.”This is a fearless government. They do not care about anything.”Meanwhile, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also escalated his attack on Prime Minister Modi, saying the goal of his ambitious demonetization drive has completely failed as people are continuing to suffer.”Demonetisation has done absolutely nothing against corruption. What it has done instead is to leave people without any money,” said Gandhi.”December 30th is about to come and the situation is still the same. The motive of demonetization has failed completely. The Prime Minister should answer the nation as to what was the real motive of demonetization and what will he do for those affected by it,” he added.The Congress vice-president further said that demonetization was an attack on the country’s poor and had only increased unemployment.Claiming that a new black market was created to exchange the demonetized notes, Gandhi said that demonetization was a direct attack on the country’s financial institutions and the poor.”A new market for conversion of money has been set up which has resulted in an attack on financial institutions and poor,” he said.

West Bengal: Angry customers pelt stones at bank, smash ATM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A group of agitated customers pelted stones at a branch of a nationalised bank and smashed a closed ATM in the Ratua area of the district on Thursday after officials informed them that they would be unable to dispense adequate amount of cash, police said.Several local residents of Ratua had queued up outside the Balupur branch of State Bank of India to withdraw cash from their accounts and as the branch opened, they were informed that every customer would be given only Rs 1,000, the police said.A section of customers first tried to reason with the bank officials urging to give at least Rs 2,000 in cash, which was going on for the last couple of days, but when they came to know that there was not enough cash in the branch, they started pelting stones at its premises.Police said a closed ATM near the branch was also smashed by angry residents. The staff of the branch downed shutters and informed the police. A large contingent of police personnel rushed to spot from Ratua police station and the branch resumed business after the situation was brought under control.Malda Superintendent of Police Arnab Ghosh said there was a commotion and tempers flared while withdrawing cash from the SBI, Balupur branch, but timely intervention by the police ensured that the situation did not escalate further. “No one has been arrested in connection with the incident,” Ghosh said.

West Bengal: Two fires break out in Howrah, no casualties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two fires broke out at Shibpur in Howrah district today.A senior fire brigade official said that five fire tenders put off the flames at Fort William Jute Mill which broke out in the morning.In the second major fire incident, some distance away under Shibpur police station area, 15 fire tenders fought off the blaze at Sri Krishna Garment factory this noon. The same official said, “Our men are at work and the situation is under control.” West Bengal Minister Arup Roy was at the spot along with senior district and police officials.The cause of the twin blazes was also not yet clear.

Pay day cash crunch: Painful queues, chaos return and it’s just the beginning

Queues returned to banks and ATMs on Wednesday as people rushed to withdraw cash after monthly salaries got credited in their bank accounts — the first since the high value currency was scrapped — signalling more pain as the crowd is likely to get bigger in from today (1 December).

A PTI report said queues at most of the ATMs and banks across the city on Wednesday were shorter than expected though there were complaints that cash dispensing machines were either dry or shut and customers could not draw the maximum permissible amount.

Most private companies in India credit salaries to their employees on the last day of a month even as labour laws allow wages to be disbursed on any day before the 10th of the next month.

PTIPTI

PTI

As soon as the salaries were credited, millions of employees began queuing up outside banks and ATMs across the country to withdraw cash to meet their monthly needs and pay their domestic helps, drivers and clear their monthly grocery and other bills.

Since the supply of notes from currency chests has failed to keep pace with the demand for cash after 86 percent of currency in circulation was declared illegal on 8 November, the chaos worsened on the payday as more households needed cash than earlier.

People were seen in bigger numbers waiting to withdraw money. Many were annoyed by the rush and the arbitrary withdrawal limits set by banks. And the situation could get worse in the coming days as more number of people will receive salaries.

What are the customers saying?

“I have to pay my maid and grocery bills in cash. I somehow managed to convince my landlord to accept the rent in cheque but I am bound to visit the bank for other payments,” said Vishakha Sharma from west Delhi.

The 27-year-old waited outside a bank for two hours. “It is so humiliating that we have to stand in long queues and beg for our own money.”

An MNC employee, Yogesh Yadav, said he had come to withdraw Rs 24,000 from his bank account but was given only Rs 10,000. “It’s the end of the month and I am supposed to pay bills. How will I manage?” Yadav asked.

A resident of Krishna Nagar in Delhi, Rahul Chauhan got his salary credited on Tuesday but could not withdraw even after standing in a queue at 3 a.m. on Wednesday.

“By the time my chance to enter the bank came, it ran out of cash.”

The case was not different in other parts of the country.

In Kolkata, in apprehension of a mad rush, people started queuing up outside banks and ATMs since morning.

“I am in the queue since 8.30 a.m.,” said Sougata Mitra, an employee of a private firm outside a Bank of India branch in central Kolkata.

It was 10.45 a.m. when IANS caught up with Mitra, and already 50-60 customers had lined up.

The first salary day after demonetization proved haranguing for the maximum city Mumbai where most ATMs ran dry. Desperate men and women drove from one place to another, halting wherever they saw an ATM alive, albeit with long queues.

Though many Mumbaikars have shifted to making certain payments online or by debit/credit cards, there are many bills which need to be paid in cash. Many feared that the situation could worsen on Thursday.

“Everything has come to a standstill. Worse, many online payments systems are jammed due to the sudden heavy traffic and payments are pending,” fumed a pharmaceutical consultant P. Venkataraman from Kandivali, a Mumbai suburb.

“I managed to get only Rs 4,000 this morning against the withdrawl limit of Rs 24,000 as I was told that there was hardly any cash supply to the banks in the last few days. I will have to wait and try my luck later in the day,” a South Mumbai resident has been quoted in a PTI report.

What are the banks saying?

Several banks ran out of cash within hours of opening on Wednesday. Some bank officials complained that they were getting cash much below what they need.

Various media reports put the cash situation at banks at about one-fifth of the demand. A report in The Times of India cites a bank official as saying that his branch received 15-20 percent of the required amount. Due to this, bankers were rationing withdrawals so that more customers were catered to.

“RBI is currently supplying cash based on a variety of calculations including how much a bank branch got the previous day. That will continue. We will continue to ration cash,” one banker has been quoted as saying in a report in The Economic Times.

However, bankers are not ready to be quoted and remain unnamed in the reports, probably for the fear of attracting the government’s wrath. Those who were named said the situation is all fine.

When asked about the cash crunch situation, Central Bank Executive Director R C Lodha told PTI, “We have made adequate arrangements to meet the higher demand for cash as salaries would be credited into customers account (as the month turns). In our bank there would be no shortage of cash.”

“At SBI we have enough currency supply. At some pockets there was shortage, but there also funds are being made available,” State Bank of India’s deputy managing director Manju Agarwal has also been quoted as saying in another PTI report.

It is to be noted that Indian Banks’ Association, the body of the bank management, has not come out with any statement regarding the demonetisation yet.

However, unnamed bank managers are painting a grim picture of the situation. They say the bank branches are not getting enough Rs 500 and Rs 100 notes to cater to the customers. Since these smaller denominations are in short supply, Rs 2,000 that are available now is not in demand since customers find it difficult get change.

A PTI report said nearly 70 percent of ATMs are now recalibrated, but they do not have cash. While people are struggling with the problem of change as the operational ones dispense mostly high denomination Rs 2,000 notes.

The rationing and short supply of smaller denomination notes are adding to the distress of the customers who are waiting in the queues for long time.

Many banks have made ‘SOS calls’ to the Reserve Bank for additional cash for the first few days of December to meet the initial rush of people, already fatigued standing in unending queues.

According to reports, they have started seeking security deployment at branches to manage the angry crowd.

Many banks are contemplating to set up additional counters for withdrawal to meet the rush.

What is the RBI and government saying?

Reports say they are taking steps to improve the situation. A report in The Times of India citing sources said the four printing presses that produce currency notes are now working in three shifts against the earlier two shifts. The aim to is increase the supply of Rs 500 and Rs 100 notes.

It further says citing sources that the RBI has increased the cash supply to banks by four times and the situation will be better today (Thursday).

However, there has not been any official update on the evolving situation from neither the RBI nor the finance ministry in the last two-three days.

Given the lack of information from the authorities, customers are likely to hoard cash anticipating further tightening. And if they do it will just put further pressure on the cash situation. The blame squarely rests on the government and the RBI.

What lies ahead?

As of now, expect more uncertainty and chaos. Even if the government and the RBI have put pressure to produce more Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, this is unlikely to ease the crunch easily. A government official has told the PTI that that there is a lag of 21 days for printed notes to reach markets.

The PTI report notes that 1 December, today, is the pay day and banks are gearing up to face a huge rush as people. The queues at branches across the country are likely to get lengthier.

What has made matter worse is the fact that a large number of ATMs are still dry even 23 days after the government scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

And with pay day just dawning, it seems to be the beginning of the pain.

With IANS and PTI

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 08:46 IST

Demonetisation: SC refuses Centre’s request to stay proceedings before other courts

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought response of all the petitioners, who have challenged the demonetisation move in different high courts, on a plea by the Centre seeking transfer of all these matters to either the apex court or one of the high courts.

However, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur refused the Centre’s request to stay the proceedings pending before various high courts, saying people may get “immediate relief” from them.

“We don’t want to stay it. There are various issues. People may get immediate relief from the high courts,” the bench also comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.

During the hearing, the bench asked the AG, “We think you must have taken appropriate steps. What is the situation now? How much have you collected so far?”

Responding to it, the AG said the situation is “much better” and more than Rs six lakh crores have been deposited so far in the banks since the demonetisation move.

“More than Rs 6 lakh crores have been deposited so far,” the AG said, adding, “There is a big surge in digital use of money transaction.”

He said the demonetisation move was aimed at removing the 70 years of “slush money” and the government is monitoring the situation day-by-day and hour-by-hour.

He told the bench that government has set up a committee which will take stock of the ground situation across the country on demonetisation move.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Rohatgi told the apex court that the general rule is that the cash transactions in the market should not be more than four percent of the GDP but it is 12 percent in India.

Rohatgi told the bench that various petitions have been filed challenging the demonetisation move before different high courts across the country and these matters should be transferred to the apex court or one of the high courts.

The bench has fixed the matter for 2 December and has directed the persons who are petitioners before different high courts to file their response on Centre’s transfer plea by then.

The apex court had on 18 November dubbed as a “serious issue” the long queues outside banks and post offices and expressed its reservation on the Centre’s plea seeking a direction that no other court in the country should entertain petitions challenging the 8 November notification demonetising Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes.

It had made the remarks after the AG submitted that any matter relating to challenge to the demonetisation issue be heard by the apex court only.

However, the bench noted that people were facing difficulties saying, they are affected and have the right to approach the courts.

The bench had questioned the relief measures undertaken by the Centre and asked why it had squeezed the exchange limit to Rs 2,000.

The AG had then explained the situation by stating that after printing, the currency has to be moved to thousands of centres across the country and ATMs have to be re-calibrated.

He had also said that Rs 100 notes are in circulation and the ATMs needed to be re-calibrated to issue new currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000.

The Centre had moved the apex court on 17 November seeking a stay on the proceedings before various high courts and other courts except the apex court against demonetisation issue, saying otherwise it will create a lot of confusion.

The apex court had on 15 November refused to stay the government’s demonetisation notification, but asked it to spell out the steps taken to minimise public inconvenience.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a televised address to the nation on 8 November, had announced that Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes will no longer be legal tender from 9 November.

He had said the government has declared a “decisive war” against black money and corruption.

First Published On : Nov 23, 2016 13:48 IST

Supreme Court refuses to stay demonetization proceedings in various HCs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought response of all the petitioners, who have challenged the demonetization move in different high courts, on a plea by the Centre seeking transfer of all these matters to either the apex court or one of the high courts.However, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur refused the Centre’s request to stay the proceedings pending before various high courts, saying people may get “immediate relief” from them. “We don’t want to stay it. There are various issues. People may get immediate relief from the high courts,” the bench also comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi. During the hearing, the bench asked the AG, “We think you must have taken appropriate steps. What is the situation now? How much have you collected so far?” Responding to it, the AG said the situation is “much better” and more than Rs six lakh crores have been deposited so far in the banks since the demonetization move. “More than Rs 6 lakh crores have been deposited so far,” the AG said, adding, “There is a big surge in digital use of money transaction.”He said the demonetization move was aimed at removing the 70 years of “slush money” and the government is monitoring the situation day-by-day and hour-by-hour.He told the bench that government has set up a committee which will take stock of the ground situation across the country on demonetization move. Rohatgi told the apex court that general rule is that the cash transactions in the market should not be more than four per cent of the GDP but it is 12 per cent in India. Rohatgi told the bench that various petitions have been filed challenging the demonetization move before different high courts across the country and these matters should be transferred to the apex court or one of the high courts. The bench has fixed the matter for December 2 and has directed the persons who are petitioners before different high courts to file their response on Centre’s transfer plea by then.The apex court had on November 18 dubbed as a “serious issue” the long queues outside banks and post offices and expressed its reservation on the Centre’s plea seeking a direction that no other court in the country should entertain petitions challenging the November 8 notification demonetizing Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes.It had made the remarks after the AG submitted that any matter relating to challenge to the demonetization issue be heard by the apex court only.However, the bench noted that people were facing difficulties saying, they are affected and have the right to approach the courts. The bench had questioned the relief measures undertaken by the Centre and asked why it had squeezed the exchange limit to Rs 2,000.The AG had then explained the situation by stating that after printing, the currency has to be moved to thousands of centres across the country and ATMs have to be re-calibrated.He had also said that Rs 100 notes are in circulation and the ATMs needed to be re-calibrated to issue new currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000.The Centre had moved the apex court on November 17 seeking a stay on the proceedings before various high courts and other courts except the apex court against demonetization issue, saying otherwise it will create a lot of confusion.The apex court had on November 15 refused to stay the government’s demonetization notification, but asked it to spell out the steps taken to minimise public inconvenience.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a televised address to the nation on November 8, had announced that Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes will no longer be legal tender from November 9.He had said the government has declared a “decisive war” against black money and corruption.

Indore-Patna Express train mishap: Modi, Akhilesh announce ex-gratia for bereaved families

On Sunday, at least 90 passengers were killed and over 150 injured when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express derailed near Pukhraya in Kanpur Dehat district. Various leaders announced ex-gratia for the families of the victims.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives in the train tragedy and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakhs each for the next of kin of those killed and Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured in the UP train derailment.

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

Narendra Modi. AFPNarendra Modi. AFP

Narendra Modi. AFP

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

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

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

“All rescue and relief work is on to deal with the unfortunate accident. All medical and other help rushed. Inquiry ordered. Situation monitored closely,” Prabhu said.

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

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

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

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

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Nov 20, 2016 11:40 IST

Indore-Patna express derailment: Probe orderd, situation monitored closely, says Suresh Prabhu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday ordered a probe into the Indore-Patna express train derailment in which at least 45 people were killed. Indore-Patna express derailed at around 3:00 am near Pukhrayan, about 100 kms from Kanpur.”All rescue relief work on to deal with unfortunate accident. All medical and other help rushed. Enquiry ordered. Situation monitored closely,” Suresh Prabhu said in a series of tweets.”Senior officers ordered to go to spot immediately. They are on way to accident site. Local MP, MLAs other functionaries rushed. Medical assistance of all kinds is offered. Rail mobile medical units rushed to site. All injured rushed to hospitals, immediate medical help and ex-gratia to unfortunate passengers who died and to injured will be given,” he added.The Railways Minister also said that the enquiry team will start investigation for cause of accident immediately and all necessary assistance provided to the affected. “Strictest possible action will be taken against those who could be responsible for accident,” he said.Railways has also released helpline numbers — Indore- 07411072, Ujjain- 07342560906, Ratlam- 074121072, Orai- 051621072, Jhansi- 05101072, Pokhraya- 05113270239.

Demonetisation is ‘serious’, people have the right to approach other courts: SC tells Centre

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dubbed the long queues outside banks and post offices as a “serious issue” and expressed its reservation on the Centre’s plea seeking a direction that no other court in the country should entertain petitions challenging the 8 November notification demonetising Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes.

“It is a serious issue which requires consideration,” a bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice AR Dave said, while asking the parties to be ready with data and other issues in writing.

“Some measures are required. See the kind of problems people are facing. People have to go to the high court. If we shut them from going to the high court, how can we know the magnitude of the problem. People going to different courts indicates the magnitude of the problem,” the bench said.

It made the remarks as Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi submitted that any matter relating to challenge to the demonetisation issue be heard by the apex court only.

However, the bench said, “People are affected. People are frantic. People have the right to approach the courts,” noting that there are difficulties and “can you (the Centre) dispute”.

The AG said there is no dispute, but the queues are getting shorter and even suggested that the CJI can go out during lunch and himself look at the queue.

“Kindly go in the lunch time,” the AG told the bench and took objection to senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for a private party, for allegedly exaggerating the situation.

“It’s a political attempt in the court. I have seen your (Sibal’s) press conference also. You are not appearing for a political party, but for an advocate. You are turning the apex court into a political platform,” Rohatgi said.

At the outset, the bench questioned the relief measures undertaken by the Centre by saying, “Last time you said there will be relief for people in the coming days but you have squeezed the exchange limit to Rs 2,000 only.”

“What is the difficulty? ” the bench asked Rohatgi.

The AG explained the situation by stating that after printing, the currency has to be moved to thousands of centres across the country and ATMs have to be re-calibrated.

“There is no shortage of funds,” he said.

To questions from the bench, the AG said Rs 100 notes are in circulation and the ATMs needed to be re-calibrated to issue new currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

He also elaborated on the steps taken by the government to meet the situation by stating that besides reducing the exchange limit, farmers have been allowed to withdraw Rs 50,000 and people having weddings at home can withdraw Rs 2.5 lakh.

“At a petrol pump, which has card swipe machine of SBI, people can go and withdraw money upto Rs 2,000. We have been monitoring the situation day-by-day,” Rohatgi said and added that the idea was to push the new notes of Rs 2,000 as one note of Rs 2,000 is equal to 20 notes of Rs 100.

