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UP Elections 2017: Ready to contest in all assembly seats, says Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Saturday said it was ready to contest all assembly seats in the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh, even as it chose not to comment on the internal affairs of Samajwadi Party.”We are working in all the seats … We have said we are ready to contest all the seats in the state and we are preparing for the polls,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said. Asked about the fast-paced developments in ruling SP in UP, he said, “We don’t comment on the internal affairs of other parties. There had been a quarrel yesterday and today there was a patch up. It is a good thing. The family is together which is a good thing.”Speaking about the party’s campaign in the state, Surjewala said the Congress’ slogan is ’27 saal, UP behaal’ (27 years, UP in doldrums). Congress will contest the polls on the plank of development, rising above the caste and communal issues, he added.

BJP’s growth in Tripura due to ‘false campaign and our weakness’: CPI(M)

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ruling CPI-M in Tripura has said the BJP managed to increase its vote in the recent bypolls in the state taking advantage of “our organisational weakness and by luring people with false assurances.” “The results of the recent two by-elections held for two Assembly seats and by-polls in panchayat seats show that the BJP managed to increase their votes,” Party Secretary Bijan Dhar told reporters last night.”All these things happened due to our organisational weakness and due to their alluring people by giving false assurances,” he said.”Taking advantage of being in power at the Centre they also misused money to woo voters,” Dhar said. He alleged that RSS, Bajrang Dal and BJP have brought their activists from outside the state for trying to build up a political base for the party.”Those activists are indulging in false campaign against the Left Front government and organising demonstrations in front of the residences of ministers, government offices and roads by raising false issues,” Dhar said.”We have asked the administration and common people to remain alert about the activities of the BJP activists,” he said.He said the opposition Congress has become “very weak” due to split in their party and the breakaway faction who formed Trinamool Congress in the state also could not be certain about their political future in the state.The Left Front has been in power for the last 23 years in Tripura.

BJP condemns Hurriyat leaders, says will continue to support the west Pakistani refugees

Jammu: BJP on Saturday condemned Hurriyat and other political parties for opposing the grant of domicile certificate to the west Pakistani refugees(WPRs) residing in Jammu and Kashmir and said it will continue to support the rights of the WPRs.

“Hartal called by Hurriyat and other separatist groups on Friday to oppose the grant of domicile certificate to WPRs is very unfortunate, unwarranted and uncalled for. BJP strongly opposes the efforts of these pro-Pakistan elements to politicise a humanitarian issue,” BJP state spokesperson Brig Anil Gupta (retd) said.

He condemned the attitude of Hurriyat and political parties who are opposing the grant of domicile certificate to the WPRs residing in the state and said what was more discomforting is that these people belong to economically backward segment of the society and have been denied the growth opportunities due to no fault of theirs.

“It is very unfortunate that a section of society living among us is termed as refugees and denied basic rights on the plea that they are not the state subjects and have migrated from West Pakistan at the time of partition,” he said.

Representative image. PTI

Representative image. PTI

Even after 70 years of independence they are being given this treatment in their own country due to the “parochial outlook” of the majority community in the state is tragic, Gupta said.

“It is the influx of illegal Bangladeshi and Burmese migrants that has resulted in the demographic change and ironically they do not raise any voice against them but welcome them.

“This highlights their communal outlook. Our Party will continue to support the WPR and ensure that justice is delivered to them,” he said.

Taking a dig at the National Conference’s stand, Gupta said political parties like NC are misquoting history and trying to mislead the people of Jammu using the name of late Maharaja Hari Singh.

“Their contention that State Subject laws were enacted by the Maharaja to safeguard the interest of Dogras is being quoted out of context.

“The State Subject Act was enacted by the Maharaja in 1927 to protect the rights of its citizens when J&K was an independent state.

“It was the Maharaja only who had acceded the state with India in 1947 and it was his desire that his state should be a part of Union of India,” he said.

He said, “All citizens of J&K are now citizens of India.”

Had the Maharaja been alive he would have himself ensured that any law that keeps his state away from rest of the country should be “abrogated”, the spokesperson said.

“He would have ensured that these helpless people are given all rights immediately and they would not have to suffer this humiliation for 70 years,” he said.

It was surprising and unfortunate that parties which had included this issue in their election manifestos in the past were now opposing the issue of the domicile certificate.

“The statements of Ambika Soni in Jammu and Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal in Srinagar clearly show that the Congress was only exploiting them for narrow political gains and now that their plight is being improved by the present BJP government they have joined hands with the Hurriyat and others to oppose the same,” he said.

“Issue of domicile certificate will enable the WP refugees to seek central government jobs including in the armed forces. There will be quota for them in the 5 IRP Battalions being raised under Prime Minister Special Package for J&K,” he said.

The contention that it is an attempt to change the state’s demography, Gupta said it is not understood as to how it will affect the demography of the state since they have been staying here since 1947.

“The State Subject Act was enacted by the Maharaja in 1927 to protect the rights of its citizens when J&K was an independent state.

“It was the Maharaja only who had acceded the state with India in 1947 and it was his desire that his state should be a part of Union of India,” he said.

He said, “All citizens of J&K are now citizens of India.” Had the Maharaja been alive he would have himself ensured that any law that keeps his state away from rest of the country should be “abrogated”, the spokesperson said.

“He would have ensured that these helpless people are given all rights immediately and they would not have to suffer this humiliation for 70 years,” he said.

It was surprising and unfortunate that parties which had included this issue in their election manifestos in the past were now opposing the issue of the domicile certificate.

“The statements of Ambika Soni in Jammu and Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal in Srinagar clearly show that the Congress was only exploiting them for narrow political gains and now that their plight is being improved by the present BJP government they have joined hands with the Hurriyat and others to oppose the same,” he said.

“Issue of domicile certificate will enable the WP refugees to seek central government jobs including in the armed forces. There will be quota for them in the 5 IRP Battalions being raised under Prime Minister Special Package for J&K,” he said.

The contention that it is an attempt to change the state’s demography, Gupta said it is not understood as to how it will affect the demography of the state since they have been staying here since 1947

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 17:56 IST

I carry Amma in my soul, says Sasikala after taking reigns of AIADMK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pledging to take forward the legacy of Jayalalithaa, AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala on Saturday asserted that none other than party founder MG Ramachandran, Dravidian ideologue C N Annadurai and ‘Amma’ will be given prominence in the party.In her first formal address to functionaries after formally taking charge as party chief here, she said the AIADMK will continue to be run in the same way as during the time of Amma when it was administered with a level of “discipline as seen in the Army”.It will continue to follow in the footsteps of these great leaders who looked beyond caste and religion, she said. Her assertion comes against the backdrop of some murmur of protests against her taking over the post.Heaping encomiums on Jayalalithaa, she said, “let us follow like Vedas our Amma’s political lessons and her footsteps,” adding “this movement (AIADMK) which was shaped up by Amma is a people’s movement, this is people’s government, our journey will be in the path laid by Amma.” She said the “yardstick” followed by Jayalalithaa for elevation of cadres in the party organisation will continue to be the same and “we will not diverge even an iota from it.” Hailing Jayalalithaa for her courage, she said the late leader had stormed the male bastion of politics that has given confidence to women. “Today as a woman, if I have come forward to lead the party, a very important reason for it is the faith that crores of brothers and sisters will support me.” She said “no one can fill her (Jayalalithaa) vacuum even in another thousand years.””I carry Amma in my soul,” she said adding “we have assembled here to guard the confidence of Amma that it will be the AIADMK which will rule the State even for 100 more years …she was everything for me and for us all.” Thanking party leaders for unanimously naming her as party general secretary, Sasikala said she humbly accepted it out of a sense of duty. For the first time she publicly spoke on the death of Jayalalithaa amid demands for a probe by Opposition DMK.Sasikala said she had firmly believed that the former AIADMK chief would recover. “Although Amma’s health improved that facilitated her shift from Critical Care Unit to a private room, she had unfortunately passed away.”It was not thought of even in my dream and it was like a thunderbolt falling on one’s head(when she died)”, Sasikala said, adding her only wish had been Jayalalithaa’s well-being.

Mulayam expels Akhilesh: Azam Khan hints at Amar Singh’s hand in Yadav feud, hopes BJP doesn’t capture power

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expressing concern over bitter infighting in SP, Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan said the bad blood between members of the ruling family will add a dark chapter to its history. Appealing to the “pivots” of the party to consider the consequences of the conflict, he said: “They should think how historians will depict the diminishing relationship between the father and the son.”Whatever is happening… the bad blood will add a dark chapter to the party’s history and paint a grim picture of it. I am in a state of extreme shock and pain.” In a veiled attack on Amar Singh, Khan said: “Who is responsible for this gloomy state of affairs? A single person’s conspiracy and nefarious intention have put the state up for auction.”He urged people to have faith in the SP and asked the “kingpins” of the party to ensure that the BJP does not capture power in the state. With SP staring at a possible split due to open rebellion by Akhilesh Yadav, party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has called a meeting tomorrow of all those allotted tickets by him even as the Chief Minister’s camp remained adamant on contesting against the official candidates of the party.Hectic attempts were said to be underway today by Mulayam to avert a split after the crisis reached a flash point late last night when Akhilesh “circulated” his own list of 235 candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections, parallel to the party’s official list of 393 nominees.Mulayam has convened a meeting here tomorrow of the 393 candidates who have been allotted tickets by him. Uttar Pradesh Assembly has 403 seats.Party insiders see the meeting with immense significance as the SP chief was likely gauge the sentiments of the candidates and conduct a fresh review of the list amid fears that the battle for control in SP left the party cadres divided and highly confused at grassroots level.This morning, Shivpal Yadav, the warring uncle of Akhilesh, met his brother Mulayam for nearly an hour, but it was not immediately known what transpired at the meeting.Shivpal did not answer questions of reporters waiting outside Mulayam’s residence.Mulayam’s cousin and SP General Secretary Ramgopal Yadav, who is Akhilesh supporter, asserted that there was no question of going back on the list prepared by the Chief Minister.In an apparent attack on Shivpal, he said many in the party do not want to see Akhilesh as Chief Minister again.”But, the fact remains that people of the state want him back as CM,” he claimed.He said Mulayam had convened a meeting on January 1 to take a final call on ticket distribution, “but due to pressure (from Shivpal), he announced the list on December 28”.Akhilesh’s list, which did not carry any signature, was made available on social media last night by defiant party MLAs who failed to get a ticket in the official list.Party observers said since names of 170 to 180 candidates figured in both the lists, it would be interesting to watch if they attended the meeting convened by Mulayam or opted out.Akhilesh, who was present at an official function here this morning, did not take questions from media persons.Though Akhilesh loyalists were enthusiastic to fight the elections “in the name of and as the face of the CM”, it was still not clear as to whether they would fight as Independents or float a new party.Prominent among those figuring in the list of Akhilesh are his hardcore loyalists — ministers Arvind Singh Gope, Pawan Pandey and Ram Govind Chaudhary, who were denied ticket by Mulayam. khilesh has been unhappy over the declaration ofcandidates by Mulayam which included certain names to whose nomination the Chief Minister had strong reservation.Mulayam, along with his brother and state party unit chief Shivpal, had announced the names at a hurriedly-convened press conference here on Wednesday when Akhilesh was away on a tour of Bundelkhand.Possibilities of a rapprochement dimmed when Shivpal announced the second list of 68 candidates late last night, thereby blocking the scope for minor adjustments to avoid perhaps a showdown between father-son duo before the polls.As the SP grappled with the unprecedented crisis, senior leader and UP minister Azam Khan voiced deep distress over the developments and said, “Bad blood between relatives has damaged the future of the state.”He said the feud in SP was being “celebrated” by its political rivals, especially BJP.

Living in denial? Mamata Banerjee says no communal clashes in Dhulagarh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said no communal clash took place at Dhulagarh in Howrah district and termed it as “local problem”. “It is a small matter. It is a local problem. That was not a communal problem. I will stick to police’s version,” she told mediapersons at the state secretariat. Earlier in the day the Chief Minister denied any incident of rioting at Dhulagarh and alleged that “wrong information” was being given on social media. “In the last 15 days, social media is running wrong information on an incident which did not take place at all,” Banerjee said at a programme here in an apparent reference to reports of violence earlier this month at Dhulagarh, which is barely 20 km from the state secretariat.”In order to break news one must not act irresponsibly. If something has really happened then you (media) have every right to report it but I think a field survey must be done,” she said.Her remarks came even as a senior government official had yesterday said strict actions were taken against those involved in the Dhulagarh violence and the process of giving compensation to the affected has started.The state government, Banerjee said today, is the first to help a family when their home is damaged or they are affected.”If there is an accident, we immediately take steps to help the family…. We do it on humanitarian grounds but we do not do any publicity,” she said.District police said inhabitants are wary of returning to their homes at Dhulagarh. Delegations of BJP, CPI(M) and Congress were stopped from visiting the troubled areas of the district and police superintendent of Howrah (Rural) Sabyasachi Raman Mishra was transferred in the wake of violence within less than a fortnight of his appointment.BJP has hit out at Banerjee over the Dhulagarh incident.”This is height of politics of appeasement. I want to ask those intellectuals, who cried over 2002 riots in Gujarat and then intolerant India, that when are they going to Kolkata,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said yesterday. Earlier, a non-bailable warrant was filed against Zee News reporters by the government of West Bengal for covering the Dhulagarh riots, claimed Zee News editor Sudhir Chaudhury.. He had written on Twitter: “@MamataOfficial Govt files FIR against me& @ZeeNews reporter for covering #DhulagarhRiots with Non Bailable sections. FIR for showing truth?”Zee News Chief Editor Sudhir Chaudhary wrote on Facebook: “ Just to inform all of you Mamta Banerjee Govt has filed an FIR against me and ZeeNews reporter Pooja Mehta and cameraperson Tanmay Mukherjee for covering Dhulagarh Riots on Zee News.The FIR has non bailable sections which is enough to gauge their intentions to arrest me and my colleagues. Pooja Mehta is just 25 and got the taste of Mamta’s intolerance so early in life in the form of a non bailable FIR.This is what a young girl reporter getting to learn from a woman chief minister who claims to be the champion of democracy.It’s another low point in our democracy to see a democratically elected govt using police force to curb media in an effort to suppress uncomfortable facts and reality.When you can’t manage media,use the state machinery to conquer the media only to conceal the failures of your administration. It shows the intolerance of a chief minister who is using the state machinery as her personal fiefdom and acting like a feudal lord. I see the positive side of this blunder as a window for all free minds of this nation to act and show fascist forces their actual place. Or once again Selfish Politics will prevail? That’s my fear. #IntolerantMamta”On December 13, clashes between two communities erupted following the Milad-ul-Nabi celebrations in Dhulagarh. Locals in the village alleged that ‘unprovoked’ clashes erupted after an infuriated mob in a procession of Milad-ul-Nabi celebrations started charging bombs at the houses. However, members in the procession allege that they were prevented from taking out the procession, following which violent clashes broke out.A week after clashes erupted in Howrah district’s Dhulagarh, the Bengal governor Keshari Nath Trpathi summoned Bengal Director General of Police (DGP), Surajit Kar Purkayastha on Thursday. This comes a day after BJP Rajya Sabha MP Roopa Ganguly led a delegation and met the victims of Dhulagarh incident.Disclaimer: Zee News is DNA’s sister organisation.

Jammu and Kashmir: Yasin Malik detained ahead of protest march

Srinagar: JKLF chairman Yasin Malik was on Friday detained at Pulwama as he led his supporters to stage a protest march against Jammu and Kashmir government’s decision to issue identity certificates to West Pakistani Refugees.

