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Sushma Swaraj’s speech in Rajya Sabha on Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family: Full text

India today slammed Pakistan for making “absurd” charges of a chip, camera or a recorder being installed in the footwear of the wife of imprisoned Indian Kulbhushan Jadhav and said Islambad was on to a mischief after showing discourtesy towards his family.Making a statement on the meeting of Jadhav with his wife and mother in Islamabad earlier this week, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said it came after 22 months and was “misused by Pakistan as an instrument to further its propaganda.”Here’s full text of her Rajya Sabha speech:STATEMENT BY EAM IN LOK SABHA ON THE MEETING OF THE FAMILY OF Mr KULBHUSHAN JADHAV WITH HIM AND THE SITUATION ARISING FROM THEREMadam Speaker,I rise to apprise the House of recent developments pertaining to Shri Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian national in the illegal custody of Pakistan. As the House is aware, his mother and wife met him on 25 December 2017 in Islamabad. The meeting was arranged through diplomatic channels.2.In April 2017, I had made a statement in this House underlining the Government’s determination to do everything possible to ensure Shri Jadhav’s well-being and secure his release from illegal detention. Since then, the House is aware that we approached the International Court of Justice and obtained provisional measures that stayed the execution of the death sentence that was passed on Shri Jadhav through a farcical Pakistani military court process. While the imminent threat to Shri Jadhav’s safety was averted as a result, we are now engaged in seeking a permanent relief, based on stronger arguments, through the legal avenue offered by the International Court of Justice.Madam Speaker,3: I had also conveyed that we were in constant touch with the family at this difficult time. It was, therefore, natural that we took up the cause of family members who sought access to Shri Jadhav with a view to ascertaining his well-being for themselves. These efforts were pursued persistently through diplomatic channels. As a result, this month, the Pakistani authorities consented to a meeting between Shri Jadhav and his mother and wife.4.While the meeting could have been a step forward, it is a matter of great concern that there was departure from the agreed understandings between the two countries in the conduct of this meeting. The emotional moment between a mother and her son, and a wife and her husband after a period of 22 months, was misused by Pakistan as an instrument to further its propaganda. The Ministry of External Affairs has stated our position in this regard publicly day before yesterday. Our concerns arising from this meeting were conveyed to Pakistan through diplomatic channels yesterday. I would like to highlight a few of them in this House:There was a clear agreement that the media would not be allowed close access to the mother and wife of Shri Jadhav. However, not only the Pakistani press was allowed to approach family members closely, but the family members were also harassed through use of offensive language by the media. The Pakistani media hurled false and motivated accusations about Shri Jadhav;Under the pretext of security precautions, even the attire of the family members was changed. Mr Jadhav’s mother, who wears a Sari only, was instead given Salwar and Kurta to wear. Bindi, bangles and mangal sutra of the wife were removed; The mother of Shri Jadhav wanted to talk to her son in mother tongue Marathi, as this is clearly the natural medium of communication between a mother and son. However, the mother of Shri Jadhav was not allowed to speak in Marathi. While doing so, she was repeatedly interrupted by the two Pakistani officials present in the meeting. When she persisted, the intercom was closed and she was prevented from proceeding further with the conversation in Marathi; The family members were taken for the meeting through a separate door without informing the Deputy High Commissioner of India, who had accompanied the family members for this meeting. Consequently, he could not see that the family members were being taken for the meeting after changing their attire and removing their bindi, bangles and mangal sutra. Otherwise he would have objected then and there. The meeting was started without his presence and he could join only after pressing the matter with concerned officials;The car for the family of Mr Jadhav and accompanying Indian diplomat was delayed after the meeting so as to give another opportunity to the media to harass them;The shoes of the wife of Shri Jadhav were removed before the meeting and she was given slippers to wear to the meeting. The shoes were not returned to her despite her repeated requests after the meeting. The Pakistan authorities have been cautioned against any mischievous intent in this regard through a Note Verbale yesterday. 5.The mother and wife, after their return, conveyed to me that Shri Kulbhushan Jadhav appeared under considerable stress and was speaking in an atmosphere of coercion. As the meeting evolved, it was clear to them that his remarks were tutored by his captors and designed to perpetuate the false narrative of his alleged activities. His appearance also raised questions of his health and well being.Madam Speaker,6.The meeting of Mr. Kulbhushan Jadhav with his mother and wife was portrayed by Pakistan as a humanitarian gesture. However, the truth is that both humanity and compassion were missing during the meeting that was arranged on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. There was a serious and gross violation of human rights of the family members of Shri Jadhav and an intimidating atmosphere was created for them during this meeting. There are not enough words to condemn the same.Madam Speaker,7. I am fully confident that this entire House and through this House, the people of India, strongly condemns, in one voice, the obnoxious behaviour of Pakistan and affirm their solidarity with the Jadhav family.

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Usually cordial on Twitter, Sushma Swaraj blocks Cong MP

Twitter-savvy External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has blocked one of her fellow parliamentarians and Congress Rajya Sabha MP from Punjab Partap Singh Bajwa on the social media platform.Bajwa told DNA that Swaraj, otherwise open to helping people who reach out to her on Twitter, had done so as he had been asking her difficult question in the Parliament to nail the Centre’s “lie” on the 39 Indians who had gone missing in Iraq after they were kidnapped by Islamic State and who are considered ‘not dead’ by the external affairs ministry.”This is not the way one of the most senior minister of the government ought to behave. It is our right to ask her questions and it is her duty to respond. I was not even aware of this development. A few days ago, I tried tweeting to the PM and her regarding the plight of Sikhs in the Hangu district of Pakistani Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa where they are being forced to convert. To my surprise, I saw that she had blocked me on Twitter,” Bajwa said.”I decided to tweet about it today (Wednesday) because in the intervening days, the Parliament was not working. I follow not her, but the external affairs minister. If she blocks an MP, then it is completely insensitive.”Bajwa also accused the government of trying to hide the truth. “For the past two or three sessions, I have been grappling with her to come clean. The eyewitness is from our Gurdaspur and he told us that all of them had been shot dead in the desert. Swaraj had said that the witness was misleading the government. She has repeatedly said the government will get them back, later claiming that they were all alive and have been tied up as bonded labour in Mosul, but this was repudiated by the Iraqi premier,” said Bajwa.”I believe that she was initially misled. She realised that a false stand had been put up in the Parliament, but now they are not ready to change their stand.”

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Parliament takes on Pak dirty tricks

Political leaders cutting across party lines in Parliament condemned Pakistan’s mistreatment of Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family in Islamabad and demanded efforts to bring back the former Indian Naval officer who has been captured and sentenced to death on charges of espionage and terror. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she will make a detailed statement on the issue in both Houses on Thursday. Jadhav, 47, was allowed to meet his mother Avanti and wife Chetana Jadhav across a glass screen on Monday. India has maintained he was kidnapped and implicated. India has said Pakistan had the mangal sutras, bangles and bindis of Jadhav’s mother and wife removed, disregarding cultural and religious sensibilities. The Pakistani press also harassed the two women. During Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha, members of Congress, Shiv Sena, TMC and AIADMK protested against Pakistan. Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, demanded that Jadhav be brought back. The issue was initially raised by Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant who questioned the government silence. TMC leader Saugata Roy described Pakistan as “hypocritical”. AIADMK’s M Thambidurai said that asking a woman to remove her ‘mangal sutra’ is an insult to the country. Shiv Sena members raised slogans against Pakistan in the House.Outside Parliament, Congress leaders Veepara Moily and Salman Khurshid called it a diplomatic failure on the part of the government. “MEA should have ensured a protocol for the family,” Moily told reporters. He said that the issue should have been taken up with Pakistan before Jadhav’s kin went to Islamabad. Khurshid, a former External Affairs Minister, said the meeting between Jadhav and his family was distressing and disturbing. “We expected better from Pakistan, the situation is unfortunately very grave,” he said. Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy reacted sharply on Wednesday and said that India should go to war with Pakistan and split it into four parts. The Rajya Sabha MP said that “serious homework” for the war should begin “right now”. “The treatment given to the mother and the wife is akin to Draupadi’s vastraharan that resulted in Mahabharat,” he said.Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju also slammed the “very irresponsible” Pakistani media over the heckling of Jadhav’s mother and wife. “Pakistan media is very irresponsible, it is not responsible like the Indian media,” Rijiju told reporters outside Parliament, assuring action by the External Affairs Ministry.India has moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, on grounds that procedures were not followed under international law when Jadhav was convicted, a rare contest by the two nuclear-armed rivals at the top UN legal body whose rulings are binding, but occasionally flouted. In May, the world court put the sentence on hold till the case is conclusively heard.

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Blocked by Sushma Swaraj on Twitter for asking ‘tough questions’: Congress MP Bajwa

Sushma Swaraj has gained fame in the Twitterverse for always coming to help of Indians and foreigners stranded, who are in need of visa or any diplomatic assistance. Infact, External Affairs Minister’s Twitter diplomacy has earned her bipartisan praise and even applause from international quarters. However, there seems to be one politician who is unhappy with Sushma Swaraj’s Twitter habits. It is senior Congress leader from Punjab and currently Member of Parliament, Partap Singh Bajwa. On Wednesday, Partap Singh Bajwa from his verified handle posted a screenshot of being blocked on Twitter by External Affairs Minister. Bajwa claims that he was merely asking questions about the missing 39 Indians in Iraq. MEA so far has said that according to their last known information, the Indians are alive, but they haven’t been able to locate them. Bajwa claims that he was blocked merely for asking ‘tough questions’. Now, politicians in general and even Sushma Swaraj have resorted to blocking abusive trolls and sometimes people who constantly pester with similar rants. But this is probably the first time when a MP has been blocked by his colleague. Swaraj is currently followed by 10.8 million people. Probably in the torrent of replies she gets with every tweet, the fact that a MP was being blocked was overlooked.