At this point, Sibal interrupted and said the problem is of printing as they need to print Rs 23 lakh crore, but they do not have the capacity to do that.

“Already they have frozen Rs 14,000 crore and it is not clear under which law they have done so,” he said, contending that it is a serious situation where people cannot withdraw their own taxed money.

“They are trustees, how can they not let us withdraw our legitimate money,” he said, adding that “the situation has turned from bad to worse”.

Sibal said that the government was not concerned about the people living in remote areas of the north-east, Himachal Pradesh and Naxal-hit district of Bastar where people have to walk for 20 kms to reach an ATM.

While the Congress leader was making the submission pointing out the deficiencies and the steps taken by the Centre, the AG said, “We need not give any explanation as right now it is the interim application that has to be heard.”

Realising that the bench has reservation in entertaining the Centre’s application, Rohatgi said, “We will file a transfer petition”.

The matter will be heard again on 25 November.

The Centre had moved the apex court seeking a stay on the proceedings before various high courts and other courts except the apex court against demonetisation issue, saying otherwise it will create a lot of confusion.

Rohatgi, on 11 November, had told the court that the Centre had already sent the fresh draft of the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for consideration of the collegium on 3 August, this year, but so far no response has been received by the government.

The apex court had earlier rapped the government for delay in appointments to higher judiciary despite recommendations made by the collegium in this regard and had said the entire institution cannot be brought to a grinding halt.

Maintaining that the appointment process “cannot be stalled” due to non-finalisation of the MoP, the court had criticised the tardy progress in processing files pertaining to judges’ appointment and even warned that it may summon the Secretaries of the PMO and the Ministry of Law and Justice to ascertain the factual position.

The Attorney General had said that non-finalisation of the MoP was one of the issues and had assured the bench that more progress will be seen in the near future on the appointment of judges.

The Centre had on 14 September told the apex court that there was “no blame game” or “logjam” in appointments and transfer of judges for higher judiciary but blamed the high courts for “pretty much delaying” the starting of the process.

Earlier, the apex court had said it would not tolerate “logjam in judges’ appointment” and would intervene to “fasten accountability as the justice delivery system is collapsing”.

The bench had said that if the government had reservations about any name, it could always come back to the collegium.

First Published On : Nov 18, 2016 15:53 IST

Demonetization | There are difficulties, long queues outside banks a ‘serious issue’: SC to govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Friday dubbed as a “serious issue” the long queues outside banks and post offices and expressed its reservation on the Centre’s plea seeking a direction that no other court in the country should entertain petitions challenging the November 8 notification demonetising Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes.”It is a serious issue which requires consideration,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice A R Dave said, while asking the parties to be ready with data and other issues in writing.”Some measures are required. See the kind of problems people are facing. People have to go to the high court. If we shut them from going to the high court, how can we know the magnitude of the problem. People going to different courts indicates the magnitude of the problem,” the bench said.It made the remarks as Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi submitted that any matter relating to challenge to the demonetisation issue be heard by the apex court only.However, the bench said, “People are affected. People are frantic. People have the right to approach the courts,” noting that there are difficulties and “can you (the Centre) dispute”.The AG said there is no dispute, but the queues are getting shorter and even suggested that the CJI can go out during lunch and himself look at the queue.”Kindly go in the lunch time,” the AG told the bench and took objection to senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for a private party, for allegedly exaggerating the situation.”It’s a political attempt in the court. I have seen your (Sibal’s) press conference also. You are not appearing for a political party, but for an advocate. You are turning the apex court into a political platform,” Rohatgi said.At the outset, the bench questioned the relief measures undertaken by the Centre by saying, “Last time you said there will be relief for people in the coming days but you have squeezed the exchange limit to Rs 2,000 only.” “What is the difficulty? ” the bench asked Rohatgi.The AG explained the situation by stating that after printing, the currency has to be moved to thousands of centres across the country and ATMs have to be re-calibrated.”There is no shortage of funds,” he said.To questions from the bench, the AG said Rs 100 notes are in circulation and the ATMs needed to be re-calibrated to issue new currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000.He also elaborated on the steps taken by the government to meet the situation by stating that besides reducing the exchange limit, farmers have been allowed to withdraw Rs 50,000 and people having weddings at home can withdraw Rs 2.5 lakh.”At a petrol pump, which has card swipe machine of SBI, people can go and withdraw money upto Rs 2,000. We have been monitoring the situation day-by-day,” Rohatgi said and added that the idea was to push the new notes of Rs 2,000 as one note of Rs 2,000 is equal to 20 notes of Rs 100.At this point, Sibal interrupted and said the problem is of printing as they need to print Rs 23 lakh crore, but they do not have the capacity to do that.”Already they have frozen Rs 14,000 crore and it is not clear under which law they have done so,” he said, contending that it is a serious situation where people cannot withdraw their own taxed money.”They are trustee, how can they not let us withdraw our legitimate money,” he said, adding that “the situation has turned from bad to worse”.Sibal said that the government was not concerned about the people living in remote areas of the north-east, Himachal Pradesh and Naxal-hit district of Bastar where people have to walk for 20 kms to reach an ATM.While the Congress leader was making the submission pointing out the deficiencies and the steps taken by the Centre, the AG said, “We need not give any explanation as right now it is the interim application that has to be heard.” Realising that the bench has reservation in entertaining the Centre’s application, Rohatgi said, “We will file a transfer petition”.The matter will be heard again on November 25.The Centre has moved the apex court seeking a stay on the proceedings before various high courts and other courts except the apex court against demonetisation issue, saying otherwise it will create a lot of confusion.

Emergency situation in Delhi, Centre says about alarming pollution level

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi is witnessing an “emergency situation” due to alarming pollution level, the Centre said on Saturday and called a meeting of Environment Ministers of all neighbouring states on Monday to curb stubble burning by farmers which has made Delhi a “gas chamber”.As a blanket of haze continued to cover the city with pollution level remaining very high and breaching the safe limit by over 17 times at several places, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal met Environment Minister Anil Dave and sought Centre’s urgent intervention to deal with the challenge.Kejriwal likened the city to a “gas chamber” with main reason being smoke from farm fires in Punjab and Haryana and appealed to people to minimise use of vehicles.After the meeting, Dave said he has called a meeting of Environment Ministers of all neighbouring states on Monday and will request them to curb stubble burning in their states as it increases level of smog in Delhi.”There is an emergency situation in Delhi. The situation is bad, particularly for children, patients, women and elderly. We need to take immediate steps to deal with the situation,” Dave told reporters, adding he was also exploring the possbility to call a meeting of chief ministers of all neighbouring states on the issue. On his part, Kejriwal appealed to people to restrict use of private vehicles and use public transport.Earlier, addressing a press conference, Kejriwal said vehicle restriction measures like odd-even will not be able to bring down smog as initial studies suggest that the “large scale” influx of pollutant-laden smoke from Punjab and Haryana has aggravated the situation.”Pollution has increased to an extent that outdoors in Delhi are resembling a gas chamber. Prima facie the biggest reason seems to be burning of stubble in agricultural fields in Haryana and Punjab in huge quantity,” he said.Dave said the situation has been “very alarming” and that there was a need to take short-term measures to deal with the situation immediately, adding he discussed with Kejriwal “emergency measures” including ways to contain dust pollution and crop burning.”There are five reasons triggering air pollution that include use of firewood, coal, diesel, petrol and burning of agricultural waste. We have to find solution to address the problem We should imbibe self discipline in our routine life style. If I don’t minimize use of my four cars and expect other people to use cycles, that should not be happen. We should collectively come under self-regulation,” he said.Both Dave and Kejriwal were in agreement that shutting down schools was not the solution when asked about the decision of the civic bodies to keep schools run by it closed for a day in view of pollution.Kejriwal pitched for providing alternatives and incentives to farmers so that they discard the traditional practise of burning farm stubbles. Air Quality Index (AQI) of all the eight monitoring stations of Centre’s SAFAR blinked red, indicating severe levels of pollution. CPCB stations had severe AQI as well. The Delhi High Court had last year observed that living in Delhi was akin to living in a “gas chamber” as it directed the Centre and the city government to present comprehensive action plans to combat it.Meanwhile, Kejriwal pitched for providing alternatives and incentives to farmers so that they discard the traditional practice.”The Centre can sit with the Chief Minister of these states and chalk out a solution. Few reports have put the volume of stubble being burned at around 16-20 million tonnes. Fireworks during Diwali marginally added to the pollution. But other things inside Delhi did not drastically change. So the smog is mainly due to smoke from farm fires,” he observed.Kejriwal identified the main sources of pollution inside Delhi as vehicles, dust and waste burning, which he said could not be responsible for the pall of smog across the city.”I saw smoke across Punjab, Haryana during my visits. We need Centre’s help. We are hiring an agency in a week or two to study the sources of pollution in Delhi afresh,” he said.