Separatist Yasin Malik. AFP

Separatist Yasin Malik. AFP

Malik was detained along with several of his supporters. They were taken into preventive custody, a police official said.

Separatists groups had called for protests on Friday against the government decision to issue identity certificates to West Pakistan Refugees living in the state since partition in 1947.

The state government has decided to issue identity cards to the refugees and had to issue clarification after protests from opposition parties and separatists against the move.

Initially, reports had said the opposition was against the government move to issue domicile certificates, but the state government said it was issuing identity certificates.

Other political organisations, including BJP and Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, have slammed separatists for opposing the issuance of certificates to the refugees.

The refugees, settled in Jammu and Kashmir, are citizens of India and have the right to vote in parliamentary polls.

However, they are not permanent residents of the state in terms of Jammu and Kashmir Constitution. They do not enjoy voting rights to the state assembly and local bodies.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 18:50 IST

Outgoing Delhi L-G seeks CBI probe into AAP appointment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Outgoing Lieutanant-Governor (L-G) of Delhi, Najeeb Jung, asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the appointment of Soumya Jain, daughter of state health minister Satyendar Jain, as advisor to the mission director of the Delhi State Health Mission. Jung alleged that it was a case of “nepotism” saying that she came from an architectural background and had no experience in the health sector.The letter, accessed by DNA, was written to the CBI by the vigilance department of the Delhi government on December 22, the day Jung resigned. It states that the L-G has directed the matter to be referred to CBI for a detailed investigation into the irregularities in the appointment of Soumya Jain.Incidentally, Soumya, 26, was at helm of AAP’s mohalla clinic project in Delhi and was also allegedly given a huge office and staff in the Delhi secretariat.”The selection process in the government cannot be reduced to favouritism and it must offer opportunity to all concerned to apply and compete so as to attract the best talent around. The recruitment process in the government or government owned/controlled bodies must be with the tune with Article 14 of the Constitution,” the letter stated.The development is expected to further escalate confrontation between the Delhi and central governments.Satyendar Jain has defended Soumya’s appointment. When she resigned in July, the health minister had said that her daughter was not being paid any money for the job. He also stated that she had skipped her admission to IIM Indore earlier this year and chosen to work for the Delhi government instead.The letter further states that an “advisor can influence the decision of the government with the consequential bearing on finances and hence the selection process needs to be neutral”.During an inquiry, the L-G’s office found that Soumya’s appointment was in response to her request and not as a result of selection through an open and transparent process. “She offered her services without any financial consideration. The information furnished by the administrative department, however, reveals that an amount of Rs 1.15 lakh was spent on her tour and training,” the preliminary inquiry stated.Soumya had participated in a state-sponsored leadership development programme for senior management in the health sector conducted at IIM-Ahmedabad in June this year. She was the only non-medico who participated in the programme aimed at improving management efficiency in Delhi government hospitals. The rest were all doctors, who head different medical institutions run by the government.The letter also states that the proposal regarding “her appointment is silent about the existence of the post of the advisor to Mission Director at the relevant time”. Soumya was appointed on April 18, 2016, in response to her application dated April 1, 2016. Interestingly, the mission director gave approval on May 10, 2016. She had resigned in mid-July this year after allegations of nepotism in her appointment were levelled against the AAP government.

Maharashtra: Govt to shut down liquor shops on national, state highways, says prepared to incur losses

Mumbai: Maharashtra government will implement the Supreme Court’s verdict of 15 December that directed all the states to shut down all liquor shops and vends on national and state highways.

State Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar cited the rising number of deaths in road accidents in the state while stating that the liquor shops on state and national highways will be closed.

“Maximum number of deaths due to road accidents were due to drunken driving. The SC verdict effectively means that 12,967 liquor shops in the state that fall within the 500 meter radius will have to shut down after March 31, 2017,” he told reporters in Mumbai.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Asked about the contention of the liquor lobby about revenue loss, Mungantiwar said, “anyway they are not in the business of selling holy water.”

The minister also said that the Maharashtra government was prepared to incur the loss in its revenue and will implement the order of the apex court.

“Out of the total 16,856 deaths in 2015-16, 13,212 deaths were road accident deaths and again out of that maximum of them were due to drunken driving,” Mungantiwar claimed. Meanwhile, officials said due to demonetisation, the department anticipates a 4.88 per cent decline in revenue between 1to 20 December.

As per State Excise departments data, the department had fixed the revenue income out of liquor for 2016 at Rs 15,343.96 crore.

The department had posted a revenue income of Rs 1,024.57 crore in November 2015, whereas the revenue income in November this year was Rs 1,027.35 crore, a rise of 0.27 per cent, shows the data.

As per the data, between 1 December to 20 December, 2015, the department posted a revenue income of Rs 670.25 crore, while the revenue for the same corresponding period this December stands at Rs 637.57 crore, a deficit of 4.88 percent.

Out of the total 12,967 liquor shops that will face closure after March 31, 2017, Pune district has maximum of 3,932 establishments, officials said. Of these 2,499 are in Nagpur, 2,225 in Kolhapur, , 2,224 in Aurangabad, 1,480 in Konkan region and 1,347 in Nashik district, they said.

There are a total of 24,572 country liquor, wine shops, permit rooms, clubs, beer shops, beer and wine serving outlets in the state, said officials.

According to them, the government has also directed its Superintendents of State Excise not to approve One Day temporary licenses (FL-4) to clubs that come within the radius of 500 meters from the boundaries of national, state highways and service roads.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 22:18 IST

Jammu & Kashmir cabinet approves draft of Governor’s address

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir cabinet on Wednesday approved the draft of the address, to be delivered by Governor N N Vohra, to the joint sitting of the State legislature on January 2 next year.The cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, approved the draft of the address, to be delivered by the Governor to the joint sitting of the State legislature on January 2, 2017, an official spokesman said.Legislative Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta issued the provisional calendar for the fourth Session of the 12th Legislative Assembly.As per the provisional calendar, starting from January 2, with the Governor’s address to Legislature, the House sittings would continue till February 4, 2017.According to the calendar discussion on motion of thanks on the Governor’s address and reply thereto will be held on January 3 and 4.The annual financial statement of expenditure for 2017-2018 and presentation of supplementary statement of expenditure for 2016-2017 will be held on January 9, 2017.The general discussion on budget will be held on January 10 and 11 ending with reply thereto.As per the calendar, the demand for grants for various departments would be taken up from January 12 to January 27 and the Appropriation Bills will be taken up on January 28.There shall be government business on January 30.Private members resolutions will be taken up on January 31 and February 2 and private members bills on February 1 and February 3.There will be government business on February 4, if any, the calendar issued read.

Islamic State, Pakistan-sponsored terrorism keep NIA on its toes

New Delhi: Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and the Islamic State trying to weave its terror network in India kept the National Investigation Agency (NIA) busy throughout 2016.

The year began with one of the most audacious terror attacks on India when four Pakistani terrorists stormed the India Air Force (IAF) base in Pathankot on 2 January and killed seven soldiers.

The NIA, formed in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, quickly sprang into action and traced links of the attack to Pakistan, blaming Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar for masterminding the strike that brought the improving New Delhi-Islamabad ties back to square-one.

Within months, the anti-terror probe agency filed a detailed charge sheet nailing Azhar and three of his accomplices for their detailed and meticulous planning of the attack.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

But the agency drew flak when the government allowed a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which included an ISI officer, from Pakistan to visit the sensitive Pathankot military base to probe the incident.

Days after it took over the Pathankot probe, the NIA laid its hands on evidence of the Islamic State trying to expand its presence in India by radicalising youth as potential terrorists.

On 22 and 23 January, over two dozen raids were conducted across the country. Eighteen Islamic State suspects were arrested. Nine more, including a foreigner, were later held in separate raids in Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The agency filed a charge sheet in June alleging that Islamic State sympathisers were seeking to establish an Islamist caliphate in India — Junoodul-Khilafa-Fil-Hind — and recruit Muslim youth to terrorism at the behest of Syria-based Shafi Armar alias Yusuf-Al-Hindi.

According to the NIA, Armar, a resident of Karnataka’s Bhatkal district and a senior Islamic State leader managing India recruitment, was in touch with the accused through social media networks.

He trained them how to prepare IEDs, identify training venues and provide logistics support for terror strikes.

However, the agency found itself in the midst of a controversy for going soft on alleged right-wing Hindu terror. On 13 May, it submitted the second and final report in the 29 September 2008, Malegaon bomb blast that killed six persons. The bombing was earlier blamed on the Abhinav Bharat group led by Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and Lt. Col. Srikant Purohit.

The Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad, which was earlier probing the bombing, had filed charges against the two main accused in the attack. The NIA took over the case in 2011. And its chargesheet this year gave a clean chit to Thakur and watered down the case against Purohit.

The agency got one of its major successes when a Bengaluru court convicted 13 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in a 2012 conspiracy to kill prominent leaders, journalists and police officers in Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Another success came when a special court awarded the death sentence to five Indian Mujahideen operatives for their role in the 21 February 21 2013, Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad, twin-blast case that claimed 18 lives.

In all, the NIA registered 33 cases in 2016. Twelve of them were related to Islamic State sympathisers, three against JeM, two of regarding counterfeit currency notes, two of Maoists and two more on terror incidents in northeastern India.

The agency also registered a case against controversial preacher and Islamic Research Foundation founder Zakir Naik on charges of misusing donations to radicalise youth.

The year also witnessed an unprecedented second extension given to NIA chief Sharad Kumar, making him the first Director General of the agency to be re-employed twice after his superannuation in 2015.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 09:21 IST

Making up for lost time? J&K Govt to update database of those affected by violence in last 30 years

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir government will be updating data base of those affected by violence over last three decades to ensure their rehabilitation, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said today, asserting her dispensation’s “moral responsibility” to reach out to every victim of violence, irrespective of its source.Mehbooba stated this here, days after her government cleared ex-gratia for kin of 17 people, including brother of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, killed in militancy- related incidents.”We heve asked for updating the data base of people affected by the violence of past almost three decades in the state so that some concrete steps for their complete integration into the social set-up are facilitated,” she said.She pitched for proper rehabilitation, social integration of violence victims in J&K and said special programmes should be thought of for the rehabilitation and integration of these poor victims into the social mainstream of the state.Chairing the 7th Governing Council meeting of J&K Rehabilitation Council here, the Chief Minister said concrete interventions are needed for the proper and complete rehabilitation of women and children, particularly in education, health and psychological spheres. Mehbooba said the government has the moral responsibility of reaching out to every single victim of violence in the state, no matter the source of it.She asked the officers to factor in the needs and requirements of these victims while framing policies and schemes for the general public. The meeting decided to further finetune the number of widows, orphans and parents of killed persons in the state so that an actual and updated number of such victims is available for their rehabilitation.It also decided that the Action plan for the Council would henceforth be finalised in March every year so that the assistance could be disbursed from April onwards.The meeting also decided to enhance the one-time marriage assistance to young widows and grown-up daughters to Rs 40,000 per case. The meeting also asked the Council to pursue the various funding patterns available in the central government for the benefit of victims of violence in the State.

As Kashmir violence threatens to start anew, new state DGP SP Vaid has his task cut out

Jammu: With local miltancy gaining ground in the Kashmir Valley, SP Vaid, a highly decorated police officer who helped tackle the recent unrest in the region, was appointed the new director general of police of Jammu and Kashmir.

He will take over from K Rajendra Kumar, whose extended tenure comes to an end on 31 December.

Stone pelting in Kashmir Valley. ReutersStone pelting in Kashmir Valley. Reuters

The Kashmir Valley witnessed violent clashes . Reuters

The task for 57-year-old Vaid, who is the current special director general (law and order), is cut out as the local youths are again taking up arms, especially after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani, whose killing by the security forces triggered the latest round of turmoil in Kashmir.

A 1986 batch IPS officer, Vaid will hold office till October 2019. “My focus will be to keep the flag of the police force flying high in the state,” he told PTI after his appointment.

He said that while the police will be tough against the perpetrators of violence and terrorists, “I will ensure that no common man is harassed. My idea is to make the police more and more people friendly,” he said.

Vaid is the second officer from Jammu to have risen to the post of director general of police, after MM Khajuria, who held the postion in 1985. However, he is the first regular IPS recruit to become the DGP from Jammu, as Khajuria had been absorbed in the IPS from the state cadre.

The state, according to intelligence reports, has more than 200 local and foreign militants with infiltration and local recruitment crossing all pervious records. The prolonged unrest following Wani’s killing also had a bearing on anti-militancy operations.

In the aftermath of Wani’s killing, law and order situation had spiralled out of control and the state government, while taking a serious note of it, shifted him from the position of DG (prisons) and made him Special DG (law and order). After taking over the charge, he camped in Kashmir and initiated various measures to make optimum use of the force so as to check rising casualties of both civilians and security forces through police-public interaction programmes in almost all districts of the Valley.

Vaid was seriously injured when militants ambushed his vehicle in March 1999 near Sopore crossing on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway. He was the then range DIG of Baramulla-Kupwara in North Kashmir.

During his career, Vaid has received several medals including President’s Police Medal for distinguished service, Indian Police Medal for gallantry, Police Medal for meritorious service, Indian Army Chief’s citation and Antrik Suraksha Seva Padak by the Home Ministry.

Rajendra, a 1984 batch IPS officer, was granted an extension for three months in September this year.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 21:53 IST

Rahul- Mamata demonetization bonhomie leaves Bengal Congress and Left clueless about future

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> With the TMC and the Congress cosying up to each other on the issue of demonetization, the political equation in Bengal has taken a new turn with the CPI(M) and the state unit of the Congress clueless about how to respond to the development.The recent bonhomie between Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has ignited a fresh debate within the state Congress leadership which is opposed to the TMC in Bengal. Bengal Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury said, “The state Congress is not a separate entity. It is a part of the AICC. In Bengal, the (pre-poll) alliance (with the Left Front) was forged under instructions from the AICC. So, now it is for them to decide what will be our political line in the state.” Chowdhury, however, added that the TMC could never be a “reliable ally” of the Congress in its fight against demonetization.”The party whose top leadership is a prime accused in the chit fund scam can never be a reliable ally of the Congress,” he said. In an indication at emerging political equations, Banerjee today extended her warm wishes and greetings to the members of the Congress on the party’s 132nd foundation day. The CPI(M), which had faced the ire of its Left Front partners and several factions of the Marxist party itself for forging a pre-poll alliance with the Congress, was left red-faced after yesterday’s joint press conference in New Delhi. The CPI(M) leaders, however, tried to put up a brave face by saying, “you should not read too much”.”There is nothing to read too much into it. Earlier, we have seen Mamata Banerjee marching to Rashtrapati Bhavan with the Shiv Sena. So, does that mean she will forge an alliance with the Shiv Sena? Political alliances are not forged on the basis of press conferences,” CPI(M) politburo member Mohammed Salim said. Asked if the Left-Congress alliance would continue in the days to come, Salim said, “I can’t comment on it.” The Left allies went hammer and tongs against the CPI(M) and said it should learn lessons and stop ignoring its time-tested allies.”This is what you get when you ignore your age-old allies for a foe-turned-friend of three months. This joint press conference of the Congress vice-president and the TMC chief is a tight slap on the face of the CPI(M) and it should take lessons from it,” RSP state secretary Kshiti Goswami said. The alliance between the Left Front and the Congress had failed to create much of an impact in this year’s Assembly polls with the TMC winning a whopping 211 seats, while the alliance managed to bag 76.

Dhulagarh riots: West Bengal town on the boil after communal violence

Dhulagarh, a town 25 kilometres west of Kolkata, has been simmering for the past fortnight, following communal clashes that saw people’s houses and shops being targetted and set on fire. A Times Now report said 65 people have been arrested, and the state administration has asked the DGP Surajit Kar Purakayastha to take prompt action against the culprits and to ensure peace.

