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Indian-origin man killed at gunpoint by armed robbers in Ohio

An Indian-origin man has been killed during a robbery by two hooded attackers in Ohio, becoming one of the the latest victims of gun violence in the US.Karunakar Karengle, 53, was working last Monday at the Jiffy Convenience Mart on Camelot Drive when two men came in with a firearm around 10 pm, police said.Fairfield Fire Department first responders arrived and brought Karengle to UC West Chester Hospital.Police said that Karengle died of his injuries on Friday. His identity had been withheld until his family in India was notified, Journal News reported.No arrests have been made, making nearby businesses and employees a bit uneasy.Fairfield police Lt Ken Gerold said they believe Karengle did not have relatives that lived in the area.Also read21-year-old Indian man shot dead in USA description of the suspects was unavailable, police said, except that they both wore hoodies covering most of their faces. One wore a dark jacket while the other wore a light coloured jacket.”I’m sorry that it happened,” Kim Cannon said. Cannon works across the street from Jiffy Mart at Laundry Station.”It scares me even more knowing that the guys, or whoever it was, were parked behind our building and I was working that night and could have walked out.”It was shocking to hear that somebody was actually killed,” Cannon said.The shooting comes amidst growing attacks on Indians and Americans of Indian descent in recent months.Earlier this month, a 30-year-old Indian national pursuing his masters in Chicago has been seriously injured after he was shot in his right cheek by an unidentified assailant.Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a software engineer from India, was fatally shot in Olathe, Kansas, in February by a US navy veteran who had told him and his friend at a bar to go back to their country.Weeks later, a Sikh man was shot in his arm in his driveway in Kent, Washington state, by a masked man who had told him go back to his “own country”.There were 58,491 incidents of gun violence across the country in 2017 in which 14,763 people were killed and 29,888 others injured, according to Gun Violence Archive (GVA), a not for profit corporation providing public access to gun-related violence.

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‘Not wishing, but it will happen’ – Modi govt likely to get UPA 2-like corruption tag: Chidambaram

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader P Chidambaram warned that as the Narendra Modi government inched closer to the end of its term, it might also be assailed by the same degree of corruption allegations which drowned the UPA II.The former finance minister said the erstwhile Congress- led UPA 2 dispensation had acquired a reputation for “many many corrupt deeds” at the fag end of its tenure.He, however, said the same “odium” could be attached to the BJP government as well when it completed its term (in 2019) though he was not wishing it to “happen”.”Since the UPA II was the last government that completed its tenure, that odium attached to the government. Wait for any government to complete its term of five years, the same odium will attach to that government as well,” he said during a discussion at the Tata Literature Live festival here.”I am not wishing it happens, but it will happen,” said Chidambaram, who was a key figure in the UPA regime.”The point is, yes I know that the UPA 2 had acquired, by the time its term came to an end, a reputation for many many corrupt deeds. But unless someone is actually convicted and punished, I am not willing to accept that he or she is guilty,” the former home minister said.He said today what is being made out is that “everyone is presumed guilty until he is proven innocent, which I think is wrong, as it will destroy the rule of law in this country.”Touching upon the issue of corruption, the Congress Rajya Sabha member said the main reasons for major graft “are greed as against the need for funding elections”.”In the case of a political person, or a political party, it is the need to fund elections, which drives what you describe as corruption. Unless you find the ways to fund elections, you will not be able to bring down that scale of corruption,” he said.Chidambaram claimed demonetisation was a “dismal” failure as far as curbing fake currency was concerned.”If you want to know where demonetisation has failed, if you are not able to curb corruption, if you are not able to curb black money…Just go to or stay in (poll-bound) Gujarat for over the next 20 days, and you will know the kind of money that is being spent there,” he alleged.He said the Modi government could recover fake currency only to the tune of Rs 41 crore, which accounted for only 0.0027% of the total currency that came back into the system following notes ban.”Demonetisation to the extent of eliminating fake currency is a dismal failure,” Chidambaram claimed.Disputing the government’s claims that notes ban had helped curb terrorism, he said, “As of November 10, the number of infiltrations, the number of militants neutralised, the number of civilians killed and the number of jawans martyred, all are larger than the numbers for the corresponding period in 2016.”

‘Don’t form an alliance,’ Beijing tells New Delhi, Tokyo as Shinzo Abe concludes India trip

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe concludes his second India trip, China has issued a message for both India and Japan.In a veiled comment at the visit, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, “We advocate that regional countries should stand for dialogue without confrontation and work for partnership instead of alliance.”The comment by Beijing came as New Delhi and Tokyo sought to firm up their close ties during Japanese Prime Minister Shizo Abe’s visit to India.India and Japan inked 15 agreements to further broad-base their strategic partnership and agreed to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region where China is increasing its assertiveness.Hua, however, declined to comment on specific issue like Japan’s plans to sell US-2 amphibious aircraft to India, saying she would like to wait till a detailed readout from the two countries following a meeting between Abe and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Japan’s plans to sell the amphibious aircraft to India raised eyebrows here as this is first such move by Tokyo to sell defence equipment to any country. China is also concerned about Japan getting the first bullet train project in India between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.China too is vying for high speed rail projects in India, specially the New Delhi-Chennai corridor.China and Japan also have a longstanding dispute over islands in the East China Sea. Chinese ties with Japan have also been strained by what Beijing see as Japanese leaders’ reluctance to atone for the country s wartime past.Hua said China will “stay open and welcome normal development of relations between the countries in the region”, as long as they are conducive to peace and stability in the region.”We hope that relations will be conducive to regional peace and stability and can play a constructive role in this regard,” she said.Commenting on Abe’s visit to India, Chinese think-tanks expressed concern over the “Freedom Corridor”, as well as several joint infrastructure projects being launched by India and Japan together in different countries as strategic move by the two countries to counterbalance China’s ambitious multi- billion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).The Indo-Japanese initiative, called the ‘Freedom Corridor’, stretching from Asia-Pacific to Africa, aims at stabilising the region.”The Freedom Corridor, designed to serve as a counterbalance to China’s BRI is expected to figure prominently in talks between Abe and Modi,” Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences told state-run Global Times today.However, the Japanese-Indian initiative is just a beginning. It is unlikely to reach the same level as the BRI, Chu Yin, an associate professor at the University of International Relations said.The Chinese analysts also referred to report that India and Japan were embarking on multiple infrastructure projects across Africa, Iran, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia in what could be viewed as pushback against China’s unilateral infrastructure initiatives connecting it with Europe and Africa.India boycotted the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) held this year due to its sovereignty concerns over the USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.”Though India objects to CPEC, India’s real reason is that it doesn’t want to see China’s influence in South Asia and refuses to open its domestic market to China,” Ye Hailin, director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ National Institute of International Strategy, said.Also the Global Times tabloid, in an editorial titled ‘India-Japan intimacy no threat to China’ said “in a changing world, the India-Japan intimacy is more like a contrivance”.It said Japan is unlikely to challenge China as it has strong bilateral trade relations with Beijing.”Under the international relations logic of the 21st century, closer India-Japan ties won’t pose grave threats to China because many of their emotional moves to console each other won’t produce any real effects in challenging China,” it said.

Comply or suffer consequences, Centre’s ‘gentle reminder’ to firms on data privacy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a very tough stance on data privacy, the Centre on Tuesday warned the companies to comply of face consequences.”Some things are completely private, should not come in public. Today, I would like to gently remind, all the companies dealing with data, that if any data of an individual is released by name you will suffer consequence unless there is specific consent of person whose data you are seeking to make public,” Union Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said while launching a nation-wide hackathon on Tuesday.He said the government is committed to make best use of big data in establishing rule of precision governance.”While doing so every care would be taken to ensure that strict privacy rights of individuals are protected. However, unauthorised use of data would be dealt with iron-hand to ensure that nothing comes in the way of making data-analytics a national movement,” he said.The government has launched open data platform in 2012 for public use. Later, it issued an open licence for people.The minister said the government has opened up many data sets for developing innovating solutions but the data has anonymity.”Please don’t confuse. Government data is anonymous. It does have an identity. If data is anonymous. It is free from all the constraints. It should be available for innovation,” Prasad said.He said the Supreme Court in its recent judgment has given elaborate consideration the way India is innovating, embarked on digital empowerment with financial inclusion.The minister said that the apex court has said that right to privacy is not absolute.”If an individual data which is private is disclosed without his consent surely consequences will follow and should follow. I want to assure that strict privacy rights of an individual must be protected. We in the government will ensure that it is protected,” Prasad said.He said the government will be very tough in any unauthorised use of data in the interest of India’s citizen for their right of privacy but in the garb of privacy it should not be hyped that innovation, initiative, entrepreneurship development is restrained.”We have to find middle path. On middle path, I have always said that data availability, data utility, data anonymity, data privacy — on these four principle if we proceed then surely India will emerge as a very important place as a democracy ruled by law, as a beacon for the world as to how India has set up a robust regime which set out benchmark for data utilisation maturity,” Prasad said.Ministry of Electronics and IT Secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney said that the open data platform is a huge opportunity for the country and a brilliant foundation in place to have so much of data already being made available.”However, there is big gap between data being available and data being utilised. I believe, there are not only gaps, but we have serious opportunities available. A lot of intellectual effort needs to go into creating that value,” Sawhney said.

In a first, over 2,000 paramilitary staffers go to Intelligence Bureau for border snoop plan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to revamp the defence infrastructure along the international borders, the government has finally approved a unique ‘snoop plan’.The plan suggests that over 2,000 personnel of a “dying” paramilitary cadre will be “transferred” to the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to boost the on-ground presence of the agency on the eastern borders, where India is bolstering its defences by building roads and other military infrastructure.A total of 2,765 posts of the civilian cadre of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) will be shifted to the IB command over the next year. Of these posts, 2,039 are operational.”The civil wing of the SSB should be transferred to the IB lock, stock and barrel, including land, physical infrastructure, equipment among others,” a government blueprint, accessed by PTI, said.A top security official privy to the “ambitious” plan said a 300-page proposal for the transfer of the assets — both manpower and infrastructure — had been prepared at the SSB headquarters here and had been vetted by the home ministry and the office of the national security advisor (NSA) for final implementation.He added that the manpower of the civil wing of the SSB, which is termed as “dying” as it does not have promotional and work avenues, would be deployed to bolster the IB’s presence in the eastern border areas, where these officials have worked for long.The average age of the cadre, the official said, was above 50 years and the personnel had done a lot of work with the people living along the Nepal and Bhutan borders.They not only helped them integrate with the mainstream, but also acted as the “eyes and ears” of the SSB, the designated lead intelligence agency on the two borders.The cadre was first raised in 1963, in the aftermath of the Chinese aggression of the previous year, to work in the border areas and promote a sense of national belonging and pro-India feelings among the local population.It worked under the external intelligence agency — Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) — till 2001, under the name Special Service Bureau.The name of the force was changed to Sashastra Seema Bal in 2003, following the 1999 Kargil conflict. It was then tasked with guarding the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders on the country’s eastern flank.”The transfer of the civilian SSB cadre will begin once the long-awaited cadre restructuring of the force is approved and implemented. All this will take about a year to take shape,” the official said.The blueprint envisages that once these officials are transferred to the IB, they will be “utilised for different activities related to intelligence, keeping in view the expertise and proficiency of the incumbents”.”These personnel have only been doing civic action work and publicity of government schemes in the far-flung border areas and anti-Naxal operation zones for close to two decades now.”After the SSB was declared an armed force of the Union in 2001, they became a dying cadre as they were not uniformed personnel. Now, their experience and knowledge of the locals, languages and natural features of the border areas will be used to aid the hardcore intelligence work of the IB,” the official said.He added that as per the blueprint, the cadre, after the proposed transfer, “will be treated at par with the IB employees” and some of them might even be retained post retirement considering their expertise and knowledge of the field areas.The cadre, for the last over 50 years, has been working in insurgency-hit areas along the border and Naxal-hit states, undertaking civic welfare programmes such as teaching children in schools, conducting medical camps and organising vocational training courses.The men and women of this cadre were seen as fast losing their sheen as they were not getting timely promotions and could not opt for combat posts as their physical fitness did not allow them to perform arduous tasks and their recruitment rules were different from those of the uniformed staffers.The SSB, with a strength of about 70,000 personnel, has been guarding the 1,751-km Indo-Nepal border since 2001 and the 699-km Indo-Bhutan border since 2004.It is deployed along the international border in the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, with many of its posts located close to the Sino-India border.

Grenade attack in Srinagar, 1 civilian killed, 15 injured

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A civilian was killed and 15 others, including three policemen, were injured in a grenade attack in the busy Jehangir Chowk area of Srinagar city on Thursday.Security personnel deployed at Jehangir Chowk were the apparent target of the grenade attack at around 5.40 pm, a police official said.Sixteen people were injured in the explosion, the official said.One of the injured identified as Maqsood Shah, a resident of Budgam district, succumbed to injuries, he said.SSP Srinagar Imtiaz Parray said the grenade thrower was also reportedly injured in the blast.”According to eyewitnesses, the person who hurled the grenade was also among the injured. We are trying to verify this,” he said.

PM Modi a real saint and philanthropist, working for poor, says Union Minister Mahesh Sharma

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “real saint” and “philanthropist”, Union Minister Mahesh Sharma on Wednesday said the PM’s vision is to take the benefits of democracy and economic growth to the the poor who are on the last step of the ladder.The minister, who was addressing the 12th Sustainability Summit organised here, said that unless growth, particularly economic growth, is inclusive, it cannot be sustainable, and emphasised that the Modi Government’s ‘Sabka saath, Sabka vikas’ slogan was in consonance with it.Stressing that discussions of the Summit should influence common man’s growth, empowerment and development of downtrodden and marginalised sections of the society, Sharma said that these were the areas on which the PM was focusing.”He (PM Modi) is a real saint. He is really thinking and working for the common man. I have the privilege of working in his cabinet for last three years,” said Sharma who recently took charge as a minister of state for Environment, Forest and Climate Change.”This government has a philanthropist Prime Minister who has the vision of taking the benefits of independence and democracy to the the poor who are on the last step of the ladder,” the minister said.The two-day Summit hosted by CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development is themed ‘2030 Agenda: Driving Inclusive Growth .India is a “key partner” of European Union(EU) in terms of climate(change) action, EU’s ambassador to India and Bhutan Tomasz Kozlowski said in his special address at the Summit.”EU and its businesses stand committed to India regarding sustainability, clean energy and climate change,” he said.The event was also addressed by the CII president Shobana Kamineni and ITC Limited CEO Sanjiv Puri.The Summit provides a platform for businesses, governments, think tanks and civil society, to share experiences, discuss and debate upon global development holistically, seeks to widen sustainability dialogue in achieving inclusive development by 2030.