Cotton farmers suffer as India-Pakistan tensions rise

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The growing tension between India and Pakistan is having a big impact on cotton farmers. According to Indian traders, Pakistan has put an official ban on importing Indian cotton, ensuring that farmers all over the country are suffering, but especially those from Maharashtra, as the state is a major producer and exporter of cotton.Pradeep Jain, one of the major cotton traders from Maharashtra, explains the scenario. “Currently, there is no official ban by Pakistan on Indian cotton. But in the present scenario both Indian and Pakistani traders are reluctant to do business deals. Today, by border road, 99% of our exports have stopped. Sentiments are heightened now and our traders feel why we should do business with Pakistan if our soldiers are fighting them?” Statistics show the impact the unofficial ban is having on trade. According to data brought out by the Central Institute of Cotton Research, Pakistan had bought 27 lakh bales (one bale is 170 kg) out of the total Indian exports of 69 lakh cotton bales last season.This year though, Indian traders are worried that, thanks to the Pakistani boycott, this target will not be met. As a result, farmers are dropping prices with results that are hurting them.Sanjay Patil, a cotton growing farmer from Jalgaon said. “The current tensions between India and Pakistan have caused big financial losses to us. Two years ago, we sold the cotton almost Rs 7,000 per quintal. Today, we are selling cotton at the rate of Rs 4,500-5,000 per quintal. We respect the peoples’ sentiments but trade should not be hampered. If things do not improve, the government should buy our cotton at a minimum rate price of Rs 6,000 per quintal.”Ishwar Patil, another farmer from Dhule explains that the falling prices are also hurting farmers, as cotton traders are taking undue advantage of the situation. “We cannot keep the cotton at home for a long time due to many reasons. As a result, we are compelled to sell the cotton to cotton traders at a lower rate.” He adds, “Indian traders are also taking advantage of the current situation to decrease cotton prices and buy at a low rate from farmers.Once the situation normalises, these same traders who had stored the cotton will sell it at a higher rate, making a big profit, while the farmer suffers.”Clearly, the Indian farmer’s livelihood is under threat and until the situation normalises between the two countries — at least on the cotton front— he will continue to suffer. But according to Shahzad Ali Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association, that is not likely to happen anytime soon.Speaking over the phone to DNA, Khan confirmed that at present business activities with India are quite low. “The Pakistan government has not made any official ban on importing cotton from India. However, we as traders have taken the conscious call not to buy cotton from India because of the current situation.”He said, “As a result, we have decided to buy raw cotton from local Pakistan cotton growers and pay them a reasonable rate as per world prices. Why should we pay higher prices to Indian farmers in such a scenario? Once the situation normalises, we may think of resuming trade with India,” Khan added.

Srinagar: Clashes in Soura as police tries to arrest youths

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Clashes erupted in Soura area on the city outskirts on Wednesday as police tried to arrest some youth allegedly involved in disturbing law and order, leaving four persons injured.While three persons received pellet injuries, another was hit by a tear-smoke shell during the clashes which broke out shortly after police assisted by paramilitary forces launched a cordon and search operation to nab some youths, a police officer said.He said groups of youth indulged in stone-pelting on search parties, prompting retaliation by law enforcement agencies.The situation in the area is tense but under control, the officer said, adding reinforcements have been rushed to the area to maintain law and order.

Delhi: Three dead, 10 injured after fire breaks out in a building in Shahdara area

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At least three people were killed and 10 others injured after a fire broke out in a building in Mohan Park area of Delhi’s Shahdara, on Wednesday morning.The fire has been doused and the situation is under control.Seven to eight people were rescued from the building and they have been admitted to hospital.The cause of fire is yet to be ascertained.(More details are awaited)

Terror is a weapon of cowards: Rajnath Singh tells Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Making a veiled reference, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday Pakistan was indulging in a proxy war and has been trying to harm India by taking “cowardly” aid of terrorism. “The neighbouring country has been carrying out proxy war. But terrorism is not a weapon of the brave but of cowards. Those who fight from behind are called cowards…they take the help of terrorism,” he said.Speaking at the 55th raising day event of border guarding force Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) at its camp here, he said strict vigil by the force has resulted in 60% less transgressions into the Indian territory by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army this year. Referring to the current tensions between the two countries, he said the neighbour has been trying to harm India and was attempting to break and “destabilise” it by resorting to terrorism.Singh said an “evil eye” is being cast on India to thwart its progress as it is marching on as one of the fastest growing economies of the world. Situation along the Indo-Pak border continues to remain tense after terrorists attacked an Army camp in Uri killing 19 soldiers on September 17.In a retaliatory action, Indian Army carried out surgical strikes on terror launch pads in PoK on September 27. Firing by both Indian and Pakistani forces towards each other’s positions have been continuing leading to several deaths on both sides. Singh had earlier instructed border guarding forces not to fire towards the enemy first, but not to count bullets if they are fired upon.Later, while taking questions on the ceasefire violations by Pakistan, he said, “Our soldiers are responding to them befittingly.” To a question on the espionage case involving a diplomat of the Pakistani High Commission in India, he said the government is taking necessary action.

Mumbai: Minor fire at hospital in BKC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Fire broke out in the basement of Asian Heart Institute hospital in Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai last night but no one was injured.The hospital authorities described it as “minor”.Fire brigade control room received the call at 9.45 pm and four fire engines and as many water tankers were pressed into service, a fire brigade official said.Chief fire officer P S Rahangdale said it was a ‘Level II’ fire call and the fire was confined to two small basement areas. Situation was under control and no evacuation of patients was necessitated, he said.Hospital sources said late in the night that there was a “minor fire” in the basement which was picked up by the fire alarm system.It was immediately controlled by the staff and fire brigade was called, they said, adding there was no harm to the patients, patient care and all hospital functions are continuing normally.

Rajnath speaks to BSF DG; takes stock of border situation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Home Minister Rajnath Singh took stock of the situation along the International Border on Monday near Jammu where one BSF jawan was killed and three others were injured following heavy shelling and firing by Pakistani forces.Singh, who is Bahrain on a three-day tour, spoke over phone with Director General of Border Security Force KK Sharma, who briefed the Home Minister about the situation along the International Border. “Spoke to DG BSF who apprised me of the situation in border areas of Jammu region. The BSF is capable of giving befitting reply. I salute the bravery and sacrifice of BSF jawan Sushil Kumar who was martyred in RS Pura sector of Jammu region last night,” Singh tweeted.The BSF jawan was killed and three others were injured as Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire, resorting to heavy shelling and firing from automatic weapons in several sectors along the International Border in Jammu district.There have been over 40 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops since India carried out surgical strikes in PoK after the Uri terror attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed.

Rajnath Singh reviews situation after ceasefire violation along Indo-Pak border

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday night reviewed the situation along the Indo-Pak border in Jammu and Kashmir where BSF shot dead seven Pakistan Rangers and a terrorist while retaliating to a ceasefire violation.On receiving the news, the Home Minister, who was in Mumbai, called up Director General, BSF, KK Sharma and took stock of the situation along the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district, officials said.Senior Home Ministry officials are also in regular touch with BSF officials and monitoring the situation along the border, they said.The Home Minister earlier had said that BSF should not fire the first shot towards Pakistan but if fired upon by Pakistani forces, BSF should not count the bullets and retaliate forcefully.

40-year-old woman gangraped in Uttar Pradesh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 40-year-old woman was allegedly gangraped by two people in Sardhana area here when she turned unconscious after consuming a spiked drink offered by them, police said on Monday.”The victim was offered a spiked drink after which she fell unconscious. Taking advantage of the situation, she was taken to a secluded place in a forest area and allegedly gangraped,” they said.As per the complaint lodged by the victim, the duo offered her a lift in their car on Saturday. One of the accused identified as Ankit was known to her. On the way she was offered a cold drink laced with sedatives which made her unconscious, police said.The victim was then taken to a secluded spot in a forest area by the two accused and gangraped. Both of them left her in an unconscious state near Meerut road and fled, they said.A case has been registered against the accused and the victim has been sent for medical examination, police said.

Terrorism in Bangladesh will also impact India: Indian envoy to Dhaka

Agartala: Any incident of terror taking place in Bangladesh has implications for India as well, says Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

“Although there is not sufficient evidence of cross-border terror activity, consequential effect of a horrific incident taking place in Bangladesh can be on India as well, as we share a long land boundary with that country,” Shringla told IANS during a visit to Agartala.

He, however, expressed satisfaction that the Bangladesh authorities have now realised that terror activities could take a serious turn in their country, and they have met with some success in dealing with the recent acts of terror on their soil.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The Indian envoy said, “Ever since the Bangladesh security forces have taken some pro-active steps, the situation in that country has improved a lot. Bangladesh has been mobilising the people of all sections to deal with the situation emerging from the recent terrorist attacks.”

Referring to the Home Minister-level meeting held in July in New Delhi, Shringla said that India and Bangladesh would fight terrorism jointly, as agreed upon during the meeting, also because it is in their interests.

“The Home Ministers of India and Bangladesh, during their last meeting in New Delhi, decided to tackle terrorism jointly, in the common interest of the two neighbours,” he added.