The tension erupted on 12 December, when two groups clashed as a procession was brought out in the area last week. After the groups were not allowed to carry out the procession, the Times Now website reported, they hurled bombs at each other, and the angry mob also looted and torched people’s homes.

The next day, on 13 December, the occasion of Milad-ul-Nabi, there were further clashes in the area. A section of locals claim the clashes were unprovoked, according to a report in the DNA newspaper. Local residents claim that they had to flee with their children and elderly as soon as the mob hurled country-made bombs at their houses. Later, the mob allegedly looted the houses and fled with the money and jewellery, later also setting it on fire.

People's houses were targeted in Dhulagarh. Image courtesy: Twitter/@Leopard212People's houses were targeted in Dhulagarh. Image courtesy: Twitter/@Leopard212

People’s houses were targeted in Dhulagarh. Image courtesy: Twitter/@Leopard212

“Nothing is left. We are looted of all our belongings. They ransacked and vandalised our houses and eventually set them on fire. We could not save a single penny from our houses, only managed to save our children and ran for life,” said a local, Lakshmi Mallya.

The violence didn’t stop there, however. The next day, a Muslim mob allegedly attacked Hindu homes and shops and them ablaze, reported The Indian Express. “Policemen rushed to the spot and managed to diffuse the tension. But the next day, for almost two hours, there was a stand-off between the police and rioters from both communities. They were carrying bombs. We used tear gas shells. Finally, we had to call in reinforcements to bring the situation under control,” an officer said.

A case of rioting and breaking communal harmony was registered against members of both communities. “The situation is under control. Forces, including RAF, have been posted at Dhulagarh to maintain peace,” the newspaper quoted the officer as saying.

However, despite the heavy presence of police and armed forces in the area, things didn’t return to normalcy. A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) delegation — comprising party leaders Jagdambika Pal, Satpal Singh, state president Dilip Ghosh and national secretary Rahul Sinha, and several volunteers — was stopped at Ekabbarapur Road, about one kilometre away from the spot where the clashes had taken place a few days ago, reported The Quint.

Angered by this, the BJP delegation, along with thousand-odd supporters, blocked the road in protest. Alleging that there is no law and order in the state, Pal said the government was following “appeasement politics towards a particular community”. Ghosh alleged right-wing Muslim outfits and Simi activists have entered the area and were creating trouble. He also said BJP was not given prior any information about prohibitory orders being imposed in Dhulagarh. “We are surprised that police did not allow us to approach the people in the area to know about their plight of sufferings,” Ghosh said.

However, perhaps in an attempt to prove that they weren’t targeting one specific political party, the police also stopped a CPM delegation from entering the violence-scarred area. The CPM team comprised party general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Lok Sabha MP Mohammad Salim and MLA Sujan Chakraborty, among others, said another report in The Indian Express.

Having addressed a public rally at Dhulagarh Chaurasta (crossing) and appealed for peace, the CPM leaders tried marching to the locality where arson and clashes had occurred, but the police stopped them. “If we are not being allowed to enter even now, and there is Section 144 of CrPC imposed, it means the situation still hasn’t been brought under control,” Salim said. “Our demand is for the state government to bring normalcy immediately, and paying monetary compensation for those affected by violence.”

Under fire from various quarters, the state government imposed restrictions on the media regarding coverage of the Dhulagarh violence. According to The New Indian Express, the state government even went a step ahead and slapped a non-bailable offence against three employees of the TV channel Zee News, including editor Sudhir Chaudhary, West Bengal correspondent Pooja Mehta and cameraperson Tanmay Mukherjee under Section 153A (promoting enmity) of the Indian Penal Code. However, the Sankrail police didn’t confirm registering an FIR. “We register over 30 FIRs on a daily basis. We can’t distinguish which are related to Dhulagarh,” said a police officer at the Sankrail police station.

Chaudhary took to social networking site Facebook to call the action taken against his channel an example of the West Bengal government’s “intolerance”. “It’s another low point in our democracy to see a democratically elected govt using police force to curb media in an effort to suppress uncomfortable facts and reality. When you can’t manage media,use the state machinery to conquer the media only to conceal the failures of your administration. It shows the intolerance of a chief minister who is using the state machinery as her personal fiefdom and acting like a feudal lord,” he wrote.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 16:29 IST

Day after Modi jibe, Rawat orders probe into misappropriation of Uttarakhand disaster fund

Dehradun: Uttarakhand government on Wednesday instituted a judicial probe into the alleged misappropriation of disaster relief funds in the state after the 2013 natural calamity which claimed thousands of lives, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue to lash out at the Harish Rawat dispensation for corruption.

Announcing the probe, Rawat also took a jibe at his predecessor Vijay Bahuguna, who is now with the BJP and was at the helm when disaster relief operations were carried out in the state. He said the saffron party should have conducted an in-house inquiry into the irregularities as the “entire family of executors of the alleged scam are now with them”.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat. PTIUttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat. PTI

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat. PTI

The Prime Minister had on Tuesday said at a rally in Dehradun that he was going to drag Uttarakhand out of the “bottomless pit of corruption in which it was languishing under the present regime”.

Rawat also took strong exception to Modi’s remarks that even a scooter with a capacity of five liters of oil could drink 35 liters of it, a reference to the alleged scam in relief funds.

The chief minister said though the alleged irregularities in the distribution of relief after 2013 tragedy had already been probed by a panel constituted by the state government, a judicial probe has been ordered into it after the Prime Minister’s remarks.

“Though a probe committee headed by the then chief secretary had found no veracity in the allegations and given a
clean chit to everyone involved in the massive relief operations, now that the PM has reiterated the charge we have asked retired justice MS Chauhan of Chandigarh High Court to conduct a probe into the alleged irregularities and find out if there was any negligence on part of officials or any misappropriation of disaster relief funds,” Rawat told reporters at a press conference.

Asked why he was not recommending a CBI probe into the allegations, Rawat said he had more faith in the judiciary and it was in his hands to order a judicial probe.

“It is now a general impression all over the country that the CBI is a tool in the hands of the Centre to settle scores with political adversaries. I have therefore more faith in our judicial institutions. Moreover ordering a judicial probe was in my hands whereas I would have had to look to central authorities for a CBI probe,” he said.

Rawat said calamities strike all of a sudden and quick decisions have to be taken to deal with the situation,
sometimes even at the cost of relaxing the rules and norms.

“However, we are ready for a judicial probe into any negligence on part of officials or misuse of funds,”  he said.

The chief minister also accused the BJP of trying to grab credit for the all-weather Chardham roads project inaugurated by the Prime Minister in Dehradun on Tuesday, saying the state government was very much part of the process of its launch.

“It is not BJP’s brainchild as the party is trying to make it appear. We had conceived the project and consistently worked towards its early launch,” he said.

However, he said he welcomed the launch of the project as the state stood to benefit from it in a big way “provided it is implemented in the manner promised”.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 16:15 IST

Tripura TMC launches movement to ‘restore democracy by ousting Left Front Government’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Tripura Trinamool Congress (TMC) has declared agitation against the ruling Left Front on various issues including investigation against chit funds, duped depositors, involvement of elected members including minister of the state in crime against women, unemployment, state government employees deprived from the Seventh Pay Commission and few other issues. President of the newly formed Tripura unit of the party, Asish Saha told the media that the Trinamool Congress announced that it would launch a continuous movement in the state to “restore democracy” by ousting the Left Front Government in the assembly elections scheduled for 2018.”In this state, 142 chit funds were active and the party in power had made all arrangements and provided them license to do business. The Chief Minister of the state along with various ministers, ruling CPI(M) party MLAs and leaders attended programmes organised by different chit funds which were active in this state and thus encouraged people to deposit money and brought credibility for these chit funds, which duped around 14 lack depositors of the state. Moreover, due to wrong decision of the cabinet these chit funds could flee from the state leading to economic breakdown but the state government did not take any step against them,” said Saha.”The people of the state faced huge monetary loss and there was a repeated demand to take measure against these chit funds but the government did not do anything so that those were duped could get back their money. So very soon the Trinamool Congress will organise state wide protest on behalf of all depositors who had lost their money to these chit funds,” he added.Saha alleged that neither the state nor the Central Government is serious in taking step against the chit fund or the corruption in various block offices by siphoning of fund from central schemes and so the TMC will organise protest against all these. “We have noticed that in all our neighbouring states investigations are taking place against the chit funds by the CBI, ED and the union government is also giving importance to the loss of the depositors in those states. But in our state, despite our repeated demand the centre or the state government is not declaring any investigation. Here the party in power had siphoned depositor’s money in connivance with the chit funds and so no steps are being taken against them. So on coming January 19 we shall organise rally for pressing various demands including investigation against the chit funds,” he said.He also alleged that the state is among those in crime against women and no legal step is taken against those who are involved in such crimes as they are leaders and elected members of the Left Front. Saha said, “Besides protesting against corruption, we shall also protest against the crime against women in the state. We shall also fight for the unemployed youths, the government employees who are deprived by the state government from their 7th Pay Commission scale. For these demands we shall also go for six hours state wide agitation on coming January 19.”He claimed that only TMC can oust the corrupt Marxist government from power like Mamata Banerjee ousted the Marxist government from power in West Bengal. The TMC has formed a 74-member Tripura Pradesh unit with Saha as its president.

2016: Pathankot, Kashmir unrest, president rule in Uttarakhand, Arunachal kept home ministry busy

New Delhi: Cross-border firing incidents, crackdown on “erring” NGOs and activities of Pakistan-based terror groups kept the Home Ministry busy in 2016 which saw the audacious attack on Pathankot airbase. Imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and subsequent revocation by the Supreme Court in both the states, over 120 days of unrest in Jammu and Kashmir following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani were some other issues that the ministry had to deal with.

The year saw prolonged tension along the India-Pakistan border due to fierce firing from Pakistani forces on Indian security posts and civilian areas forcing Home Minister Rajnath Singh to tell BSF not to count bullets if fired upon by Pakistan and give a “befitting” reply. Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists carried out the strike at the Pathankot airbase, killing seven personnel and injuring 37 others. In its charge sheet, the NIA said JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother and two others hatched the conspiracy.

The terror case saw an unusual move from India and Pakistan as Islamabad sent its probe team to Pathankot. However, the Pakistani team, upon its return, claimed India did not cooperate with them. Islamabad reciprocated by refusing to allow an Indian investigating team to visit Pakistan in connection with the Pathankot attack probe.

Union Home MInister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Union Home MInister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Not taking it lightly, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, during his visit to Pakistan for a Saarc meeting, delivered a blunt message to Islamabad asking it to stop encouraging terror groups and “glorification” of terrorists and also called for “strongest action” against nations supporting terrorism and their isolation.

The Home Ministry was also engaged in the fire-fight to control the unrest in Kashmir Valley arising after the killing of Wani on 8 July. For next four months, Kashmir Valley saw large-scale protests against Wani’s killing, complete shutdown of educational institutions, market and offices, thus badly affecting normal life.

The home minister himself led two all-party delegations and met cross sections of people, in an effort to bring peace in the restive Kashmir Valley. The Home Ministry, on behalf of the central government, was busy with handling the situation following imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

However, the central rule in both the states was set aside by the Supreme Court, leading to the Home Ministry receiving flak from various quarters.

The year also saw massive crackdown on NGOs, including on Greenpeace India, Islamic Research Foundation, founded by controversial preacher Zakir Naik, activist Teesta Setalvad’s two NGOs and one run by noted lawyer Indira Jaising, by the Ministry for their alleged violation of various provisions of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

Notwithstanding the crackdown on NGOs, a total of Rs 1,452 crore foreign funds was received by various voluntary organisations during 2014-15. As many as 11,319 NGOs were derecognised by the Home Ministry in October after they failed to renew their registration under the FCRA.

In addition, the Centre also denied renewal of FCRA registration to 25 NGOs after they were allegedly found to be involved in anti-national activities. Later, during a review of the Foreigners Division of the Home Ministry, it was conveyed to Singh that licences of around 20,000 of 33,000 NGOs were cancelled by the government after they were found to be allegedly violating various provisions of the FCRA, thus barring them from receiving foreign funds.

Situation in northeastern states was by-and-large peaceful except in Manipur where blockade on two national highways by a Naga group against creation of seven new districts disrupted normal life, and led to rise in prices of essential commodities and violence in some parts of the state.

Violence perpetrated by Naxals were contained considerably and there were fewer incidents in some of the worst-hit areas of the 10 states affected by the menace. There were some incidents of online radicalisation by dreaded terror group Islamic State and reports of some youths desiring to join its network.

The Home Ministry feels that though Islamic State has not taken roots in India, it is influencing youths through Internet and social media. According to an estimate prepared by the intelligence agencies, at least 30 Indians have gone to Islamic State-held areas in Iraq-Syria to fight for the terrorist group after they were radicalised online, forcing security forces to keep a close eye on social media outlets and some radical websites.

At least six of them were killed in the conflict zone and 30 other Indians, who were radicalised by Islamic State elements, were prevented from travelling to West Asia.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 12:07 IST

Bihar government gives nod to 50% quota in judicial services

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bihar government on Tuesday gave its nod for implementation of 50% reservation in both subordinate and superior judicial services in the state.This means that 50 per cent quota would be implemented in appointment of both services conducted by the Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) to fill the posts of Judicial Magistrates and Munsif Magistrates and appointments conducted by the Patna High Court to fill the posts of Additional District and Sessions Judges.”In the light of the judgement delivered by the Supreme Court on September 29 in the State of Bihar vs Dayanand Singh, the cabinet today gave its nod for implementation of 50 per cent of quota for direct appointment in both subordinate judicial services and superior judicial services after having due consultation with the Patna High Court and BPSC,” General Administration Department Principal Secretary Dharmendra Singh Gangwar told reporters here.Gangwar, who was accompanied by Cabinet Secretariat Department Principal Secretary Brajesh Mehrotra, said at present there was 27% reservation in the appointment of subordinate judicial services.But, with today’s decision, 50 per cent posts would be filled through reservation in both services with 21 per cent posts reserved for Extremely Backward Class (EBC), 12 per cent for Backward Class, 16 per cent for Scheduled Castes (SC) and one per cent for Scheduled Tribe (ST).Of the 27% reservation currently followed in the subordinate judicial services, EBC was getting 10 per cent, and SC and ST were getting 16 and one per cent respectively, he said.Gangwar said the cabinet decided to implement horizontal reservation in both services, where 35% reservation would be given to women in each category, besides one per cent post would be reserved for ortho-physically differently-abled persons.The BPSC had on August 13 conducted preliminary tests to fill the posts of 29th Bihar Judicial Services (Lower Division and Senior Division).

Islamic State confirms Kalyan boy Aman Tandel’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Islamic State has confirmed the death of Kalyan boy Aman Tandel who had joined the ranks of the terrorist organisation in Syria. The IS released a martyr tribute in the name of Abu Umar al Hindi’ — Tandel’s Arabic name — alongside his photograph on its official media channel Khilafah news on Tuesday.Last month Tandel’s family in the Mumbai suburb of Kalyan received an anonymous call about his death. There was no confirmation on the same by the Indian security agencies or the government.IS releases details of death of its foreign recruits and hails them as `martyrs’. Its release on Tandel said he died in Raqqa — the centre of Caliphate declared by IS in Syria.In a propaganda video released by IS earlier this year, Tandel along with other Indian recruits and friend Fahad Sheikh vowed to take revenge against atrocities unleashed against Muslims in India. Tandel along with three other youth from Kalyan fled to Iraq in the guise of conducting pilgrimage and joined the IS in May 2014.Among them, Areeb Majeed returned last year following a six month stint with the terror group. He is currently facing trial and is confined in Arthur road prison. Saheem Tanki was announced dead. Sheikh is the only member of the group alive and fighting with the IS in Syria now.