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From disallowing speaking in Marathi to forced to remove bangles: Jadhav’s kin harassed by Pak

A day after wife and mother of former Indian Naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav met him in Islamabad , India on Tuesday took serious objections to the conduct of Pakistan and the way its officials arranged the meeting disregarding all “sensibilities”. A statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the exercise lacked credibility and during the meeting Jadhav was under considerable stress and speaking in an atmosphere of coercion. “Most of his remarks were clearly tutored and designed to perpetuate the false narrative of his alleged activities in Pakistan,” it said. Pakistan’s public relations (PR) pitch coming ahead of the top UN court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) begins to hear India’s appeal against Jadhav’s death sentence took new heights, when its Foreign Office not only made meeting of mother Avanti and wife Chetana with a death-row prisoner a media spectacle, but also used the occasion to release his second video and a medical report showing him healthy and fit.In a strongly worded statement, MEA said not only Pakistani media was unleashed to harass visiting relatives, but prior to meeting their cultural and religious sensibilities were also disregarded, by forcing them to remove mangal sutra, bangles and bindis. They were also asked to change their attire that was not warranted by security. They were also asked to put off their shoes. After the meeting despite requests shoe of Jadhav’s wife was not returned.Also readKulbhushan Jadhav’s family was harassed; wife had to remove mangal sutra, bindi: India exposes Pakistan’s PR showEarlier in the morning, both women met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at her residence. Jadhav’s father also accompanied them. Among others Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and India’s deputy high commissioner in Islamabad JP Sigh also attended the brief meeting. Both the women were later headed to Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan, the offices of MEA for debriefing sessions.Narrating sequence of events, the MEA statement said that prior to the meeting the two countries through diplomatic channels had worked out modalities and format of the meeting. “There were clear understandings between the two sides and the Indian side scrupulously abided by all its commitments,” it said. The MEA noted with regret that the Pakistani side conducted the meeting in a manner which violated the letter and spirit of our understandings.“The Pakistani press was allowed on multiple occasions to approach family members closely, harass and hector them and hurl false and motivated accusations about Shri Jadhav. This was despite a clear agreement that the media would not be allowed close access,” the statement added. It further stated that under the pretext of security precautions, the cultural and religious sensibilities of family members were disregarded. This included removal of mangal sutra, bangles and bindi, as well as a change in attire that was not warranted by security.Further,Jadhav’s mother was prevented from talking in her mother tongue Marathi, although this was clearly the natural medium of communication. During the meeting, she was repeatedly interrupted while doing so and eventually prevented from proceeding further in this regard. India’s deputy high commissioner JP Singh, who was tasked to accompany family members in the alien land was initially separated from them. Once inside Foreign Office building, they were taken to the meeting without informing Singh. The meeting started without his presence. After his protested, he was allowed to join Even then, he was kept behind an additional partition that did not allow him access to the meeting as agreed.The height of insensitive didn’t stop here. Despite repeated requests, the shoes of the wife of Jadhav were not returned to her after the meeting. From the feedback we have received of the meeting, it appears that Shri Jadhav was under considerable stress and speaking in an atmosphere of coercion. Most of his remarks were clearly tutored and designed to perpetuate the false narrative of his alleged activities in Pakistan. His appearance also raises questions of his health and well being,” the statement added, rejected the video played by the Pakistan Foreign Office. “We also regret that contrary to assurances, the overall atmosphere of the meeting was intimidating insofar as family members were concerned. Family members, however, handled the situation with great courage and fortitude. The manner in which the meeting was conducted and its aftermath was clearly an attempt to bolster a false and unsubstantiated narrative of Shri Jadhav’s alleged activities. You would all You agree that this exercise lacked any credibility, “the statement said.

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India, Russia address dip in relations, review ties

India and Russia on Saturday attempted to address the perceived dip in their relations by undertaking a comprehensive review of economic cooperation in key areas, including energy, trade and investment.The meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. Deepening the special and privileged strategic partnership, Swaraj welcomed Rogozin, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.”External affairs minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Rogozin undertook a comprehensive review of economic cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, transport, energy, agriculture, industry and space under IRIGC-EC (framework),” Kumar said.Rogozin later called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who noted with satisfaction the marked increase in high-level exchanges between the two countries this year. Modi also recalled his own visit to St. Petersburg in June this year for the Annual Bilateral Summit.The deputy Russian Prime Minister also called on the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The Russian delegation comprised of senior government officials and representatives of trade and industry.Earlier this month, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov visited Delhi for Russia-India-China trilateral meeting. He created a flutter here while arguing for the inclusion of Taliban in the political dialogue process in Afghanistan.Addressing a gathering at a think-tank, he said that Russia had in the past contacted the militant group to sit down for negotiations, adding that American strategy of defeating extremism and terrorism in Afghanistan was not viable as the military method of the last 15 years had not reduced violence in the country.”You cannot resolve the situation without having everybody on board and around the table. The government of Afghanistan, the Taliban, and those who can influence the situation, including neighbours who feel the bad influence of what is going on in Afghanistan should find a political solution,” he had said.The two nations also agreed on raising the level of the Joint Working Group on Trade and Economic Cooperation to that of Deputy Minister / Commerce Secretary level and creating a mechanism to discuss and remove barriers to trade; creation of a Working Group on Agriculture; creation of a Working Group on Pharmaceuticals; an agreement to actively promote inter-regional cooperation which has significant untapped potential for cooperation; decision to expedite implementation of the Green Corridor for exchange of pre-arrival data between Customs Administrations of the two countriesWhat was achieved?Representatives of the two countries’ governments reviewed economic cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, transport, energy, agriculture, industry and spaceDmitry Rogozin, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, also called on PM Narendra Modi who noted the increase in high-level exchanges between the two countries

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Peace talks only when Pakistan stops supporting terror in Jammu and Kashmir: General Bipin Rawat

Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat today said peace talks with Pakistan can take place only when it stops supporting terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir.Given its actions, it doesn’t appear that Pakistan really wants peace, the Army chief added.He was in the western sector, close to the India-Pakistan border, to witness the “Hamesha Vijayee” exercise conducted by the Southern Command in Thar desert.Rawat said Pakistan should stop supporting terrorists.”Only then can we say that peace talks should take place,” he told reporters in the exercise area near Barmer.Also readOperations against terrorists in Kashmir will go on, says General Bipin Rawat “We also want relations should be better but given what kind of actions there are (from their side) and terrorism is spreading in Jammu and Kashmir, it doesn’t appear that they really want peace,? Rawat said.The Army, paramilitary forces and Jammu and Kashmir police have been taking actions against militants in Jammu and Kashmir successfully and the action will continue, he added.Also readPakistan Army chief urges govt to improve relations with India, assures supportRawat’s comments come a day after Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India would like good relations with Pakistan provided Islamabad takes action against terror groups.”It is important for Pakistan to understand our core concern, which is terrorism. We have time and again asked them to take action against terrorists who are operating from their soil. This is something they (Pakistan) will have to handle if they are serious in cultivating this friendship,” Kumar said.The assertions follow Pakistan’s Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa pledging his support for better ties.According to media reports, Bajwa has said he will support any initiative of the civilian government to resolve issues with India through talks.In a rare move, the Pakistan Army chief briefed the Senate – the upper house of the parliament – on security situation and regional issues on Tuesday.

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Hope Maldives will be sensitive to our concerns, says India

India said on Thursday that it attaches a lot of importance to its ties with the Maldives and hoped that the country will be sensitive to its concerns.Replying to questions on an anti-India editorial in a Maldivian newspaper, Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry Raveesh Kumar said it should not be taken seriously.The Maldives recently signed a free trade agreement with China, which is seen as Beijing’s growing influence over the island nation.”We have to see our relationship with Maldives in a broader perspective. It is an important country. We do attach lot of importance to our relationship with the country,” Kumar said.At the same time, he said India expects and hopes that the Maldives will be sensitive to New Delhi’s concerns.Also readMaldives to restore death penalty after 60 years – officialOn the FTA between China and the Maldives, he said India was trying to understand its implications.”We should look beyond these developments and we should have diplomatic discussions between the two sides to address any issue between the two countries,” said the MEA spokesperson.He said much attention should not be paid to things which are going around.Kumar also referred to a tweet by Maldivian Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim few days back in which he called the India-Maldives ties time-tested.”Relations with #India is time-tested and is based on people to people contact & cooperation in several sectors. We remain committed to further enhancing and strengthening existing ties,” Asim had tweeted.Meanwhile, asked about the the visit of the mother and wife of Indian death row convict Kulbhushan Jadhav to Pakistan to meet him, Kumar said the modalities of the trip were being worked out.”The modalities of the meeting are being worked out and who goes when, how do they go, how the meeting takes place, I think this is something the two countries are engaged in discussion,” said Kumar when asked about media reports quoting Pakistani officials that the mother and wife of Jadhav will be flying to Islamabad than taking the road trip via Wagah.Asked about the comment of a Pakistani official that Islamabad may allow the two women to interact with media if India does not have any objection, Kumar did not give a direct reply, saying, “We will see.”To a separate question, Kumar said Pakistan is under international obligation to protect the minorities in the country.On Tuesday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said that India will take up at the highest level in the Pakistan government reports of Sikhs being forced to convert to Islam by a government official in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).Her reaction came after leading Pakistan daily The Express Tribune published a news story about the Sikh community raising serious concerns after being forced to convert to Islam by the government official in the Hangu district of K-P.

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Kulbhushan Jadhav case: Pakistan confirms wife and mother have received visas to visit him

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has approved the visa applications of the mother and wife of Naval Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is on a death row in that country on charges of espionage.The spokesperson for Pakistan’s foreign ministry shared the news on his Twitter handle on Saturday evening.Earlier, Pakistan’s foreign office sent a letter to the Ministry of External Affairs suggesting that Jadhav’s family can meet him on Christmas.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj confirmed that Pakistan will grant visa to both the mother and the wife of Jadhav. On November 10, Pakistan had agreed to allow Jadhav’s wife to meet him. India has been pressing Pakistan to grant a visa to his mother Avantika as well, on humanitarian grounds.Describing it as a positive development, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said Pakistan has also permitted an Indian diplomat to accompany Jadhav’s wife and mother during their trip. The diplomat will be present during their meeting in the jail. When queried whether allowing Indian diplomat to accompany Jadhav’s relatives in jail meant granting consular access, Kumar said it was too early to predict the nature of the access.Jadhav had filed an appeal with Pakistani Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to seek clemency, which is still pending. In October, the Pakistan Army had said it was close to a decision on Jadhav’s mercy petition.Also readNo consular access for Kulbhushan Jadhav, Pak tells ICJAccording to Pakistan, its security forces arrested Jadhav from the restive Balochistan province on March 3, last year, after he reportedly entered the area from Iran. He was charged for espionage and sentenced to death. India, however, maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran, where he planned to start a business after retiring from the Indian Navy.After India approached ICJ, a 10-member bench on May 18 restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav till the adjudication of the case. The ICJ had asked Pakistan to submit its response by December 13, before the court could start further proceedings. Pakistan is now expected to inform the ICJ that since it has agreed to provide consular access to the prisoner, India’s plea at the world court be declared infructuous.Also readMom, wife can meet Kulbhushan Jadhav on Dec 25: PakistanHowever, Pakistan on Wednesday rejected India’s plea for consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav at the ICJ, claiming that New Delhi wants the access to get the information gathered by its ‘spy’.Media reports from Pakistan suggest that Pakistan in its reply has alleged Jadhav is not an ordinary person and had entered the country with the intent of spying and carrying out sabotage activities. The reply, which was submitted by the Foreign Office’s Director (India), Fariha Bugti, also claimed that Jadhav case does not fall under the purview of the Vienna Convention.Also readKulbhushan Jadhav’s friends celebrate after Pakistan grants visa to his mother and wifeThe counter-memorial said the consular access under the Vienna Convention was reserved only for legitimate visitors and not for spies.Reports said the reply also encompasses the charge-sheet filed against Jadhav, which also includes his confession.Pakistan has stated that “the Indians have not denied that Jadhav was travelling on a passport with an assumed Muslim name.””Lack of explanation on how a serving naval commander was operating under secondment to Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and also was travelling under an assumed name leads to only one conclusion that India wanted consular access to the information he had gathered,” said the counter memorial.