The Indian diplomat maintained that if Bangladesh faces a threat, its potential impact on India can’t be ruled out. “Bangladesh is very responsive to our security concerns. Both countries are helping each other in dealing with the threats and the situation currently prevailing there.”

Shringla, who joined as the High Commissioner in Bangladesh in January 2016, was in Tripura as part of his visit to the five Indian states along the Bangladesh border. He met Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, Chief Secretary Yashpal Singh and various other officials and dignitaries and discussed India-Bangladesh issues.

“Bangladesh security forces’ actions against the militants holed up in northeast India were instrumental in securing peace and stability in India’s northeastern region. Most of the camps (on Bangladesh land) of militants active in the Northeast have been busted and their infrastructure demolished,” he said, and added that the Bangladesh government has also handed over several militants and their leaders to the Indian authorities.

The Indian High Commissioner also hailed the Bangladesh security forces for deft handling of the situation and nabbing terrorists after the deadliest terror attack in Dhaka on 1 July that killed 20 hostages, mostly foreigners, in the capital’s diplomatic zone.

“Bangladesh security forces were more or less successful in finding the blueprint of the recent terror activities in their country. We believe Bangladesh would be successful in containing terror activities and threats from that country,” he added.

“The Bangladesh government has involved people and all stakeholders, including Imams, to deal with terrorism and arrested many terrorists and their collaborators. In fact, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has personally interacted with the authorities and stakeholders in the 64 districts across the country to handle the situation,” Shringla said.

The District Magistrates and Deputy Commissioners of the border districts of India and Bangladesh are meeting regularly to ease out border-related issues of the two countries, according to him. “Both New Delhi and Dhaka have delegated various powers to district-level officials to handle issues that can be sorted out at their level.”

“India is fencing its borders with Bangladesh to check crimes, terrorists’ movement, cross-border harmful activities and infiltrations. Over 75 per cent of 4,096-km India-Bangladesh borders have already been fenced and remaining portions are being fenced in a phased manner,” the High Commissioner added.

Talking about the attacks on minorities in that country, Shringla said that some isolated incidents of attacks did take place, but the Bangladesh Government has taken appropriate actions immediately and addressed the issues.

“A number of perpetrators of attacks on minorities were either arrested or killed by the Bangladesh security forces,” he added.

Five states of India — West Bengal (2,216km), Tripura (856km), Meghalaya (443km), Mizoram (318km) and Assam (263km) — share longest 4,096-km border with Bangladesh.

Uri attack LIVE: Rajnath Singh, NSA Doval high-level meet to discuss India’s response, ends

Sep 19, 2016

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In one of the deadliest attacks on the Army in recent years, 17 jawans were killed and 19 others injured as heavily armed militants stormed a battalion headquarters of the force in North Kashmir’s Uri town early on Sunday. Four militants involved in the terror strike were killed by the Army. Heavily armed militants stormed a battalion headquarters of the Army. 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, around 4 am on Sunday, official sources said.

The jawans of the Dogra Regiment were sleeping in a tent which caught fire due the explosion. The fire also engulfed the nearby barracks, the sources said. 17 jawans were killed in the terror attack, the Northern Command of the Army said. Nineteen other personnel were injured in the strike in which four militants were killed.

“A group of heavily armed terrorists targeted the rear administrative base of a unit at Uri, Kashmir. In the counter action, four terrorists have been eliminated and combing operations are in progress,” the Army said in a statement. “The administrative base had large strength of troops of units turning over after their tour of duty who were stationed in tents/temporary shelters which caught fire, and resulted in heavy casualties. We salute the sacrifice of 17 soldiers who were martyred in the operation,” the statement said.

Helicopters from the Army’s 19 divisional headquarters in Baramulla have been pressed into service and the injured Army personnel have been evacuated from the encounter site, the sources said. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag are rushing to Kashmir in the wake of terror attack in Uri.

Army soldiers rush to the attack site in Uri. PTI

Army soldiers rush to the attack site in Uri. PTI

The Home Minister has also called an emergency meeting to review the situation arising out of the terror attack. The attack comes two years after militants had carried out a similar type of attack at Mohra in the same area. Ten security personnel were killed in the attack that took place on December 5, 2014.

It is believed that the attack was the handiwork of a freshly infiltrated group of militants who could have entered along the Salamabad Nallah into the town. The Home Minister has postponed his scheduled visit to Russia and the United States in the wake of the attack in Uri and the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir.

Singh also spoke to the Jammu and Kashmir Governor and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on the situation arising out of the terror strike in Uri. The Home Minister was scheduled to leave for Russia tonight for a four-day bilateral visit and later to the US on September 26 for a six-day tour to attend the Indo-US Homeland Security Dialogue. “Keeping the situation of Jammu and Kashmir in mind and in the wake of terror attack in Uri, I have postponed my visits to Russia and the US,” he said in a statement here.

The Home Minister said he has spoken to Governor N N Vohra and the Chief Minister and discussed with them the situation arising out of attack on a Army Brigade Headquarters in Uri and both of them apprised him of the overall situation in Jammu and Kashmir. “I have given instructions to Home Secretary (Rajiv Mehrishi) and other officers in the Home Ministry to closely monitor the situation in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

The Home Minister also called an emergency meeting to review the situation arising out of the attack on the Brigade Headquarters in Uri. National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, the Union Home Secretary, top Army, paramilitary and Home Ministry officials are attending it. The Home Minister has postponed his scheduled visit to Russia and the United States in the wake of the attack in Uri and the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir.

Singh also spoke to the Jammu and Kashmir Governor and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on the situation arising out of the terror strike in Uri. “Keeping the situation of Jammu and Kashmir in mind and in the wake of terror attack in Uri, I have postponed my visits to Russia and the US,” he said in a statement here.

The Home Minister said he has spoken to Governor N N Vohra and the Chief Minister and discussed with them the situation arising out of attack on a Army Brigade Headquarters in Uri and both of them apprised him of the overall situation in Jammu and Kashmir. “I have given instructions to Home Secretary (Rajiv Mehrishi) and other officers in the Home Ministry to closely monitor the situation in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

The Home Minister also called an emergency meeting to review the situation arising out of the attack on the Brigade Headquarters in Uri. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, the Union Home Secretary, top Army, paramilitary and Home Ministry officials are attending the meeting.

Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa dashes off another letter to Modi on fishermen’s arrest

Raking up the issue of fishermen, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has said the situation at sea remains “precarious” due to “offensive acts” of the Sri Lankan Navy despite repeated appeals to the Centre to ensure safety of Indian fishermen.In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jayalalithaa referred to the arrest of four Indian fishermen who had ventured from Rameswaram, on June 5 and pointed out that this was the third such incident since May 31.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A total of 15 fishermen and 91 boats were now under the custody of the island government, she said while seeking Modi’s intervention to secure their release.The Chief Minister said she had written to him on many occasions, taking up with him, the “repeated instances of abduction and apprehension of innocent Indian fishermen” belonging to the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu by the Lankan Navy while eking out their livelihood in their traditional fishing waters.In the letter dated June 6, which was released by the state government today, Jayalalithaa said she has been requesting Centre to ‘mount’ a strong diplomatic initiative to uphold the rights and interests of the Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu.”In spite of my repeated appeals to ensure the safety and security of our innocent fishermen and to devise a permanent solution to this sensitive livelihood issue, the situation at sea remains precarious with the continued offensive acts of the Sri Lankan Navy,” she said.Jayalalithaa requested Modi to direct the Ministry of External Affairs “to use diplomatic channels to ensure that our fishermen are allowed to peacefully pursue their livelihood in their traditional fishing waters.” She also sought his “direct intervention to secure the immediate release of the 15 fishermen and 91 fishing boats in Sri Lankan custody.”Jayalalithaa said the “unconstitutional ceding of Katchatheevu by the agreements of 1974 and 1976 is central to this problem.””The Sri Lankan strategy of not releasing the fishing boats, the main source of livelihood of the poor fishermen, is further aggravating the situation,” she said.While seven fishermen were arrested by the Lankan Navy on May 31, four others were arrested on June 2 following which Jayalalithaa sought Modi’s intervention for their release.

Vadodara: Two cops injured in protest against encroachment drive

Vadodara: Two policemen were injured on Tuesday when a mob allegedly set on fire a police outpost and their six two-wheelers as they protested an encroachment drive by the civic body on Ajwa Road, the police said.

“The mob of nearly 200 people attacked the officials of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) when they reached Suleiman-Ni-Chal locality to carry out demolition. They set on fire a police chowki, six two-wheelers of policemen and also pelted stones,” Joint Commissioner of Police DJ Patel said.

“Two policemen sustained minor injuries and 50 Special Reserve Police personnel, along with local policemen were deployed to control the situation,” he said and added, “ten teargas shells were also fired by police to disperse the mob”.

The VMC, which is on a major demolition drive across the city as part of the Smart Cities project, had issued a notice on 28 May and gave three days time to people who were living “illegally” in the locality and evacuate the places.

File photo of Gujarat police. AFPFile photo of Gujarat police. AFP

File photo of Gujarat police. AFP

The people erected around 227 temporary houses on a plot which is reserved for a garden.