Uttarakhand: PM Modi lays foundation stone of Chardham project

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday laid the foundation stone of an ambitious project for all-weather roads to ‘Chardham’ saying he wanted to drive Uttarakhand to new peaks of development so that lack of job opportunities does not force its youths to leave the state.”There is an old saying in the hills of Uttrarakhand which means the waterbodies and youths of the mountains are not able to serve the land where they originate. “I have decided to prove this wrong. “I want to take Uttarakhand to new peaks of development where people are not forced by circumstances to leave their homes in the Himalayas and spend their lives in the dirty streets of cities in search of work,” Modi told a ‘Parivartan Maharally’ at the Parade Ground here after the foundation laying ceremony.The 900-km Chardham Highway Development programme will entail an investment of Rs 12,000 crore. The project will ensure uninterrupted all-weather safe journey for pilgrims to the four Himalayan shrines- Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri and Kedarnath, which bore the brunt of the 2013 natural calamity. Promising people that he was going to drag Uttarakhand out of the “bottomless pit of corruption in which it was languishing under the present regime”, the PM said the state needs a double-engine, one at the Centre and the other in the state capital to pull it out of its woes.Making a reference to the alleged scam in relief funds in Uttarakhand, he said even a scooter with a capacity of five liters of oil could drink 35 liters of it. “Five or 50 people cannot drag Uttarakhand out of the bottomless pit of corruption it is in. “It needs a double engine of the BJP for the huge effort, one in Delhi and the other in Dehradun,” he said, asking them to install a BJP government in the state after 2017 elections and give the party an opportunity to build an Uttarakhand envisioned by Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had created it.Terming the project as a tribute to the thousands of devotees from all over India, who perished in the 2013 natural disaster in Uttarakhand, Modi said the all-weather roads will not only generate new employment opportunities for the youths in the hills but also enhance the sense of security of people coming to visit the chardham. Modi said it will give a boost to tourism by removing all fear from the minds of visitors bound for the Himalayan shrines about their safety along the disaster prone route in all sorts of weather.He said the project has been conceived with the help of international consultants so that there is no disruption along the route in any season.Explaining the delay in launching the project, Modi said he wanted to do something real for the development of the state and was not interested in doing politics or putting up a false show in the name of inaugurating development projects as was being done by some political parties.He said a lot of preparation and study in consultation with international experts has gone into working out the blueprint of the all-weather road project to the four famous Himalayan shrines located in the state. The Prime Minister highlighted the steps taken by his government to provide free LPG connections to poor BPL households and helping women lead a healthy smoke-free life in the remote hill areas of the state. He also spoke of what he had done for the implementation of OROP and his campaign against corruption and black money and sought the blessings of the people of the state in his fight against graft.

Karnataka quota row: High time to think about reservation in private sector, says Siddaramaiah

Bengaluru: Days after his government unveiled plans to introduce 100 per cent local quota for blue-collar jobs, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday said it is high time to think about reservation in private sector and it should be achieved through debate and dialogue.

“It is high time to think about reservation in private sector. It should be achieved through debate and dialogue,” he said at the Ninth National Conference of the Indian Association of Lawyers Bengaluru.

The Siddaramaiah government has kicked up a row inviting criticism from various sections of society over its plans to give 100 per cent reservation for Kannadigas in all private sector industries, barring IT and biotechnology firms, which avail concessions under the state industrial policy.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. PTI

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. PTI

Several industry captains have pointed out that introducing reservations could create hurdles in growth due to dearth in skilled labour and hurt chances of attracting investments in the state.

The draft amendments to the Karnataka Industrial Employment (Standing orders) Rules, 1961, providing for 100 percent “horizontal reservation” for Kannadigas has recently been thrown open to the public for objections or suggestions.

Siddaramaiah also said the need of the hour was to provide education, secure employment, housing and health facilities for the oppressed and underprivileged classes, without any further loss of time.

“Our government has realised the same and taken various positive steps in this direction,” he added.

Siddaramaiah said his government took the decision to conduct door-to-door social and educational survey of people of the state in January 2014.

“The same is executed by the State Commission for Backward Classes. The data is awaited from the Commission. This exercise is the first of its kind since 1931,” he said.

He said the idea behind the survey was to collect the current demographic data and various aspects relating to living conditions of people and accordingly configure developmental policies and programmes to achieve an egalitarian society through socio-economic justice.

“On several occasions judicial pronouncements by our respected judiciary also pointed out the need for collection of updated empirical data by conducting survey of the entire populace to decide whether the reservations in favour of OBC groups are proportionate or not,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 17:02 IST

J-K | Give peace a chance, imperative for dialogue & development: CM Mehbooba Mufti

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asking people of Jammu and Kashmir to “give peace a chance”, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has said it was imperative for dialogue and development and would have a “soothing impact” on India-Pakistan relations.”For achieving the objective of development and dialogue, a congenial atmosphere of peace and tranquility needs to be created. I seek people’s cooperation in creating an environment conducive for development and dialogue,” Mehbooba said while interacting with people after kick-starting various developmental projects in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district yesterday.”The chief minister said her government would work on the twin objectives of development and dialogue and asked the people of the state “to give peace a chance”. The people of J-K have a huge responsibility to ensure a congenial and peaceful atmosphere in the state so that it has a soothing impact on the relations between the two neighbouring countries (India and Pakistan) which ultimately can pave the way for getting the state out of its difficulties,” Mehbooba said.She regretted that every section of society suffered losses during the turmoil of past few months which also delayed the completion of many developmental projects in the state.The Chief Minister said the government has planned a major developmental programme for the state and asked the people to extend their cooperation for its successful implementation.Addressing the students after inaugurating the new building of the Government Women’s College, Pulwama, the Chief Minister said empowerment of women is key to development of the state.She asked the girls to focus on education as it has the potential to bring about the desired social change. Mehbooba said women hold an important place in society and their empowerment would signal a positive turnaround. She asked the students to attain different skills “so that they are not only educated but empowered as well”.

Manipur govt extends suspension of mobile data for another week

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the Centre has deployed additional 4,000 paramilitary forces in Manipur in a bid to reopen National Highway-2, the state government on Tuesday extended the suspension of mobile data services for another week.The United Naga Council has imposed the economic blockade on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH 37 (Imphal-Jiribam) that serve as lifelines for the state.Curfew has been imposed in Imphal East district for the last fortnight after a mob torched and vandalised 22 passenger vehicles on the Imphal-Ukhrul road, while curfew in Imphal West district was imposed from evening to dawn.The Centre last week came down heavily on Manipur Government for failing to resolve the economic blockade on the National Highway-2, which has throttled the supply of essential goods.In a scathing letter to Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the state government had taken no steps to ensure that the NH-2 is kept open or at least movement of convoy is made, despite MHA officials being in constant touch with state officials.”For the sake of people of Manipur, I call upon you to discharge these constitutional obligations with utmost promptness, while reiterating Government of India’s commitment to support your forces in keeping NH-2 open,” the letter read.Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who visited Congress-ruled Manipur last week as a central emissary, said it is completely unacceptable to have such kinds of blockades in which thousands are suffering and both the Central and Manipur Governments will work together to end it.Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) General Secretary Ram Madhav yesterday alleged that the Congress Government in Manipur was not clearing the economic blockade in the state for political benefits, adding that the Manipur Chief Minister should have cleared the blockade.”The Manipur Chief Minister is playing games with lives of people of the valley. The government of India from day one asked him to avail all required support from Centre,” Madhav said.

Removed after IT raids, Rama Mohana Rao says, I am Chief Secy of Tamil Nadu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu’s top bureaucrat P. Rama Mohana Rao who was removed after tax raids at his home and office on Tuesday, said that he is still the Chief Secretary of the state, and claimed that his life was in danger.Speaking to the media, Rama Mohana Rao said, “I will hand over to you the panchanama of what income tax department has found in my house. I was under house arrest. It is an unconstitutional assault on the office of Chief Secretary. I am still the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu.”After the raids, senior IAS officer Girija Vaidyanathan was appointed as the Chief Secretary of the state on Thursday (December 22), replacing Rao.Stating that when the CRPF entered his house, his name was not there in the search warrant, he added, “The search warrant had name of my son. They have found nothing, no incriminate documents were found, no secret chamber.””At gun point, CRPF entered my house, my son’s house. Why did they do? I may be a big hurdle for many. I am being targeted. I have fear, my life is in danger,” he said.Rama Mohana Rao also said that they (government) had no guts to serve him with the copy of transfer order.Questioning where the state government was and who gave the CRPF the go-ahead to enter his house, he asked, “If madam (Jayalalithaa) had been alive, would this happen to Tamil Nadu? What about people’s security?”

Punjab to form elite force of 250 police personnel

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

‘National Herald’ case: Subramanian Swamy loses battle for documents in court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A trial court on Monday dismissed BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s request for documents claiming it to be “nothing but a fishing enquiry which is not permitted under the law.” Metropolitan Magistrate Loveleen dismissed the application a year after Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi were summoned to court in the National Herald case.The court added that by seeking the financial documents Swamy seemed to “enlarge the scope of the present proceedings.”The court observed that documents sought from the Income Tax department were not relevant to the proceedings and hence could not be ordered to be summoned. With respect to the documents sought from the Congress party—at least 10 types of documents, the court rejected the claim observing that Swamy had not yet submitted his list of witnesses in the case whom the BJP leader proposed to examine in the pre-charge stage.While requesting for documents Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), primarily to check the legality or otherwise of the loan taken from the Congress Party and to check whether the AJL was complying with the provisions of the Companies Act at the relevant time, Swamy used the terms ‘verify’, ‘see’, ‘investigate’. The court observed, that by using these terms, Swamy himself was “not aware of the contents of the said documents.”The court however, allowed Swamy a last opportunity to submit the list of his witnesses in this case and fixed the matter for February 10 to hear arguments on framing of the charges.In a complaint filed by Swamy, the BJP leader has alleged that Sonia, Rahul and others conspired to cheat and misappropriate funds. Swamy accused the Gandhis of misappropriating Congress party funds by paying Rs 50 lakh through which Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YIPL) obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore from Associate Journal Private Limited (AJPL). This, Swamy felt was fraudulent not only to the party donors but also to the State Exchequer by claiming tax exemptions.The defence led by senior advocates RS Cheema, and Rebecca John along with Ramesh Gupta among others argued that the complainant is under an obligation to file a list of witnesses and examine them before seeking documents. The defence further submitted that Swamy was trying to collect and prepare an archive of documents through the present application. The application was omnibus in nature and the documents sought to be summoned were neither relevant nor necessary.

Centre wants states to nominate more women, SC, STs for central deputation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre has asked state governments to nominate more women and SC and ST officers for central deputation under the Central Staffing Scheme for 2017 with an aim to provide them adequate representation. In a letter to chief secretaries of the states, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has said movement of officers from states to the Centre and back is crucial for building capabilities at the state-level and contributing towards developing national perspectives at the decision- making levels in the government.”It would, therefore, be appropriate if a conscious attempt is made to forward the names of officers for deputation under the Government of India in such a manner that every eligible officer has an opportunity to serve at the Centre at least once at the middle management level,” it said.It further stated that there was a general shortage of IAS officers at Deputy Secretary or Director level and the state may like to recommend a sufficiently large number of officers for appointment to posts at these positions at the Centre at least in proportion to actual strength so as to share the shortage appropriately between the Centre and the states.Asking the state governments to pay particular attention while recommending the names of officers under the Central Staffing Scheme (CSS), the DoPT said, “Sufficient names of women, SC and ST officers may be sponsored so that adequate representation can be provided to them on posts under the CSS.” It asked the state governments to ensure that an officer once placed on the offer list for central deputation continues to be available for consideration throughout the year.It said that very often the Cadre Controlling Authorities CCAs withdraw the names of officers at later stage which results in undue delay in placement of officers. An officer being nominated should be willing to serve anywhere in India and his preference, if any, be explicitly indicated. The names of officers, who have been debarred from being taken on central deputation, should not be considered and those whose names have been offered should have completed the necessary “cooling off”. The names has to be sent by January 31, 2017.

Manipur: BJP slams CM Okram Ibobi Singh, Centre rushes 4000 paramiltary personnel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ram Madhav, the National General Secretary of the BJP hit out at Manipur CM Okram Ibobi Singh over the blockade in Manipur by the United Naga Council. He was quoted by ANI: “Manipur CM was asked to take help from forces & clear blockade, but blockade apparently politically suited him, so didn’t do needful. Manipur CM playing games with lives of people of Valley, Govt of India from day one asked him to avail all required support from Centre.”Earlier, the BJP appealed the United Naga Council (UNC) to immediately withdraw the ongoing economic blockade on the highways of Manipur. BJP spokesperson N Biren appealed the UNC to withdraw the blockade which entered its 56th day today and sought “another forum” to achieve its demands.Biren was speaking to the reporters on his return from Delhi, where an eight-member BJP delegation met top central leaders including Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the issue. Biren said, “The ruling Congress government is answerable to the people of the state for the hardship faced by them”.He questioned whether it has made any formal effort at the Centre regarding the presence of NSCN(IM) camps in the Manipur, the number of its cadre present in the state.He also sought to know whether there have been any effort to demolish the NSCN(IM)’s designated camps in the state as the ceasefire agreement between NSCN(IM) and the Centre does not cover Manipur. Biren also asked whether the state government has made any move to identify the perpetrators of the twin ambush on Manipur police at Lokchao and Bongyang in Tengnoupal district which claimed the lives of three policemen earlier this month. If there has been any such move, BJP demanded that the documents be made public. He also said the BJP was for a neutral CBI or NIA inquiry into the attacks on Manipur police. Later, lone BJP MLA Bishwajit said BJP’s philosophy is nation first, party second and self last. Centre rushes 4000 paramilitary personnel to Manipur The Centre has rushed additional 4,000 paramilitary personnel to Manipur in its efforts to reopen a national highway which has blocked for nearly two months by a Naga group.With this, the total number of central security personnel deployed in the sensitive northeastern state for assisting the local administration for maintaining law and order has gone up to 17,500.”Our top priority is now to reopen the National Highway-2 connecting Manipur (to Nagaland). While the other highway (NH-37) is reopened, we want to reopen the NH-2 too as early as possible,” a senior Home Ministry official said.The security personnel were sent to the northeastern state keeping in view the security situation in the wake of violence following the economic blockade imposed by the Union Naga Council (UNC) on the National Highways since November 1.The UNC has imposed the economic blockade on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH 37 (Imphal-Jiribam) that serve as lifelines for the landlocked Manipur.Curfew has been clamped in Imphal East district for the last fortnight after a mob torched and vandalised 22 passenger vehicles on the Imphal-Ukhrul road, while curfew in Imphal West district was imposed from evening to dawn.In a stern message, the Centre had on Friday told the Manipur government that it can’t escape responsibility for the “humanitarian crisis” arising out of the 52-day economic blockade by a Naga group and must work to end it, while making it clear that nobody will be allowed to take political advantage out of it.Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who was on a day-long visit to Congress-ruled Manipur as a central emissary, said it is completely unacceptable to have such kinds of blockades in which thousands are suffering and both the central and Manipur governments will work together to end it.”The state government has not been able to end the blockade. It must end as soon as possible as law and order is the responsibility of the state government. Nobody will be allowed to take political advantage out of a humanitarian crisis where common people are suffering,” he had said.