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NIA goofs up, no Interpol RCN for Zakir Naik

In a setback to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Interpol has rejected the government’s request to issue a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, saying Indian agencies have failed to file a charge sheet against him.NIA Director YC Modi told DNA, “RCN was not issued against Naik so far. If Interpol has stopped now from issuing, it can be further pursued.” “The request for RCN against Zakir Naik was not accepted by Interpol as charge sheet had not been filed when the request was submitted to the Interpol Headquarters,” said sources in NIA.”Now NIA will submit a fresh request to Interpol as a charge sheet has already been filed in the concerned NIA court in Mumbai.” NIA had requested RCN against Naik on 19 May for ‘promoting enmity between two different religious groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony, being a member of unlawful Association, etc’. The Indian government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had banned Naik and his organisation, the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). The NIA said that Indian youth, who joined the terrorist organisation ISIS, were highly influenced by his speeches.Within 10 days, the request was contested by Naik through London-based attorney Peter Binning of Corker Binning law firm on 29 May. The Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files heard Naik’s plea and in a letter dated 11 December to Binning, the Interpol said, “After a thorough examination, the commission found that the data challenged raised questions as to compliance with applicable roles. As a result, it considered that the retention of this data in the Interpol information system was not compliant with the Interpol’s rules and decided that it should be deleted.” The law firm had earlier written to Secretary General of Interpol, France, seeking for a refusal to issue RCH against Naik.After hearing the plea and also the Indian government arguments, the Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files observed on 26 October, 2017, “The commission considered that according to the Ministry of External Affairs, an extradition request for an accused /fugitive can be initiated after a charge sheet has been filed. Furthermore, it considered that in its list of documents required to be enclosed as part of the dossier to extradite a fugitive criminal from a foreign country to India, a copy of charge sheet, duly countersigned by the competent judicial authority is required.”The commission further pointed that the information published by the Ministry of External Affairs on its guidelines for extradition appears different from that provided by the National Central Bureau (NCB) of Interpol of India, concerning the requirement to include charge sheet for extradition.””Therefore, in light of all of the aforesaid circumstances, the commission finds that, at this stage of the proceedings, the issuance of RCN for the Applicant’s arrest with a view of his extradition is premature and that maintaining the data in Interpol’s files would not be appropriate,” the Commission said.Naik’s foundation issued a statement saying that the Interpol’s Commission found after thorough examination that the request from the Indian NCB was not compliant with Interpol’s rules. Furthermore, the Interpol general secretariat has informed all Interpol NCBs that it has deleted the information relating to Dr Zakir Naik and urged them to update their national databases accordingly.

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RS Prasad rakes up Manmohan Singh’s 2007 Balochistan admission to corner former PM

Senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad today said Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi should disclose if former prime minister Manmohan Singh met a Pakistani delegation earlier this month after informing him.He also asked whether Singh had consulted the Ministry of External Affairs on the same. The Union law minister also wanted to know the Congress’ stand on the proposed triple talaq law, and asked Gandhi whether a Ram temple should be built in Ayodhya.”When we have a national line that India will not talk to Pakistan until the latter abandons terrorism, why did former prime minister Manmohan Singh go to meet a Pakistani delegation?” Prasad told reporters here. he said in 2007, in Havana, when Singh was the prime minister, a joint statement had said that Pakistan was also a victim of terrorism when everyone knew that Pakistan was “not a victim but a sponsor of terrorism”. He recalled that in Sharm El Sheikh joint declaration in 2010, Balochistan was referred to and it said India had a hand in the disturbance there.Also readPolitics in India has become very ugly, PM Modi’s statement against Manmohan Singh is unacceptable: Rahul Gandhi”In this light, if a question is asked why Singh met Pakistani delegation when the country’s line on talks with the neighbouring country is clear, what is wrong with it (in questioning the meeting),” Prasad said. “The BJP would like to know if Manmohan Singh went to meet the Pakistani delegation, with the presence of high commissioner of that country, with due consultation with the External Affairs Ministry and with due information to Rahul Gandhi,” he said.Gandhi has, till today, not answered this question, the BJP leader said.Earlier in the day, Gandhi had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s insinuations about the meeting with Pakistani delegation that Singh attended were “unacceptable”. While Modi had suggested that Singh and some other Congress leaders colluded with Pakistan which, he claimed, was trying to influence the Gujarat polls, the former PM responded by saying that Modi was setting a “dangerous precedent”, and should apologise to the nation.Modi had said at an election rally that some Pakistani officials and Singh met at now suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house over dinner on December 6.Also readGujarat Elections 2017 | Modi must apologise for Pak collusion remark: Manmohan SinghOn Gandhi’s visits to various temples in Gujarat, Prasad asked why he didn’t go to the Ram Janambhoomi (in Ayodhya) or the Krishna Janambhoomi during the Uttar Pradesh election campaign. “You are a Shiv Bhakt, that’s good, but what about Ram Bhakti? You should make clear your stand on Ram Mandir, whether a Ram temple should be built in Ayodhya or not,” Prasad said. He also wanted to know Congress’s stand on triple talaq. “We are in the process of framing a law on triple talaq. Does the Congress support the proposed law on triple talaq?” he asked.

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French tourists assaulted in Mirzapur: Sushma Swaraj seeks report from UP government

Minister of External Affairs (MEA) Sushma Swaraj on Monday sought a report from the Uttar Pradesh government on thethrashing of French tourists in state’s Mirzapur district.”I have asked for a report from Government of Uttar Pradesh,” Swaraj tweeted.Earlier on Sunday, eight people were arrested in connection with the thrashing of French tourists. A group of foreign tourists from France were allegedly beaten up and molested in Ahraura area of Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh by a group of local boys. About a dozen French tourists had come to visit Varanasi. On Saturday, they visited a natural waterfall in Lekhania Dari under Ahraura police station in Mirzapur along with an Indian friend. While they were enjoying their visit, three local guys passed lewd remarks on girls and abused them.When French nationals objected, it led to an argument and soon tuned into a fight. Since the locals were less in numbers they left and again returned with 10 more local guys who thrashed French tourists. In the fight a French tourist sustained injuries on his hands, face and neck. The French nationals’ Indian friend told mediapersons that she was also abused, molested and beaten when she tried to stop them from attacking foreign tourists. She alleged that the attackers used sticks to beat them. They were taken to the hospital and given first aid.Also readUttar Pradesh: French tourists molested, thrashed in Mirzapur, eight accused nabbed The SHO Ahraura Police Station Praveen Singh said that an FIR has been registered against 13 people and they have already arrested eight He, however, denied that anyone was seriously injured in the attack. “Only one of them sustained minor bruises and scratches and was given first aid at the Mirzapur Hospital,” clarified the SHO.The DGP Sulkhan Singh has directed the Mirzapur police to arrest remaining accused and take strict action against them. A few months ago, the DGP had suggested CCTV cameras at tourist spots to check such incidents but no headway has been made so far. A German national was thrashed by a railway contractor at Sonebhadra Railway station on November 6 when he ignored greetings of the contractor. The accused was immediately arrested by the police.A Swiss couple was attacked in Fatehpur Sikri in Agra about two months ago by a group of local touts pressing for photographs. The Swiss man had suffered fractures in the attack and couple was treated at Delhi’s Apollo Hospital. Police rounded up about 50 touts and arrested a couple of them involved in the attack after public outrage over the incident. A Russian woman was allegedly raped by a bank manager in Vrindavan in Mathura in October. The bank manager was arrested after she lodged an FIR with the Mathura Police.

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Pakistan allows Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family to meet him in jail on December 25

The family of Kulbhushan Jadhav, the former Indian naval officer facing death sentence in Pakistan, has been allowed to meet him in jail on December 25.Though it has not been specified that who exactly has been permitted to meet Jadhav, it is sure that an Indian diplomat will accompany the family member.The news comes after India set some pre-conditions for the meeting, specifically asking for the safety of Jadhav’s family members.Earlier, India had allowed wife and mother of Kulbhushan Jadhav to travel to Pakistan.However, the women’s travel permission is linked with certain pre-conditions.Also readPakistan yet to give a sovereign guarantee about safety and security of Kulbhushan Jadhav: VK Singh”In our response, we have conveyed that Jadhav’s wife would like to travel with her mother-in-law for the meeting. We have also sought sovereign guarantee from the Pakistan Government to ensure safety, and security of both. Also, during their stay in Pakistan they should not be questioned, or harassed,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.”We have further asked that a diplomat from our High Commission in Pakistan shall be allowed to accompany them at all times, including during the meeting,” he added.Also read4 assurances India has asked for allowing Kulbhushan Jadhav’s wife, mother to travel to PakistanPakistan on November 10 had said that on ‘humanitarian grounds’, it can allow meeting between Jadhav and his wife in jail. The 46-year-old was arrested in March last year on charges on espionage. The Pakistan authorities alleged that Jadhav was working with RA&W and was involved in terrorist activities in strife-torn Balochistan region.After nearly four months of trail termed as ‘farcical’ trial, Jadhav was sentenced to death by a military court. But, India moved to International Court of Justice and in major victory, the ICJ stayed Jadhav’s death sentence in May this year.