Meanwhile, VMC Commissioner HS Patel said the situation has been brought under control and the demolition was being carried out as planned.

“This is an effort (by mob) to stop demolition, but we are determined to carry out the operation. We know the drive is good for the city and we are not targeting any person, a group or a community but doing it as part of the Smart Cities project,” he told reporters.

“The notice was served on 28 May and VMC officials on Monday visited the spot to check the situation. It was found that none of residents had evicted the places. Hence, VMC was forced to carry out the demolition drive,” another VMC official said.

Kerala violence: BJP-RSS workers facing atrocities from CPI(M), says Nitin Gadkari

Amping up its offensive against the Left Front in Kerala, a BJP delegation on Sunday met President Pranab Mukherjee over attacks on party workers allegedly by CPI(M) supporters and also questioned the silence of Congress, saying it is not good for democracy.Union minister Nitin Gadkari told reporters after meeting the President that BJP and RSS workers were facing “atrocities” from CPI(M), which led the alliance that won the Assembly polls in the state. He alleged that police was not taking appropriate action.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We have given the President details of these cases, including photographs. Our worker Pramod was killed. Houses of more than 100 workers have been vandalised. Situation is not good. He has assured us that he will take appropriate action. Unfortunately, UPA, Congress are keeping quiet. This is not good for democracy. Democracy is a battle of ideas and parties cannot grow by taking law into their hands. We hope that those having faith in democracy will condemn this violence,” he said. Asked about CPI(M)’s charge that BJP was misleading, he said details of the incidents have been submitted to Mukherjee.
ALSO READ Kerala violence: 150 BJP workers detained outside CPI(M) Delhi office for protesting party worker’s murderBesides Gadkari, the delegation included Union ministers JP Nadda, Nirmala Sitharaman and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, MPs Meenakshi Lekhi and MJ Akbar and Kerala BJP President Kummanam Rajasekharan.
ALSO READ Kerala Elections 2016: LDF back in power, UDF decimated; BJP makes historic debutAttacking the Left Front, BJP chief Amit Shah had yesterday accused it of “violating” the people’s mandate as his party said it will not sit quiet and fight on the streets if violence continues. The Left Front has instead attacked BJP and RSS for targeting its workers and accused the party of misleading the people.

New Delhi: Fire in Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar brought under control

A massive fire which had engulfed a building in Delhi’s Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar early Wednesday morning has now been brought under control, after relentless efforts by as many as 15 fire tenders.No casualties have been reported so far due to the inferno, which broke out at around 5.30 AM. “Situation under control, cooling operation going on,” Fire Officer, Sunil Chaudhary said.The cause behind the fire’s origin is yet to be ascertained.

Srinagar: NIT turned into a garrison, it’s not normal out there, say students

With normalcy seemingly returning to National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Srinagar, hundreds of non-local students skipped their exams on Monday and left the campus for home.Of the 2,700 outstation students, 1,200 have decided to go home after protesting for over a week inside the campus.”We are tired and want to go home as of now. We are not in a state to take exams right now and will not be able study under such pressure,” a student Lakhan told dna.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Another student, who left the institute early morning on Monday for New Delhi, said Union human resource department had agreed to their demands of not taking the exam.”The institute has been turned into a garrison. It is not normal out there. However, there was no threat from the locals as we had expected. The attitude of locals has not changed but right now we want to take a break,” she said.
ALSO READ Situation under control in NIT, says Jammu and Kashmir DGPMost of the students had already left the institute on Monday after getting a written permission from their families and from the college administration. “There are, however, many students still inside the campus,” Massod, a local student, said.Other students are planning to leave the institute on Wednesday due to shutdown being observed in the valley against the harassment of Kashmiri students outside the state, a fallout after the NIT Srinagar controversy was erupted.
ALSO READ NIT Srinagar clashes: Issue should not be seen as outsider versus insider, says Mehbooba Mufti”The police brutality has left a huge impact on us. We are still to come out of the trauma. We were stifled inside the campus and not even allowed to speak to the media which further choked our expression,” another student on his way home told dna.Many local students are of the opinion that the whole issue was blown out of the proportion and the media black-out further instigated the protesting students.
ALSO READ NIT Srinagar: When Smriti Irani’s former aide Shilpi Tewari did something that Anupam Kher couldn’t”They are our colleagues, classmates and friends. Even if we disagree on certain issues doesn’t mean we will turn on each other and not agree to disagree,” a local student of Civil department said.

BJP to organise ‘Maha Aarti’ tomorrow for Kerala temple fire victims

BJP will organise ‘maha-aarti’ on Monday across all districts to pray for the speedy recovery of the injured and in the memory of the dead in the Kerala temple tragedy.In a statement, BJP general secretary Arun Singh said party workers are in grief over the tragedy and have been asked to hold ‘maha-aarti’ tomorrow evening. He noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah were in Kerala today to take stock of the situation and express their condolences.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In one of the worst tragedies to hit Kerala, at least 106 people were killed and 383 injured in a devastating fire that engulfed the 100-year-old Puttingal Devi Temple complex near here during an unauthorised display of fireworks early today.

PM Modi to visit Kerala after ‘shocking’ temple fire, says critically injured to be shifted via helicopter

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday expressed his condolences to the victims of the Kerala temple fire and said he will be reaching the state soon to take stock of the situation arising due to the unfortunate fire tragedy in Kollam.At least 83 people were killed and over 350 injured during festivities at the Puttingal Devi Temple at nearby Paravoor on Sunday morning, when a huge explosion occurred at a store room filled with crackers and pyrotechnic material.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The mishap occurred as sparks fell on the storeroom ‘Kambapura’ and exploded with a thundering noise at around 3.30 AM, police said.
ALSO READ Kerala temple fire: Situation at mishap site unprecedented and alarming, says CM Oommen ChandyThousands of people had gathered at the temple precincts to witness the fireworks display which were on since midnight.Live | Kerala: Massive fire at Puttingal temple in Kollam: at least 83 dead, over 350 injuredTaking to micro-blogging site, PM Modi said, “The fire at temple in Kollam is heart-rending & shocking beyond words. My thoughts are with families of the deceased & prayers with the injured. I will be reaching Kerala soon to take stock of the situation arising due to the unfortunate fire tragedy in Kollam.”Stating that he has spoken to CM Oommen Chandy about the fire at a temple in Kollam, he added, “Arranging for immediate shifting of those critically injured via helicopter.”Also read: Kerala temple fire: Situation at mishap site unprecedented and alarming, says CM Oommen Chandy”Have also asked my Cabinet colleague & Health Minister JP Nadda to immediately reach the site of the fire tragedy in Kollam,” Modi said in a series of tweets.Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who is rushing to the accident spot after cancelling his programmes, said the situation was “unprecedented and alarming”.”Rescue operation at the mishap spot is over…The next main focus of the government is to provide best treatment to the injured,” he told PTI.Many bodies have been charred and a DNA test would be conducted to ascertain the identity of the deceased.The State Chief Secretary has been asked to write a letter to the Election Commission for necessary sanction to exclude the treatment facilities to the injured from the ambit of the Election Code of Conduct, he said.

Watch: Unrest on NIT campus; outstation students protest, lathicharged

Unrest was witnessed again on Tuesday at NIT Srinagar, the scene of last week’s clash, with outstation students expressing a sense of insecurity and attempting to leave the campus, leading to a confrontation with police which resorted to lathicharge in which some were injured.Some non-local students attempted to leave the campus and return to their home states, saying, they were “not feeling safe” inside the campus, a police official said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police personnel on duty at the NIT tried to reassure the students that they were safe inside the campus but they were not pacified. The situation, however, was brought under control shortly, the official said.Outstation students, on the other hand, alleged that they were holding protests and were lathicharged by the police with brute forces and not allowed to move out of the NIT gate.Meanwhile, the HRD Ministry is sending a two- member team to NIT Srinagar campus. “The Ministry has decided to send a two-member team comprising a Director and a Deputy Secretary rank officer, who will listen to the students there,” a senior official said.(With PTI inputs)

Jammu and Kashmir: Unrest on NIT Srinagar campus as outstation students protest, lathicharged; CRPF deployed