Suresh Prabhu promises WiFi in 200 stations in the coming year

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As part of its programme to upgrade facilities for rail users, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday that 200 more stations and some additional trains would be provided with Wi-Fi in 2017. Dedicating six Wi-Fi facilities to rail users at Kannur, Ernakulam and Kollam at a function here, he said 100 stations had been fitted with Wi-Fi this year and the target was to double this number in 2017. “More trains will also would be provided with Wi-Fi next year,” he said. “The objective is to have Wi-Fi facility in all railway stations in small cities and towns,” he said.The Minister said steps were also on to construct escalators in stations, he said. Welcoming the Kerala government’s decision to sign a Joint Venture with Railways for development projects in the state, he said that as partners, the railways would be developed in the state. “The Centre and state will have equity in the venture and funds for the projects will be raised through market borrowings with the consent of the state government,” he said.The resources spent under the JV would be in addition to funds earmarked in the Railway budget, he added. Stating that investment in railway infrastructure can bring development to its optimum level in Kerala, Prabhu said he had asked some banks to prepare a business plan for the state.Prabhu admitted that there was a lack of railway investment in Kerala and said the NDA government’s move was to reverse that trend. Referring to remittances to the state from Non-Resident Keralites, he said even they could invest in railway projects. “They can develop a railway station”, he said, adding that the key objective was to join hands for development. The Railways was also looking out for resources other than its normal revenue. They were also looking into the possibility of converting its hospitals as medical college hospitals, he said.Chief Minister Pinrayi Vijayan and G Sudhakaran, PWD Minister and in charge of Railways were among those present.

Jammu and Kashmir: Identity certificates for Pakistani refugees cause communal rift

The decision of the Jammu and Kashmir state government to issue identity certificates to thousands of refugees from Pakistan (who are settled in Jammu and Kashmir since Partition in 1947) to help them get jobs in Central government departments has divided the state on communal lines.

While the Hurriyat Conference in Kashmir has objected to the move, which is seen by it as a ploy to settle down non-state subjects in Jammu and Kashmir to tilt the vote in favour of India on the event of any referendum on Kashmir, the National Conference has accused the PDP-BJP government of undermining the state subject laws. However, even as the PDP has chosen to stay away from the controversy stating that identity certificates will not confer state subject rights on West Pakistani refugees, BJP has demanded that refugees need to be given the rights to enable them to get jobs in the state.

File image of Mehbooba Mufti and Rajnath Singh. PTI

File image of Mehbooba Mufti and Rajnath Singh. PTI

Both the PDP and NC are trying to protect their respective votebanks in Kashmir, which remains a predominantly Muslim area, while the BJP is seeking to secure the large Hindu vote from the Jammu region. As per government figures, there are around 5,764 families who migrated from the then West Pakistan and are now living mainly in the Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts of Jammu division. The West Pakistan Refugee Action Committee (WPRAC) has said that the number has now soared to 19,960 families comprising of near one lakh people, mostly Hindus and Sikhs. It was during the partition of Punjab in 1947 that Hindus and Sikhs fled Pakistan, and Muslims went from India to Pakistan.

The issue of granting any state subject rights to West Pakistani refugees has, however, not only divided the state on regional and religious lines, but has the potential to spur the ongoing unrest in Kashmir. Although the separatists have provided a relaxation to the shutdown for five days a week, they lodged protests against the government’s decision to issue identity certificates to refugees and a recent decision of the Supreme Court to extend the SARFESI Act to the state. Some legal experts have argued that the extension of the SARFESI Act to the state will enable external banks to take the ownership of the properties of local people in lieu of their due loans, which will violate the state subject laws.

On the move towards conferring state subject rights to West Pakistani refugees, separatists have termed it as against the interests of Kashmiri Muslims. “By settling refugees in Jammu and Kashmir, the historical and political reality of the Jammu and Kashmir will get jeopardised,” the statement said. The NC has toed a somewhat similar line stating that the PDP-BJP coalition “is working against the interest of majority Muslims”.

The National Panthers Party that corners a sizable amount of support in the Jammu region, has however accused the BJP of succumbing to the “pressure of separatist forces of Kashmir”. The Panther Party’s leader Harsh Dev Singh said that the “refugees of West Pakistan who had taken shelter in Jammu and Kashmir have been left in the lurch for the last 70 years or so”. He added, “The refugees are living in plight as they have not been granted PRCs, employment and other benefits.”

However, even as PDP leader and minister for education Naeem Akhtar has clarified that “an orchestrated and misleading campaign has been launched to create an impression that the government is changing the status of West Pakistani Refugees and they are being provided domicile certificates”, BJP leaders said that they are committed to providing the state subject rights to refugees. Senior BJP leader and party MLA from Samba, Devindar Manyal, in whose constituency a large number of West Pakistani Refugees live, said that the party was committed to safeguarding the rights of the people.

File image of Omar Abdullah. PTI

File image of Omar Abdullah. PTI

“We are in favour of granting refugees ownership rights. The BJP government both at the state and the Centre is committed to providing them the rights. We are in favour of giving them permanent resident certificates (PRCs),” said Manyal. Meanwhile, senior BJP leader and minister of state for relief and rehabilitation Ajay Nanda said that West Pakistani Refugees should have been granted state subject rights. “They have been settled in Jammu and Kashmir for a long time, but can’t get government jobs or vote in the Assembly elections, which is discriminatory,” he said.

President of the WPRAC, Labha Ram Gandhi, said that they had earlier brought to the notice of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh the fact that they are not getting state subject rights that deprive them of state government jobs. “An unnecessary controversy has been created over issuing identity certificates to us. These certificates only mention that we have come from Pakistan after 1947 and these have been issued for the past four months. These certificates are necessary for us to get government jobs,” said Gandhi.

However, even as the Ministry of Home Affairs had earlier directed that the voter ID cards that are used by the West Pakistani Refugees to cast the ballot in the parliamentary elections should be used as proof of identity for Central jobs, the state government has stoked a fresh controversy by issuing new identity cards to refugees for getting jobs in Central government departments, especially the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 13:44 IST

Punjab’s first bioethanol plant set up in Bathinda

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

DNA Morning Must Reads: Hyderabad men’s allegiance to ISIS; PM pushes cashless economy; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Hyderabad men’s pledge shows close knowledge of Islamic State groupBayah known as the pledge of allegiance is a crucial evidence to prove accused were members of the dreaded terrorist organisation. Read more.2. PM Modi reiterates govt’s move to push cashless economy, unveiled two schemesLucky Grahak Yojana, Digi Dhan Vyapaar Yojana to benefit 15,000 people over next 100 days for making cashless payments. Read more.3. Mumbai: Two students abduct, murder 3-year-old girl for Rs 1 cr ransomAccused used chloroform on the victim, later strangulated her; For 20 days her body lay concealed in an adjacent building. Read more.4. Traffickers get life in prison in India for torturing & chopping off labourers’ handsEight human traffickers were found guilty and they have been awarded life prison sentences and hefty fines. Read more.5. British singer George Michael dies aged 53British pop singer George Michael no more. Read more.

Bengal turns communal tinderbox, thanks to CM Mamata Banerjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal is slowly, but steadily, heading back to its gory past when Hindus and Muslims were at daggers drawn and communal clashes and riots were frequent.Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee’s blatant minority appeasement is not only causing acute heartburn among Hindus, but has also emboldened attacks against them at many places. These have been mostly unprovoked with the motive of driving away Hindus from their hearth and homes.Her administration has been playing the role of a passive onlooker and the state police have been venturing into riot-torn areas only after the damage is done.In the latest such riot that broke out in a village at Howrah’s Dhulagarh area last week, according to reports, a procession complete with loudspeakers blaring Hindi film music was taken out on 13 December to celebrate Eid-e-Milad (the birthday of Prophet Mohammed), which fell on 12 December, a public holiday. On 13 December, Hindus at Dhulagarh village were observing Margashirsha Purnima.Hindus requested that the volume be lowered since the music was interfering with some rituals. This incensed a section of those in the procession and they started attacking Hindu homes and shops. According to local people, the attackers were non-locals. Hindu houses and shops were looted and then set ablaze while, as the Zee News report says, police who reached the village were attacked by bombs and prevented from stopping the rioters.Locals and leaders of Hindu Samhati (a Hindu social organisation) claim the attack on Hindus at Dhulagarh, like many others are increasing with regularity all over Bengal and were pre-planned. “Why would people participating in a procession to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet carry sticks, choppers and other lethal weapons as well as bottles filled with acid (which they hurled at shops), kerosene and diesel (which were used to set Hindu houses and shops ablaze after they were looted) and country-made bombs (that were hurled at the police)? Why was the procession taken out a day after Eid-e-Milad? And why were non-locals in the procession?” asked Hindu Samhati leader Prashanta Sen.In October this year, communal riots broke out in 12 places all over the state over Durga Puja immersions and Muharram tazia processions. The seed was sown by Banerjee when she banned immersion of idols of Goddess Durga on Dashami on the ground that the immersion processions would coincide with Muharram processions. She wanted immersions to take place before 4 pm on the day of Dashami or two days after that.The Calcutta High Court came down heavily on this and said: “There has been a clear endeavour on the part of the state government to pamper and appease the minority section of the public at the cost of the majority section without there being any plausible justification… the state government has been irresponsibly brazen in its conduct of being partial to one community, thereby infringing on the fundamental rights of people worshipping Ma Durga.” The High Court also warned the state that it would be dangerous to mix politics with religion.But by the time the Calcutta High Court delivered its stinging criticism, the damage had already been done. The state government’s restrictions ignited anger among the Hindus of the state and triggered tension between the two communities. This ignited into full-scale riots when those in the Muharram processions attacked the Durga immersion processions.“At all the places, the immersion processions or Durga Puja mandaps were attacked by those taking part in the Muharram processions. And there seemed to be a clear intention to create trouble. Some mischief makers burst a firecracker in the midst of a Muharram procession at Malda and shouted that the procession had been attacked with bombs. In no time, swords, daggers, choppers and lathis came out and Hindu homes, shops and temples were attacked. It was pre-planned,” a state home department officer who did not want to be named said.Hindus were angry because of unreasonable restrictions on Durga Puja immersions, and also over other such anti-Hindu and pro-minority actions of the government. For four years, her government has been denying permission to 300 Hindu families of a village in the state’s Birbhum district to organise a Durga Puja because 25 families would be offended.In 2012, she started giving monthly stipends of Rs 2,500 and Rs 1,000 to imams and muezzins of the 32,000-odd mosques in the state. This is perceived as blatant minority appeasement. She has also allowed hardline Muslim organisations a free hand. The hanging of 1971 war criminals in Bangladesh triggered massive protests in Kolkata and rallies calling for Bangladesh premier Sheikh Hasina’s death.Last month, a massive rally that brought Kolkata to a halt demanded a steep hike in the stipends to the imams and muezzins to Rs 20,000 and Rs 10,000 per month respectively. A few months ago, another massive protest rally against preacher Zakir Naik brought the city to its knees. Another against the Uniform Civil Code (the biggest such in the country till date) was held last month in Kolkata. Kolkata is emerging as the hub of hardline Muslim activism.West Bengal has also become a safe haven for Islamists hounded out of Bangladesh. “Hundreds of Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and activists accused of heinous crimes like killings of secularists and bloggers have taken shelter in West Bengal. The Mamata Banerjee administration has turned a blind eye to their presence. The Khagragarh blast was an eye-opener. Many such Bangladeshi criminals and terrorists sheltered in West Bengal have been planning attacks on targets in Bangladesh,” said a Central Intelligence Officer.The fallout is steady Hindu-Muslim polarisation. “This polarisation has been triggered by what Hindus perceive is the blatant appeasement of minorities… anger has reached tipping point,” warns sociologist Dibyajyoti Goswami.West Bengal is no stranger to communal riots: more than 5,000 were killed and tens of thousands displaced in the Calcutta riots of 1946. The 1964 riots were a reaction to the pogrom against Hindus in erstwhile East Pakistan, the 1992 riots, the 2013 riots in Canning, and many more.Whatever be the failing of the erstwhile Left Front government, the lid was kept firmly on communal tensions.This article is reprinted with permission from Swarajya magazine.

Mehbooba Mufti hopes to turn Kashmir into a world-class tourism destination

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing tourism as the best mean to promote people-to-people engagement, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said her government was making efforts to create a world-class tourist infrastructure.”Tourism promotes people-to-people contact and tourists become goodwill ambassadors of a place. Like the maxim ‘seeing is believing’, a tourist can testify the veracity of the claim about a place only after visiting it,” she said.She dismissed the notion that the state was unsafe for tourists in the aftermath of months-long unrest in the Valley. “Jammu and Kashmir is as safe for tourists, particularly women, as any other place in the country,” she said here at an meeting with a delegation of tour operators from across India.Mehbooba said her government plans to create a world-class tourism infrastructure in the state.”Road connectivity to tourist destinations, bed capacity at tourist spots, wayside facilities etc are being improved and upgraded to address the requirements of every segment of tourists. Theme-based parks and places are being added to provide variety of attraction to tourists.”Similarly, heritage lovers and trekkers would be having more spots and treks to visit by adding new heritage sites and routes to their check list,” the chief minister said.Every region in the state has a unique attraction for tourists and they should be promoted, she said.The state’s tourism department has organised a three-day familiarisation tour to the Valley for travel agents from Bangalore, Mumbai, Gujarat and Indore.The agents, who arrived here yesterday, pitched for point- to-point rail services from Mumbai, Gujarat and Kolkata to the Valley to facilitate the travel of tourists to Kashmir, and sought subsidy in aviation fuel charges to bring down air fares.

Demonetisation: Over Rs 51 lakh in 2,000 denomination notes seized in Kerala

Kannur (Kerala): Unaccounted cash to the tune of Rs 51.86 lakh, almost all of them in Rs 2,000 denomination, was seized on Sunday by Kerala Excise officials from two passengers of a bus coming from Bengaluru at nearby Irrity, in the second major haul of currency in the last three days in the state.

They found Rs 51.80 lakh in Rs 2,000 notes and Rs 100 notes for Rs 6,300 in the bags of Ranjith Salangi (24) and Rahul Adhik alias Rahul Ghatoo (22).

Representational imageRepresentational image

Representational image

The duo, in their early 20s and hailing from Maharashtra, were found carrying the cash without any supporting documents after which they were detained. The haul came just two days after police seized Rs 39.98 lakh in Rs 2,000 denomination at Tirur area in Malapuram district.

Excise officials said Sunday’s seizure was made when a special Excise squad, acting on a tip-off, intercepted the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus heading to nearby Payyanur around 3.30 am.

They were taken into custody and would be questioned by Income Tax officials in Kerala.

Busting a currency exchange racket involving Rs 2,000 notes, police had on Friday seized Rs three lakh from Shoukath Ali, already facing a hawala case, and, based on information provided by him, recovered Rs 36.98 lakh from the residence of a businessman.