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India reacts to Donald Trump’s Jerusalem move, says ‘our views not determined by any third country’

Hours after US President Donald Trump dramatically announced his decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, India on Thursday reacted with a firm resolve.In response to queries regarding India’s position on recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel by the US, the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affair said, “India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country.”Even as the world leaders reacted to President Trump’s decision, the eight countries have called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council.Also readDonald Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in reversal of US policyBolivia, Egypt, France, Italy, Senegal, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Uruguay want a meeting by the end of the week, the Swedish mission to the 15-member body said.Japan, which currently holds the council’s rotating presidency, had not set a time for the meeting by Wednesday afternoon.Also readWorld leaders call emergency meeting after Donald Trump’s decision on JerusalemJerusalem’s status can only be resolved through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said following Trump’s announcement.Guterres added that he had “consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures.””There is no alternative to the two-state solution.” Bolivian Ambassador Sacha Sergio Llorenty Soliz called Trump’s move “a reckless and a dangerous decision which goes against international law, the resolutions of the Security Council.””It’s a threat not just to the peace process, but also it’s a threat to international peace and security,” said the envoy.
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Pakistan yet to give a sovereign guarantee about safety and security of Kulsbhushan Jadhav: VK Singh

Pakistan is yet to give a sovereign guarantee about the safety and security of Indian prisoner on death row Kulbhushan Jadhav’s wife if she visits that country to meet her husband, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said today.Talking to journalists on the sidelines of an event here, Singh rubbished as “rumour” reports that China has erected a 400 metre high wall to camouflage the construction going on in Dokalam, the scene of a prolonged stand-off between Indian and Chinese armies.The minister also said India “does not care” about 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed approaching the United Nations to get his name struck off the list of designated terrorists.”Talks are still in progress. They (Pakistan) are yet to provide guarantee on the safety aspect.”Pakistan’s foreign office had earlier this month said it will allow Kulbhushan Jadhav to meet his wife.Responding to Pakistan s offer of arranging a meeting between the former naval officer and his wife, India also requested that his mother be allowed to meet him too.A military court in Pakistan had in April this year sentenced Jadhav, a former navyman, to death on the charge of his alleged involvement in espionage and terror attacks. India strongly denied the allegation.The International Court of Justice has stayed Jadhav’s execution.Talking about Saeed, Singh said, “The government has been saying this from the beginning…Those who are terrorists are terrorists. We have no doubt about it. We don’t care where a terrorist goes and approaches whom to seek protection.” Saeed has petitioned the UN seeking removal of his name from the list of designated terrorists on the ground that none of the allegations against him either related to terrorism or otherwise have been proved in the Pakistani courts.The banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) head, who carries a USD 10 million American bounty on his head for terror activities, walked free on Friday after the Pakistan government decided against detaining him further in any other case. He was under house arrest since January this year.”Do not believe in such rumours,” he said when asked to comment on reports about China having built a 400 metre high wall to hide construction activities in Dokalam on Sikkim- Bhutan-Tibet trijunction.Singh said India wanted its citizens going abroad to believe that their government will help them in the event of any trouble.He said India was working on maintaining healthy relations with every country.
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‘Provide evidence or stop crying’: LeT founder Hafiz Saeed’s son-in-law tells India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>.A day after 26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed filed a plea in United Nations to remove his terrorist tag, his son-in-law has asked India to stop crying and provide evidence against him. The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder and banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) head, who carries a USD 10 million American bounty on his head for terror activities, walked free on Friday after the Pakistan government decided against detaining him further in any other case. He was under house arrest since January this year.“India is always crying internationally. Why don’t you provide evidence instead of just using television clips of the Mumbai attacks?,’’ Khalid Waleed, the son-in-law of Hafiz Saeed told Hindustan Times.He also said that the America has asked for Hafiz Saeed’s re-arrest only because of pressure from India and he would continue to fight for the liberation of Kashmir. ALSO READ ‘I am not a terrorist’: LeT founder Hafiz Saeed files petition in UN to remove tagHe also questions how Saeed can be rearrested when he has been released by a three-judge bench of the review board.Meanwhile, influential Democratic lawmaker Tulsi Gabbard termed as ‘ridiculous’ the release of Hafiz Saeed from house arrest.”Not only did Pakistan give refuge to Bin Laden, responsible for attacks against US on 9/11, Pakistan set free a terrorist who has a USD 10 million American bounty on his head,” she said.The US has sought immediate re-arrest of Saeed, warning Islamabad that there would be repercussions for bilateral ties if it fails to act. ALSO READ Remembering 26/11: Hafiz Saeed’s release shows Pakistan not serious about bringing perpetrators to justice”If Pakistan does not take action to lawfully detain Saeed and charge him for his crimes, its inaction will have repercussions for bilateral relations and for Pakistan’s global reputation,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders Sanders said.India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said that Saeed’s release confirmed once again the lack of seriousness by the Pakistan government in bringing to justice perpetrators of terrorism, including individuals and entities designated by the UN.”It also appears to be an attempt by the Pakistani system to mainstream proscribed terrorists. Pakistan has not changed its policy of shielding and supporting non-state actors and its true face is visible for all to see,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in New Delhi. ALSO READ Committed to implementing UN sanctions, says Pak as US seeks Hafiz Saeed’s re-arrest

4 assurances India has asked for allowing Kulbhushan Jadhav’s wife, mother to travel to Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India on Thursday conveyed that it will allow Kulbhushan Jadhav’s wife and mother to travel to Pakistan to meet him. Jadhav is currently in death row holed up in Pakistan prison.The former Navy officer has been accused by Pakistan of hatching a conspiracy against them and planning terrorist acts in its soil. However, India has maintained that Jadhav was illegally abducted by Pak authorities. India has moved to ICJ seeking that Jadhav be freed. The Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar laid out a series of assurances it wants from Pakistan regarding the visit of Jadhav’s family to the neighbouring country. On November 10, Pakistan had said it will allow Jadhav to meet his wife, months after India requested it to grant visa to his mother on humanitarian grounds.Here are the assurances India has asked:1.India has sought ‘sovereign guarantee’ from Pakistan to ensure safety and security of the wife and the mother of Indian death row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav if they are allowed to visit him.2.The external affairs ministry said Pakistan has also been asked not to subject the two women to any questioning, harassment or interrogation during their stay in Pakistan.3. The High Commission in Islamabad should be allowed to accompany the two women at all times, including during the meeting with Jadhav.4. MEA spokesperson also said that allowing the visit does not absolve Pakistan of the violations of the Vienna Convention on consular access and not following the due process in treating Jadhav who faces death sentence through a ‘farcical process and on concocted charges’.It will be interesting to see how Pakistan reacts to these requests. It is hard to think that Pakistan will allow a staffer of Indian High Commission to accompany Jadhav’s family when they meet him.Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in April on charges of espionage and terrorism. The International Court of Justice in May halted his execution on India’s appeal.Last month, the Pakistan Army had said it is close to a decision on the mercy petition of Jadhav. After India approached the ICJ, a 10-member bench on May 18 restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav till adjudication of the case.The ICJ has asked Pakistan to submit its response or memorial by December 13 before the court could start further proceedings in the case. (With agency inputs)

India slams Pak on Hafiz Saeed release

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after a Lahore High Court judicial review board ordered 26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s release from house arrest, India expressed “outrage”, saying Pakistan has exposed its true face by attempting to “mainstream” UN-proscribed terrorists.The Ministry of External Affairs said the order confirms the “lack of seriousness” on Pakistan’s part in bringing terrorists to justice, and its nefarious designs to shield non-state actors.Top US counter-terrorism and South Asian experts also expressed anger at the banned Jama’at-ud-Da’wah (JuD) chief’s imminent release that has come as a setback to India’s efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 2008 attacks in which 166 people had been killed.Bruce Riedel, who served in the US National Security Council, said it was time to rescind Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally.Saeed is designated a global terrorist by the United Nations. The US has also a $10 million bounty on him.”India and the entire international community is outraged that a self-confessed and UN-proscribed terrorist is being allowed to walk free and continue with his evil agenda,” said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.He described Saeed as the “prime organiser” of the November 26 attacks and said he was also responsible for unleashing numerous other terror attacks against Pakistan’s neighbours. “His release confirms once again the lack of seriousness on the part of the Pakistani government in bringing to justice perpetrators of heinous acts of terror, including by individuals and entities designated by the UN.He said it also appears that Pakistani system was attempting to mainstream proscribed terrorists, and that Islamabad has not changed its policy of shielding and supporting non-state actors and its true face is there for all to see.On Wednesday, the judicial review board rejected an appeal of Pakistan’s Punjab provincial government, which had sought to extend Saeed’s detention for three more months, after it failed to submit any evidence against him.Saeed’s counsel AK Dogar said he “feared that the Punjab government may detain him in any other case.”Media reports from Pakistan quoting sources close to Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif said the home department would slap more charges to ensure Saeed is not released. They said that the government would go after JuD’s activities. “Their activities are already under the scanner and action against them was taken many times in the past. We will do so again,” an official said.

Union ministers discuss triple talaq legislation in meeting chaired by Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> group of Union ministers today closeted for an hour to discuss about a legislation to put an end to instantaneous ‘triple talaq’, a Muslim way of divorce, which is said to be still in practice despite the Supreme Court striking it down.The Centre is planning to bring the legislation in the winter session of Parliament, which is likely to begin from December 15. Chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the meeting discussed various issues related to the proposed bill, which is expected to ensure that the instantaneous way of divorce will be a punishable offence, a government official said. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot, Minister for Minorities Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Attorney General K K Venugopal besides others attended the meeting.No decision was taken in today’s meeting and further deliberations will take place in coming days, the official said. The ministers also discussed whether a new legislation should be brought or the existing penal provisions be suitably amended to make the instantaneous triple talaq an offence, the government official said. According to the law, a victim of ‘talaq-e-biddat’ or instant triple talaq would have no option, but to approach the police for redressal of her grievances, as a Muslim clergy would be of no assistance to her. Even police are helpless as no action can be taken against the husband in the absence of punitive provisions in the law, another official explained.The NDA ministers have been tasked to frame a new law or an amendment bill, he said.In August, the Supreme Court had struck down the controversial Islamic practice of instant divorce or ‘talaq-e-biddat’ as arbitrary and unconstitutional. But there have been reports of a number of divorces by way of ‘talaq-e-biddat’ even after the judgement. This could be because of lack of awareness and absence of deterrent punishment, the official said. Despite advisories issued to members of the community against the archaic practice, there seems to be no decline in the cases of divorce by ‘talaq-e-biddat’, he said.Soon after the SC judgement, the government said that a law on triple talaq might not be necessary as the order was now the law of the land. They had felt that the provisions of the Indian Penal Code were sufficient to deal with such cases, the official added.

Re-election to ICJ shows India is very important in the global scenario: Justice Dalveer Bhandari

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When did you feel your victory is possible and the UK would have to exit?Well it became quite evident when India got massive support in the General Assembly, that the will of the people has to be respected, that is why the outcome has come as it has. India is fast emerging as one of the most important nations of the world. It is very highly respected and it was because of the efforts of the government that ensured the victory was possible.How important do you think the win is for India?It has shown the world that India is an emerging nation and very important in the global scenario. I think the next time round the developed nations will think twice about getting into an election against India. India has demonstrated that it can achieve almost anything.Do you think reform of UNSC will be next on the table? Do you think veto power of UNSC nations need to be looked at?Reforms are imperative and it is necessary to bring proper representation to all nations in the world.The voice of every country must be represented, irrespective of its financial condition, and respected at the UN. I would not like to go into details about this (the veto power issue) because this is not the subject I will speak on today but reforms are necessary. There was a global campaign launched by the Indian government for your candidature. Each and every embassy was activated for your candidature. Your comments?I would like to thank the Indian government. I think without the dedicated effort of the government of India it would not have been possible. Because in this election the canvassing was being done by the government and in this regard they have done a superb job in this direction under the leadership of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.Would you like to say anything about Prime Minister Modi’s role?He is the head of the Indian government. Without his blessings nothing would have been possible.