Supreme Court panel to examine SIT decision to close anti-Sikh 1984 riot case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court has constituted a supervisory body comprising two of its former judges to examine the decision of the SIT to close 199 cases relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.The top court named its former judges, Justice JM Panchal and Justice KSP Radhakrishnan, as members of the supervisory body and asked them to start functioning from September 5.The court said the supervisory body would scrutinise the Special Investigation Team’s (SIT) decision to close 199 riots related cases and would also examine whether it was justified.”We constitute a supervisory body of two former judges of this court, namely Justice J M Panchal and Justice K S P Radhakrishnan, who shall scrutinise the 199 matters which have been closed and express the view whether there was justification to close the cases,” a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said in its order of August 16, before he was elevated as the Chief Justice of India.The top court, in the order uploaded today, asked the panel to file a report in the matter within three months.”The supervisory body is requested to file a report within three months. The said supervising body shall be given requisite assistance which the Union of India shall provide.The supervisory body shall start functioning from September 5, 2017. The members of the said body shall get all the financial benefits as permissible in law,” the bench said.The apex court had on March 24 asked the Centre to place before it the files pertaining to the 199 cases of the anti- Sikh riots which the SIT, set up by the Home Ministry, had decided to close.The SIT is headed by Pramod Asthana, an IPS officer of 1986 batch, and has Rakesh Kapoor, a retired district and sessions judge, besides Kumar Gyanesh, an additional deputy commissioner of Delhi Police, as its members.The anti-Sikh riots that broke out after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had claimed 2,733 lives in Delhi alone.

Sacrifice bad habits, cut goat cake this Bakrid, says RSS Muslim wing

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahead of the festival of Bakrid, the Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), an RSS affiliate, has appealed to Muslims to sacrifice bad habits and not goats.”Animal sacrifice during Bakrid is a bad practice like Triple Talaq. People should boycott those advocating sacrifice on the day. Giving ‘kurbani’ during Bakrid is ‘haram’ (not approved) in Islam,” MRM Convenor (Awadh Prant-UP) Syed Hasan Kausar told reporters here.If anyone wanted to give sacrifice, he should “shun his bad habits and cut a (symbolic) goat cake,” on Bakrid, which will be celebrated on September 2, he said.Kausar said that there were a number of superstitions among Muslims about animal sacrifice and added that those who get better eduction would “understand Islam”.Meanwhile, MRM co-convernor KA Khurshid Agha advocated a Ram temple in Ayodhya.”As per Quran, prayers can not be offered at a disputed place, so how can the Babri mosque be constructed at the disputed site at Ayodhya,” he said.Earlier this month, the Manch had announced that it would launch a countrywide campaign to persuade Muslims against sacrificing cows on Bakrid with a special focus on Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar.MRM leaders met Islamic scholars associated with the organisation in New Delhi at an event presided over by senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar where a resolution was passed against cow slaughter.Agha said that Muslims were confused about “how to follow the path of Allah” and said they should come up against animal sacrifice.The organisation has also planned a “march” from Lucknow to Ayodhya from September 11 to garner support for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.During the march, which will reach Ayodhya on September 17, the MRM will organise programmes at every third kilometre to apprise and convince people about the construction of a temple.

Benami case: Tejashwi Yadav, mother Rabri Devi quizzed by Income Tax officials

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>RJD Chief Lalu Prasad’s wife Rabri Devi and son Tejashwi Yadav were question by the Income Tax department in connection with the alleged Benami property case in Patna on Tuesday.The I-T department and the Investigating Officer (IO) of the Rs 1,000 crore case recorded their statements.A special I-T team from Delhi has flown to Bihar capital to assist the IO of the case and take the probe forward, the offcials said.The department had earlier questioned Lalu Prasad’s MP daughter Misa Bharti and her husband Shailesh Kumar in the case.The department had served notices of attachment of assets in June to Lalu, Rabri, Tejashwi ( former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister) and Lalu’s daughters Chanda, Ragini Yadav, Bharti and son-in-law Kumar.It had attached about a dozen plots and buildings in Delhi and Bihar including a farm house and land in the Palam Vihar area, a residential building in the upmarket New Friends Colony area of south Delhi, nine plots on a 256.75 decimal land area in Phulwari Sharif area in Patna, where a shopping mall was being constructed, among few others in the same area in Bihar’s capital.The department has said these alleged benami assets bear a “deed” value of about Rs 9.32 crore but the taxman has estimated their current market value at Rs 170-180 crore.Benami properties are those in which the real beneficiary is not the one in whose name the property has been purchased.The Lalu family has called these cases to be borne out of “political vendetta” againt them. The department is also expected to file a complaint in a competent court against the Lalu Prasad family in this case.

Dera violence: Rajnath Singh reviews security, top babu says, ‘in an ongoing situation, can’t blame anyone

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after Panchkula violence, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday chaired a high-level meeting with top official to review security situation in Haryana.After the meeting, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said the director general of Haryana Police had assured the Central government that the situation was under control now.”Haryana, Punjab and Delhi have not seen many incidents today. Panchkula and Sirsa had a situation yesterday but now the situation has normalised,” he told reporters. Asked whether the Haryana government had failed to control the situation, Mehrishi said, “In an ongoing situation we cannot blame anyone.”Home ministry officials said Mehrishi and Intelligence Bureau chief Rajiv Jain gave detailed presentations about the situation in Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and chiefs of paramilitary personnel were also present at the meeting.The home minister was apprised about the steps taken to maintain law and order and restore peace, said an official privy to the development.While Panchkula and Sirsa were “very tense”, the situation in the rest of the state was “tense but under control”, the minister is believed to have been told.In a statement, the home ministry said the home minister reviewed the internal security and law and order situation in the country in general and in Haryana and adjoining areas and Jammu and Kashmir in particular.”The situation in Haryana was assessed at present to be under control, though it is being carefully monitored. The Home Minister took note of the assurance of DGP, Haryana that the law and order situation in Haryana would be kept in control,” the statement saidCurfew has been imposed in several places in Haryana and Punjab while prohibitory orders have been imposed in nine districts of Uttar Pradesh, all but two districts of Delhi and one district in Rajasthan following massive violence, an official said.Apart from Haryana, there were reports of sporadic violence yesterday in Punjab, Delhi and Rajasthan where police have taken precautionary measures to foil any attempt to disturb peace. At least 20,000 paramilitary personnel were deployed in Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh to assist the local police in dealing with the law and order situation.

Lavalin case: Pinarayi Vijayan ‘wrongly picked’, no need to face trial, says Kerala High Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has won a lengthy court battle, again.The senior Left leader, who was let off by the special CBI court in the Rs 374 crore Lavalin graft case in 2013, was discharged by the Kerala High Court again on Wednesday.In what can be called an embarrassment for the CBI, the court said that the Chief Minister was ‘wrongly-picked’ and there was no need for him to face the trial.Justice P Ubaid, who also upheld the discharge of two others in the Rs 374.50-crore graft case, rejected the CBI’s plea that their full-fledged trial was necessary to prove the conspiracy.The court gave its verdict in a revision petition filed by the CBI in the Kerala High Court in 2014 challenging the discharge of Vijayan and six others in the case by a special CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram.The CBI special court, Thiruvananthapuram, had in November 2013 discharged Vijayan and others in the case of alleged corruption in awarding a contract to the Canadian firm SNC-Lavalin when Vijayan was power minister in 1996 that allegedly caused a loss of Rs 374.50 crore to the state Exchequer.”The CBI wrongly picked and chose Pinarayi Vijayan without any material in the case,” the judge said today.The CBI, which had filed the charge sheet in the case, had argued that there was sufficient evidence to prove the charges against the accused.The discharge by the special court was ‘illegal’, CBI had stated in its revision petition.The special judge had ruled that the CBI had failed to prove the charges of conspiracy and corruption levelled against Vijayan and other accused.The CBI had in March argued before the court that a trial was must to prove the conspiracy in giving the contract to revamp the power projects to the Canadian firm when Vijayan was power minister in 1996.Claiming that the conspiracy was hatched at different stages in awarding the contract, the CBI had assailed the lower court order discharging Vijayan and six others and said a full-fledged trial was necessary to prove the conspiracy.In a criminal case, the actual trial begins only after framing of charges in the case by the court on the basis of prima facie evidence existing against the accused.The accused is discharged by the court in absence of any such evidence.

Govt to file mercy plea to save 2 Indians from gallows in Qatar: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi: Government has decided to file a mercy petition on behalf of family members of two men from Tamil Nadu who were awarded death penalty by Qatar’s Supreme Court for allegedly murdering a woman four years ago.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who had sought a a report about the case from Indian envoy in Qatar two days ago, said on Monday the Embassy has requested Tamil Nadu government to help in filing mercy plea for Alagappa Subramaniam and Chelladurai Perumal.

Sushma Swaraj. PTI

Sushma Swaraj. PTI

“I have received report from Qatar reg death sentence for Alagappa Subramaniam and Chelladurai Perumal both from Tamil Nadu.

“We have to file mercy petition on behalf of their family members. Our Embassy has requested Govt of Tamil Nadu in this regard,” Swaraj tweeted.

The court recently had rejected a plea by the Indian Embassy to overturn the death penalty awarded to the duo, both in their 40s, but commuted the life term awarded to the third accused, Sivakumar Arasan to 15 years’ jail term.

While Subramaniam hails from Villupuram, Perumal is a resident of Virudhunagar in Tamil Nadu who had gone to the Gulf country for greener pastures.

Congress MLA from Tamil Nadu’s Nanguneri constituency, H Vasanthakumar, had recently written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Swaraj, seeking their urgent intervention in saving Subramaniam and Perumal.

The MLA requested Modi and Swaraj to take up the case with the Ruler of Qatar.

“If these Indian nationals were not released and send back to India safely, I will organise indefinite protest before the Qatar Embassy at Delhi and Qatar Consulate at Mumbai,” he had said in the letter.

The then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa last year had sanctioned Rs 9.5 lakh to take care of the expenses for filing the appeal in the Supreme Court.

First Published On : Jan 9, 2017 17:39 IST

Demonetisation: No information on officials who were consulted, says PMO

New Delhi: There is no information available about officials whose views were taken before the decision to demonetise high-value currency notes was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 November, the Prime Minister’s Office has said.

The PMO also refused to answer a query on whether views of the Chief Economic Advisor and the Finance Minister were taken before the sudden announcement on scrapping of notes was made, saying the query does not come under the definition of “information” under the RTI Act.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Responding to an RTI query seeking to know the names of officials who were consulted before the decision, it said, “Information sought is not available in the record of this office.”

The applicant had also sought to know from the top office if any meetings were held on the issue of demonetisation before the announcement was made and on the preparedness of the government to smoothly exchange Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes with newly announced legal tender.

He also wanted to know if the government had considered that introduction of new 2,000 rupee notes will need recalibration of ATMs in the country, besides asking if any officer or minister opposed the decision.

It had also asked about any estimate on record to show what period of time will be required to convert scrapped notes into new ones.

To all these queries, the PMO said these don’t come under the definition of information under the RTI Act.

Earlier, the Reserve Bank of India had also refused to divulge such information citing exemption clauses and saying that these queries do not come under the definition of the “information” under the RTI Act.

The definition of information in the RTI Act covers “any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force”.

Former Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said, “Whether someone was consulted or not is a matter of record and comes under the ambit of RTI Act.”

The PMO transferred to Economic Affairs wing of the Finance Ministry the queries related to steps taken by the government to ensure that people do not face problems after demonetisation.

It also transferred the queries to the Economic Affairs wing in connection with the number of new currency notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 which were printed before the announcement to scrap the old notes and all the recorded reasons for the demonetisation.

First Published On : Jan 9, 2017 17:38 IST

DMK to protest Centre’s attempt to make Sanskrit mandatory, announces statewide agitation on 20 Jan

Chennai: DMK on Monday announced statewide protests on 20 January against what it called an attempt by the Centre to thrust education “inclined toward religion” and make “Sanskrit compulsory” through the proposed National Education Policy.

DMK Working President MK Stalin. File photo. PTI

A file photo of DMK working president MK Stalin. PTI

The agitation, to be led by DMK district secretaries in front of state and central government offices in all districts, will also oppose the proposed National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET).

DMK working president MK Stalin in a party release alleged that “in the name of National Education policy, the Centre is being proactive to thrust an education system inclined toward religion and make Sanskrit a compulsory language”.

He claimed NEET would adversely affect the poor and rural students’ prospects of pursuing higher education.

In Tamil Nadu, students to professional courses, including medicine and engineering, are selected on the basis of marks secured by them in Class 12 examination.

Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar had last month told PTI that the government will announce a committee, which would draft the national education policy.

The ministry had already held comprehensive discussions with all stakeholders, including states, educational institutes, parliamentarians and experts, he had said.

The draft New Education Policy was released in June last. The proposed policy focuses on areas including preventing gender discrimination, a common curriculum for science, mathematics and English and setting up educational tribunals.

First Published On : Jan 9, 2017 17:22 IST

AgustaWestland chopper scam: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi’s offence shamed country, CBI tells HC

New Delhi: CBI on Monday alleged in the Delhi High Court that former IAF chief SP Tyagi, accused in the AgustaWestland chopper scam case, has committed a serious offence which “shames the country” and the order passed by the trial court granting him bail was “illegal”.

The agency, which has challenged the bail granted to Tyagi, claimed before Justice IS Mehta that it was a serious matter and the accused was trying to delay the proceedings before the high court as several other persons, who are involved in the case, want him to remain out of jail.

“It is a serious offence which shames the country. The accused (Tyagi) is out on bail on the ground which we can seein the bail order. He is out on the basis of an order which is illegal. The order of the trial court is contrary to the evidence,” Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, appearing for CBI, told the court.

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTI

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTI

Tyagi’s counsel countered the submissions claiming there was no evidence against Tyagi in the case and they would respond to CBI’s plea and additional affidavit which was filed by the agency on 6 January.

However, the ASG told the court that besides seeking cancellation of bail granted to the former IAF chief, the CBI has also moved separate pleas in the high court against the trial court’s order granting bail to two other co-accused, Sanjeev Tyagi alias Juile and lawyer Gautam Khaitan.