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 12:13 IST

Successive BSP, SP governments have ousted development, good governance from UP: Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Development and good governance have been ousted from Uttar Pradesh by the successive governments of BSP and SP and these will be brought back if BJP is voted to power, senior party leader and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Lucknow on Saturday. Singh, while participating in the last of the party’s four ‘Parivartan Yatras’ which had started on November 5, said there were clear indications that people of the state want a change.The state is currently ruled by Samajwadi Party and the next Assembly elections are due in few months. “Development and good governance which were exiled by the SP and BSP will be brought back through the BJP government after the coming Assembly polls in the state,” said the Lok Sabha member from Lucknow. “Parivartan yatras are ending in Lucknow..I too have got a chance to take part in public meetings during the yatras..on the basis of the information I have got from different sources, I can say that the amount of love people of UP have given to these yatras had never come BJP’s way in any of the yatras in the past,” he said.He added, “The surging crowds in these yatras have clealy indicated that people of the state want a change.” Justifying demonetization, Singh said Prime Minister Narendra Modi took this decision in national interest and increased its respect at the global level. Accompanied by drum beaters and slogan shouting supporters, the yatra took form of a road show in the state capital on Saturday with partymen setting up raised platforms and dais all along the route.Besides Singh, other senior leaders including Kalraj Misra, Uma Bharti and Keshav Prasad Maurya also took part in the roadshow. They also garlanded the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Ambedkar and other leaders as a mark of respect and took a resolve to uproot SP government and instal BJP government in the coming elections. Four ‘Parivaran Yatras’ were flagged off from four corners of UP — Saharanpur, Jhansi, Sonebhadra and Ballia — in which senior leaders and union ministers took part at different places and held public meetings. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed six public meetings during this programme.The yatra which touched all the 403 assembly segments of the state covered a distance of more than 17,162 kms. BSP president Mayawati and Congress termed BJP yatras as ‘divert attention yatras’ from the “unfulfilled promises” of the BJP. “These yatras were organised in order to divert people’s attention from the promises made by the BJP and which have still remained unfulfilled,” Mayawati said in a statement. “Although BJP used all resources at its disposal and its top leaders including the PM Modi also participated in these yatras, there was no enthusiasm among the people,” Mayawati said.The “ill-planned” note ban is yet another decision of the Modi government to divert attention from the failure. “The note ban decision has however become a thorn in the flesh of the BJP and people are now afraid as to what all is in store for them and this is a very unfortunate situation,” she said. Congress spokesman Ashok Kumar said there was no impact of the yatra in Lucknow on Saturday and note ban has become a big problem for the common people who have come to know the reality of the BJP.

AIADMK founder MGR remembered on his 29 death anniversary

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ruling AIADMK founder MG Ramachandran was remembered on Saturday on his 29 death anniversary with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam leading the state in paying homage to the late leader. VK Sasikala, close aide of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, also paid floral tributes to a portrait of Ramachandran at the Poes Garden residence.Led by Panneerselvam, ministers, AIADMK MLAs and a host of party functionaries paid floral tributes to the actor-turned politician at his memorial on the Marina beach in Chennai. A customary pledge was also taken at the memorial in memory of Ramachandran popularly called as ‘MGR’ among his scores of fans and supporters. Panneerselvam read out the pledge which was repeated by his party colleagues.They took a vow to continue to perform their duties including establishing the rights of the state in the Cauvery water sharing dispute and also retrieval of Katchatheevu islet, issues steadfastly taken up by Jayalalithaa, who steered the party since the demise of MGR till her end.The MLAs also took a pledge that they would continue to abide by the high command of the party. At several places across the state, garlanded portraits of MGR were kept at public places and songs from his films were played as part of paying homage to the leader. In New Delhi, AIADMK MPs A Anwarraja and AK Selvaraja paid floral tribues to a statue of MGR, a party release said.MGR floated the AIADMK in 1972 after breaking away from the DMK following differences with its leader M Karunanidhi and rode his party to power in the 1977 elections. He ruled the state for two more terms in a row.

Islam never calls for oppressing women, AIMPLB now a ‘male personal law board’: MJ Akbar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Targeting the All India Muslim Personal Law Board over the issue of ‘triple talaq’, Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar on Saturday accused the organisation of turning itself into a “male personal law board which is only interested in oppressing women”.”Islam calls for gender equality and not gender oppression. Islam has never called for oppressing women. The Muslim Personal Law Board has turned into male personal law board,” Akbar said while addressing a programme here. On the last month’s convention of AIMPLB supporting ‘triple talaq’ which was attended by a large number of people, Akbar said, “Huge gathering always doesn’t signify truth.” Calling for removal of ‘triple talaq’ as it is against humanity, Akbar said, “Sometimes a marriage doesn’t work so there is a clause of divorce. But while marrying in Muslim community you need the permission of the women. Then why during divorce (talaq), only a man will dictate terms and by spelling the word ‘talaq’ three times (it can be obtained).” Akbar noted that if the country has to move forward and if the economy has to grow, we need to take the women along.”India and its economy can never grow if you want to keep the women behind. Women consist of nearly 50 per cent of our population and we all have to move together towards it,” he said. A debate has emerged over the government’s stand opposing the practice of ‘triple talaq’ with some leading women politicians seeking its abolition, even as some Muslim bodies accused the ruling dispensation of waging a “war” on their personal law.

Kiren Rijiju asks Arunachal govt to hold independent inquiry into death of engineering student

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju has asked the Arunachal Pradesh government to constitute an independent inquiry into the death of 22-year-old engineering student Haa Tama who died last week after falling from his hostel building in Rajasthan.Rijiju gave this direction to state Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Food and Civil Supplies Parliamentary Secretary Markio Tado and sought a report in the matter during a meeting at New Delhi yesterday.The Union minister urged the state government to constitute an independent inquiry by a superintendent of police, an official communique said here today.Tado also appealed to the Union minister to direct the Rajasthan government to disclose the post-mortem and FSL report.Khandu assured to take up the matter immediately with Union and Rajasthan governments.Tama, who was pursuing engineering degree at Dr K N Modi University in Tonk district of Rajasthan, died after he fall mysteriously from his hostel room on December 16 last.

Manipur blockade: Army Chief Dalbir Singh reviews security situation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief of Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh arrived in Manipur capital, Imphal on Saturday to review the security situation in the wake of a blockade imposed by the United Naga Council (UNC).General Singh will also visit Assam to review the security situation there. Meanwhile, a curfew from Lamlong Bridge to Pangei area has been relaxed from 6 am to 5 pm. Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju had on Friday visited Manipur to take stock of the situation and asked the state government to step up its efforts in restoring normalcy.Earlier, expressing concern over the long blockade of a highway connecting Manipur, the Home Ministry on Thursday rapped the state government for “failing” to discharge its “constitutional” duties in ensuring smooth flow of traffic on roads despite repeated requests.
ALSO READ AAP, Cong should not do politics on Najeeb Jung’s resignation: Kiren RijijuHome Minister, Rajnath Singh also asked Nagaland Chief Minister, T R Zeliang to ensure there is no disturbance in the movement of vehicles passing through his state, as there have been reports of the Naga Students Federation (NSF) calling for a blockade of vehicles in Nagaland.In a stern message to Manipur Chief Minister, O Ibobi Singh, Rajnath said the state is facing an extremely distressing economic situation because of the continuous blockade of National Highway 2.
ALSO READ Centre slams Manipur Govt over economic blockade The blockade in the state was announced by the UNC after the Manipur Government decided to upgrade the Sadar Hills and Jiribam areas to full-fledged districts. Following the state government’s decision on November 1, UNC militants blocked the Imphal-Dimapur and the Imphal-Jiribam highways indefinitely.

Mumbai: Three people killed, 5 rescued as boat capsizes in Powai lake

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three people were killed and five others were rescued after a boat with eight people on board capsized in Powai lake in Mumbai on Friday night.Five people including the helmsman were rescued, while three others were declared declared dead on arrival.Those rescued are out of danger and being treated.“The control room got a call at 11:30 pm about a boat being capsized. The boat capsized at 11:15 pm on Friday. A couple of them were rescued by the locals during the night while rest drowned,” said a senior police officer from Powai Police Station”Those who boarded the boat were all residents of Mumbai and were on the boat for leisure. The boat belonged to a member of the Maharastra State Angling Association, a club near the lake, however, the club claims that the boat was taken without their permission,” officer added. Police said that the boat toppled because it was hit by a bamboo or a pole in the water, the boat was only 100 meters away from the shore hence, the locals could rescue them.

BJP delegation to visit Dhulagarh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Following communal tension at Dhulagarh in Howrah district of West Bengal since last week, a team of three BJP Central leaders will visit the violence affected area and meet the families of victims.The team will comprise of Lok Sabha MPs Jagdambika Pal and Satyapal Singh. Rajya Sabha MP Roopa Ganguly was supposed to be the third member of the team but had been excluded because of her health conditions. She had fallen sick suddenly and had been admitted to AMRI Hospital. State BJP president Dilip Ghosh will also accompany them. “There had been serious communal disturbances in the area which the Centre has been apprised of and now the party national president Amit Shah wants a team to visit the place and take stock of the situation.Members of the team will visit the place, meet family members of the affected and later prepare a report and send it to the Centre. “We had earlier met the Governor regarding this and told him about the violence there. He had summoned the Director General of Police Surajit Kar Purkayastha on Thursday and questioned him regarding the instance of violence,” Ghosh said talking to DNA.A statement released on Thursday by the governor house said that the governor had asked the DGP to ensure peace in the area and to take strict action against offenders.He also added over 150 families have been rendered homeless owing to the violence. Criticising the role of the state and administration he said, “The votebank policy of Mamata Banerjee has led the police and administration to be mere spectators of the massacre. She tries to derive political dividend out of almost everything.” He added that media has been kept away from the place and that people were furious at the role of the government. “Those who have lost lakhs were given Rs 35,000 as compensation cheques. They had protested against it,” Ghosh added. The team would reach Dhulagarh on Saturday at about 1 pm.BJP leaders had alleged that instances of violence have risen during the reign of Mamata-led government.The Dhulagarh violence had sparked off last week when members of two communities had clashed when a procession by members of one community was taken out. Sources said that they started hurling bombs at each other and Howrah Police had to resort to lathi charge, fire tear gas shells and use water canon to bring the situation under control.

GST council talks on but states, Centre remain divided

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Loose ends continued to hang even after two days of deliberations by the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council.Despite long hours of discussions on Friday, the council, which comprises officials and ministers from states and the Union finance ministry, could not approve or clear for introduction in the Budget session any of the four draft pieces of legislation – Central GST, State GST, integrated GST and Compensation Act.It remained split over the compensation to states for the revenues losses from GST rollout, administrative control of taxpayers and a host of other issues. It, however, discussed each clause of CGST separately and discussed them threadbare and agreed that the states would be compensated for revenue losses every two months instead of every quarter as decided earlier.The next meeting will be held on January 3 and 4.Finance minister Arun Jaitley, who heads the council, told the media that the council was “making reasonable headway”.”I am trying my best. I am not going to bind myself to anything. Our effort is to do it as quickly as possible and I think we are making reasonable headway,” he said.Rakesh Bhargava, Director, Taxmann, said it was “unfortunate” that the council could agree on dual control.”It is very unfortunate that the GST Council failed to agree on dual control. In the next meeting, IGST Bill and this issue will be taken up. We hope there will be an agreement,” he said.Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, Minister for Finance and Planning, commercial taxes, Andhra Pradesh, vehemently opposed the Centre’s suggestion to levy cess on some goods to compensate for states’ losses. He proposed that the Centre should fund the states’ dip in revenues from the Consolidated Fund of India.He welcomed the inclusion of fisheries in the definition of agriculture and agriculturists, which will keep fishermen out of the ambit of GST. Bhavna G Doshi, Senior Advisor, KPMG, said that the Centre would have to address the concerns of states on adequate reimbursement.”States are feeling that the cess may not be adequate. That is the point (West Bengal Finance Minister Amit) Mitra raised – that this year is not going to be good, and even the first quarter may not be good. The state may need more compensation as businesses have been hit (by demonetization). His concern was whether there would be adequate funds available (with the government for compensation),” she said.Doshi suggested that the government could consider a “special contingency fund”. Apparently, Mitra has pointed out that in the light of demonetization, resources required for compensation could go up. The government was working on compensation, based on estimated losses of Rs 50,000 crore to states.This, the KPMG expert said, may see more goods and services attracting cess than before. Doshi believes that if the council is able to thrash out all issues in the next meeting, the government may call a special session of Parliament to pass the GST Bills.MS Mani, Senior Director, Deloitte Haskins & Sells LLP, feels the whole compensation discussion was very “hypothetical”.”The assumption is that revenues do not grow in GST, but past experience has shown that revenues will definitely grow under GST. The way I look at compensation is that it is more like underwriting. So, it is not necessary that compensation risk comes true. The compensation may not be as critical as it is being made out to be. I would say that the larger gains from today’s meeting is that on many issues they seem to have achieved consensus,” he said.Mani, however, feels that dual control could be a “difficult issue”. Even Pratik Jain, partner and leader indirect tax, PwC India, believes that the “most contentious issue was the dual control or cross empowerment”.

Tripura panchayat by-polls: Left Front wins 43 out of 47 seats

Fri, 23 Dec 2016-10:50pm , Agartala , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ruling Left Front in Tripura on Friday swept the by-polls to the three-tier gram panchayat by winning 43 out of total 47 seats in the state, elections for which was held on December 21, officials said.Secretary of the State Election Commission Prasenjit Bhattacharya said the by-elections were held in 44 Gram Panchayat seats, of which the CPI(M) alone won in 38 seats, CPI in two seats, BJP won in two seats and TMC in two seats. “Besides gram panchayats, by-elections were also held to two Panchayat Samiti seats at Durga Chowmuhani in Dhalai district and at Gournagar in Unakoti district, where the ruling CPI(M) registered their win. By-poll was also held to one Zilla Parishad seat in Unakoti district, which was also won by the CPI(M),” Bhattacharya told reporters here.The by-polls were necessitated due to deaths and resignations of the candidates.

Centre slams Manipur Govt over economic blockade

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a stern message, the Centre told Manipur government that it can’t escape responsibility for the “humanitarian crisis” arising out of the 52-day economic blockade by a Naga group and must work to end it, while making it clear that nobody will be allowed to take political advantage. Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who is on a day-long visit to Congress-ruled Manipur as a Central emissary, said it is completely unacceptable to have such kinds of blockades in which thousands are suffering and both central and Manipur governments will work together to end it.”The state government has not been able to end the blockade. It must end as soon as possible as law and order is the responsibility of the state government. Nobody will be allowed to take political advantage out of a humanitarian crisis where common people are suffering,” he said at a press conference here.Rijiju earlier had a detailed meeting with Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh and senior officials of central and state governments on the crisis and how to resolve it.He dismissed suggestions that central government was late in taking action, saying that it has been asking the state government to clear the blockade since the beginning and offering assistance to it.”From today onwards, the state government can’t escape from its responsibility. Nobody will be allowed to add to the sufferings of the people. Central government is also not shying away from its responsibility,” he said.Opposing creation of seven new districts, the United Naga Council has been staging blockade on the National Highways 2 and 37 connecting the landlocked Manipur since November 1 crippling normal for last 52 days.The BJP-led central government has been nudging the Congress government in Manipur to ensure smooth flow of traffic on the two highways.