Indian consul general’s home in SA robbed, MEA takes up issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has taken up the issue of an armed intrusion into the house of its Durban-based Consul General Shashank Vikram with South African authorities. The family members of Vikram, domestic staff and a visiting teacher was targeted by robbers and briefly held hostage at their official residence. Among them were two children, aged five and 10.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke to Vikram and enquired about the well being of his family. Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the issue has been taken up with relevant authorities. “Ensuring the safety and security of Indian diplomats/officials posted abroad, and their families is a matter of highest priority for us,” he added.An Indian diplomat, S K Pandey, said while nobody suffered physical harm, the family was traumatised.The robbers reportedly gained entry by derailing the entrance gate.Vikram told a South African media outlet that with India House being a diplomatic establishment, the robbery was a “very rude shock”.

India, China hold first border consultation mechanism meet after Doklam standoff

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India and China on Friday held their first meeting on the border consultation and coordination mechanism here after the Dokalam standoff and reviewed the situation in all the sectors of their border and exchanged views on enhancing CBMs and military contacts.The 10th round of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) was held in Beijing, a press release from the Indian Embassy here said.The WMCC was established in 2012 as an institutional mechanism for consultation and coordination for the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas.It was established to deal with the tensions over recurring border incursions as well as to exchange views on strengthening communication and cooperation, including between the border security personnel.The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488 km long Line of Actual Control (LAC). While China claims Arunachal Pradesh as Southern Tibet, India asserts that the dispute covered Aksai Chin area which was occupied by China during the 1962 war.Today’s talks were held in a constructive and forward- looking manner, the release said.Both sides reviewed the situation in all sectors of India-China border and agreed that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas is an important prerequisite for sustained growth of bilateral relations, it said.The two sides also exchanged views on further confidence building measures (CBMs) and strengthening of military-to- military contacts, it said.The talks between the delegations headed by Pranay Verma, Joint Secretary (East Asia), Ministry of External Affairs and Xiao Qian, Director General, Department of Asian Affairs, were the first such dialogue between the two countries after the 72-day-long standoff at Doklam in the Sikkim section.The standoff which began in mid-June ended on August 28 after Chinese troops stopped building a key road close to India’s Chicken Neck corridor. India objected to the construction highlighting its security concerns. The road was being built by the Chinese troops in the area also claimed by Bhutan.This is the first round of talks between the two countries after Chinese President Xi Jinping began his second five-year term as the chief of the ruling Communist Party of China last month.Today’s talks took place ahead of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s planned to visit to India to take part in the Russia, India and China (RIC) Foreign Ministers meeting expected to be held in New Delhi next month.Chinese officials earlier said Wang is expected to meet his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj as well as top Indian leaders.The contentious issues bedeviling both the countries, including the $ 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as well as Bejing’s veto blocking UN listing of JeM leader Masood Azhar as a global terrorist are expected to be discussed during Wang’s talks with Indian leaders.Ahead of the talks, Chinese officials have expressed optimism that differences over the listing of Azhar by China in the 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council may be resolved soon. China has blocked India’s application last year and vetoed a similar resolution sponsored by the US, the UK and France twice this year.Also the 20th round of India-China border talks headed by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, who are the designated Special Representatives, are expected to be held in New Delhi next month.The dates for both RIC and border talks are yet to be announced.The Special Representatives were also mandated to discuss all issues related to India-China relations.The delegations at today’s talks comprised of diplomatic and military officials from each side.The two sides agreed to hold the next meeting of the WMCC at a mutually convenient time, the release said.

ASEAN: India meets with USA, Japan and Australia to address common interests in Indo-Pacific

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Officials from India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and United State’s Department of State met in Manila on November 12, 2017 for consultations on issues of common interest in the Indo-Pacific region.The discussions focused on cooperation based on their converging vision and values for promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in an increasingly inter-connected region that they share with each other and with other partners.They agreed that a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region serves the long-term interests of all countries in the region and of the world at large. The officials also exchanged views on addressing common challenges of terrorism and proliferation linkages impacting the region as well as on enhancing connectivity.The Indian side highlighted India’s Act East Policy as the cornerstone of its engagement in the Indo-Pacific region.

Deeply disappointed, says India as China once again blocks move to ban Masood Azhar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a sharp reaction, India on Thursday slammed China’s double standards as it once again blocked a move by the US to sanction Masood Azhar as ‘global terrorist’.Beijing used its veto power to block a resolution by the US to ban the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief.All 15 nations, except China, have agreed for sanction against Masood Azhar.“Deeply disappointed that once again, a single country blocked international consensus on designation of an acknowledged terrorist Masood Azhar,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.“India strongly believes that double standards and selective approaches will only undermine international community’s resolve to combat terrorism,” the statement read.“Can only hope that there will be a realisation that accommodating with terrorism for narrow objectives both short sighted and counter-productive,” New Delhi said.A veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, China has repeatedly blocked India’s move to put a ban on the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the Council.The JeM, founded by Azhar, has already been in the UN’s list of banned terror outfits. China had in August extended by three months its technical hold on the the US, France and UK-backed proposal to list Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN after having blocked the move in February this year at the United Nations.This is the second year in succession that China has blocked the resolution. Last year, China had done the same to stall India’s application before the same Committee.

India repatriates 14 Pak nationals; Islamabad issues visas to over 2,600 Sikhs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India today repatriated to Pakistan nine fishermen and four civilian prisoners along with a child, the external affairs ministry said.On its part, Pakistan issued visas to over 2,600 Sikh pilgrims to attend the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev from today till November 11, a Pakistan High Commission release said here. All the prisoners crossed over to Pakistan through the land transit route of Attari-Wagah border on the basis of emergency travel certificates issued by the Pakistan High Commission, officials said. Asserting that it attaches high priority to addressing all humanitarian issues, including early release and repatriation of Indian fishermen and prisoners in Pakistan’s custody, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said the release of 370 Indian prisoners, including 363 fishermen, has been secured in 2017, so far.”Nine fishermen and four civilian prisoners from Pakistan and a child were repatriated today via the Attari/Wagah border,” an MEA statement said, adding that two Pakistani civilian prisoners were also released on September 28, 2017. Maintaining that visa to Sikh pilgrims were issued in line with Pakistan’s efforts to promote religious tourism and people-to-people interactions, the Pakistan High Commission said the government was committed to protecting sacred religious places and providing all possible facilities for the visiting pilgrims of all faiths.It also said that visas issued by the high commission in New Delhi were in addition to the visas issued to Sikh pilgrims participating in the event from other countries.

Ajay Bisaria is new envoy to Pak

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ajay Bisaria, currently the Indian ambassador to Poland, has been appointed the country’s top envoy to Pakistan. Though an announcement was made in September, formal orders of his new posting were issued by the External Affairs ministry on Wednesday. The 1987-batch IFS officer will succeed Gautam Bambawale, who was last month posted to China.

Attack on Indian student in Milan case of robbery, not racist attack: Sushma Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian students have been assaulted in a string of incidents in northern Italy, the Indian Consulate in Milan has said.The Consulate General of India (CGI) in Milan yesterday issued an advisory to Indian students and asked them not to panic.”The Consulate has received reports of unfortunate incidents of attacks on Indian students in Milan. All Indian students are urged not to panic. The Consulate is taking up this matter with the highest level of law and order authorities in Milan,” according to the advisory posted on Twitter.The advisory did not mention if the attacks on Indian students appeared to be racially motivated.The CGI advised Indian students to be in touch with each other, especially when they go out.It also advised students to spread information among other students from India about the areas where they have experienced “such incidents” so that such areas can be avoided.In New Delhi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she had received a detailed report about the incidents.Swaraj said she was personally monitoring the situation and asked the students not to worry.”Attack on Indian students in Milan: I have got the detailed report. Please do not worry. I am monitoring the situation personally,” Swaraj tweeted.Swaraj also said that she has spoken to a victim.”He has told me that this was a case of robbery and not a racial attack,” she said, while appreciating the Indian Consulate in Milan for providing all help.

Varanasi: 3 people, part of gang, arrested in Army recruitment scam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested three people, who are part of a gang, in Varanasi. The three members were caught making fake marksheets, character certificates and other documents to Nepali youth for their recruitment into the Gorkha Regiment of the Indian Army.The arrested persons have been idengtified as Ajay Kumar Singh, Awadh Prakash and Nagehwar Majurya. They are all residents of Varanasi. The ATS have recovered laptops, fake seals of schools and colleges, blank mark-sheets and charater certificates.Earlier, the ATS had identified three Nepali youth getting training at 39 Gorkha Training Cetre in Varanasi. On verification, it was found tha they had used fake documents to get recruited into the Gorkha Regimeny. While two made a good escape the ATS had arrested one Nepali origin youth.During interrogation, the Nepali youth had disclosed the name of a person who had made available documents to them with a cost of Rs 1 lakh. “We had arrested the gang leader Chandra Bahadur Khatri. On his disclosures, we nabbed these three persons who were behind making the fake documents,” said Aseem Arun, the ATS Chief.“On the basis of the information provided by the arrested Nepali youth, we are tracing the other two and sought help from the Nepali Police on their whereabouts,” said Arun.ATS sources claimed that they informed the Union Home department and the External Affairs ministry about developments in the Army Recruitment scam which is a serious matter involving country’s security.Gorkha Rifles has a glorious past in the Army and it prefers recruiting youth from Hills including Nepalis. How Army recruiters failed to verify documents of these three Nepali youth is a matter of serious concern.

WATCH: Raj Kapoor’s popularity in 2017 strong indication of Indo-Russia ties: MEA in Periscope interaction

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One rarely expects a discussion on the weighty issue of Indo-Russia ties to feature iconic Bollywood actor-filmmaker Raj Kapoor in the staid world of diplomacy.But the Ministry of External Affairs wants to break the mould, as part of which it launched a social media interactive session, ‘Ask the Spokesperson’, today.MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar held a nearly 20-minute-long session on ‘Periscope’ where he fielded a volley of questions thrown up by viewers, ranging from ‘Is SAARC dead?’ to recruitment in the Indian Foreign Services.On the stalled SAARC process, Kumar said a meaningful progress will happen only when there is an atmosphere of trust and security and an environment “free of terror”.Asked about India’s ties with Russia, he underlined how Raj Kapoor continues to be popular there, which is reflective of the “time-tested relationship” between the two countries.His somewhat unconventional take on the issue was in line with the stated objective of the initiative, which is essentially making people aware of the “nuances” of foreign policy.”The idea is to explain to the common people the nuances of foreign policy. To give replies in very simple terms. For example, when someone asks a question on Russia, I will try to give them an answer which is very simple and try to connect it at their level,” Kumar told reporters during a briefing earlier in the day.Such sessions will be held once in two months, he said.