“The trial court has granted bail to two other accused (Sanjeev and Khaitan) and we have also challenged these orders in the high court. Let all these pleas be heard together as the matter emnates from the same FIR, the judge was same in the trial court. Only the dates on which the orders were passed were different,” he said.

The court has fixed the matter for 18 January after Tyagi’s counsel said they would file their reply on the CBI’s plea as well as on their additional affidavit. Initially, when Tyagi’s counsel requested the court to list the matter after January 26 citing some personal difficulty, the ASG said that it is a serious offence and the matter should be heard soon.

“I request the court to have the matter on January 16. It is a serious matter. The accused will try to delay it. Several persons are involved in this case in which probe was conducted in more than one country. People who are involved wants him (Tyagi) to remain out,” Mehta said. CBI has moved the high court challenging bail granted to Tyagi by a trial court on December 26 last year on the ground that he could allegedly “hamper” the probe.

On 30 December, the high court had sought Tyagi’s response on CBI’s plea challenging his bail in the case. The agency had alleged that he could “hamper” its probe and “alert” other accused if he remained out of custody.

71-year old Tyagi was arrested by CBI on December 9 last year along with Sanjeev and Khaitan in the case relating to alleged irregularities in procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from UK-based AgustaWestland during the UPA-2 regime. During the earlier hearing, the agency had claimed in the high court that if Tyagi remained out on bail, he could “alert other potential accused”.

The agency had said that its probe was “multi-layered” as it was spread across several countries since various companies were allegedly used to “camouflage the bribe money”.

A trial court had granted bail to Tyagi, who had retired as IAF chief in 2007, saying CBI has failed to state the alleged bribe amount and when it was paid. Sanjeev and Khaitan were later granted the relief by the trial court.

All the accused have denied the allegations levelled against them by CBI.

While granting the relief, the trial court also took note of Tyagi’s advancing age and his health conditions and said no purpose would be served by keeping him behind the bars.

CBI had earlier argued before the trial court that Tyagi had allegedly “abused his official position” and during his tenure as the air chief, he had made huge investments in land and other properties and not disclosed the source of his income.

First Published On : Jan 9, 2017 16:59 IST

Mumbai: Boy’s body found dumped in a suitcase near Lokmanya rail terminus

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Mumbai: The body of a minor boy was found stuffed in a suitcase dumped near the Lokmanya Tilak rail Terminus (LTT), police said on Monday.

The decomposed body of the unidentified boy aged between 10-12 years was found last evening, they said.

The suitcase was first spotted by locals, who brought it to the notice of GRP, a police official said, adding the body was wrapped in a cloth.

The body has been sent for post-mortem and a case under relevant sections of IPC was registered at Tilak nagar police station.

Police are examining the CCTV footage of the station and missing cases filed in the recent past were being scanned, the official said adding further probe is underway.

First Published On : Jan 9, 2017 14:05 IST

Demonetisation: PAC says has all rights to call PM Modi on cash ban if RBI’s reply not satisfactory

New Delhi: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament can call Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of demonetisation if it is not satisfied with the answers given by top finance ministry officials and the RBI Governor Urjit Patel, to whom a detailed questionnaire has been sent.

A PAC meeting on this issue has been called on 20 January, in which the RBI Governor Urjit Patel, Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa and Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das will be present.

“We have not yet received answers for the questions we have sent to them. They will reply few days before the 20 January meeting. Their replies will be discussed in detail,” PAC Chairman and senior Congress leader K V Thomas told PTI.

Narendra Modi. PTINarendra Modi. PTI

Narendra Modi. PTI

Asked if the PAC would call the Prime Minister if replies were not satisfactory, he said: “The committee has all right to call anybody involved in the matter. But that will depend on the outcome of the 20 January meeting. We can call PM on demonetisation issue if members unanimously decide.”

In a meeting with the PM after demonetisation announcement made on 8 November, Thomas said, “I had met him and he said that the situation will be normal after 50 days by December-end. But it does not looks like.”

So, PAC decided to call the top officials involved in the decision making process this month, he said, adding that the demonetisation has impacted the country’s economy.

“The PM is misleading the country to satisfy his ego. He is trying to justify his wrong decisions. He has done in a callous manner by introducing Rs 2,000 notes,” he said.

“In a country where there is a call drop problem and telecom facilities are not smooth, how can PM expect e-transactions would take place on mobiles. Do we have sufficient infrastructure?” he questioned.

Asked what kind of questionnaire been sent to the RBI chief and top finance ministry officials, Thomas said that the PAC has raised questions on all aspects of demonetisation.

Among key questions sought are, who were involved in the decision-making?, how much money has come back into banks after demonetisation?, is there a law that can restrict people’s access their money?, how much money has been pumped back into the system?, if black money issue has been addressed and the impact on the economy and poor?.

The PAC, which scrutinises the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), takes suo motu note of the important matters.

First Published On : Jan 9, 2017 12:13 IST

Budget date was decided before announcement of Punjab polls, says Arun Jaitley

Amritsar: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said the date for presenting the Union Budget on 1 February was decided much in advance of the EC’s announcement of Punjab polls three days later, dismissing Opposition allegation that the budget was scheduled keeping in view the state elections.

He said there was a practice to present the budget on 28 February, but this year it would be presented on 1 February.

“The idea is to pass the Finance Bill by March 31, so that next year’s expenses could be started from April 1,” he said.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley. PTIFinance minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

Finance minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

Refuting the Opposition’s allegation, Jaitley said the date for presenting the budget was decided much earlier, before the announcement of Punjab polls and it would be wrong to say the date was fixed keeping Punjab elections in view.

Political parties including Congress, Left, Samajwadi Party and BSP have voiced reservations against presenting the Budget just three days ahead of the Punjab polls as they feel the budget may be used to announce sops to influence voters.

Jaitley also played down the trouble people faced due to the sudden move by the Union government on 8 November to demonetise high-value currency notes, saying gone were the days when people were seen standing in long queues outside banks.

“Now adequate new currency is available with banks as well as in the market,” he said.

Lauding the work done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the past three years, Jaitley said ‘surgical strike’ and demonetisation have been largely praised across the world since such steps strengthen the nation’s internal security.

He was in Amritsar to address BJP’s ‘Vijay Sankalp Yatra’, which concluded today.

First Published On : Jan 9, 2017 11:50 IST

Kashmir: Cold wave intensifies in the Valley, Gulmarg coldest at minus 12.4 degrees Celsius

Srinagar: Cold wave tightened its grip in Kashmir as many places experienced the coldest night of the season with the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg recording the lowest temperature in January in the last five years.

The night temperature across the Valley and Leh region, except Kokernag, dipped by several degrees as the cold wave tightened its grip after few days of respite due to snowfall last week, a Meteorological Department official said in Srinagar.

The famous tourist resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir recorded the minimum temperature of minus 12.4 degrees Celsius, down nearly five degrees from the previous night’s minus 7.6 degrees Celsius, the official said.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

He said it was the lowest night temperature at the resort in the month of January since 2012.

In 2012, Gulmarg recorded the lowest night temperature in the month on 13 January, when the mercury settled at minus 16.5 degrees Celsius. Thereafter, the mercury has not dropped below minus 12.0 degrees Celsius at the resort till Sunday night.

Pahalgam hill resort, in south Kashmir, also experienced the season’s lowest night temperature at minus 9.2 degrees Celsius – down six degrees from minus 3.2 degrees Celsius the previous night, the MeT official said.

Kargil, in Ladakh region, was another place which recorded the coldest night of the season so far with a low of minus 12.2 degrees Celsius.

The nearby Leh town registered a low of minus 11.4 degrees Celsius – down over three degrees from Sunday’s minus 8.0 degrees Celsius, the official said.

Srinagar recorded a low of minus 2.3 degrees Celsius – a drop of two degrees from the previous night’s minus 0.3 degrees Celsius.

He said the night temperature in the city is three degrees below the normal for this part of the season.

The mercury also went down by nearly two degrees in Qazigund, the gateway town to Kashmir Valley, and settled at a low of minus 2.0 degrees Celsius.

The north Kashmir town of Kupwara recorded a low of minus 3.6 degrees Celsius, he said.

Kokernag, in south Kashmir, was the only place where the night temperature improved slightly. The town recorded a low of minus 2.8 degrees Celsius – up from Sunday’s minus 3.7 degrees Celsius, the official said.

Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’ considered the harshest period of winter, when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum and the temperature drops considerably.

‘Chillai-Kalan’, which, began on 21 December last year, ends on 31 January, but the cold wave continues even after that.

The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).

First Published On : Jan 9, 2017 11:49 IST

Hillary Clinton will never run for office again, says close aide

Washington: Hillary Clinton will never run for office again after losing the US presidential election to Donald Trump in November after the most divisive campaign in memory, a confidante of the Democrat said.

Hillary Clinton. APHillary Clinton. AP

Hillary Clinton. AP

“I think she’s going to figure out ways to help kids and families,” Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, a Democratic Party-connected think-tank told CNN yesterday. “That’s been what she’s been focused on her whole life, and a lot of issues that are affecting them, over the next couple of years.”

“But I don’t expect her to ever run for any elected office again,” she added. Tanden was reacting to The New York Times article speculating about whether Clinton would run for New York mayor against the incumbent Bill de Blasio, her former campaign chief. “I don’t expect her to run for this and I don’t expect her to run for other office,” Tanden said, without giving more specifics about the 69-year-old former secretary of state’s plans.

“I think her job is to — what she’s thinking about right now is how to help those kids and families as she has her whole life.”

However, Clinton hasn’t completely withdrawn from the public life since her defeat on 8 November.

She has taken part in two public events and fired off a few tweets. She’s expected at the State Department on Tuesday for the unveiling of an exhibition hall named after her. Her office has also said she would attend Trump’s inauguration on 20 January with her husband, former president Bill Clinton.

First Published On : Jan 9, 2017 08:07 IST

PM Modi meets Frace’s Foriegn Minister at Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, seeks to bolster ties with Paris

Bengaluru: Seeking to give a greater momentum to their strategic relationship, India and France on Sunday discussed a wide spectrum of issues, including defence and terrorism, with the French side saying the bilateral ties should move forward with the speed of a Rafale fighter jet.

During the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault in Bengaluru, both leaders had “considerable” discussions on international terrorism of which the two countries are victims.

“I spoke about different aspects of our partnership,” Ayrault told reporters here on the sidelines of a function after his meeting with Modi, who was here to attend the 14th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the Centre’s outreach programme for overseas Indians.

Bengaluru: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France, at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. PTI

Bengaluru: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France, at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. PTI

The French minister, who began his three-day visit to India from here, said: “We spoke about defence because India needs to protect itself. Therefore, defence is an important area. I also shared with him concerns about terrorism and how we are together in fighting it.”

Noting that India has various defence needs, for example Rafale, he said, “It needs submarines, it needs helicopters. So we did discuss all of these.”

In September last year, India had inked a Euro 7.87 billion (about Rs 59,000 crore) deal with France for purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets capable of carrying nuclear weapons and equipped with latest missiles that will give the IAF greater “potency” over arch rival Pakistan.

In his media briefing, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swaroop said Ayrault and Modi reaffirmed close strategic partnerships between the two countries and deliberated upon several issues including bilateral relations in defence and international terrorism.

“The PM of India today welcomed the French Foreign Affairs Minister on his first visit to India. Both sides reaffirmed close strategic partnerships between India and France, which will be seen as a further fillip for the closure of Rafale deal,” he said on the sidelines of the three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, in Bengaluru.

The French Minister said “the bilateral ties should now move forward with a speed of Rafale,” according to Swarup.

Swaroop also said both the leaders had a comprehensive drill on bilateral relations in defence and Modi reiterated upon “Make In India” slogan in defence.

The two leaders discussed about the cooperation in civil energy with specific reference to Jaitapur nuclear plant, he said.

On economic aspects, Swaroop said the French Foreign Minister spoke about the 20 billion Euros investment in India by French companies and he was looking forward to his participation in a Gujarat event (Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit) which would provide further opportunity for French companies to invest in India.

The two leaders also discussed French participation in sustainable development of Indian cities, where more than 60 French firms are working in sectors including transport and water.

Swaroop also said the French Minister reiterated the French support for India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group membership and permanent membership of UNSC.

“There was considerable discussion between two sides on international terrorism as we know both India and France are victims of terrorism…,” he said.

Ayrault said he and Modi also spoke about civil nuclear energy because it can contribute to India’s energy mix as the Indian Prime Minister has made a commitment to the Paris climate agreement.

Besides, space, another area of cooperation between the two countries as also the economic aspects of the Indo-French partnership and “multiple aspects of our investment” were covered during the talks, he said.

The issue of French companies investing in India in various domains like smart city, transport, energy, waste management and automobile was discussed, he said.

“We spoke about multiple aspects of our investment. Many French companies are present in India. We would also like Indian companies to invest in France. We must have the principle of reciprocity,” he said.

Ayrault said he would meet Modi again on Tuesday, when he would attend the “Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit” in Ahmedabad.

France is a partner country of the Summit.

The French minister, who began his visit to the country’s IT hub by going to a temple and Russel Market, an old landmark in the city, also highlighted the cultural aspects of the relationship between India and France.

At Alliance Francaise, Ayrault launched the Bengaluru chapter of France Alumni network, a digital platform to connect foreign students who have studied French in higher education institutes.

The network would help alumni acquire key industry knowledge and explore career opportunities.

Ayrault said 4,000 Indian students had come to France in 2016 “which is a low number” and he had set an “ambitious goal” to take it to 10,000 by 2020.

Swaroop said Modi also met Surinam Vice President Ashwin Adhin and discussed issues relating to various sectors such as agriculture, animal husbandry, palm oil and wood processing for improving bilateral cooperation.

Adhin said he saw considerable potential in Ayurveda in Surinam and sought India’s help to create an eco-system for propagation of Ayurveda and turn the country into Ayurveda capital, Swaroop said.

He said that Adhin also sought investments in various sectors such as pharmaceuticals and mining.

He said Adhin sought an early meeting of India-Surinam joint commission to take forward bilateral cooperation.

The two leaders also discussed global issues such as UNSC and Adhin reaffirmed Surinam’s support to India for its permanent membership.

The Prime Minister also met Malaysian Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam and discussed about some bilateral issues.

They also discussed about Modi’s visit to Malaysia in 2015, Swaroop said.

He said the Prime Minister is looking forward to the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s visit to India.