Maha govt tells Bombay HC it will fill up AG post by Dec 30

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Putting an end to the controversy surrounding the appointment of a new Advocate General, the Maharashtra Government told the Bombay High Court that it would fill up the coveted post by December 30.The post of Advocate General has been lying vacant since March this year after Srihari Aney resigned as AG. In his place, Rohit Deo was appointed as acting AG and he continues to represent the government in high court in this capacity.Deo today informed a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka that the state government would take a decision on the appointment of AG by December 30. Taking the statement of Government on record, the bench deferred it to January 9 next year a petition filed by Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt seeking appointment of a new Advocate General. The High Court had pulled up the state government early this month for its failure to appoint the Advocate General and had set a deadline of December 23 for the state to inform when it would fill up the coveted post. Today, the government said it would fill up this post by December 30 this year.Neeraj Dhote, legal adviser and joint secretary, law and judiciary department, had filed an affidavit on December 8 assuring the court that “the state would appoint AG in accordance with the provisions contained in Article 165 of the Constitution of India, by the end of December 2016.” The bench had earlier remarked “it is high time that the government appointed a new Advocate General to represent the state. Many constitutional and statutory functions (of the government) are suffering due to the non-appointment of AG and it affects the cause of justice as well as the public.” Seeking a direction to the Maharashtra government to appoint a regular Advocate General in place of the current acting Advocate General, Dutt’s petition submitted that the post of ‘acting Advocate General’ was unconstitutional. It demanded that the appointment of Advocate General should be made only as per the provisions of Article 165 of the Constitution.Dutt clarified that he was not questioning the integrity and professional capability of acting Deo, but said he wanted a direction to the state government to follow the constitutional provisions.Deo was functioning as an acting AG since March, while under the Constitution no post of ‘acting AG’ exists, he submitted.Dutt had also raised the issue in the state Legislature earlier, the petition said.Deo was appointed as acting AG after previous Advocate General Srihari Aney was forced to resign. Aney’s open support for separate Vidarbha had incurred him the wrath of political parties, including the ruling ally Shiv Sena, which are opposed to the idea of statehood for the region.

Rajasthan govt tries to assure Gujjars on quota after stir threat

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

Burmese Christians in India and a possible clue to why Europe’s Muslim refugees are converting to Christianity

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Maybe the purpose of religion is bigger than resolving existential dilemmas. Maybe religion is a way of life or the orientation of a lifestyle. Perhaps, religion is identity. And, the divine gain from it is as definite as it is abstract, as personal as it is general.

Is that the reason why those who have been displaced by religiopolitical violence still harbour a wish to practice or even preach a faith? On 27 November, Pastor Matthias Linke of the Evangelisch-Freikirchliche Gemeinde church baptised a newly converted Muslim refugee during a ceremony in Berlin. Reading reports about conversions to Christianity that are taking place in Germany, one of the spin-offs of what is the bloody modern day reality of Syria and Iraq, Cung Dawt feels the need to talk about the ironies of life.

Lack of interpreters among Burmese Christian refugees often results in a wrong diagnosis. Image courtesy: Pallavi Rebbapragada

Lack of interpreters among Burmese Christian refugees often results in a wrong diagnosis. Image courtesy: Pallavi Rebbapragada

A Burmese refugee from the Christian Chin community, Dawt lives in a ghetto in Janak Puri and has grisly tales to tell. “I was born a Christian in Burma and never felt safe in my country. Not all (Burmese) refugees are Muslim. If one religion uses state funds to propagate its tenets, other faiths will be wiped out,” says the 30-year-old who was a student of BSc at Kaley University in the Chin region of Burma when Buddhist monks set his neighbourhood on fire during a demonstration.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are about 5,000 Chin refugees and asylum seekers living in the capital. Dawt got here in 2008. He says people come here from different Chin tribes, including Zomi, Tedim, Falam, Cho, Hakha, Mara and Mizo among others (Mara and Mizo tribes share their ethnicity with tribes from North East India). They live in urban villages in West Delhi like Hastsal, Vikas Nagar, Sitapuri and Bindapur. They mostly work in factories producing emergency lights, in mobile repairing shops, or as housemaids. Since the UNHCR “blue card” is not recognised by employers in the formal sector, most families are surviving on less than Rs 6,000 a month.

Earlier this month, The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) published a report titled Hidden Plight: Christian Minorities in Burma. This states that “Christian denominations strongly opposed the Religious Conversion Law, one of the package of bills for the so-called ‘protection of race and religion’. Originally proposed and drafted by Ma Ba Tha and signed into law by President Thein Sein in 2015, each of the four discriminatory laws — regulating monogamy, marriage, birth spacing and religious conversion — restrict religious freedom and undermine women’s rights. The Religious Conversion Law unlawfully restricts the right to freely choose a religion, interferes with proselytising, and could be used to criminalise such activities. Although the law is not currently being implemented — as there are no accompanying bylaws (usually required before a law can be enforced in Burma) — it is already having an indirect impact.”

Deep inside Chin ghettos in the Indian capital, entire families live in rooms not bigger than five bathtubs put together. There are pictures Jesus Christ pasted on pink or green walls of the ghetto, several of them badly scratched by wind and time. You find shops barely stocked with blankets and bed sheets. Along the reedy streets, some of the refugees have spread out frogs cooked with bitter leaves, some offer fried batches of Burmese samosa (same filling as the Indian one but square-shaped). The community heads to the night bazaars for purchasing rejected vegetables at cheaper rates. A majority were below the poverty line even in Burma where the price of vegetables, fish, meat and rice skyrocketed along with the violence.

Burmese3_Pallavi Rebbapragada

Religion has emerged as a binding factor for each Burmese tribe in India. Image courtesy: Pallavi Rebbapragada

In the ghetto, tribal structures, offices, churches and pastors protect the community’s sense of belonging. The Jesuit Refugee Society (JRS) is an international catholic organisation that provides assistance to refugees in 50 countries. In Delhi, it engages the Chin community in livelihood training programmes featuring skill-imparting courses in tailoring, computers and English. As per its observations, the Church is a unifying factor and every tribe is well-organised under the Churches.

Attending Church services is considered to be a sacred obligation in the lives of the Chins. Practically all the Chin members attend the Church services without fail. Some families also consider it a good Christian practice to give 10 percent of their earnings every month to the Church. Apart from fulfilling religious services, some pastors try to help the families in whatever ways possible.

“We, the Chins, have great community spirit. In our small homes, we meet and greet each other. Sometimes, our level of freeness and warmth is misunderstood by the landlords and they feel our women do business with their bodies,” informs Dawt.

The community depends on landlords for their voter IDs along with electricity and water bills that have to be submitted to the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) to get a residence permit. In some cases, the UNHCR card doesn’t even help them secure a phone connection. The closest hospital is Deen Dayal Upadhyay, where, they say, doctors usually belittle their illnesses and prescribe paracetamols even in cases where they require serious medical attention.

Prem Kumar, assistant director at JRS (Delhi), points out that the difficulty in fully empowering the Burmese refugees is the language barrier; there is a diversity of dialects even among the tribes. Although they are free to attend government schools, Chin refugee children attend community schools set up by the Church. These schools do not have a fixed syllabus and children of different age groups learn together without gradations. The older the child is, the harder it is for him or her to gain working knowledge of either Hindi or English.

In 2013, JRS identified that among the Chin refugees in Delhi, the literacy levels of the children was lower than that of their parents.

Burmese4_Pallavi Rebbapragada

Burmese Chin Refugees don’t find jobs in the formal sectors and most end up selling small goods on streets

Back in Burma, the USCIRF report goes on to state “there are no state-run universities in Chin State, and bureaucratic hurdles such as changing household registration documents plus other associated costs of relocating elsewhere in Burma for further studies are prohibitive for many Chin. Instead, many choose to study at Christian institutions in Chin State. However, the government does not officially recognise degrees and other qualifications offered by Christian theological colleges and universities, which means graduates from Christian institutions can’t secure employment in the government sector.”

It adds, “Kachin, Naga, and Chin Christian employees are routinely overlooked for promotion within the civil service and other government sectors in favour of Buddhists. For example, in the Chin State capital of Hakha, all but two of the department heads within the state-level administration are Burmese Buddhists. When Christians do hold government positions, they face sanctions if they refuse to support Buddhist activities. In some cases, the authorities take contributions from Christian civil servants’ salaries for Buddhist activities, such as building pagodas and organising Buddhist New Year (Thingyan) celebrations, a practice continued from the time of military rule until today.”

Some kilometres away from Janak Puri is Vikas Nagar where Rohingya Christians are giving tough competition to the Chins. The Rohingya Christians (not more than 150) live in 30 tents. These Rohingyas are converted from Islam to Christianity and hail from the Burmese Rakhine state. The plight, persecutions and trafficking of Rohingya Muslims, considered illegal immigrants from Bangladesh by many in the Burmese state, is common knowledge.

Recently, a UN official said that Myanmar is carrying out “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims as stories of gangrape, torture and murder emerge from among the thousands who have fled to Bangladesh. The Rohingya Christians, however, are scattered and scarce.

Shona Mia, the leader of the community in Delhi, says he was born stateless in 1980. He informs that out of the 60 children in their community in Delhi, only six to seven attend school. Their language is different from the ones spoken by the Chins and hence their children benefit from the Chin community schools. Rohingya children work as rag pickers and the adults mainly segregate waste or work in paper factories.

In one of these tents, people with distinctly Muslim names — Anwar, Salam, Iman Husain — swiftly quote from the Bible while making Christmas decorations out of crumpled waste paper.

“The bible saves us. It keeps us together in troubled times,” they say.

However, for these believers, the Grinch has stolen Christmas and Santa doesn’t exist.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 13:11 IST

Manipur: Christmas to remain sombre as economic blockade enters 53rd day

Caught between an economic blockade, protests and violence that entered 53rd day on Friday and a cash crunch caused by demonetisation, normal life remains paralysed in Manipur as the state faces shortages and escalating costs of essential supplies such as food and fuel. However, with Christmas just around the corner and Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Ministry of State (Home), Kiren Rijiju arriving in Manipur on Friday to analyse the situation, a temporary solution may be in the offer.

Rijiju had a meeting with Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, and it’s expected that the central government may reach out to Naga groups to end the blockade.

A four-day economic blockade was called on 1 November by the United Naga Council as a mark of protest against the state government’s decision to form seven new districts in Manipur. However, it has emerged into an indefinite strike as naga groups continue to oppose the move.

Angry Manipuris in Imphal East district set vehicles on fire in protest against the United Naga Council (UNC)’s indefinite economic blockade on 18 December. PTI

All vehicular movements have stopped on the National Highway-2 since then with the state facing shortages and escalating costs of essential supplies such as fuel and food. There have also been reports of violence.

But following the blockade, as Firstpost reported on 18 December , at least 22 cars, buses and other vehicles were torched in some places in Manipur’s Imphal East district on Sunday by angry residents protesting against the Naga economic blockade and several incidents of militancy targeting security forces.

The state has a history of ethnic tension between the Meitei Hindus (in the valley) and Naga tribes (living in the hills) mostly Christians with the latter calling for the formation of a greater Nagaland. The state government’s decision to form the seven new districts is being seen as a threat to the idea of Nagalim.

On Thursday, Union minister Rajnath Singh rapped the Okram Ibobi Singh-led Congress government and for failing to maintain law and order in the state. According to The Hindu, Singh sent a letter to Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh and asked him to “discharge the constitutional obligations with utmost promptness” as “maintaining law and order and essential supplies is the State’s responsibility”.

Earlier, boxing champion Mary Kom had written to the central government urging it to intervene and find a way to end the blockade.

However, Singh has accused the National Socialist Council of Nagaland — Isak-Muviah (NSCN-IM) with which BJP had entered in a peace agreement in 2015, for the ongoing tension.

According to News18, around 70 heavily armed men suspected to be from the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) attacked seven posts of the Indian Reserve Battalion and snatched 20 weapons from the security personnel in Noney district of Imphal on Saturday.

According to local newspaper, The Sangai Express, curfew was imposed on the state following the incident. It has been relaxed in Imphal East district between 4 am to 9 pm since Friday, but curfew remains effective in other parts of the state.

Though, the days following the incident have been calmer, Rijiju may find it tough finding an immediate solution, as according to NDTV, the Naga Students Federation has announced its decision to impose a “total blockade” on all Imphal-bound vehicles, including passenger and goods carriers.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 12:34 IST

AAP, Cong should not do politics on Najeeb Jung’s resignation: Kiren Rijiju

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister Kiren Rijiju criticised the Aam Aadmi Party and Congress for “doing politics” over the resignation of Delhi LG Najeeb Jung. “I don’t know what problems do the AAP and Congress have. When Jung was working, they were demanding resignation. Now since he has resigned, they are questioning why he has resigned. Should Jung have resigned by taking permission from AAP and Congress?,” Rijiju said.The Minister of State for Home said the AAP and Congress leaders have no locus standi to ask questions. He asked the two parties “to give up doing politics” over Jung’s resignation.Rijiju also refused to speculate on the reasons behind Jung’s resignation saying only Jung could tell it.
ALSO READ LG v/s AAP: A timeline of the battle between Najeeb Jung and Arvind KejriwalRaising questions over Jung’s sudden resignation, Delhi Congress Chief Ajay Maken had demanded that the Centre should explain the reasons behind his “unceremonious exit”, saying there is more to it than meets the eye. The AAP had alleged that Jung worked under the “influence” of the Modi dispensation and questioned whether the power tussle between the Centre and Delhi government will continue even after the appointment of a new LG. “Modi government promotes its people. We hope he gets a better posting after this. I am unhappy that his tenure was disgraceful. Now that he has gone, good luck to him. Najeeb Jung’s behaviour was not his. He was under the influence of someone. We hope the next LG gives priority to issues concerning people and does not work under anyone’s influence,” AAP’s Kumar Vishwas had said.

TMC, BJP demand removal of tainted Tripura minister

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Trinamool Congress and and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state units in Tripura have separately sought the expulsion of the state’s Forest and Rural Development Minister Naresh Jamatia from the cabinet for his alleged involvement in a sex scandal in his constituency.While the TMC brought out a protest rally raising slogans demanding the removal of the minister, the BJP demanded Jamatia’s resignation at a press conference.TMC MLA Asish Saha said, “For a long time this state is holding the top position in crime against amongst the states. One after another incidents of rape of woman and children are taking place here, and surprisingly, of late, a child was raped by a councillor of the Agartala Municipal Corporation. In crimes against women in the state, not only the supporters and leaders of the ruling party are involved, but also elected people’s representatives.””Allegations are raised against the state Forest Minister Naresh Jamatia by their own party’s elected member of the Autonomous District Council, Joykishore Jamatia. This is not our allegation. Earlier, we had demanded in the floor of the assembly that he should be immediately suspended from his post as forest minister and the law be enforced against him. Today, the TMC is raising the same demand and taking part in a protest rally,” Saha added.BJP state president Biplab Deb said, “The biggest problem of Tripura is crimes against women, which as high as 80%. In 1988, when Manik Sarkar became chief minister for the first time, the rate of crime against women in Tripura was between 20 to 25%, but now, it has risen to 80%. Today, there is an allegation against a councillor of being involved in a sex scandal with a five year old child, but the state government is silent about it. An elected MDC of the state Joykishore Jamatia has been removed from the CPI-M party after he was charged with sex scandal. He had to resign from his MDC post and which is like an MLA within the ADC area. Now, a similar allegation has been made by Joykishore Jamatia against a state minister. I am not speaking in favour of Joykishore Jamatia, but if he can be removed from the party, then why not Naresh Jamatia?”He added, “This is my question to the chief minister, who in 2002 had dismissed a male minister from the cabinet for involvement in a sex scandal, a female minister was also removed on allegation of having a illicit relationship with her PG. Many other CPI-M leaders have been removed on similar allegations, but in the case of Naresh Jamatia, the chief minister is still silent. During a four day session in the House, the opposition had raised this issue, but then also, the chief minister maintained his silence. Now we want to know from Manik Sarkar why no decision is being taken in the case of Naresh Jamatia?”Jamatia has refuted the allegation and told the house that he has filed a case in a local court against the newspaper that alleged that he was involved in a sex scandal.The speaker of the state assembly has refused to allow a discussion on the issue, saying the matter is sub-judice.