After Tillerson’s admonition, China asks world to recognise Pakistan’s ‘efforts in fighting terrorism’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China today asked the international community to recognise Pakistan’s efforts in fighting terrorism, amid mounting pressure on its all-weather ally to act against terror groups and dismantle their safe havens on its soil.Reacting to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s remarks in New Delhi that terror safe havens in Pakistan will not be tolerated, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that for many years Islamabad has made positive efforts and “great sacrifices” on counter-terrorism front.”Pakistan has made important contributions for world peace and maintaining regional stability. We believe that the international community should recognise the efforts made by Pakistan in counter-terrorism,” he said.
ALSO READ US will provide India with best tech for military modernisation: Rex TillersonGeng pledged China’s support to the international community in the fight against terrorism.Referring to Tillerson’s visit to Islamabad, Geng said, “We welcome Pakistan and the US to conduct counter-terrorism cooperation based on mutual respect and jointly committed regional and world peace and stability.”
ALSO READ Eradicate terrorists operating in Pakistan: Rex Tillerson’s blunt message to PM AbbasiTillerson and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in a joint statement after their comprehensive talks on a range of key issues yesterday asked Pakistan to take action against terror groups, which the US said are now threatening the stability of the Pakistani government as well.”Terror safe havens will not be tolerated,” Tillerson had said while assuring full support to India in fighting terrorism.Speaking on Indo-US ties, Geng said, “We welcome India and Pakistan and all other countries in the world to develop friendly cooperation. We believe this relationship is conducive the regional stability besides regional development and prosperity.

Hate speech: NIA files charge sheet against Zakir Naik for inciting terror

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has filed a charge sheet against Islamic preacher Zakir Naik in its special court in Mumbai on Thursday, reports. Naik has been booked under charges of incitement of terror activities and hate speech among youth. According to reports, the 58-page charge sheet also names Naik’s two Islami Research Foundation (IRF) and Harmony Media Private Ltd. The NIA, in the 58 page charge-sheet, has declared the Salafist preacher an absconder and booked him for inciting communal hatred, say media reports.Zakir Naik fled India on July 1, 2016, after terrorists in neighbouring Bangladesh claimed that they were inspired by his speeches. Earlier in July, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) at the request of the NIA revoked Naik’s passport under the provisions of the Passport Act, 1967.NIA had issued notices against Naik three times but he did not join the investigation.On April 21, the NIA Special Court issued a non-bailable warrant against Naik. On November 18, 2016, the NIA registered a criminal case against Naik at its Mumbai branch under Sections 153A of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 10, 13 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.The IRF was declared an Unlawful Association by Government of India as per a notification dated November 17, 2016. Naik has delivered over 1500 public lectures/talks in India and abroad. His last public lecture in India was held in Kishanganj, Bihar in March, 2012.Naik has been charged with indulging in unlawful activities and promoting hatred between religions among other charges. He has also been charged with diverting money for anti-India activity and influencing youth through provocative speeches. (With ANI inputs)

India and US are natural allies, stand shoulder to shoulder against terror, says Rex Tillerson after meeting Sushma Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and reiterated Washington’s support for New Delhi.Tillerson, who is visiting India for the first time, said that India and US are natural allies.In a veiled attack against Pakistan, Tillerson said that terror safe havens won’t be tolerated.Addressing media after the meeting, Sushma Swaraj also said the leaders discussed bilateral, regional and global issues to further strengthen bonds of friendship.Hitting out at Pakistan, Swaraj said, “President Trump’s policy on terrorism can only succeed when Pakistan takes action on terror groups.”She also said that the crucial issue of H1-B visas was also discussed.The foreign minister also said that India, Afghanistan and the Us will also hold a trilateral meeting later in December. Rex Tillerson is also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi later in the day and conclude his trip. He will fly back to Washington DC on Thursday morning. The visit is very crucial for both India and the US as it would set tone for new geostrategic ties in Asia.“China, while rising alongside India, has done so less responsibly, at times undermining the international, rules-based order even as countries like India operate within a framework that protects other nations’ sovereignty,” Tillerson had said in a last week’s speech at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

Sushma Swaraj in Bangladesh: MEA opens India’s new chancery complex in Dhaka

Updated: Oct 23, 2017, 12:34 PM IST, PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj opened the new chancery complex of the Indian High Commission in Dhaka on Monday on the last day of her Bangladesh visit.Swaraj lit a candle to mark the opening of the huge complex at Dhaka’s Baridhara diplomatic enclave while the High Commission was previously operating from a house in Gulshan area of the city.During the ceremony, she also inaugurated 15 development projects of Bangladesh being funded by India.Bangladesh Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali, Health Minister Mohamad Nasim, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s political affairs adviser H T Imam among others joined the ceremony.Swaraj will return to New Delhi later today wrapping up her Dhaka visit, the second since assuming office in 2014.​

Controversial preacher Zakir Naik to be chargesheeted by NIA this week

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik will be chargesheeted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) this week for his alleged role in terror funding and money laundering cases in the country, officials said.The formalities to file the chargesheet against Naik, who left the country in July last year, have been completed and it will be submitted before a special court this week, they said. The 51-year-old televangelist, who is currently abroad, is being probed under terror and money-laundering charges by the NIA. He fled from India on July 1, 2016, after terrorists in neighbouring Bangladesh claimed that they were inspired by his speeches. The NIA had on November 18, 2016, registered a case against Naik at its Mumbai branch under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. His Mumbai-based NGO, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), has already been declared an unlawful association by the Union Home Ministry.Naik is said to have acquired citizenship of Saudi Arabia but this has not been confirmed yet.The controversial preacher has been accused of spreading hatred by his provocative speeches, funding terrorists and laundering several crores of rupees over the years. Naik, a medical doctor-turned preacher, during his interactions with the Indian media from broad has repeatedly denied all the charges. The Interpol was approached against Naik after a year- long probe during which the NIA gathered evidence on his IRF and Peace TV being used to allegedly promote hatred between different religious groups.Besides banning his NGO, the central government has taken his TV channel off air. The passport of Naik was also been revoked by the Ministry of External Affairs at the request of the NIA earlier this year. The NIA had thrice issued notices under the Code of Criminal Procedure section 160 to Naik, asking him to join the investigation, but he did not appear before it. The section authorises a police officer to call somebody if it appeared the person seemed to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case in question.Thereafter, on April 21, the Additional Sessions Judge presiding over the NIA Special Court had issued a non-bailable warrant against him. On June 15, the court issued proclamation order seeking Naik’s appearance before it.After Naik failed to comply with these directives, the anti-terror agency requested the Ministry of External Affairs to revoke his passport. The Mumbai-based preacher came under the lens of security agencies after some terrorists allegedly involved in the attack on a cafe in Dhaka in July last year reportedly claimed they were inspired by his speeches.

Child Abduction: Committee to hold consultations on India’s position in Bengaluru

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The committee deliberating India’s position on the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction is likely to hold a second round of consultations in Bengaluru this month. Concentrating till now on cases of parental abduction of NRIs from North India, the committee, has been approached by spouses from South India in the first round of talks that were held in Delhi on September 16 and 17.”There were a significant number of cases from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra. Because of the cultural differences the kind of cases will vary differently. There’s a need to study these cases as well,” said a member of the panel headed by Justice Rajesh Bindal, which was formed in February. In July this year, the panel asked the public for comments.In the consultation, panel heard cases from both sides. “While the men point at the host country’s robust domestic violence laws and say that the child will suffer from the ‘parental alienation syndrome’, the women say that when a complaint of domestic assault is made, the child protection forces take away the child,” said the member. “At this point, we are in a Catch-22 situation.”While over 50 pleas were heard in the panel’s first consultation, there are over 95 cases still lodged with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The United States have been pursuing India to sign the Convention to which over 96 countries are signatories. But the plight of women who flee to India from abuse, in most cases, prompted women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi to carry on the consultation.The panel, which has representation from the Chandigarh Judicial Academy Chandigarh, along with NRI Commission of Punjab, will also study the Civil Aspect of the International Child Abduction Bill, 2016.Both sidesMen point at the robust domestic violence laws and say that the child will suffer from ‘parental alienation syndrome’. Women say when a complaint of domestic assault is made, the child protection forces take away the child

US-Iran freeze puts India’s Chabahar port project in a fix

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The deteriorating relations between the United States and Iran, coupled with the threat of return of sanction regime, have once again put India in a fix.Government officials confide that pace of work on projects such as Chabahar port and building railway and road networks would get affected if the US President Donald Trump operationalises his threats against Tehran. Sources said the issue will prominently figure during the October 24 visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.What is worrisome is that ahead of Tillerson’s visit, a top US official has asked countries to take a hard look at their business partners in Iran. “What we’re asking is for countries to take a hard look at who you’re doing business with in Iran and to understand who are the beneficial owners of these companies,” the official said, warning against business deals with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-controlled companies.Recently, while deposing before a parliamentary panel, officials conceded that the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project hasn’t moved forward since 2008 in the wake of sanctions on Iran.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had prioritised the connectivity project in Central Asia and the Chabahar port in Iran to provide a key route to Afghanistan, while bypassing Pakistan.During his visit to Tehran last May, Modi had promised to accentuate work on Indian commitments and develop two terminals and five berths at Chabahar port located on the Gulf of Oman, within 18 months. India and Iran are simultaneously also developing the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) together with Russia, connecting the Gulf of Oman to Central Asia and Eastern Europe. These projects are crucial for India as they present an alternative to China’s One Belt One Road initiative and also a counter to Gwadar in Pakistan’s Balochistan.But the sanctions slapped by the Trump administration and threats of more sanctions has put India’s diplomats in a quandary. Though none of the 12 companies put on the US sanction list recently have any business with India, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) fears that the prospect of their expansion has potential to hit the port as well as the Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The agreement (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) between Iran and P5+1 on Iran’s nuclear programme and the corresponding easing of sanctions, concluded last July, has provided the long-awaited opening for India.Iranian Ambassador in New Delhi Gholamreza Ansari recently accused the US of trying to ensure that India reduced oil imports from his country. “The US wants to deprive Iran of the Indian energy market,” he said. India has cut its oil imports from Iran by approximately 20% in 2017, though its global imports have risen by 5.4%. Some companies, such as Essar oil, have dropped imports from Iran in August by as much as 75%, according to oil industry estimates.The US has made it quite clear that countries doing business with Iran should ensure that their economic relationships with Iran do not lead to the strengthening of the IRGC in particular and their ability to do so much harm to so many people.Under previous Western sanctions, India had devised a barter-like scheme acceptable to Washington that allowed it to make some oil payments to Tehran in rupees through UCO Bank. But since sanctions were partly lifted early last year, the rupee account has been run down by more than 90% to just Rs 2,000 crore ($305 million) because Indian refiners have resumed paying for Iranian oil in Euros. Sources here say as the tensions re-emerge, India was looking at reverting to the old rupee mechanism.Officials here said the government was still in a wait-and-watch mode and closely monitoring Trump’s approach towards Iran. But they concede that of late, reports of western manufacturers shying away from supplying equipment for the Chahbhar port for fear the fresh sanctions are hitting New Delhi’s strategic ambitions in the region.