First Published On : Jan 8, 2017 21:53 IST

Jallikattu: Supporters organise rally in Chennai for seeking permission to hold bull-taming sport

Chennai: Scores of jallikattu supporters on Sunday organised a rally seeking permission to hold the bull-taming sport coinciding with the Tamil harvest festival of Pongal, a week away.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Separately, young volunteers, mostly college students, observed a day-long fast seeking urgent measures to address the farmers’ problems in the state following drought in many districts.

At the Marina beach, hundreds of jallikattu suppporters turned up seeking permission for holding it, against which the Supreme Court upheld a ban last year. The volunteers held banners and posters demanding that the sport be held this year.

Most of them insisted that they did not owe allegiance to any outfit or political party but wanted the ‘traditional Tamil sport’ to be conducted this Pongal, i.e the coming week. Folk percussion instruments and a decorated bull added to the scene at Marina.

The Supreme Court in November last had dismissed the plea of the state government seeking review of its 2014 judgement banning use of bulls for jallikattu events in the state.

Political parties including DMK have been pressing the Centre and state government to take steps to hold the sport coinciding with Pongal this year.

At Chepauk, a group of volunteers sat on a day-long fast seeking measures to address the agrarian distress in the state following drought.

In both cases, the volunteers, mainly comprising the young and educated, said they were drawn by online messages spread through Facebook and WhatsApp.

First Published On : Jan 8, 2017 18:33 IST

Molestation cases being viewed “seriously”: Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah      

Bengaluru: With the recent spate of alleged molestation cases here triggering national outrage, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Sunday that the incidents were being viewed seriously and protecting the dignity of women is his government’s top priority.

“The recent unpleasant incidents in Bengaluru concerning assaults on women have been viewed very seriously and our government is committed to bringing to book the perpetrators of these kinds of heinous crimes,” Siddaramaiah said.

Siddaramaiah. PTISiddaramaiah. PTI

Siddaramaiah. PTI

“Ensuring safety and protecting the dignity of women remains our topmost priority. Effective steps are being taken to increase the rate of conviction in such cases,” he said.

Siddaramaiah was speaking at the inauguration of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention that was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa and Suriname Vice President Michael Ashwin Adhin, besides several Chief Ministers.

The Chief Minister’s statement comes following recent incidents of alleged molestation that have led to public anxiety and anger and raised questions about women’s safety in the country’s IT capital.

Two motorcycle-borne men allegedly tried to molest a woman while she was returning home from a gym on January four with the incident coming to light on Saturday.

A woman was allegedly assaulted near her house early on Friday when a man stalked her while she was headed towards a bus-stop on a deserted road and tried to molest the victim who suffered injuries on her lips, tongue, hand and toes as she tried to resist him.

Another woman was groped and assaulted by two scooter-borne men near her house at Kammanahalli on New Year’s eve. Five persons have been arrested in connection with the case.

On New Year’s eve, several women were allegedly molested and groped on MG Road and Brigade Road where the revellers had gathered, despite the presence of more than 1,500 police personnel, an incident that triggered national outrage.

First Published On : Jan 8, 2017 16:21 IST

Indo-US ties one of the great success stories of Obama Administration: Presidential adviser

Washington: India-US relationship is one of the “great success stories” under President Barack Obama during whose term it witnessed an unprecedented level of cooperation and bipartisan support for mutual benefit, a top presidential advisor said, days ahead of the inauguration of Donald Trump administration.

Peter Lavoy, Senior Director for South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, White House, also said that deepening and expansion of partnership with India on a whole host of issues are of critical importance to the US.

“This (India-US relationship) is really one of the great success stories of the Obama Administration,” Lavoy told PTI.

Lavoy, who has been working on South Asian issues, in particular on India-Pakistan issues for past several decades in various capacities in the US government, exuded confidence that the relationship would continue to strengthen further given the bipartisan support it has in both the countries.

“When you talk about expectations for the future, I think, all the signals point to this continued trajectory – deepening and expanding partnership,” Lavoy said.

Outgoing President Obama inherited what essentially was a bipartisan issue towards India.

“I think, this is how we are handing off the relationship from President Obama to his successor. It is very much a bipartisan issue. So I think, on both sides of the aisle in the US there is a very strong appreciation of not only the benefits but also the imperatives of partnerships with India for the continuation in our interest,” he asserted in response to a question.

“My expectation is that it will continue, because it is in India’s interest and it is in US’ interest. Republicans and Democrats alike recognise the importance of continuing (this relationship) and in fact deepening partnership with India. That’s why I am very optimistic of the future,” Lavoy said, as he refrained from giving a direct answer to a question on India-US relationship under a Trump Administration which will be inaugurated on 20 January.

Narendra Modi an Barack Obama. PTINarendra Modi an Barack Obama. PTI

Narendra Modi an Barack Obama. PTI

Referring to the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington, Lavoy recalled his speech to the Congress in June wherein he said India and the US have overcome hesitations of history and turned barriers into bridges and partnerships.

“I think, that’s much more than rhetoric. I think that is very very genuine. During the past years and actually over the last eight years, we really expanded our co-operation in wide range of areas,” he asserted.

“The partnership now covers every single area of significance to the US and I believe India,” he said, adding Obama actually inherited a very strong relationship with India that is something that his predecessor George Bush prioritized.

“President Obama has taken it into an unprecedented level of co-operation for mutual benefit,” Lavoy said.

When Obama came to office in 2009, he noted that there was still a very strong trust deficit between the leadership in Washington and the leadership in Delhi.

“What I have been very very pleased to see that the trust deficit has significantly diminished. Now the leaders of both countries, senior officials of both countries interact as familiar and trusted partners on a whole wide range of issues, whether it is cyber defense, terrorism, or any other issue,” Lavoy said.

“It is something, I think here your leadership should be aware of because what happens in the internal meetings the level of trust and mutual appreciation that takes place in these meetings has been a very palpable change over the last eight years,” the official said.

“A lot of the credit goes to the personalities, President Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before and more recently Modi. They had the vision, they had the recognition that the pursuit of both countries interests cannot be accommodated fully without the full contribution of the other country. And they managed to overcome the barriers of partnership, the suspicions, the skepticism and giving now giving the benefit of the doubt to the other one,” Lavoy said.

“And today there is no issue of significance to the US, where we do not consider how we can cooperate with India. I suspect the same would be said by our counterparts in Delhi as well. This is a very significant change. As I said earlier, we fully suspect this kind of behavior, kind of orientation will continue for many many years to come to the benefit of both of our population,” the White House official said.

First Published On : Jan 8, 2017 15:37 IST

Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah seeks concessions for NRI, PIO community in Union Budget

Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday urged the Union Government to announce suitable concessions for the NRI and PIO community in the general budget, in the backdrop of recent global developments.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. PTI

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. PTI

“The event is being held in the backdrop of many a far-reaching change across the world. Particularly, the recent changes in the United States of America and the United Kingdom raise questions on effective movement of skilled workers across borders,” Siddaramaiah said.

“It would not be out of place to urge the Union Government, the Finance Ministry in particular, to be conscious of these changes and announce suitable concessions for the NRI and PIO Community in the General Budget to be  presented shortly,” he said.

Siddaramaiah was speaking at the inauguration of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention in Bengaluru that was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa and Suriname Vice President Michael Ashwin Adhin,among others.

He also drew the Prime Minister’s attention to the resolutions passed in the Global Convention of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), held in Bengaluru recently, seeking extension of time till 30 December, 2017, for NRIs and PIO to exchange and deposit high denomination specified bank notes in Reserve Bank of India or State Bank of India.

Pitching Karnataka as the investment destination by listing various measures taken by his government, the Chief Minister referred to the NRI policy brought out by the state.

“I am glad to share with you that we have announced the NRI Policy of Karnataka, just two days ago, with a vision to play a catalytic role in achieving sustainable linkages in the globe, so that, a progressive, prosperous, robust and vibrant Karnataka is built,” he said.

First Published On : Jan 8, 2017 15:15 IST

Convert PIO cards to OCI cards: PM Modi tells overseas Indian on Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

Bengaluru: Government is working to put in place procedures for making descendants of the indentured labour living in Fiji and other countries eligible for OCI cards, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday.

“Starting with Mauritius, we are working to put in place procedures so that descendants of Girmitiyas could become eligible for OCI Cards. We remain committed to addressing similar difficulties of PIOs in Fiji, Reunion Islands, Suriname, Guyana and other Caribbean States,” he said in his address at the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here. Girmityas are descendents of indentured Indian labourers who were brought to Fiji to work on sugarcane plantations in mid-1800s.

File image of Narendra Modi. Reuters

File image of Narendra Modi. Reuters

The Prime Minister also urged the People of Indian Origin (PIO) to convert their cards into Overseas Citizen of India cards, reiterating the government’s decision to extend the deadline for these card conversions from December 31 last year to June 30, without any penalty.

“From 1 January this year, beginning with Delhi and Bengaluru, we have set up special counters at immigration points for OCI cardholders. We want it to become a symbol of global migration, achievements and aspirations of the diaspora,” he said. Observing that there are over 30 million overseas Indians living abroad, he said they were not just respected for their numbers, but for the contributions they have made to the societies they live in.

“The NRIs and PIOs have made outstanding contributions to their chosen fields. They are role models for immigrants from other backgrounds and countries … They take our values and culture wherever they go. The Indian diaspora have contributed their best towards progress in that country,” Modi said.

He said the remittance of close to 69 billion dollars annually by overseas Indians made an invaluable contribution to the Indian economy. Talking about brain drain, Modi government said his government was taking steps to convert brain drain into brain gain.

“When people spoke of brain drain, it was believed that the brighter people went abroad seeking employment opportunities … but I was asking people that whoever are left behind in India, are they dumb? It is our endeavour to convert that brain drain into brain gain,” he said. Modi also said the govermment will launch skill development programme, Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojna, for Indian youth who seek employment overseas.

First Published On : Jan 8, 2017 14:59 IST

Rajiv Gandhi assasination case: Vaiko appeals to Tamil Nadu CM to release seven convicts

Chennai: MDMK founder Vaiko on Sunday appealed to Chief Minister O Panneerselvam to release seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case on the occasion of the birth centenary of former Chief Minister, late MG Ramachandran, citing precedents in the past.

MDMK chief Vaiko. Firstpost

MDMK chief Vaiko. Firstpost

In a letter to the Chief Minister, Vaiko also sought release of convicts who had completed ten years of jail term.

Besides recalling past precedents where prisoners had been released on occasions including India’s independence, birth centenary of Mahatma Gandhi in 1969 and efforts by Ramachandran himself as Chief Minister, Vaiko also referred to a Tamil film where the former matinee idol strives to reform some prison inmates.

“In this background, I request that on the occasion of the birth centenary of MGR (as he is addressed), who was an epitome of humanity, the seven persons in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case who have spent 25 years in jail should be released,” he said.

Such a decision should be taken on “humanitarian” grounds, he said in the letter which was released by MDMK headquarters.

Tamil Nadu government should use the “authority” provided to the state government under Article 161 of the Constitution of India for this purpose, he added.

Article 161 deals with the “Power of Governor to grant pardons etc and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases.”

Vaiko, who noted that death penalty has been abolished in 137 countries, added that many of them have accepted that prisons are not meant to punish but reform.

Therefore to rehabilitate those who have undergone ten years of prison term, such persons should also be freed on the occasion, he said.

Vaiko recalled that Ramachandran had played the lead role in the Tamil film “Pallandu Vazhga” where he sets out to reform some tough prisoners.

First Published On : Jan 8, 2017 14:38 IST

Kerala Police to open self-defence training centres for women

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Police is getting ready to impart self-defence training to women to equip them physically and mentally to tackle any harassment or atrocities against them and as part of the plan, permanent training centres would be opened in all 14 districts in the state.

Representational image. Getty Images

Representational image. Getty Images

Simple and easy compared to conventional martial arts like ‘kalari‘ and ‘karate’, the police’s defense technique is designed in a manner in which women of all ages can learn it within a short span of time, police here said.

DGP Loknath Behera said the self-defense skills, imparted at the centres, would help women protect themselves from any kind of attack and harassment they face in daily life including on buses and trains, closed spaces such as lifts and ATMs and other public places.

The techniques would also equip them to fight acid attacks, chain-snatching, domestic violence and other sexual assaults, he said in Thiruvananthapuram in a release.

“Kerala police has already launched Pink Patrol and Pink Beat to equip women against atrocities. We expect a remarkable decrease in the incidents of violence against women with the launching of self-defense skills and organising of mass awareness drives in this regard,” Behera said.

A syllabus of 60 hours has been designed for the proposed training centres. Besides the defense techniques, the training would also include personality training and psychological tips to enhance confidence among women and awareness on pro-women laws.

The police chief said the centres would be set up at a cost of Rs three lakh each in all districts.A state-level centre would be set up in Thiruvanathapuram.

Under the project, police department has also drawn up a training-cum-awareness programme centred on schools, colleges, offices and residents’ associations.

Around 500 women police personnel have been trained to impart the programme across the state, he said.

The training centres are expected to be operational by February last, the official added.

First Published On : Jan 8, 2017 14:27 IST

Demonetisation impact to last longer than expected: Economist Jean Dreze

New Delhi: Demonetisation will take an “awful toll” on the underprivileged, especially wage labourers, and its impact might be worse and last longer than expected, noted development economist Jean Dreze has said.

Dismissing the claim that the demonetisation was a “surgical strike” on black money, he said if the government is really interested in dealing with the problem of ill-gotten wealth, it would be useful to start the process by introducing transparency in political funding.

“The BJP, being in power and a proud enemy of corruption, would do well to set an example by disclosing its own accounts,” Dreze, a former member of UPA’s National Advisory Council (NAC) and now a visiting professor at the department of economics at Ranchi University, told PTI in an interview.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

As far as the impact of demonetisation of higher value currency notes is concerned, he said, “The crisis will take an awful toll on the underprivileged, especially wage labourers.”

“The effects of demonetisation might be worse and last longer than the government seems to expect. Short-term changes in the informal sector are largely below the radar of official statistics,” Dreze added.

Noting that the economic growth in the private sector has more or less ground to a halt for now, the Belgian-born Indian economist said,”recovering from this broad-based slump is likely to take time.”

Observing that the cashless payments may have some merits, but forcing them on the population at the risk of crashing the economy is not a fair way to promote them, Dreze hinted the real purpose of demonetisation is different – perhaps something to do with corporate interests or electoral politics.