Unrest was witnessed again on Tuesday at NIT Srinagar, the scene of last week’s clash, with outstation students expressing a sense of insecurity and attempting to leave the campus, leading to a confrontation with police which resorted to lathicharge in which some were injured.With the situation being tense, CRPF was tonight deployed at campus and Jammu and Kashmir government assured full security to the students from other states studying here. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh also called up Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and discussed with her the situation at NIT. Some non-local students attempted to leave the campus and return to their home states, saying, they were “not feeling safe” inside the campus, a police official said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>About 500 NIT Srinagar students in shape of mob carrying banners tried to take out a march and reached the main gate on main road on Tuesday evening. As per the police, their forces stopped them and told them to move back. But the students resorted to violence by assaulting policemen and started stone pelting.Jammu and Kashmir Police said that they have lodged a case, FIR no 45, at Nigeen Police Station and the investigation has begun. Police said that the situation has been brought under control. The deployment chased the mob and in this melee some of the students got injured who were given first aid, said the police. MoS PMO Jitendra Singh has spoken to Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti over NIT Srinagar issue and asked students to stay calm.Police personnel on duty at the NIT tried to reassure the students that they were safe inside the campus but they were not pacified, he said. As the head of the security deployment was speaking to them, a few of the students allegedly resorted to sloganeering and even pushed him around, the official claimed. He said the other police personnel then resorted to “lathicharge” to disperse the students who were “getting violent”.The situation, however, was brought under control shortly, the official said. Outstation students, on the other hand, alleged that they were holding protests and were lathicharged by the police with brute forces and not allowed to move out of the NIT gate. “We had sat on dharna and were demanding meeting with HRD officials. We held meeting with NIT administration and they agreed to the demand. We were allowed freely to move out the gate,” said one of the students on condition of the anonymity.”When we were going out of the campus as per the past practice, police did not allow us and resorted to cane-charge resulting in injuries to several students,” he claimed.Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh told PTI in Jammu tonight: “We assure security to the students of various states of the country studying in NIT Srinagar. Additional security of CRPF has been deployed at the campus.” Singh, who along with Minister of State (MoS) Education Priya Sethi, talked to Mehbooba, DGP K Rajendra and NIT Director, said “all measures are being taken by the administration of the NIT to instill confidence among these students and the issues raised by them are being resolved.” With PTI/ANI inputs.

Not so Swachh Bharat: Indians most deprived of access to clean water

New Delhi: A report says India has the world’s highest number of people without access to clean water.

The international charity Water Aid says 75.8 million Indians — or 5 percent of the country’s 1.25 billion population — are forced to either buy water at high rates or use supplies that are contaminated with sewage or chemicals.

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75.8 million Indians are deprived of access to clean water. Getty Images

That accounts for more than a tenth of the 650 million people worldwide without clean water access — more any single country in Africa or in China, where 63 million have no access to clean water.

The situation worldwide has improved since 1990, with 2.6 billion people gaining access to clean water since then.

AP

Maharashtra: Section 144 imposed in Latur to avoid violence over water

Prohibitory orders have been imposed in Maharashtra’s drought-hit Latur in order to avoid violence over water shortage. Section 144 has been imposed in Latur till May 31. The order prohibits assembly of more than five people in area around wells and water filling points to tackle any form of violence.An official said the notified places include all tanker-filling points, public wells, tanker-plying routes and storage tanks in the district.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan on Sunday targeted the state government after Section 144 was imposed, saying that the situation could have been easily avoided had the Devendra Fadnavis-led government acted earlier. “The situation in Latur is very serious. Whatever is expected from the administration is not being done. The situation will always turn explosive or dangerous when there is no water available for drinking for 40-45 days….The government is totally responsible for this situation. If the government would have taken some steps to help the people, such a situation could have been easily avoided,” he said. Earlier, we had reported about the grim water situation in Latur, Marathwada’s worst drought-hit districts. (Read: Where residents get water once a fortnight in the middle of the night)With the dams going dry and Municipal Corporations disconnecting complete water supply, youngsters and old women alike are forced to hit the streets in Latur at midnight for water. Parked vehicles, handcarts and residents stand in queue for at least 3 hours, waiting their turn to fill empty vessels, highlighting the worsening water situation.

Ahead of Kerala polls, BJP asks EC to ensure violence-free environment

New Delhi: Citing cases of political violence targeting workers of the party in Kerala, BJP on Tuesday asked the Election Commission to take strong measures to ensure violence-free poll in the state.

Union ministers Smriti Irani and Rajiv Pratap Rudy told a press conference that the attacks were outcome of a “nexus” between ruling Congress and the Left as they are worried by the “surge” in BJP’s support in the state.

Rajiv Pratap Rudy. AFPRajiv Pratap Rudy. AFP

Rajiv Pratap Rudy. AFP

“Violence is being used as a political tool to suppress our voice,” Irani said, alleging that Left workers were carrying out attacks while Congress was strategically supporting it.

“Situation is very critical. We do not expect a free and fair election in Kerala,” Rudy said, adding that a party delegation will soon meet the Commission to press for strong measures to be taken in the state.

In recent cases of violence, former Kerala BJP chief V Muraleedharan was among 16 persons injured in an alleged attack by CPI-M workers at Kattayikonam on Monday.

On March 8, RSS worker E K Biju was hacked to death, Rudy said, adding that hundreds of party workers over the years have been killed in Kannur.

The BJP-led alliance in the state had created concern among the two bigger parties, he said, and “emerging signs of its great victory” have compelled them to target saffron workers.

A Dalit girl student tried to commit suicide after being harassed by the Left workers, Irani said.

Rudy is party’s co-incharge for Kerala assembly polls and the delegation to the Commission will be headed by Union Minister J P Nadda, who is in-charge, he said.

PTI

Delhi: Abandoned bag creates bomb scare in Modern School in Vasant Vihar

An abandoned bag has been found leading to a bomb scare in Modern School in Vasant Vihar in Delhi A bomb disposal squad reached the spot. All those who were present in the school have been evacuated. The ACP and SHO are with the staff.An anti-sabotage check is being undertaken to trace device if present. The situation is normal so far.More details are awaited.

Jat agitation: Ban lifted on mobile Internet, SMS in Sonipat

Haryana government on Tuesday lifted the ban on mobile Internet services and SMS in Sonipat imposed in view of the Jat quota agitation.District Magistrate Rajiv Rattan has withdrawn the order issued on February 18 banning Internet services like 2G Edge, 3G, 4G and GPRS, and bulk messages on mobile network as the situation has normalised in Sonipat, an official spokesman said.He said these services were banned to check spread of rumours and violence.

Jat agitation: Can’t order military to shoot at crowd, says Supreme Court

Supreme Court on Monday said that ‘it can’t order the military to shoot at the crowd,’ while dismissing a plea seeking giving free hand to Army to control “unruly mob” during the Jat agitation in Haryana.A bench headed by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur said that Army was capable enough to deal with any situation and as and when the situation arises things will be taken care of.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”You want us to issue direction to Army to shoot at the mob. We can’t issue such directions. We can’t allow the army to open fire at the mob. As and when the situation arises things will be taken care of. Army is capable enough to deal with any situation,” the bench also comprising justices R Bhanumathi and U U Lalit said.It said that whoever will take law in his own hand will be prosecuted as per the law and dismissed the petition as withdrawn.The bench observed that had the petitioner advocate Ajay Jain sought compensation to the victim of the violent agitation, it would have thought of considering it.”Had you asked for compensation to the victims of the agitation, we would have thought of considering it,” the bench said.Petitioner then sought court’s permission to amend the prayer in his petition which the bench denied, saying it can’t allow him to do so. The bench also refrained itself from imposing the cost on petitioner after he kept on insisting for consideration of his plea. He, however, later agreed to withdraw his plea.The petitioner in his plea has sought direction for Haryana government to give complete free hand to the Army/Para Military forces to control the situation which includes inter alia to fire at the mob to bring the situation under control. He has also sought direction to local administration of Rohtak, Haryana to hand over the administration to Army and not to interrupt in any manner whatsoever in the Army’s affair in dealing with the situation.”Direct the Union of India to provide adequate number of Army/Para Military forces as is required to deal with mob of 20,000 people roaming in or around district Rohtak,” the plea had said.

Jat agitation: 3 casualties reported after fresh army firing in Sonipat

Jhajjar Deputy Commissioner Anita Yadav on Monday said the law and order situation in the district is under control but added that curfew would continue for a few more days as a precautionary measure.”The situation is under control. We have assured people that we will not let the law and order situation deteriorate, and thus, they need not panic or fear,” said Yadav. She, however, said the curfew and night patrolling would go on to make the people feel safe and secure.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Divulging details of the causalities and injuries, Yadav said, “Eight civilians have been reported killed in the agitation so far. As many as 20 police and army personnel were injured, while eight to ten civilians also received injuries.””Apart from this, a lot of public and private properties have been damaged. Houses and shops were set ablaze, though we have not made an assessment of the property loss,” she added.’Casualties’ in Sonipat as mob clashes with security forcesA stone-pelting mob on Monday attacked personnel of army and paramilitary forces who were trying to clear the road blockade in Sonipat, leading to a clash in which there were some “casualties”.”Yes, there are casualties, may be one or three, but I can’t give any exact figure immediately,” Sonipat Deputy Commissioner Rajiv Rattan said.He said the personnel of Army, paramilitary forces and the police who were trying to clear the road blockade were attacked by the mob which pelted stones on them and used lathis and other things, leaving many of the security forces also injured in the process.The mob went berserk setting on fire government vehicles, indulging in vandalism and attacking the security forces, the DC said.Police detain jat community people during their reservation movement in Faridabad on Sunday. Image Courtesy: PTIWhen asked as to why the banks and ATMs were set on fire by the agitators and why the police acted as mute spectators, Yadav said, “Initially, we had limited resources and police personnel, and our priority was to protect people. A number of police personnel from the prescribed number of police force for the district have been deployed in Rohtak following which we have repeatedly been demanding army deployment to contain the situation. And, as soon as the army arrived here, the situation was brought under control.”However, she admitted that the loss to banks and ATMs could have been prevented.Curfew lifted from Hissar and HansiCurfew was lifted from Hissar and Hansi towns in Jat stir-hit Haryana on Monday. An official spokesman said that curfew has been lifted in view of the improvement in the situation.Security personnel will keep a vigil till restoration of normalcy, he said. Road traffic on national and state highways from Hissar to various destinations, including Delhi, Chandigarh, Sirsa, Siwani and Bhiwani, however, remained suspended.The Deputy Commissioner, however, downplayed media posers that policemen fled from the police stations and joined the agitation in civilian clothes, saying she was unaware about any such reports.”As far as my knowledge is concerned, the policemen fully assisted us in bringing the law and order situation under control,” she said.Spokesman of All India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti Ram Bhagat Malik said in Hissar that they would hold a meeting on Monday afternoon and then decide on the future course of action.Industry body ASSOCHAM has pegged the loss of about Rs 20,000 crore because of the Jat agitation on account of burning and destroying of public and private property. Trade and industry loss is maximum in the affected areas of Rohtak, Jhajjar, Bahadurgarh, Hissar, Bhiwani, Jind, Gohana, Sonipat, Kaithal, Karnal and Panipat, it said. (With Agencies)