Rahul’s allegation against PM Modi lowers political discourse: BJP leader

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal on Thursday said that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s allegation against Prime Minister Narendra Modi has lowered the level of political discourse.”The speech given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has nothing to do with Rahul Gandhi. It was only his statement that if he speaks, then an earthquake will occur, and what Modiji has said is that Rahul Gandhi has said what he wanted to say, so, there is no possibility of any earthquake,” he said.”Rahul Gandhi has touched upon that aspect which the Supreme Court has already rejected. This only lowers the level of politics,” he added.
ALSO READ Rahul Gandhi is now trying to be new Kejriwal: BJPThe Congress vice-president on Thursday accused Prime Minister Modi of having taken money from the Sahara and Birla business groups when he was chief minister of Gujarat and demanded an independent inquiry into the matter.Gandhi made this assertion in Prime Minister Modi’s native district of Mehsana in Gujarat just days after he said that he had proof of “personal corruption” against the latter.
ALSO READ Lalu Yadav backs Rahul Gandhi, demands SC-monitored probe against PM ModiGandhi alleged that the Sahara Group had paid Rs 40 crore, while the Birla Group had paid Rs 12 crore to Prime Minister Modi, claiming his charges were based on documents recovered during raids on the companies by the income tax department.

Madras HC quashes appointment of 11 members of TNPSC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Madras High Court quashed the appointment of 11 people as members of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC), holding that the process was “deeply flawed” and conducted without following any transparent process. A batch of petitions including one by TKS Elangovan of DMK had been filed challenging the appointment of these 11 members in a hurried manner by the AIADMK government.The vacancies for the posts had arisen from 2013 when members completed their tenure and demitted office and the last one demitted office on January 31, 2016.These posts were suddenly filled by a government order, dated the same day (Sunday/non-working day), in anticipation of the election notification for the state Assembly polls, which were ultimately held on May 16.The petitioners claimed that the Commission was sought to be packed with party loyalists “having no eminence and not possessing the requisite merit and abilities to function in the capacity as members of the Public Service Commission”. The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan, in its 108-page judgment, said, “We are unhesitatingly of the view and conclude that the process of appointment of the eleven members of the State Public Service Commission was deeply flawed without following any transparent process and defeating the very constitutional scheme for such appointment, the result of which is natural, i.e., all these appointments are quashed.” The bench observed, “It is trite to say that from the very inception qualification of high moral values for the person recruited to the administrative service forming the very backbone of the nation was emphasised.””It is the selection based on merits. If this is the principle, then persons who are Chairman or Members of the Public Service Commission have to be equally, if not more, of such competence and high moral values as they are the ones who are conducting the selection process for the Administrative Service Officers.”The government, on its part, submitted that right to make appointment to the State Public Service Commission under Article 316 of the Constitution is left to the state government and the court ought not to interfere with the same, especially as there are no charges or allegations against any member. Quashing the appointments, the bench in its order said: “There was no comparative evaluation of merits, qualifications, administrative experience, competence or integrity of the pool of candidates. “The process was completed in one day, on 29.3.2013, and the file was placed before the Governor, who approved the proposal on 31.3.2013. No character or antecedent verification was really done and the issue which arose for consideration was whether the state could have said to have applied its mind to the relevant facts, i.e., suitability, competence and integrity of the candidate.”Thus, where the deliberative process suffered from constitutional infirmity of being arbitrary, the appointment had to be struck down, it said.”In our opinion, this appointing process or lack of it was on account of a misconception that the appointment to the post of members of the Public Service Commission was part of the spoils system based on the patronage of the state government and not requiring men who are ‘independent’.” “This lack of process appears to have escaped the attention of the Governor himself while making the appointments,” the bench said.Referring to Supreme Court judgments, the bench said: “It is an admitted position that there was nothing put in public domain to indicate that persons who were interested in this post could give material in support of their candidature and on our query, we were informed that the bio-datas may have been received from persons in normal course or may have been called for specifically from persons.”The bench referred to an apex court judgment which stated that the appointment to the PSC could not be equated with an appointment to a purely administrative position and in the context of appointment of a Chief Secretary or a DGP the question of Chief Minister of the state government having confidence in such a person may be a requirement.The bench said, “This would not arise in the appointment of a Chairman or Member of the Public Service Commission, as the Commission does not function at the pleasure of the Chief Minister or the state government, but has a fixed tenure and the oath of allegiance is to the Constitution of India and not to the Chief Minister.””In the case on hand, the bio-data alone was examined. Nothing was found to show that any background check was carried out to ascertain whether the Chairman appointed had come in for any adverse notice in a judicial proceeding or any police inquiry. It was, thus, held that inbuilt constitutional checks had, unfortunately, broken down.”

5 things you need to know about new Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu Girija Vaidyanathan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior IAS officer Girija Vaidyanathan was appointed Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu on Thursday, replacing P Rama Mohana Rao whose residence and office was raided by the Income Tax department on Wednesday. “Dr Girija Vaidyanathan IAS, Additional Chief Secretary/ Commissioner of Land Administration, is transferred and posted as Chief Secretary to Government, vice Dr P Ramamohana Rao,” a Public (Special A) Department order dated December 22 said. Vaidyanathan shall also hold full additional charge of the post of Vigilance Commissioner and Commissioner for Administrative Reforms, previously held by Rao, it said. ​But, who is Girija Vaidyanathan who will be the 45th ​Chief Secretary of the state?1. A PhD holder from Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, ​Girija Vaidyanathan is 1981 batch IAS officer. She started her career as a Sub-Collector in 1983 and is currently the Commissioner of Land Administration.
ALSO READ Tamil Nadu: Girija Vaidyanathan replaces Rama Mohana Rao as Chief Secretary2. She was the principal secretary of the Health and Family Welfare Department in the Government of Tamil Nadu, Mission Director of National Rural Health Mission (NHRM) and has also worked in health, education, agriculture, transportation and state planning departments over her 34 year long career.3. Though she has been closer to DMK, rather than AIADMK, she was the brain behind public health and education projects during Jayalalithaa’s first regime. 4. She was the Mission Director of the State Health Society when Tamil Nadu won the award for best performance among the non-empowered action group States.5. Her father S Venkitaramanan, was the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor from 1990 to 1992.(With PTI inputs)

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

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

New international law first protection for atheists

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>US President Obama became the first leader to strengthen the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act — the Frank R Wolf International Religious Freedom Act— on December 16. In its new avatar, the Act protects religious believers around the world. But also, for the first time, atheists and other non-religious persons have been given explicit protection under the law.The original version established the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, a religious freedom watchdog that has charted abuses against minorities across the world. The new law, named after a Virginia Congressman who championed the original version, extends protection to atheists as well.“Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion is understood to protect theistic and non-theistic beliefs,” the Act states for the first time, “and the right not to profess or practice any religion.”It also condemns “specific targeting of non-theists, humanists, and atheists because of their beliefs,” and enables the State Department to target “non-state actors” against religious freedom, like the Islamic State group, Boko Haram and other extra-government groups. Including atheism was a four-year process involving meeting with members of the State Department to raise awareness of the persecution of nonbelievers.Non-theist groups have been lobbying Congress on behalf of imprisoned and persecuted atheists in Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and elsewhere. Atheists here have faced imprisonment, lashings and execution, sometimes at the hands of violent mobs. In September, a Saudi man was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 2,000 lashes for professing his atheism via Twitter.The new version of the bill will strengthen the existing law in several ways:It directs the president to sanction individuals who carry out or order religious restrictions.It instructs the U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom to report directly to the US Secretary of State.It requires all foreign service officers to be trained in the “strategic value of international religious freedom.”

Muzaffarpur: JD(U) MLC’s son booked in a murder case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Son of a ruling JD(U) member of State Legislative Council Dinesh Singh was on Wednesday booked in a case of murder of a worker in Fatehpur village of Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district.On the basis of a statement given by the wife of deceased, an FIR has been registered with Kanti police station against Chottu Singh, son of JD(U) MLC Dinesh Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police, West, Ajay Kumar said.The police recovered dead body of labourer Suresh Sah near Chainpur canal under Kanti police station this morning, the DSP said.The wife of deceased said in her complaint that Chottu Singh had forcefully called her husband at his home late last night. She alleged that Chottu Singh was involved in illegal liquor trade. Her husband, who worked as a painter at the residence of MLC Dinesh Singh, had come in contact with Chottu Singh.The DSP said that police is investigating into the matter.

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat is next army chief: Govt did what it thought right, it’s time to end row

Appointment of Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as the next Chief of Army Staff superseding Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi and Lieutenant General PM Hariz has got the self-appointed social media critics going ballistic on the internet. It has also given enough to feed the monstrous hunger that the media has for breaking news. Many writers have mentioned that there has been precedence of such supersession. Having known all the three officers closely, one is at a loss to explain one’s feelings. Lieutenant General Bakshi is an intellectual, straight shooter, dynamic and a thoroughly professional officer who is a dear friend and a course mate.

Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat. File photo. Getty ImagesLieutenant General Bipin Rawat. File photo. Getty Images

Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat. File photo. Getty Images

Lieutenant General Hariz is again a very competent officer and a junior in service but became the author’s boss due to residual service requirements. A mature and simple officer, he conducts himself with dignity. Lieutenant General Rawat, took over the command of the corps from this author. He is a humane, mature, professionally sound and a second generation officer. Appointments Committee of the Cabinet would have had a tough time picking one among them as the next COAS of the Indian Army. Since the supersession issue mainly pertains to these three officers, other officers considered are not mentioned here.

Be that as it may, the procedure followed is very simple and has been alluded to by some writers. A panel of all eligible army commanders and vice chief of army staff is sent to the defence ministry by the army headquarters. The defence minister makes his recommendations and sends it to the Appointments Committee of the cabinet. Previously, the appointments committee of the cabinet used to comprise of the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Foreign Minister, Defence Minister and the Finance Minister. Under this government, it has been simplified and reduced to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. A thorough 360-degree review of the individual is carried out for all promotions to and above the rank of Major General. Similarly, in this case too such a review would have been done. One is confident that all three would have been above board. After the panel is drawn and recommendations are made by the defence ministry it is purely the call of the appointments committee of the cabinet to make the selection of the next Chief of Army Staff. Needless to say that it is the prerogative of the government of the day to select the COAS of its choice.

A quick glance at the selection procedure of other democracies would be highly perceptive at this time. The organisational structure of many of the advanced countries is different from that of our country. The USA follows a theatre commands system whose commanders directly interact with the Secretary of the State for Defence and the President. In the USA, a Chief of Staff is considered to be the equivalent of the Chief of Army Staff in India. UK follows the system of a Chief of Defence Staff who has an advisory role and a Chief of General Staff who commands the army directly. Australia has a Chief of Defence Staff and a Chief of Army. Pakistan also follows a system of a Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and a Chief of Army. Sri Lanka follows a similar system to ours. One cannot compare China and other communist countries with India on this subject as “political correctness” plays a major role in such selections and the system is different.

In the USA, the selection of Chief of Staff (COS) is governed by the rule “10 US Code 3033 – Chief of Staff”. Unlike the COAS of the Indian Army, the Chief of Staff of the Army is an administrative position and does not have operational command authority over the army. The COS is recommended by the Secretary of the Army, nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. In the UK, the equivalent of the COAS is the Chief of General Staff. The Ministry of Defence headed by the Secretary of State for Defence, recommends the names for Chief of General Staff and he is nominated by the Prime Minister. By the exercise of Royal Prerogative Powers, powers to appoint the senior leaders of the services is vested in the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence. The Queen, remains the ultimate authority. A similar system is followed in the Australian Army. In Germany, the Army Chief is designated as the Inspector of the Army (Generalinspekteur derNationaleVolkarmee). In peacetime, and in a state of tension, command of the Armed Forces is vested in the Federal Minister of Defence. It is only in a state of defence, which can be declared only with a two-third majority in the Bundestag (Lower House), that the power of command over the Armed Forces is passed to the Federal Chancellor.

While the systems may differ in various countries, the underlying principle in appointing the Chief of Army remains the same. That is, the political dispensation holds the privilege of choosing the person it likes to have as the Chief of its Army.

There has been disappointment and anger in some quarters about the supersession particularly those who are close friends of Lieutenant General Bakshi and Lieutenant General Hariz. This is but natural. Once the dust on this issue settles down and it dawns on people that the civilian government’s supremacy is to be respected, things will return to normal. Already, it has appeared in the media that things have reverted to normalcy and Lieutenant General Bakshi is back to his regular work schedule. Nothing less would have been expected from the true soldier that he is known to be. Similarly, Lieutenant General Hariz can also be expected to do the same. If these two generals who were directly affected have behaved in a manner befitting their stature and reputation, it behoves on all others to behave in a like manner. There are also rumours making the rounds that they will be accommodated as Permanent Chairman of Chief of Staff and Vice Chancellor, Indian National Defence University respectively. Again, it is required to keep in mind that it is the prerogative of the government to take a decision on these appointments. There is also a need to have confidence in the government that it will take the decisions in the best interests of the country.

This author has closely watched two of the COASs functioning and is convinced that every COAS works hard for the army. Therefore, we should hold the hands of Lieutenant General Rawat and support him in all his endeavours to take our famed army to higher glory.

The author is a retired lieutenant general of the Indian Army.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 19:20 IST

Ahead of UP polls, PM Modi to visit Varanasi on Thursday; interact with booth-level workers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the crucial assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh just around the corner, the BJP’s grassroot level cadre in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency in Varanasi shall be looking forward to receiving from him the mantra for electoral success during his tour of the ancient temple town on Thursday.Interaction with nearly 20,000 booth-level party workers at the Diesel Locmotive Works (DLW) premises forms a major part of the Prime Minister’s itinerary in Varanasi​.Modi’s visit, which could be the last to his parliamentary constituency before the poll schedule is announced and the Model Code of Conduct comes into force, also includes flagging off of quite a few projects.These include laying of foundation stones for a cancer centre and a super-speciality hospital at the Benares Hindu University where Modi will also spend some time at the “Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav” (national cultural festival), a week-long event organised by the Union Ministry for Culture where artistes from across the country, some of them of international repute, have been performing.From BHU premises, Modi will leave for a brief tour of Kabir Nagar locality, named after the 17th century mystic and poet, and inspect underground cabling and heritage lighting work, which is being carried out as part of theIPDS (Integrated Power Development Scheme) and HRIDAY (Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana) schemes.Thereafter the Prime Minister will reach DLW, where his political engagements will be preceded by laying of foundation stone for a 150-bed ESIC (Employee’s State Insurance Corporation) super speciality hospital and inauguration of a trade facilitation centre and a crafts museum besides launching of a number of schemes and projects under the Textiles Ministry.This would be Modi’s first tour of his parliamentary constituency since demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, that has drawn much flak from the opposition as the shortage of currency caused inconvenience to traders, salaried groups, artisans and unskilled daily wage earners alike. The PM’s message to the booth-level workers of the BJP, drawn from all five assembly segments falling under the Lok Sabha constituency, will set the tone for the party foot soldiers faced with a daunting task of holding their own in a state where politics has been dominated by two rival regional players – the ruling Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.From being a force to reckon with in the state in the 1990s, thanks to the momentum generated by the Ramjanmabhoomi agitation, the BJP underwent a steep decline in the first decade of the century. However, expectations have been high since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when the party stunned all by putting up its best-ever performance, winning 71 out of the 78 seats it had contested in the state.The spectacular comeback owed much to Modi’s decision to step out of Gujarat and contest from this eastern UP seat.The party’s performance in the assembly polls in the state — which is the most populous and hence sends maximum number of MPs to the Lok Sabha — will have a bearing on its future prospects on the national level.This will be Modi’s ninth tour of Varanasi since he became the Prime Minister in May, 2014. Significantly, Thursday’s visit will also be his fifth since January this year.The increased frequency of his trips here is seen as one of the many efforts being made by the BJP to improve its tally in the 403-strong UP assembly where it has less than 50 MLAs.