“In terms of the hidden purpose, demonetisation may be a success, but at the expense of the general public,” he noted.

Stressing that the government has enough legislative powers to go after the big fish, including the top corporate loan defaulters, the noted economist said he is sure that would be more effective than to harass millions of Jan Dhan account holders in an elusive search for black money.

Dreze, who has done extensive work in India — on issues like hunger, famine and the NREGA — said the government should revive a series of legislative initiatives that have come to a standstill in the last three years, including the Lokpal Act, the Whistleblowers Protection Act and the Grievance Redressal Bill.

First Published On : Jan 8, 2017 14:16 IST

‘No dispute in the party,’ claims Mulayam Singh Yadav

Lucknow: Amid the ongoing power tussle in the ruling family of Uttar Pradesh, Samajawdi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav asserted on Sunday that there was “no dispute” in the party. Mulayam along with Shivpal Yadav this morning met party workers at the SP headquarters.

Mulayam Singh Yadav. PTI

Mulayam Singh Yadav. PTI

When asked about the ongoing tussle within the family and party, Mulayam said, “hamari party me koi vivad nahi hai” (There is no dispute in our party). He later along with Shivpal left for New Delhi, where he is likely to visit Election Commission for staking claim on the party’s ‘cycle’ symbol.

The Mulayam camp is likely to submit its set of affidavits on Monday, the deadline set by the EC for both the sides to submit documents before it decides on which side to be allotted the ‘cycle’ symbol after the split in SP was formalised on 3 January.

On Saturday, the Akhilesh faction submitted to the EC affidavits which it claimed to have signatures of “90 per cent” of legislators and delegates, including over 200 of the 229 MLAs. On reports that Mulayam got his room locked at the party office and put up his and Shivpal’s name plates, SP state chief (Akhilesh faction) Naresh Uttam said, “their name plates were never removed”.

To another question, he said,” Akhileshji is our national president and we will contest polls under him. He was made president at national convention.”

First Published On : Jan 8, 2017 13:52 IST

Chhattisgarh police personnel responsible for rape and assault of 16 women: NHRC sends notice

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission has sent a notice to Chhattisgarh government over alleged rape, sexual and physical assault of 16 women by the state police personnel, and observed the government is “vicariously liable” for it.

The Commission, in a statement also said that it awaits the recorded statement of about “20 other victims”. “The NHRC has found 16 women, prima facie, victims of rape, sexual and physical assault by the state police personnel in Chhattisgarh,” it said. The Commission has issued the notice to the “government through its Chief Secretary, to show cause why it should not recommend interim monetary relief of Rs 37 lakh to them.

NHRC sends a report to New Delhi.

NHRC sends a report to New Delhi.

“This includes, Rs 3 lakh each to eight victims of rape, Rs 2 lakh each to six victims of sexual assault and Rs 50,000 each to two victims of physical assault.” The NHRC has observed it is of the view that prima-facie, human rights of the victims have been “grossly violated” by the security personnel for which Chattisgarh government is “vicariously liable”. It also found that the grave allegations of “physical as well as rape/sexual assault committed by security personnel of government of Chhattisgarh, made in the FIRs, were reiterated before the NHRC Team, which conducted spot investigation before the magistrate.”

The Commission said that after careful consideration of the material on record, it found that there are in “total 34 victims mentioned in police complaints.” “The material includes copies of statement of victims recorded by the NHRC Team as well as those recorded u/s 164 CrPC in case FIR No. 22/15, FIR No. 2/16 and FIR No. 3/16 in respect of 15 victims, sent by the IGP, Police Headquarters, Raipur vide letter dated November 12, 2016,” the NHRC said in the statement. The Commission has also noted that the NHRC Team “could record the statements of only 14 victims out of the 34 victims mentioned in the FIRs. Thus, statements of 20 victims are yet to be recorded by it.”

“The statements u/s 164 CrPC have been recorded by the magistrate only in respect of 15 victims. Thus, statements of 19 more victims are yet to be recorded. “Almost all the victims in these incidents, covered under the three FIRs, are tribals. However, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has not been invoked in any of the cases. As a result of this, the due monetary relief under the SC/ST (PoA) Act has not been paid to the victims,” it added. P

The Commission said it has directed the DIG (Investigation) to depute a team of officials from the Investigation Division and Law Division to record the statements of 15 victims whose statements were not recorded either by the NHRC Team or by the Magistrate u/s 164 CrPC and submit the same to the Commission within one month.

“The Additional Director General of Police (CID), government of Chhattisgarh has been directed to get the statements of 19 more victims u/s 164 CrPC recorded before the Magistrate and forward the same to the Commission within one month,” it added.

The Additional Director General of Police (CID) has also been directed to ensure that SC/ST (PoA) Act is invoked in all the cases the victims belonged to Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes, the Commission said. The Chief Secretary has been directed to ensure that monetary relief, if any, under the SC/ST (PoA) Act is paid to the victims at the earliest, the NHRC added. The Commission has also made it clear that the above directions are of “interim nature and a final view will be taken in respect of other victims and also with regard to other issues involved in this matter in due course of time”.

“It was reported that women from five villages Pegdapalli, Chinnagelur, Peddagelur, Gundam and Burgicheru had alleged that state police personnel had sexually harassed and assaulted more than 40 of them and gangraped at least two in Bijapur district,” it added. The news report depicted other “brutalities” of the security forces also. Considering the gravity of the allegations and brutality of sexual violence upon hapless women, the matter was considered by the full bench of the Commission on February 22 last year. The Investigation Team of the Commission recorded statements of several persons including the security personnel and some of the victims.

“The Team could not however, record the statements of all the victims that were mentioned in the three FIRs in question because of the time constraint, prevailing security situation, non-availability of victims and physical barriers,” the NHRC added.

First Published On : Jan 8, 2017 11:26 IST

Lucknow: Four labourers killed, six others injured as speeding car crashes into night shelter

Lucknow: Four labourers were killed and six others injured when a speeding car rammed into a night shelter in Dalibag locality in Hazratganj area in the wee hours in Lucknow on Sunday.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“Two of the accused, who were drunk, have been arrested and car has also been seized,” SSP, Manzil Saini said.

The incident took place at about 2 am when 35 labourers were sleeping inside the night shelter and the car rammed into it.

The car was allegedly being driven at a high speed when the accident happened.

Four of the deceased were daily wage earners from eastern Uttar Pradesh’s Bahraich district.

The six labourers, who are severely injured, have been admitted to the trauma centre.

First Published On : Jan 8, 2017 10:53 IST

JNU gender panel polls delayed for nine months due to student-admin confrontation

New Delhi: The protracted tussle between the JNU administration and students over a host of issues has not only caused turbulence on the campus but also delayed the election process at the politically active institution for more than nine months.

The election to the post of student representatives of Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH), which deals with complaints of sexual harassment in the university, are conducted in April every year.

The polls could not be held last time as the sedition row sparked a series of controversies on the campus.

File image of the JNU campus. JNU website

File image of the JNU campus. JNU website

GSCASH comprises two student-elected representatives, faculty members, office staff and representatives from the JNU Students’ Union, JNU Officers’ Association and JNU Staff Association.

“The university administration and students have been engaging in a tussle following the February 9 incident. Now the authorities have even equated protests to crime… We have not been able to conduct the election to such a crucial body,” JNU Students Union (JNUSU) President Mohit Pandey told PTI.

“We will propose holding of elections once classes resume after the winter break,” he said.

Earlier, the election to GSCASH would coincide with the JNUSU polls. However, to maintain the sanctity of the gender panel as a non-political body, it was decided three years ago to hold the two polls separately.

Though the election is not contested on the basis of organisation’s or a candidate’s political ideology, most of the candidates are supported by organisations within the campus.

GSCASH, which works as an autonomous body, was constituted in 1999. Its three major functions are gender sensitisation and orientation, crisis management and mediation, and formal enquiry and redressal.

The panel has a crucial role to play as the university received maximum number of sexual harassment complaints by any educational institution in Delhi in the last two years.

While the JNU authorities claimed the high figures were due to the university offering a proper platform encouraging complainants to come forward, a group of varsity teachers had questioned the working of GSCASH, alleging that its “processes are perverted”.

Some of the issues which have kept students and the JNU administration at loggerheads in recent months include the row over the February 9 event last year in which anti-India slogans were allegedly raised, blocking of degrees of a few students for allegedly violating discipline norms, banning protests at varsity’s administration block and suspension of students for allegedly disrupting a council meeting.

First Published On : Jan 8, 2017 10:43 IST

India, Portugal sign defence and six other pacts to boost ties, take a dig at China

New Delhi: India and Portugal on Saturday inked seven pacts to expand bilateral engagement in a wide range of areas including defence and security, IT and renewable energy even as they took a veiled dig at China for blocking New Delhi’s move at the UN to list Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)’s chief Masood Azhar as a
global terrorist.

In wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa, while
agreeing to deepen the ties, also called for tough global action against terror networks and States harbouring them stressing that there should not be any double standards in combating terrorism.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa during his ceremonial reception at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on Saturday. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa during his ceremonial reception at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa during his ceremonial reception at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI

Modi, in a statement to the media, said he and Costa discussed the need for the global community to take strong and urgent action against the rapidly growing and widely spreading threats of violence and terror.

“Recognising the importance of the Central role of UN in combating terrorism, they exhorted the international community to effectively implement the measures enumerated by the 1267 UN Sanctions Committee,” a joint statement issued after the talks said.

On 30 December, China had blocked India’s move to list Pakistan-based Azhar as a global terrorist, at the 1267
Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council. China was the only member in the 15-nation Committee to have opposed India’s move.

The joint statement said both sides called for strengthening cooperation in combating terrorism in a spirit
of ‘zero tolerance’, underlining that States should not support any terror entity including ‘non-State actors’ on any grounds.

The two leaders also called for eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and their financing, and sought adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism by the UN.

The prime minister said his talks with Costa, who traces his origin to Goa, covered the full range of India–Portugal ties across various sectors.

“We agreed that the two countries must focus on an action-oriented approach to realize the full potential of economic opportunities in our partnership. The agreements signed today are just one indication of our shared resolve to do exactly that,” he said.

Modi also thanked Costa for Portugal’s support to India’s membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime, and for its continued support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The MoU on defence envisages cooperation meeting security challenges, including in the maritime domain and defence industries.

The joint statement said the two prime ministers looked forward to the signing of the protocol amending the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and to early ratification of the Social Security Agreement by Portugal to enable it to enter into force.

Modi and Costa condemned extremism and terrorism in all their forms and manifestations, “irrespective of who the
perpetrators are and of their motivations.”

“They called for eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and their
financing,” the statement said.

It further said: “They underlined that States should not support any terror entity including ‘non-State actors’ on any grounds and that violent extremism fuelled by misuse of Internet and the social media needs to be countered.”

Costa, who had lived in Goa, said he felt proud for being able to return to India as Portugal’s prime minister.

“This may be your first state visit to India, but you are neither a stranger to India nor is India unfamiliar to you. So, in addition to extending a warm welcome on this chilly evening, I must also say, Welcome Back!,” said Modi.

On defence cooperation, Modi invited Portuguese companies to participate in the ‘Make in India’ initiative and set up joint ventures and commercial partnerships based on joint production and technology transfer.

Costa, who arrived on Saturday on a seven-day visit, also said Portugal will continue to support India’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council along with Brazil and another country from the African continent.

The Portuguese PM will attend the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas in Bengaluru tomorrow and then will travel to Gandhinagar to attend the Vibrant Gujarat summit on 10 January. He will also visit his ancestral home in Goa.

Talking about UN’s role, he said protection of human rights, rule of law and peaceful resolution of conflicts must be the priority for all.

Referring to India’s NSG bid, Portugal hoped that India will achieve its early membership.

The other MoUs signed provided for cooperation in areas of information technology and electronics, agricultural trade including market access for agricultural products, deeper engagement in renewable energy and marine research.

Both sides also agreed to accord priority to boost start- ups and creating favourable ecosystems for entrepreneurship.

“In this context, the leaders welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on start-ups and the roadmap therein and called for regular exchanges between Start-Up India and Start-Up Portugal to boost business and enterprise,” said the statement.

A commemorative stamp celebrating two dance forms of the two countries were released.

Recognising the cultural and commercial significance of India’s film industry and its growing interest in Portugal, Costa agreed to facilitate enhanced collaboration to make Portugal a preferred filming destination for the industry.

In this context, the two leaders looked forward to early conclusion of an Audio-Visual Co-Production Agreement between the two countries, as a timely initiative to incentivize joint film production and boost cooperation in the vibrant film sector.

First Published On : Jan 7, 2017 22:41 IST

Leh observes shutdown in protest after professor molests MBBS student

Leh: A shutdown was on Saturday observed in Leh by political parties against the alleged molestation of an MBBS student by a senior faculty member at the Government Medical College in Jammu, demanding the immediate termination of the accused and appointment of a special prosecutor in the case.

The protest was organised by Ladakh Regional Joint Action Committee, comprising youth wings of the Ladakh Buddhist Association, Anjuman Moin-ul-Islam, Anjuman Imamia, and BJP and Congress in Leh district.

Representational image. CNN-News18Representational image. CNN-News18

Representational image. CNN-News18

The market in Leh district was shut down in protest against the alleged molestation of the final year student. The committee later submitted a memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to regional authorities at Leh.

They demanded the setting up of a fast-track court, a SIT to probe the matter and appointment of a special prosecutor.

Jammu and Kashmir government on 3 January suspended the accused Bhupesh Khajuria, professor, Department of Forensic Medicine, a week after he was booked for molesting the girl.

He was booked following a written complaint by the girl.

In her complaint, the girl alleged that Khajuria called her to his room to discuss the result of her examination and tried to molest her.

The state government’ suspension order has said Khajuria will remain attached to the Directorate of Health Service, Jammu, during the period of investigation. But the protesters have sought his immediate termination.

First Published On : Jan 7, 2017 22:21 IST

India, Portugal sign MoU on defence cooperation; also ink six other pacts

New Delhi: India and Portugal inked seven pacts to expand bilateral engagement in a wide range of areas including defence and security, IT and renewable energy, even as they took a veiled dig at China for blocking New Delhi’s move at the UN to list JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.