Jat quota row: Congress accuses Haryana’s BJP govt of provoking conflict between communities

The Congress Party on Sunday held the BJP Government responsible for the agitation by members of the Jat community in Haryana and criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for failing to bring the situation under control.”The situation in Haryana is deliberately being deteriorated by the ruling Modi government. The situation in the national capital has become so grim that the water may not be available from tomorrow,” Congress leader Pramod Tiwary said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The BJP government in Haryana is provoking the conflict between the communities, I would like to ask the Prime Minister Modi to hand over the powers to others if he is not able to manage the situation,” he added.Five protesters were killed in firing by the security forces in Haryana on Saturday, taking the death toll in the Jat quota agitation to six. The situation continued to remain tense in several parts of Haryana on Sunday.

Jat reservations: Stones pelted at Haryana Minister OP Dhankar’s house

A mob on Saturday pelted stones at the house of senior Haryana Minister OP Dhankar here as the agitation by Jats demanding quota spread to more areas in the state. No one was injured in the incident. “The mob threw stones at Dhankar’s house, but no one was injured,” a police official said. Dhankar is among the prominent Jat politicians in the state.The official said tension prevailed in the area and police and paramilitary forces were trying to bring the situation under control. Jhajjar is among the districts worst hit by the Jat stir.

Calcutta HC asks WB govt to check syndicates controlling construction work

Hearing a petition filed by a real estate promoter Md Ismail who alleged that he could not carry on construction work at Maheshtala due to the syndicates, Justice Dipankar Dutta said the situation is alarming and such rackets are there across the state. The Calcutta High Court on Monday asked West Bengal government to take steps to check the rise of illegal syndicates controlling construction work.Hearing a petition filed by a real estate promoter Md Ismail who alleged that he could not carry on construction work at Maheshtala due to the syndicates, Justice Dipankar Dutta said the situation is alarming and such rackets are there across the state. He observed that no government project, not even of the judiciary, has been left out by the syndicates.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He told the state government lawyer that the administration has to take steps otherwise the situation will go beyond control. The judge also asked the police to file a report on Ismail’s complaint within a week.

Kiren Rijiju reviews situation along Indo-Pak border

Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Monday visited India-Pakistan border and reviewed the situation along the forward areas.During his visit to border outpost Mahwa in Amritsar, Rijiju got himself acquainted with the situation along the international border and functioning of BSF troops which guard the border. He assured the paramilitary personnel of all help from the government in removing any kind of hindrance for effective domination on border areas.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Commending the hard work by BSF in forward areas, the Minister of State for Home said the force is well known for its culture and duties. “I am well aware of the hardship faced by BSF troops while performing their duties and look into the matter and try my best to provide all kind of assistance to ease the hardship faced by them,” he said.

Zika virus: Centre forms technical group to monitor situation

The Centre on Friday decided to constitute a technical group to monitor the situation arising out of spread of Zika virus and strengthen its surveillance system, a day after WHO warned that the virus was spreading “explosively” and can affect countries like India.Health Minister JP Nadda, who held a high-level meeting to take stock of the situation in view of the recent cases of Zika virus being reported from some countries, said that India is “well prepared” in case of any eventuality.”We are closely monitoring the situation and all necessary steps have been initiated to ensure that India is well prepared in case of any eventuality,” Nadda said after the meeting in which doctors from AIIMS also took part.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Zika virus is “spreading explosively” in the Americas and can infect upto four million people, the WHO warned yesterday as it issued a warning to all countries, including India. Aedes Aegypti mosquito carries Zika virus which is thought to cause brain damage in babies. This mosquito also carries the viruses that cause Dengue and Chikungunya which are of great public health concern in tropical countries like India.The outbreak began in Brazil last year and has now spread to 24 countries in the Americas. Zika virus is believed to cause neurological problems like microcephaly, a condition of abnormally small head in babies. “Nadda directed constitution of a technical group with immediate effect which would monitor the situation arising out of spread of Zika virus in other countries and will advise further on all the necessary steps that need to be taken,” an official statement said. “We are focusing on especially strengthening the surveillance system,” it said.The Health Minister emphasised that there should be an increased focus on prevention to control the spread of the Aedes mosquito that breeds in clean water. “Community awareness plays an instrumental role in this regard. There is a need for greater awareness amongst community,” he said.Such is the level of alarm that many American countries like El Salvador, Colombia and Ecuador have urged women to postpone pregnancy till 2018.

Artistes are like peace messengers: Ghulam Ali

Ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali, who is currently in India, says he sees himself as a peace messenger between cultures and is getting several invites to perform all over the country.”I am getting many invitations to perform. As an artiste you love to sing if the situation is right. I am happy with the love that is being showered by my fans,” Ali told PTI.The musician had to cancel his concert in Mumbai last year following protests from Shiv Sena but he is no longer disappointed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I only felt bad for my fans. ‘Fans maayus hote hai’. As an artiste, I keep travelling everywhere. We should be seen as peace messengers. We have nothing to do with politics,” the 75-year-old singer said. Ali said India and Pakistan are “humsaaya”.”We are ‘humsaaya’. Someone who is closest to you is your ‘humsaaya’, you share your good and bad time with each other.”The musician recently dubbed for director Suhaib Ilyasi movie “Ghar Wapsi” where he has acted also. He has sung “Apni mitti ki khoosboo hain rago mein yeh basi hai… chhomenge isko shaan se. Humko toh pyara hain yeh watan, apni jaan se”.When asked about his acting stint, Ali laughed, saying he does not know much about it.”I don’t know much about acting. I do all my acting through my voice but Suhaib is like a younger brother. I could not say no to him. The role is really small. I don’t like to sing in movies but I agreed to do this song.”

Too early to draw inferences on Modi govt’s performance: Sharad Pawar

NCP president Sharad Pawar on Monday said it was too early to draw inferences on the BJP-led government’s performance at the Centre.”One should not draw inferences on the government which has been elected for five years, in just one year,” Pawar said. “After all, the situation in the country depends on what the economy says,” he told reporters at Kolhapur in western Maharashtra.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The economy during Manmohan Singh regime was on the upswing. Production was on the rise and so were exports,” Pawar, who was agriculture minister during the UPA regime, said. “Now exports have declined and the manufacturing sector and prices have also been impacted,” the NCP chief claimed. “This is not a good sign. But I don’t want to say that this situation will remain so permanently. We will have to watch for one or two years more,” he added.

Dalit scholar suicide: Government will not intervene, says Smriti Irani

Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Smriti Irani has flatly refused any intervention by the government in the suicide of a Dalit scholar from the Hyderabad University and said that a two-member team has been sent to the varsity from the ministry to take stock of the situation.”In a time of grief like this, I express my condolences to the family who lost their son. We have sent a two-member team from the ministry who will apprise us of the situation in the university. Everyone knows that in Central Universities, the administrative control belongs only to the varsity. The government has no role to play,” Irani told ANI. She asserted that she will not make any ‘political’ statement at the moment, since law and order was a subject of the state.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Will have to wait until the reports comes, will be inappropriate to say anything until then,” Irani added. Earlier, the Congress branded the BJP-led NDA Government as ‘anti-Dalit’ amid the ongoing uproar over the suicide by a Dalit scholar from the University of Hyderabad and demanded immediate removal of the varsity’s Vice-Chancellor. They also demanded that Irani visit the University to personally take stock of the situation.Meanwhile, the Delhi Police detained several students, who were protesting outside the Human Resource and Development (HRD) Ministry in the national capital to vent their ire over suicide of the Dalit scholar.To bring the situation under control, the police personnel deployed on duty also used water cannons to control the agitating students. One of the five dalit scholars, expelled from the University of Hyderabad 12 days ago, hanged himself to death last night.