Pak envoy meets Sushma Swaraj; Kulbhushan Jadhav’s fate not discussed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan today said its High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, but dismissed as “speculative” the reports in media that the two discussed the issue of Kulbhushan Jadhav.Foreign Office issued a statement after reports in media claimed that Swaraj asked Mahmood to drop all charges against Jadhav and send him back for any progress in bilateral ties.46-year-old Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in April for his alleged involvement in espionage and terrorist activities. The International Court of Justice in May halted his execution on India’s appeal.Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria today confirmed that Mahmood met Swaraj on October 17 but asserted that it was a routine meeting by the diplomat who recently assumed office as Pakistan’s new High Commissioner to India.”While broad contours of bilateral relations were deliberated upon during this interaction, no specific case came under discussion. Therefore, the reports appearing in the Indian media are speculative,” Zakaria said.He also said that the meeting was held in a cordial and constructive atmosphere.”The Minister and the High Commissioner took stock of the current state of Pakistan-India relations,” he said.He said it is “customary for the newly-posted envoys to make courtesy calls on the local dignitaries.”

India express grave concern over spike in terror attacks in Afghanistan, demand elimination of terror hubs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India has expressed grave concern over the spike in terror attacks in Afghanistan and demanded that states “hosting” terrorists and their sanctuaries must eliminate them immediately.Condemning the “barbaric” attack on an army camp in Kandahar province in which 43 soldiers were killed, the Ministry of External Affairs said the recent strikes “demonstrate” that safe havens and support systems continue to be available to terrorists.”We strongly condemn the barbaric attack today at the Afghan National Army base in Kandahar province,” MEA said in a statement yesterday.It said India is “gravely” concerned at the escalation of terrorist violence against Afghanistan, despite hopes kindled recently by new strategies as well as efforts to bring peace in the country.”Coming on the heels of similar tragedies in Paktia and Ghazni, we share the grief of the families of the victims and the suffering of the Afghan people,” the ministry said.In what is being seen as a clear reference to Pakistan, it added, “States hosting the terrorists and their sanctuaries must eliminate them immediately and without distinction.” These concerns were also highlighted by the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, the statement said.”The beginning of Afghan-owned and Afghan-led national reconciliation requires an end to violence.” It added, “India expresses solidarity with the people and the Government of Afghanistan in these difficult times.” In his visit to Kabul earlier this week, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and the top brass of the country’s military establishment. Issues relating to defence and security cooperation were discussed during the meetings.At least 43 Afghan soldiers were killed and nine wounded in a Taliban-claimed assault on a military base in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday.The terrorists blasted their way into the compound with at least one explosives-laden Humvee, the Afghan defence ministry said.

Diwali gift: India will grant medical visa in all pending cases to deserving Pakistanis, says Sushma Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said today that on the auspicious occasion of Diwali India will grant medical visa in all deserving cases that are pending, as she responded positively to a number of such requests by Pakistani nationals.To a request for a visa by a Pakistani woman named Amna Shamin, whose father is already in Delhi for treatment and she wants to visit him, Swaraj said, “Please contact Indian High Commission in Pakistan. We will allow this.” “On the auspicious occasion of Deepawali, India will grant medical visa in all deserving cases pending today,” Swaraj tweeted. Yesterday, she had directed the Indian High Commission in Islamabad to issue a visa to a Pakistani child for medical treatment in India.The child’s father, Kashif, had requested Swaraj on Twitter to grant medical visa for treatment of Abdullah, saying he needed post-liver transplant evaluation in India.”The treatment of your child must not suffer for want of medicine. I have asked Indian High Commission to issue medical visa. @ChachaKashif,” the minister tweeted yesterday. Kashif had said the child’s medicines were about to finish and he needed immediate medical consultation in India. In another tweet yesterday, Swaraj said a medical visa has also been approved for a Pakistani woman, who wants to undergo liver surgery in India.The woman’s son, Rafique Memon, had requested Swaraj to intervene and grant visa to his mother. Swaraj also responded positively to a request for a visa by Nazir Ahmed, whose eight-year-old child Mohammad Ahmed was awaiting medical visa for a year. “We will issue visa to facilitate treatment of your 8- year-old child in India,” she said. Swaraj has been taking a sympathetic approach in granting medical visas to Pakistani nationals, notwithstanding strain in ties between India and Pakistan over a host of issues, including cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

16 Indians on board Emerald Star rescued, 10 still missing: Sushma Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The government was using aircraft and vessels to search for 10 Indian crew members, who went missing after their cargo ship sank in the Pacific off the Philippines last week, the external affairs ministry said today.They also said that five Indian crew members of ‘Emerald Star’ are in Irene, the Philippines, and the country’s mission is bringing them to Manila before repatriation to India.”Officials from our Guangzhou Consulate visited the injured Indian crew of ‘Emerald Star’ in a Xiamen hospital. 11 crew members are in Xiamen. Search for missing 10 crew members still ongoing using aircraft and vessels. We will keep posting regular updates on further developments,” ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.Separately, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, in a series of tweets, said there were 26 Indians on board the ship, of them 16 have been rescued and 10 are still missing.”Indian Embassy in Japan has informed me that a helicopter and 2 patrol vessels of Japan Coast Guard are engaged in search/rescue operations,” she said.The minister said the Indian Navy’s P8I aircraft has reached Manila and joined the search and rescue operation for the missing Indians. P8I is a long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft.On Friday, the 33,205-tonne cargo ship Emerald Star with 26 Indian nationals on board sank off Okinawa. While 16 Indians were rescued, a search for the missing crew members was launched by Indian missions in the Philippines, Japan and China to locate them.

BJP returns to art it mastered, adopts tech for voter outreach

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is leveraging technology in a big way in the run up to the Gujarat Assembly polls. While social media presence has always been the forte of the party, in the latest edition of women’s town hall conducted online by Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, the party was able to reach out to 1.5 lakh women directly, as data from the party’s information and technology department suggests.Apart from the direct connect, thousands were reached indirectly via other online platforms such as the Facebook pages of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and the BJP.”The Mahila Town hall with the External Affairs Minister in Ahmedabad was yet another innovative use of social media to connect with the electorate for a purposeful dialogue. #MahilaTownhallwithSushmaji was the top trending hashtag in Gujarat and the country as 14,000 tweets were done in just one hour while the event was live. This shows we have been able to reach the remotest of locations of the state using internet-based platform. The entire exercise was a mix of two- and one-way conversation. We were able to reach, one way or the other, around 1.5lakh women at once,” BJP’s national information and technology head Amit Malviya told DNA.In terms of the number of women reached, 3,000 of them connected at the central location, while 2,200 connected through six locations which were two-way, in the sense that women asked the Union minister questions too. There were 30 one-way locations from which 11,000 women logged on to the minister.Apart from this, the BJP’s Gujarat Facebook page received over 60,000 views, while over 50,000 views were recorded on Rupani’s Facebook page. Earlier, on September 10, party chief Amit Shah had conducted a Town hall under the banner of the ‘Adikham Gujarat’ (Resolute Gujarat) banner. Shah’s Youth Town Hall had recorded 10,000 questions on Facebook, 12,000 on the BJP website, and over 6,000 questions on Twitter while it had been attended by over a lakh BJP workers from around 250 locations.

VK Singh explains why Indians do well abroad and it’s quite an eye-opener!

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The people who go abroad do well due to low interest rates on loans which help them to take forward their ideas and opportunities, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said today.He was addressing a gathering of bankers here, as part of a promotion campaign of MUDRA (Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency). “People going abroad do very good and the reason for it is very simple. They get a good opportunity there and have the required financial support to take their ideas forward. Also, the interest rates on banks there are very low,” Singh said.He said the MUDRA scheme was a tool for young entrepreneurs to be empowered to do what they want. “There is no collateral required to avail the loans and the paper work is also very minimal. According to figures, women have been the main beneficiaries of this scheme,” he said. Singh asked the bankers to interact with beneficiaries and seek their suggestions, feedback and complaints to ensure that the scheme can be made better with time.”MUDRA can be a tool to stop farmer suicides as well mostly due to over burdening from loans. The other members of the family can avail the loan facility and do some other work to balance the bad finances,” he said. Singh said that since employment opportunities are limited in the country, the banks should encourage people to widen their scope of work and employ more people to help cut down the unemployment rate. Maharashtra’s Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde, Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant and BJP MLA Raj Purohit were present on the occasion.

EAM Sushma Swaraj comes to the rescue again, India to grant medical visas to two Pakistanis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said India will grant medical visas to an ailing Pakistani man requiring liver transplant and a three-year-old girl from the neighbouring country who needs an open-heart surgery.Heeding to a request by Uzair Humayun, a Lahore-based man, Swaraj said medical visa will be given to his daughter for an open-heart surgery in India.”We are issuing visa for the open heart surgery of your three-year-old daughter in India. We also pray for her speedy recovery here,” Swaraj said in a tweet.The external affairs minister also responded positively when Noorma Habib asked for her intervention in granting medical visa to her father who she said needs an urgent liver transplant.”Yes, Noorma. We are allowing visa for the liver transplant of your father in India. We wish him a successful surgery and a long life,” Swaraj tweeted. Swaraj has been sympathetically considering medical visa applications from scores of Pakistani nationals notwithstanding strain in the relationship between the two countries over a host of issues.