Portugal Prime Minister and Narendra Modi share a light moment. PTIPortugal Prime Minister and Narendra Modi share a light moment. PTI

Portugal Prime Minister and Narendra Modi share a light moment. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa, while agreeing to deepen the ties, also called for tough global action against terror networks and States harbouring them, stressing that there should not be any double standards in combating terrorism.

Modi, in a statement to the media, said he and Costa discussed the need for the global community to take strong and urgent action against the rapidly growing and widely spreading threats of violence and terror.

“Recognising the importance of the central role of UN in combating terrorism, they exhorted the international community to effectively implement the measures enumerated by the 1267 UN Sanctions Committee,” a joint statement issued after the talks said.

On 30 December, China had blocked India’s move to list Pakistan-based Azhar as a global terrorist, at the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council. China was the only member on the 15-nation committee to have opposed India’s move.

The joint statement said both sides called for strengthening cooperation in combating terrorism in a spirit of zero tolerance, underlining that States should not support any terror entity including ‘non-State actors’ on any grounds.

The two leaders also called for eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and their financing, and sought adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism by the UN.

Modi said his talks with Costa, who traces his origin to Goa, covered the full range of India-Portugal ties across various sectors.
“We agreed that the two countries must focus on action-oriented approach to realise the full potential of economic opportunities in our partnership. The agreements signed today are just one indication of our shared resolve to do exactly that,” he said.

Modi also thanked Costa for Portugal’s support to India’s membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime, and for its continued support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The MoU on defence envisages cooperation meeting security challenges, including in the maritime domain and defence industries.

First Published On : Jan 7, 2017 21:43 IST

BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj booked for blaming Muslims for population rise

Meerut: BJP leader Sakshi Maharaj was booked for allegedly hurting religious feelings after he sparked a controversy by indirectly blaming Muslims for the population growth in the country, days after Supreme Court outlawed seeking votes in the name of religion or caste.

Sakshi Maharaj. Image courtesy: CNN-News18Sakshi Maharaj. Image courtesy: CNN-News18

Sakshi Maharaj. Image courtesy: CNN-News18

As the outburst by the MP from Unnao in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh drew strong condemnation from opposition parties, the BJP distanced itself from the comments made at a sant sammelan on Friday while the Election Commission sought a report from Meerut district administration.

The FIR was registered under Indian Penal Code sections 298 (uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class) and 153b (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) among others, police said.

Meerut superintendent of police J Ravinder Goud said the FIR was registered at Sadar Bazar police station.

Congress said it will file a complaint against Sakshi Maharaj before the Election Commission.

“Those with four wives and 40 children are responsible for the population increase in the country. Hindus are not responsible for the increase in population,” he had said. “Strict laws are required in this country if we really want to curb population. Parties need to rise above politics and take decision for the sake of the country.”

Congress leader KC Mittal said Maharaj’s speech is offensive as it is based on caste and religion and goes against the recent Supreme Court judgement. “It is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct and Congress is officially filing a complaint against him with the Election Commission,” he said.

Condemning the comments, JD-U leader KC Tyagi termed them as the first major violation of the Supreme Court guidelines outlined on Monday on use of religion in politics. “Recently the Supreme Court and the Election Commission laid down some guidelines for model code of conduct, including not to use religion, caste and language. This is the first major violation by a major political party. Now action must be taken by the party as well and the EC against Sakshi Maharaj,” he said.

“They are making derogatory comments against one section of the society. This is violation of Model Code of Conduct to incite one section against another. And this is a criminal act,” he added.

Asked about the comments, BJP leader and Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “I haven’t seen his statement, but we believe in taking everyone along. The country runs on law, on Constitution, it does not run with a stick. Such statements or views are not of either BJP or government. We have nothing to do with such statements.”

Caught in the controversy at a time when elections in Uttar Pradesh and four other states are around the corner, an unfazed Maharaj made it clear that he was not speaking at a BJP event.

“I had said that the population of India is approx 132 crore. India’s landmass is not increasing but our population keeps on increasing. We need to control this menace. We should respect women and I had said that she is not a machine, that is why four wives, 40 kids and triple talaq are no longer tolerable. We need to take a decision whether we should have one, two, three or four kids. But we need to take a decision on this,” he said.

The EC sought a report from the Meerut administration in connection with Sakshi Mahraj’s statement, the office of the Chief Electoral Officer in Lucknow said. The Meerut district administration said ADM, Meerut and city magistrate are investigating the matter from all aspects.

“We have got information about few comments during the sant sammelan held at Augharnath Temple here through various
newspapers. We have sought reports on it from Election Commission. ADM city and city magistrate are investigating the matter from all aspects. We will take prompt action according to law if we find anything,” district magistrate B Chandrakala

First Published On : Jan 7, 2017 20:19 IST

Sakshi Maharaj’s views not the party’s: BJP distances itself from controversial remarks

New Delhi: The BJP distanced itself from party MP Sakshi Maharaj’s comment suggesting Muslims were responsible for the population boom in the country, saying it is not the view of the ruling party nor that of the NDA government at the Centre.

Sakshi Maharaj. ReutersSakshi Maharaj. Reuters

Sakshi Maharaj. Reuters

Union minister of state for minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi reiterated that the BJP is for inclusive growth and asserted the country will be governed based on law and Constitution and not danda (baton). “I have not read his statement. But when we talk about development of all, this country runs as per law, Constitution and not baton. His statement, I believe, is not the government’s view and also not of the BJP,” Naqvi told reporters here.

Asked about Congress reportedly planning to take up the issue with Election Commission given the model code of conduct is
in effect in five states including Uttar Pradesh where Maharaj made the statement, Naqvi said “It is wrong to perceive his
statement as that of the BJP.”

Maharaj had stoked controversy by indirectly blaming Muslims for the population boom in the country. Without naming any community, the lawmaker had said the population has gone up due to those who support the concept of four wives and 40 children.

“Those with four wives and 40 children are responsible for the population increase in the country. Hindus are not responsible for the increase in population,” the Unnao MP had said addressing a sant sammelan in Meerut on Friday.

First Published On : Jan 7, 2017 17:20 IST

Kashmir remains cut off from rest of country for second day due to heavy snowfall

Srinagar: Kashmir remained cut off from the rest of the country for the second day on Saturday due to heavy snowfall in many areas over the past four days as the mercury fell below freezing point at most places with Gulmarg recording the coldest temperature in the state.

The arterial Srinagar-Jammu National Highway remained closed for the second consecutive day as the road has been blocked by snowfall and landslides at some places on the other side of Pir Panjal mountain range, an official said here.

He said efforts were on the restore the 294-km road, the only all-weather link between Kashmir and rest of the country, at the earliest.

“If the weather continues to hold, we might be able to make the road traffic worthy and clear the stranded vehicles later in the day,” the official said.

The road was closed on Friday due to heavy snowfall across Kashmir and landslides at some places.

The precipitation has stopped since Friday night.

The air traffic to and fro Srinagar International Airport also remained suspended for the second day as the runway has been blocked by snow.

Representative image. Reuters.

Representative image. Reuters.

“The Airport Authority of India is making efforts to clear the snow from the runway and we are hopeful that the afternoon flights might be able to land and take off,” an official at Srinagar Airport said.

Normal life across the Valley remained paralysed as the authorities here failed to clear the snow even from main roads of the city and other inter-district routes.

Very few vehicles could be seen on the roads as people preferred to stay indoors after Friday’s harrowing experience with traffic jams caused by snowfall which had choked the city roads.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, while taking stock of the situation last evening, expressed displeasure with the pace of snow clearance operations and directed the administration to speed up the work.

Meanwhile, Gulmarg ski resort in north Kashmir was the coldest recorded place in the state on Friday night as the mercury plunged to minus 8.4 degrees celsius, a drop of two degrees from previous night’s minus 6.2 degrees celsius.

Pahalgam in south Kashmir, which serves as the base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra, recorded a low of minus 4.3 degrees celsius.

Leh, in Ladakh region, has been witnessing warmer nights that usual as the minimum temperature settled at minus 4.1 degrees celsius.

Srinagar city, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, and other weather stations across the valley recorded minimum temperature close to freezing point.

More snowfall and rain has been predicted in the valley over the next 24 hours.

The Jammu-Srinagar national highway continued to remain closed for vehicular traffic for the second consecutive day on Saturday following snowfall at various places in Ramban and Udhampur districts.

“The 300-km long highway continues to remain closed for vehicular traffic since 7 am on Friday following snowfall and heavy rains at various places en route the highway,” a Traffic Police officer said.

No vehicle was allowed to move on the highway towards Kashmir Valley from Nagrota check post as a precautionary measure, he said.

There has been heavy snowfall at Jawahir tunnel, Banihal and Patnitop areas along the highway. Hills of Bhaderwah, Kathua, Kishtwar and Ramban also experienced snowfall on Friday. In Jammu city and plain area, heavy rainfall is on since Friday triggering cold wave conditions.

First Published On : Jan 7, 2017 16:13 IST

Portuguese PM Antonio Costa to arrive in Goa on 11-12 January; will visit ancestral house

Panaji: Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa will be arriving in Goa on 11 January on a two-day trip during which he will visit his ancestral house and attend a host of events in the coastal State.

“Costa will arrive on 11 January from Gujarat and on the same day he would pay a courtesy visit to Goa Governor Mridula Sinha and Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar,” an official from State Protocol Department told PTI on Saturday.

On the same day, he would be visiting his ancestral house at Margao, 30km from Panaji where he would be having meal with family members of his cousin.

Antonio Costa. ReutersAntonio Costa. Reuters

Antonio Costa. Reuters

Anna Kaarina Costa, first cousin of the 55-year-old Prime Minister, currently lives at the Costa House, located on Abade Faria Road, with her family members.

Goa was ruled by Portuguese for nearly 400 years and it was liberated in 1961.

The PM would be visiting the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) at Dona Paula, Churches in Old Goa and a temple at Mangueshi, according to his itinerary.

Later in the evening, he would be given a reception by civil society groups at Adil Shah palace, a former secretariat building in the heart of Panaji city.

He would be presented with the English translation of “Sem Caras Nem Coroas”, a book originally written by his father Orlando Costa.

On 12 January, he is scheduled to make a trip to a factory at Verna besides paying courtesy visits to various institutes associated with the Portuguese Government in the State, the official said.

Before winding up his Goa visit, the Portuguese leader will be accorded a reception by local community members.

First Published On : Jan 7, 2017 15:57 IST

TN govt seeks Krishna water from Andhra Pradesh due to deficient monsoon

Chennai: With a deficient North East monsoon failing to fill up the city reservoirs, on Saturday, Tamil Nadu government urged Andhra Pradesh to ensure the immediate release of Krishna water to meet the drinking water needs of the city.

Chief Minister O Panneerselvam in his letter to his Andhra Pradesh counterpart N Chandrababu Naidu, highlighted the deficient North East monsoon and meagre storage in city reservoirs, and sought his personal intervention for the immediate release of Krishna water from Kandaleru reservoir.

“As you are aware, Tamil Nadu and Chennai city are primarily dependent on the North-East monsoon for bulk of the rainfall. This year (2016), the North-East monsoon has been highly deficient in Tamil Nadu. Rainfall in Chennai city is deficient by nearly 57 percent,” he said.

O Panneerselvam. PTIO Panneerselvam. PTI

O Panneerselvam. PTI

The water level in Chennai’s reservoirs was very low and the “meagre storage” currently available needs to be augmented to meet drinking water supply requirements of the city over the next few months, Panneerselvam said.

“Therefore, we depend on the release of Krishna waterfrom the Kandaleru reservoir to partly tide over the drinking water supply to Chennai till July, 2017. Chennai city is critically dependent on the release of Krishna water, in order to manage the difficult situation in which we find ourselves this year,” he said.

As per an Inter-State agreement reached in April 1983, an annual quantum of 12 TMC ft. (excluding evaporation loss) shall be realised at the Tamil Nadu border, by release of water from Kandaleru Reservoir to meet the drinking water needs of Chennai City, Panneerselvam noted.

Normally, 8 TMC ft. of water has to be supplied between July and October and another 4 TMC ft. from January to April.

However, a quantum of only 0.99 TMC ft. has been realised at the Tamil Nadu border in the period from October to December, 2016, the Chief Minister said in the letter.

“I am given to understand that as on 5 January, 2017, Kandaleru reservoir has a storage of 13.53 TMC ft.Therefore, Andhra Pradesh appears to be in a position to release water from Kandaleru Reservoir for Chennai City.”

“In the circumstances, I request you to kindly instruct the officials to ensure the immediate release of the agreed quantum of water from Kandaleru Reservoir,” he added.

Panneerselvam said he was writing to Naidu seeking his “urgent personal intervention” on the matter.

First Published On : Jan 7, 2017 15:01 IST

Goa Election 2017: Election Commission to keep strict watch on drug peddlers

Panaji: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has kept a strict watch on drug peddlers in the state to ensure that narcotics does not become a conduit to push in money or lure voters during upcoming Goa polls.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“We have had a meeting with Goa Police’s Anti Narcotics Cell and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) who are keeping a close watch on drug paddling in the state,” Goa’s Chief Electoral Officer Kunal told PTI on Saturday.

He said the ECI guidelines have also cautioned the use of narcotics trade to induce voters or circulate money during upcoming state assembly polls.

Kunal said that the Chief Electoral Office has asked agency to have area-wise map of the drug trade in the Coastal state.

“The list of people involved in this trade depending their past records and intelligence inputs have also been made. They will be under constant watch during the election period,” he said.

The CEO has also asked both the district magistrates to activate their machinery to ensure that drug trade is monitored.

Narcotics is a social evil and also we want to ensure that it is not used to induce voters, Kunal said.

“All the measures are in place to ensure that no voter is allowed to be influenced,” he said adding that the flying squads which are activated in all the constituencies also would be equipped with one surveillance officer who would be monitoring the narcotics trade.

The CEO has also decided to take up awareness campaign through social media against the use of narcotics and its evil effects.

First Published On : Jan 7, 2017 12:52 IST

Kiran Bedi to stay as Puducherry governor: BJP scoffs at criticisms made by Congress

Puducherry: The Puducherry unit of BJP on Saturday scoffed at the criticisms made against the functioning of Lt Governor Kiran Bedi, by the ruling Congress here.

President of the local BJP, V Saminathan told PTI on Saturday that he had apprised the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh of the “Excellent work” Kiran Bedi has been doing in Puducherry to ensure a clean administration and to achieve “prosperous Puducherry.”

File photo of Kiran Bedi. PTI

File photo of Kiran Bedi. PTI

He also said the Congress’ demand to the Centre to rein in the Lt Governor “is only an fruitless exercise.”

Maintaining that Bedi would not be replaced, Saminathan declined to be drawn into any discussion on the memorandum sent to the Union Home Minister, by the ruling Congress MLAs, seeking his intervention to direct Bedi to function in tandem with the administration here.

“I do not want to discuss the issue but would only say that Bedi was keen about providing a clean administration to the people,” he said.

The latest friction in the ties between Bedi and the Puducherry government came after the former cancelled the chief minister’s 2 January order banning use of WhatsApp for official communication even as she (Bedi) was pushing with her plan to promote WhatsApp communication by officials.

First Published On : Jan 7, 2017 11:55 IST

Pakistan hands over dossier on India’s alleged ‘interference’ to UN Secretary-General

United Nations: Pakistan has handed over a dossier on India’s alleged “interference” in the country to new UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and asked the world body to play a role in “restraining” India from such activities.

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi delivered the dossier on “India’s interference and terrorism in Pakistan” in a meeting with the UN chief at the United Nations on Friday along with a letter from the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Guterres’ spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that the meeting was held at the request of the Pakistani envoy. When asked about what was discussed in the meeting, which took place at around noon, he said he did not have “any indication” of what was discussed in the meeting.

“The dossier contains additional information and proof of Indian/RAW interference in Pakistan and involvement in terrorism particularly in Balochistan, FATA and Karachi. This is a follow up to the three dossiers, which were shared with the United Nations in October 2015,” the Pakistan Foreign Office said in a statement in Islamabad.

In the covering letter sent with the dossier, Aziz claimed that the arrest of “Indian RAW agent Kulbhushan Jadhav from Balochistan and his confessional statement admitting involvement in activities aimed at destabilising Pakistan, and support to terrorist elements vindicated Pakistan’s long-standing position about India’s involvement in such activities.”

He also claimed that India was carrying out these activities in clear contravention of the UN Charter and the resolutions of the UN Security Council on counter-terrorism and international conventions on terrorism.

Jadhav has been accused by Pakistan of planning “subversive activities” in the country. India has acknowledged that Jadhav had served with the navy but denied that he has any connection with the government.

India’s “hostile intentions” towards Pakistan were also borne out by recent statements of its political and military leadership, Aziz was quoted as saying in the letter.

He claimed Pakistan had made a major contribution to global counter terrorism efforts and secured significant gains in its domestic fight against terrorism.

Aziz urged the Secretary-General and relevant UN bodies to seriously consider the matter in the light of information shared by Pakistan and play a role in “restraining India from these activities, which were in clear violation of international law and posed a threat to regional and international peace and security”.

Dujarric was asked by a Pakistani journalist at the news briefing if the new Secretary-General would talk to Indian authorities about tensions on the border with Pakistan.

The spokesperson responded he did not have “anything new to add to our well-worn and well-stated policy, but if anything changes, I will let you know”.

The Foreign Office statement said, “Pakistan continues to desire peace with all its neighbours including India. It is convinced that the common objectives of economic development and prosperity for our people can best be promoted through regional cooperation, conflict resolution and peaceful settlement of disputes,”

“At the same time, however, Pakistan will resolutely defend its territorial integrity and take all necessary measures to counter any threat to its security,” it said.

First Published On : Jan 7, 2017 11:03 IST

Demonetisation: Mamata seeks Modi’s ouster, seeks ‘national govt’ under Advani

Kolkata: Locked in a bitter feud with the centre over demonetisation, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday sought resignation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and mooted a “national government” headed by BJP veteran LK Advani, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley or Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

The TMC supremo, who has declared an all-out war against the Modi dispensation over demonetisation and arrest of her party MPs in chit fund scam sought President Pranab Mukherjee‘s intervention to “save the country from Narendra Modi“.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. PTIWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

“All opposition parties should forget their differences and come together to save the nation.

“It’s high time the President intervened and saved the country. That person (Modi) can’t lead the nation. He should step down. There should be a national government,” she said, suggesting the names of Advani, Jaitley and Singh to replace Modi.

She appreciated Mukherjee’s on Thursday’s statement that demonetisation could lead to a temporary slowdown of the

“I have never seen such a vindictive government at the centre. They are breaking age-old institutions like the
Planning Commission and others. They are breaking the backbone of the government,” she told reporters.

The chief minister claimed West Bengal had lost Rs 5,500 crore following demonetisation and accused the Centre of
“letting loose a reign of terror” on Opposition parties.

A combative Banerjee also dared the BJP leaders to “touch her” when she visits the party-ruled Jharkhand.

“Two of my ministers and party leaders will visit Jharkhand and meet the tribal whose land has been forcibly
taken away by the state government. After they come back and give me a report, I will visit Jharkhand. They (BJP) have said they will beat me up, If I visit a BJP-ruled state. I want to see if they can even touch me,” Banerjee said.

Her comments followed BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya’s recent warning to the TMC to “mend its ways or
face consequences” after a string of attacks on party offices and leaders following the arrest of Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Trinamool Congress’ leader in the Lok Sabha, in a chit fund scam case.

Vijayvargiya had wondered whether TMC MPs and even Mamata Banerjee would be able to go around the country and enter New Delhi if his party started protesting against them.

Mamata alleged that the Centre wanted to close down companies whose possible revival was being looked at by Board
for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR).

“Yesterday I received a letter in which it has been indicated that it wants to close down BIFR companies. In
Bengal we are trying to retrieve BIFR companies and the Centre wants to close them down,” she said.

BIFR was an agency of the Government of India under Ministry of Finance whose objective was to determine sickness
of industrial units and to assist in reviving those that may be viable and shutting down the others.

On 1 June 2016, the Government of India closed it and established National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).

First Published On : Jan 6, 2017 22:48 IST

Uttar Pradesh: Four men cut 20-year-old girl’s ear after she resists gang-rape attempt

Uttar Pradesh: Four men cut 20-year-old girl’s ear after she resists gang-rape attempt



Baghpat (Uttar Pradesh): Four persons allegedly tried to rape a 20-year-old girl and cut off a portion of her ear when she resisted the attempt in Asara village in Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The police said they were looking into the gruesome incident and are trying to arrest the culprits.

The four men had dragged the girl when she came out of her house and shut her mother inside a room when she rushed to her rescue. They later cut off a part of her ear, her family members said.

As villagers rushed to the spot, the culprits fled, leaving the bleeding girl and her mother behind. When they approached the police to lodge a complaint about the incident which occurred on 30 December, authorities did not lodge any report, they alleged.

Asara village was in the news after its panchayat barred women from using mobile phones and wearing jeans in 2012 and

First Published On : Jan 6, 2017 22:34 IST

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Congress MLAs lash out at Kiran Bedi for ‘autocratic functioning’, ask Centre to rein her

Puducherry: Openly attacking Lt Governor Kiran Bedi in the backdrop of tense ties with the Congress regime in Puducherry, the ruling party MLAs barring the ministers and the Assembly Speaker on Friday accused her of acting in a “dictatorial style” and sought the Centre’s intervention to rein her.

A day after Bedi cancelled the orders of Chief Minister V Narayanasamy banning use of social media for official
communication, eight of the 15 Congress MLAs in the Union Territory said they have sent a joint memorandum to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh complaining about her “publicity mongering” and “rigidly autocratic style of functioning”.

Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi. ReutersPuducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi. Reuters

Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi. Reuters

“If Puducherry has to be a progressive Union Territory it cannot be retrograde in communications. Hence @CM_Puducherry’s order stands cancelled: @PMOIndia (sic),” Bedi tweeted yesterday, in an escalation of tense ties with the Congress government in Puducherry.

Addressing a joint press conference, the MLAs said Bedi was not acting in coordination with the elected ministry since assuming the office on 29 May last.

Former minister K Lakshminarayanan, the spokesman of the group of MLAs, said they urged Singh to intervene and direct Bedi to “function in conformity with the decisions the elected government takes instead of acting arbitrarily and in a dictatorial style.”

“We have drawn the attention of the Union Home Minister to undemocratic and publicity mongering conduct of Kiran
Bedi,” he said.

Out of the 15 Congress MLAs in the 30-member Assembly, eight addressed the press meet. The other seven legislators are incumbents of constitutional posts such as chief minister, ministers and Speaker.

Asked if they wanted the Centre to recall the Lt Governor, Lakshminarayanan said “We do not make such demand.
We only urge the Union Home Minister to intervene and prevent Kiran Bedi from acting arbitrarily and from contravening all the set rules and regulations and encroaching upon the powers of the elected ministry.”

The memorandum, a copy of which was distributed to media, said that ever since Bedi assumed office “her conduct was in such a nature that it was reminiscent of what Administrator would be like if Puducherry was under President’s rule.”

It said the chief minister with about 25 years of experience as a parliamentarian and Union minister did not
want any collision course with her and desired to have ‘cordial relations’ with the Lt Governor for smooth
functioning of the respective democratic institutions.

“Unfortunately this had not been reciprocated in the proper spirit by the Lt Governor,” the memorandum said, adding the cancellation of the CM’s order against social media usage had sent “an open signal for collision course chosen by Lt Governor against an elected government.

“It was also stated that in the event of any difference of opinion with elected government, the Lt Governor should endeavour to settle by mutual discussions and at the most by making a reference to the Centre to tackle any disagreement as had been laid down in statues.

“But unfortunately from day one Kiran Bedi had been rigidly autocratic and uncompromising in her attitude towards
elected government’s management of the administration giving rise to controversies and drawing criticisms from various sections including political parties,” it said.

The memorandum said her conduct was not conducive for smooth administration of Puducherry and on the contrary “it is unbecoming of a Constitutional authority appointed by the Centre to be the Administrator here”.

It sought directions from Union Home Minister to the Lt Governor “to act in conformity with elected government’s
decisions before the present situation snowballed into a constitutional crisis”.

Besides Lakshminarayanan, the other MLAs who are signatories to the memorandum are Deputy Speaker VP Sivakolundhu, government whip R K R Anandaraman, V Vijayaveny, E Theeppainthan, T Jayamoorthy, N Dhanavelu, and M NR Balan.

The latest friction in the ties between Bedi and the government came after Bedi cancelled the chief minister’s
2 January order banning use of WhatsApp for official communication even as Bedi was pushing with her plan to
promote WhatsApp communication by officials.

She had recently formed a WhatsApp group for exchange of information and details of implementation of various
government schemes with an Officer on Special Duty at Raj Nivas as the group administrator.

The government’s circular was seen as a counter to Bedi suspending a Puducherry Civil Service officer for posting an “obscene” video clip on the WhatsApp group.

First Published On : Jan 6, 2017 22:33 IST

HC turns down Hazare’s plea for CBI probe into ‘sugar scam’

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday threw out a plea by Anna Hazare seeking a CBI probe into an alleged sugar cooperative factories scam in which he had named NCP president Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar, a former Maharastra minister, asking him to approach the police first.

A Division bench told the 79-year-old anti-graft crusader to approach the police first and said his PIL seeking a CBI probe could not be considered “at this stage”. “First file a police complaint based on your allegations, and if they refuse to register it, then approach their higher authorities and even if that does not work out then come to us,” the bench told Hazare.

“At this stage, we would not order a CBI inquiry…You are asking for a CBI probe without even the offence being registered by police. How can you ask for transfer of probe when offence has not been registered?” the high court said. As Hazare’s counsel sought time to register a police case, the bench adjourned the matter to February 13.

Anna Hazare. PTIAnna Hazare. PTI

Anna Hazare. PTI

Hazare has filed two more civil PILs on the same issue which are expected to come up for hearing in due course. The petitions alleged that fraud had been committed in governance by first burdening sugar cooperative factories with debts and thereafter selling these sick units at a throwaway price, causing a loss of Rs 25,000 crore to the government, cooperative sector and members of public.

It was prayed that a receiver be appointed to take possession of all properties held by persons against whom a prima facie case exists in the alleged scam. The petitions name Sharad Pawar and Ajit as respondents. Hazare also demanded setting up of a Commission of Inquiry to probe the alleged illegal sale of the sugar factories in Maharashtra either by the Government or the cooperative banks.

The petitioner demanded an inquiry by CBI into the allegations of corruption and misuse of government and cooperative funds involving lease and sale of cooperative sugar factories in Maharashtra.

The petitioner stated that the statistics and facts mentioned in the petition have been collected from authorities under Right to Information Act. Hazare pleaded that “the scam” had “engulfed the entire state” and pulled it back by nearly 50 years by causing losses
to the government and putting the state under financial debt to the tune of hundreds of crores of rupees.

Pawar had earlier said he would file a defamation suit against Hazare over the allegations.

First Published On : Jan 6, 2017 19:18 IST

Sabarimala shrine set for showdown: Temple authorities say they won’t break with tradition

Thiruvananthapuram: In the backdrop of woman activist Trupti Desai’s plan to enter the famous hill shrine of Lord Ayappa at Sabariamala later this month, the Travancore Devaswom Board said it would not break with tradition and customs by allowing women between the ages of 10-50 into the shrine.

Bhumata Brigade founder Trupti Desai. PTIBhumata Brigade founder Trupti Desai. PTI

Bhumata Brigade founder Trupti Desai. PTI

“Nobody will be allowed to break the custom and tradition of the temple,” said Prayar Gopalakrishnan, chairman of the Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the hill shrine.

He was replying to a question on woman activist Trupti Desai’s plans to enter Sabarimala with a group of about 100 women as part of their campaign to enable women of all age groups have darshan at the shrine.

There are restrictions in the entry of women between the ages of 10-50 in the temple. Gopalakrishnan also said he fully agreed with Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran’s statement that Trupti Desai would not be allowed to enter the temple.

Sabarimala is one of the most visited holy sites in the world, with an estimated 50-60 million devotees from all over the country undertaking the pilgrimage between 16 November and 14 January. Even this year, despite the hardships caused by the government’s demonetisation drive, there hasn’t been a dip in the arrival of pilgrims and offerings.

First Published On : Jan 6, 2017 17:56 IST

Union Budget is for the country, will not be state specific: Venkaiah Naidu

New Delhi: Terming the demand of opposition parties to defer the Budget Session as “anti-people”, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said the Union Budget is for the country and would not be state specific.

Venkaiah Naidu file image. Image courtesy: CNN-News18

Venkaiah Naidu file image. Image courtesy: CNN-News18

“No budget means no development, no welfare. Is this what you want? And no support to poor people, no support to farmers, is that what your wish is? Why are you opposing? Budget is budget,” Naidu said.

He was responding to a question regarding opposition parties’ demand that the presentation of the Union Budget on 1 February, ahead of the Assembly elections in five states, be deferred till 8 March, the last day of voting.

Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, Naidu said the budget would not be state specific.

“The budget will be about the people, their future, what are the taxation proposals, what is the revenue model…It will be presented before the Parliament, that is for the country, it will not be state specific,” the Information and Broadcasting minister said.

He said that he was not able to understand the objection raised by the opposition.

“At the end of the day, they are afraid that all their efforts at disinformation against the Modi government have failed and the latest disinformation of the opposition on demonetisation is boomranging on them. They have realised, you have seen survey after survey,” he added.

He claimed that even in Uttar Pradesh, there is a massive support for demonetisation because of which the opposition parties are rattled.

“Now they have changed their agenda again and are trying to now stop the budget which is an anti-people move again, which will again boomerang on them,” he added.

Asked about the feud in Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, Naidu said BJP would contest the UP election on the issue of development.

He said the issue was not who is the victor within the family but that people gave the party a chance for five years and it did not fulfill their promises.

He said several of the states which were in the group called ‘BIMARU’ earlier like Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh developed after BJP governments were formed there.

On a question about TMC, Naidu said there were some allegations which were made in the past and the government was allowing investigative agencies to do their job independently.

First Published On : Jan 6, 2017 16:10 IST

When Google’s Sundar Pichai thought ‘abey saale’ was a friendly greeting

Kharagpur: ‘Abey Saale’ is how Google’s tactful and tactical chief executive Sundar Pichai had yelled out to a friend across the mess at his alma mater, IIT-Kharagpur more than two-and-half-decades back thinking it’s a way of greeting people.

Chennai-born Pichai, who returned to his alma mater after 23 years, said his comment led to “temporarily” shutting down of the mess.

New Delhi: Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a program to announceNew Delhi: Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a program to announce

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. PTI

“I came from Chennai. I learnt Hindi in school but I never spoke it much. So, just listening to how people are speaking, I just thought you address people this way. So one day, there was someone in the mess and I had to call him. I called him ‘Abey Saale’,” he reminisced to an audience of over 3,000 people.

“In the first couple of weeks, I thought you call people that way. Next thing I know is the folks in the mess were quite upset and I think they temporarily closed down the mess,” he added.

The Google chief, who met his wife Anjali on campus, said the romance was tough because access to the girls’ hostel wasn’t easy.

“Someone would stand outside and very loudly say, ‘Anjali, Sundar is here for you’. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience,” he said.

He added that while technology, especially mobile phones, has changed the world, it has left certain things unchanged. “My dorm at IIT looks exactly the same as 25 years ago,” he joked.

Talking about his college days, Pichai said that like any other college goer, he stayed up late at night and missed classes in the morning.

He spoke of being interviewed by Google in 2004 and he thought Gmail was an April Fool’s joke.

It wasn’t until halfway through the process that he realised it was a real thing, he said at the discussion moderated by InfoEdge MD and CEO Hitesh Oberoi.

A cricket and soccer fan, Pichai revealed that Infosys founder Narayana Murthy was his idol during college days and that he loved watching Sachin Tendulkar play.

A student asked Pichai what they would have to do to replace him. “I’d say, be careful what you wish for, but happy to discuss over a cup of chaai,” he said.

First Published On : Jan 6, 2017 12:29 IST

Delhi: SpiceJet aircraft carrying 176 people lands at IGI airport under emergency conditions

New Delhi: A Delhi-bound SpiceJet aircraft from Bengaluru with 176 persons onboard landed under emergency conditions at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi on Friday morning following partial failure of hydraulic system.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

All passengers and crew of SpiceJet flight SG 136 are safe, the airline said.

The Boeing 737 aircraft landed at around 0845 hours, airport sources said.

“SpiceJet flight SG 136, Bengaluru to Delhi, experienced, during cruise, partial hydraulic failure due loss of hydraulic fluid.

“The crew carried out the emergency procedure and landed safely at Delhi. The ATC was kept in the loop. It was an uneventful landing,” the airline said.

The aircraft had 176 persons, including crew, on board.

First Published On : Jan 6, 2017 11:24 IST

US forged a strategic partnership with India in Obama’s tenure: John Kerry

Washington: The US has forged a “strategic partnership” with India in the eight years of Obama administration which also considerably improved America’s standing in the world, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said, two weeks ahead of demitting the office.

“In Asia, we have been standing side by side with our friends, strengthening sanctions on North Korea, improving regional missile defence capabilities, supporting the rule of law in the South China Sea and forging a strategic partnership with India, enhancing our ties with Vietnam and spurring democratic progress in Myanmar where a freely elected parliament has been seated for the first time,” Kerry said.

John Kerry. AP

John Kerry. AP

In what was described as Kerry’s last press conference in his capacity as Secretary of State, the top American diplomat, while addressing reporters at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department, said because of the policies undertaken by the Obama administration in the last eight years, the US’ standing in the world has improved from what it was in 2009.

“We will turn over to our successors a country whose international standing is much improved from 2009 when President (Barack) Obama took office eight years ago. No one should forget the incredible fertility of the global economic crisis as a consequence of the late 2008 early 2009 economic disaster that we faced on a global basis,” he said.

Economically, the country has moved from the depths of crisis to robust levels of exports, the longest sustained period of private sector job growth in US history, Kerry said.

“Our overseas alliances in Europe and Asia are vigorous and strong. We have strengthened what we do in Asia, strengthened the relationship between Korea and Japan, strengthened our relationship trilaterally with Korea and Japan, worked effectively with China to try to define a new model of how important powers need to work in the world.”

“We have strengthened our alliance with NATO, strengthened our alliance with the frontline states. Our level of security support to a democratic Israel is unprecedented. Across the globe, we have helped ensure that a child entering the world today is more likely to be born healthy, more likely to receive the necessary vaccinations, more likely to be educated, more likely to live a long life than any previous generation and that is just as true for women and girls as it is for men and boys,” Kerry said.

The US has been more deeply engaged in more places to greater effect than at any time in the American history, adding that the strategy of the Obama administration against ISIS is paying dividend as the terrorist outfit is fast losing out its territories, the US Secretary of State said.

“Before long, Daesh’s phony caliphate is going to have been turned to dust. Now, that does not mean that the whole threat of Daesh is gone all of a sudden. No, it is not. Daesh obviously continues to adapt in certain ways to these changing circumstances and so the threat adapts with it and they will most likely try to establish new footholds or to instigate and to inspire isolated attacks,” Kerry said.

America and its coalition partners are on the right path, both diplomatically and militarily, he said.

“We need to stay on that course. I guarantee you that over the period of this next year and into the future, Daesh is going to be thoroughly defeated. We also need to remember that we will not defeat these terrorists anywhere at any place without the help from the one group that has been most victimised by terrorism, and that is our friends and our partners in the Islamic world itself,” Kerry said.

Kerry also highlighted Iran nuclear agreement, saying it is a demonstration of the power of diplomacy to be able to address major international problems short of war.

Climate Change was another major focus of the Obama administration which resulted in the Paris accord, he said.

“Our initiative to reach out to China, change the trajectory of possibilities after the disappointment of Copenhagen where China had been on the other side, but because we reached out and we engaged proactively in diplomacy, and were able to reach agreement with China.

“President Obama and President Xi were able to stand up together in Beijing, and together announce the unity of the two largest emitters in the world, emitters of gases, to come together to try to forge an agreement in Paris,” Kerry added.

First Published On : Jan 6, 2017 10:55 IST

Jammu and Kashmir: Top LeT commander killed in gunfight with security forces

Jammu and Kashmir: Top LeT commander killed in gunfight with security forces



Srinagar: A top commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) outfit was killed in a gunfight with security forces in Kashmir’s Badgam district.

According to police, the security forces launched an operation on Friday morning following an information about the presence of a wanted LeT commander hiding in Gulzarpora village.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“The security forces were fired upon after they closed on the house where Muzaffar Ahmad Naiku ali alias Muza Molvi was hiding,” the police said.

“The militant was killed in the encounter which has ended now.

“Searches are still going on in the area.”

The police said the slain commander was one of the longest surviving militants and the most wanted guerrilla in Jammu and Kashmir.

First Published On : Jan 6, 2017 10:14 IST

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Ken-Betwa river linking project receives environment, forest and tribal clearance

New Delhi: The NDA government’s ambitious Ken-Betwa river linking project, which aims at addressing water needs of dry swathes in Madhya Pradesh and poll-bound Uttar Pradesh inter alia, has received environment, forest and tribal clearances, sources in Union Water Ministry said on Tuesday.

However, there was no official confirmation in this regard.

On the other hand, a booklet the Ministry released on Tuesday stated that the Forest Advisory Committee of Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change has considered the proposal for forest clearance during its meeting held on 8 November, 2016 and “decided to have some additional information before giving clearance”.

The environmental appraisal committee has “duly considered” and “agreed” for the project in its meeting held on 30 December, 2016.

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has also agreed for the clearance of the project during a meeting held on Monday, the booklet reads.

Uma Bharti. PTIUma Bharti. PTI

Uma Bharti. PTI

The booklet, circulated at a briefing called by Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, also states that the clearances for the project are in a “very advanced stage” of completion and that the government will start implementing the national project as “model link” of inter-linking of river (ILR) programme.

“The phase I of the project, first ILR project, had received clearance from the Standing Committee of National Board of Wild Life in August last year.

“The remaining clearances, environment, forest and tribal clearances, too have been obtained, official communication regarding which though is awaited,” sources said.

Speaking to reporters Bharti stated, “Obtaining the wildlife clearance was the most difficult clearance to get in connection with the project. I am thankful to the board for giving us the clearance…now we are pursuing NITI Ayog to change its funding pattern to 90:10 (Centre : state share) from 60:40 for the project given it is a special project.”

Work on the project can not be launched until the funding pattern is finalised.

The phase I of the project, of linking Ken river in Madhya Pradesh and Betwa in Uttar Pradesh, at a cost of Rs 9500 crore is envisaged to help irrigate an area of 6.35 lakh hectares annually.

Of this, 3.69 lakh hectares will be covered in Madhya Pradesh’s Chattarpur, Tikamgarh and Panna districts. The remaining 2.65 lakh hectares of area falls in Uttar Pradesh’s Mahoba, Banda and Jhansi districts.

The project is estimated to provide 49 million cubic metres of drinking water to a population of 13.42 lakh of people in Bundelkhand region in the two states. Besides, the project will also generate 78 mega watt of power.

Envisaged first in 1980 to transfer surplus river water to dry/arid areas, the river-linking the national perspective plan, under which Ken-Betwa river-linking project is taking shape, aims at creating additional irrigation potential of 35 million hectare and generation of 34000 mega watt of power.

Controlling flood, navigation, water supply, fisheries, salinity, drought mitigation and combating pollution are among the other stated objectives of the NPP, which gained momentum during the previous NDA regime led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Apart from the Ken-Betwa linking project, Par-Tapi-Narmada Link (to transfer water from surplus regions of Western Ghats to the dry areas of Kutch and Saurashtra and Damanganga-Pinjal link, which will provide water for the Greater Mumbai, are among the 30 such river links planned.

First Published On : Jan 6, 2017 09:40 IST

Mumbai: 29-year-old woman stabbed near Mahalakshmi race course

Mumbai: A 29-year-old woman was stabbed by an unidentified person near Mahalakshmi Race Course in Central Mumbai, police said on Friday.

The incident occurred at around 7.30 pm on Thursday near the race course and the victim is reported to be out of danger.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Nair Hospital authorities informed the police control room about the victim. Senior police officials late last night went to the hospital.

The Tardeo police have registered an offence under relevant IPC sections for attempt to murder in connection with the incident.

The woman, who is a divorcee and has a child, worked in a private company in Mumbai. Since some months, she was having an affair with a 22-year-old man.

On Thursday evening, at around 7.30 pm, the man went to meet her at the race course and found her sitting under a tree with stab marks on her chest, following which she was taken to hospital.

Further investigation into the incident was on, police added.

First Published On : Jan 6, 2017 09:15 IST

Demonetisation impact: Consumers’ buying sentiment hits 9-month low in December

Mumbai: The purchasing sentiment of Indians during December fell steeply by 0.42 points due to demonetisation with the Buying Propensity Index (BPI) standing at 0.26 points, a nine-month low, according to TRA Reserach. The BPI in November 2016 had stood at 0.68 points.



“The country’s buying sentiment was consistently recovering since July 2016, but the surprise demonetisation announcement was the biggest factor causing unnatural fluctuations in the buying sentiment as reflected by the Index,” TRA Research CEO N Chandramouli said on Thursday.

Noting that the buying sentiment in December has fallen precipitously to the lowest in nine months, he said the the December drop was probably when the pain of demonetisation began to be felt more severely after the first salary cycle.

The Index, based on research across 3,000 consumer-influencers across the eight tier I cities, found that Delhi was most severely impacted with a month-on-month fall of 122 percent in citizen keenness to buy, registering a negative sentiment in December at -0.14, followed by Kolkata with a BPI fall of 90 percent.

The three cities which showed a medium fall in BPI were Mumbai (58 percent), Pune (46 percent) and Chennai (35 percent), while, Bengaluru and Hyderabad had a lower negative impact of the note ban with a drop of 16 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

First Published On : Jan 6, 2017 08:12 IST

Note ban may lead to ‘temporary slowdown’ of economy: Prez Pranab Mukherjee

Note ban may lead to ‘temporary slowdown’ of economy: Prez Pranab Mukherjee



Extra care must be taken to alleviate sufferings of the poor triggered by economic slow down which has become unavoidable post demonetisation, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Thursday.

Pranab Mukherjee. PTIPranab Mukherjee. PTI

Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

Demonetisation, while immobilising black money and fighting corruption, may lead to “temporary slowdown” of the economy, the President said addressing the Governors and Lt Governors through video-conferencing from Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi.

“We all will have to be extra careful to alleviate the suffering of the poor which might become unavoidable for the expected progress in the long-term,” Mukherjee said.

He said that while he appreciates the thrust on transition from entitlement approach to an entrepreneurial one for poverty alleviation, he is not too sure that the “poor can wait that long”.

“They need to get succour here and now so that they can also participate actively in the national march toward a future devoid of hunger, unemployment and exploitation,” the President said.

First Published On : Jan 6, 2017 07:59 IST

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