Safeguarding India’s interests abroad

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Ministry of External Affairs has good reason to be well-pleased with itself. Its long-lasting dreams of isolating Pakistan in the region, bringing terrorism on the global agenda and partnering with major world power the United States, have been successfully realised.PM’s personal engagementThe NDA claims that it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal active engagement on the foreign policy front that has led to the expanded, active engagement. During the past three years and four months, the PM spent 146 days abroad, visiting 49 countries. He visited eight countries twice, four countries thrice and went to the US five times.But while the government may be happy with results, critics say these visits have not given India the requisite economic gains promised, as they have neither translated into required increase in FDI or the ambitious ‘Make In India’ scheme.Looking at the world with new eyesOver the past three years, PM Modi’s global outlook, underscored by linking domestic change to foreign policy has broken many glass ceilings. Ahead of India approaching the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to seek relief for its citizen Kulbhushan Jadhav, there were apprehensions within the government.The core team that deliberated the pros and cons of going to the ICJ included External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and other top officials. They were apprehensive as whenever India had earlier taken Pakistan to task on any international forum, it had shot itself in the foot. Be it complaining against Pakistan’s aggression in Kashmir in 1948 or agreeing to set up an international tribunal in 1965 to delineating boundaries in Kutch region of Gujarat, India had failed to meet its objectives.This time around, insiders confide that PM Modi cut short debate, asking senior officials of the MEA to show confidence and look at the world with new eyes. “India is not a power to be ignored,” he was quoted as saying. Diplomats here say that the decision to seek relief from the ICJ was typical of PM Modi’s “anti-status quo” style, and in line with his “disruptionist attitude.”
Finding acceptability within international communityIt was initially a challenge for Narendra Modi to find acceptability within the international community after becoming Prime Minister. Ignored and almost excommunicated by many in the world, and even denied a US visa when he was chief minister of Gujarat, not much was expected of him on the foreign policy front. But soon he surprised observers by inviting the South Asian heads of government to his swearing-in — the invitation to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was a masterstroke.For a leader who had barely uttered a word about foreign policy during his election campaign, this dramatic and welcome gesture presaged the first of many foreign policy surprises that Modi would unveil. He met former US President Barack Obama an unprecedented eight times, ensuring India-US relations — which were rocked after the Khobragade episode — were brought back to an even keel.Countering PakistanPM Modi’s emphasis on foreign policy works on three mantras — ‘Act East’, ‘Link West’ and ‘Neighborhood First’, which help determine his three pillars — trade, energy and security. In this regard, redoubling investment and protecting Indian interests in the larger Indian Ocean region, outreach to the US, intensification of the emerging partnership with Japan, balancing ties with both China and Russia, nurturing important partnerships in Western Europe, Central and Southeast Asia, and the Persian Gulf, he has achieved substantial gains.But despite such gains, the government’s foreign policy has not been without challenges. As relations with Pakistan remain tense, his government has looked to boost ties with other neighbours — Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka — to effectively isolate Pakistan in the region. This has been done by granting concessions to neighbours for “good behaviour.”When the UN tribunal awarded Bangladesh 19,467 sq km of the 25,602 sq km sea area of the Bay of Bengal, the PM put his foot down when suggestions came that India should go in for an appeal. Also, he once and for all settled the land boundary issue with Dhaka, with the exchanging of conclaves — a long pending issue between India and Bangladesh.No gain on NSG, UNSC membershipOn the American front, though the PM has revived work on Indo-US nuclear deal, there are still no gains on other fronts. Due to continued Chinese opposition, India had made no progress on being a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) or on moving towards permanent membership of the UN Security Council. But the feather in the cap is that during this time, India gained entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).Fast-track & para diplomacyPM Modi has also introduced “fast-track diplomacy” and “para diplomacy” into the lexicon of Foreign Office. Explaining what “fast-track diplomacy” means, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that it had three faces — proactive, strong and sensitive. It also means showing one’s presence in multilateral forums, and taking follow-up measures to carry forward the leads gained by high-profile visits and exchanges.Para diplomacy is where each state and city is encouraged to forge special relations with countries or federal states of another country or even cities of their interest in order. Indian states before were never part of foreign policy. So far, there has been agreement between Mumbai and Shanghai, Ahmedabad and Guangzhou, and similar “sister states” agreement between Gujarat and the Guangdong province of China. Earlier, Varanasi signed a partnership agreement with Kyoto in Japan, and the recent bullet initiative between Japan and the state of Gujarat is another example of para diplomacy.Keeping pace with PMAccompanying the prime minister on any of his foreign trips is a sought-after affair both for officials and the media. When Manmohan Singh was PM, he would pack his engagements and finish a five-day tour in just three days.However, PM Modi has taken this punishing schedule to the next level. An official who had accompanied him during his tour to the United States that took him to New York and San Francisco states he will never forget those taxing six days, as he looked to keep pace with the programmes lined up for the PM. He said he had just two-three hours to take rest and even then he was busy planning the next programme.Courting the Indian diasporaA new element PM Modi has introduced in diplomacy is the courting of people of Indian origin. In the supplementary demands of grants voted by Parliament in the Winter Session, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley sought a whopping Rs 1,014 core for special diplomatic expenditure against Rs 120 crore as was set aside in the main Budget in last March. It is no secret that the amount has been hiked in geometric proportions to bear the costs of mega events and reception of the PM by those of Indian origin during his trips.By doing this, former diplomats believe the PM has changed the rules of the game, where earlier it was seen as undiplomatic to organise events for NRIs in foreign countries, lest they be seen as lobbying and pressuring the country in question. Instead, Modi’s efforts to court the estimated 25 million strong Indian diaspora worldwide have been meticulously planned affairs. In Toronto, he spoke to 8,000 people at the Ricoh Coloseum; in New York, he appeared in front of 18,000 at Madison Square Garden; in UK, he addressed 60,000 people at Wembley Stadium. All of this has helped build his image as a global leader.Criticism of Modi’s foreign policyBut the question remains. Are these punishing schedules, “rock star” NRI events really helping the nation? Congress leader and former minister Manish Tewari maintains that expect for the “spectacularisation” of diplomacy, there has been no substantive takeaway from any foreign visit at all. Tewari maintains that though Prime Minister Modi met former President Barack Obama five times and current President Donald Trump once, he has not walked away with a single big takeaway from any of those meetings.”After the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, there is not a single big idea as to how to move the relationship to the next level. In fact, there is no fresh idea in the relationship at all,” Tewari said. Also highly critical of the Modi’s effort of engaging the diaspora in particular, Congress leaders have said that “India has got nothing out of it.”Tewari also contends that the high-flying diplomacy has not helped India raise growth in the manufacturing sector that has immensely impacted jobs in the country. This ensures that despite initiatives such as ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skill India’, foreign governments have not helped India achieve its target of creating 10 million jobs.

Homecoming day for Father Tom in Kochi after being rescued from ISIS captivity in Yemen

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was a happy homecoming day for kidnapped Indian-origin Vatican priest, Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who arrived in Kochi on Sunday morning after being rescued from ISIS captivity in Yemen last month.Expressing his happiness, Father Tom said, “How can one feel upon reaching home? I am happy. And thankful to the Almighty. God bless all,” he said.Father Tom was reportedly kidnapped on March 4, 2016 by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in Yemen, when they attacked a retirement home in Aden run by the Missionaries of Charity, killing sixteen people, including four nuns. He was rescued on September 12 and arrived in Bengaluru on September 29.Earlier, while addressing a press conference in New Delhi Father Tom had said, “God has a mission for all of us and my mission is to be present for the old and the dying. I have prayed for those who kept me (captive). They gave me food and didn’t harm me physically. Initially they asked who’ll help me out from this situation – the government or Church? After some time they stopped asking me.”Father Tom also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.(With ANI Inputs)

Sushma Swaraj’s UN speech arrogant but there is terrorism in Pakistan: Chinese media

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terming as ‘arrogant’ External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s scathing attack on Islamabad at the UN for being the pre-eminent terror factory, a state- run Chinese daily in a grudging admission said ‘there is indeed terrorism in Pakistan’.”India and Pakistan became free within hours of each other. Why is it that today India is a recognised IT superpower in the world, and Pakistan is recognised only as the pre-eminent export factory for terror?”, Swaraj said in her speech at the UN General Assembly.”We established scientific and technical institutions which are the pride of the world. But what has Pakistan offered to the world and indeed to its own people apart from terrorism? We produced scholars, doctors, engineers. What have you produced? You have produced terrorists”, she said referring to terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish- e-Muhammad.Her speech riled all-weather friend of China. The official media of China termed it as “bigotry”.”There is indeed terrorism in Pakistan. But is supporting terror the country’s national policy? What can Pakistan gain from exporting terrorism? Money or honour,” said an editorial in the state-run daily Global Times.”With smooth development of its economy and foreign relations in recent years, an arrogant India has looked down on Pakistan and assumed a haughty air with China,” said the editorial titled ‘India’s bigotry no match for its ambition’.It takes for granted that it should be feared by neighbours and wooed by the US and Europe. If smart enough, India should befriend China and respect Pakistan, preventing disputes from spilling over, it said.”She was also deemed by Indian media as having taken a veiled dig at China for blocking international efforts to blacklist Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar,” the report said apparently referring to Beijing’s blocking of India’s efforts to declare Azhar as a terrorist by the UN.The editorial also made references to the 73-day standoff between India and China at Doklam in the Sikkim section which ended on August 28.”India also seems to assess China’s strategic hostility with its own logic: China’s sound relations with Pakistan are to counter India. China’s road construction in Doklam is to threaten the security of its Siliguri Corridor and China’s Belt and Road initiative operates programmes with Pakistan and other South Asian countries to encircle India. In any case, India’s interests always reside at the epicenter of this logic,” it said.

Mann Ki Baat is a one-sided communication by the Prime Minister: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress said on Sunday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’ was a “one-sided” communication in which he did not speak on important issues such as the police action on BHU students, unemployment and high fuel prices.The Congress’s criticism came hours after Modi, in the 36th episode of his monthly address, said he has used the programme to reflect the views and aspirations of the people rather than expressing his own opinions.”Over the last three years, we have continuously seen that ‘Mann Ki Baat’ is (a) one-sided communication exercise of the prime minister…He only does one-sided communication,” Congress spokesperson Ajoy Kumar told reporters here.Kumar alleged that the prime minister did not speak on issues such as police action on students in the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) campus last night, unemployment, high fuel prices, the “deteriorating situation” in Kashmir and border areas and incidents of sexual abuse of children.Terming the police action on students in BHU as “one of the most shameful incidents”, he criticised the Centre and state governments for their alleged failure in maintaining law and order in the state.Kumar also raised doubts over the government’s “intention” in running the ‘Beti Bachao and Beti Padhao’ campaign, alleging that the fund allocated for the girl child in the last budget was very low.Kumar, however, welcomed External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s address to the UN General Assembly yesterday, saying she has “highlighted” India’s achievements in the past 60 years.”I would really request her (Swaraj) to give a coaching class to the prime minister who seems to never understand how much progress the country has made in the last 60 years,” he said.Referring to Modi’s appeal for buying Khadi products to help the poor, Kumar said the poor in the country are in distress due to high prices of pulses (daal), fuel, gas cylinder and unemployment. He urged the government to take measures to tackle these issues.On Modi asking countrymen to travel within the country to explore the diversity and richness of Indian culture, Kumar claimed that the highest number of tourists had visited Jammu and Kashmir during the UPA rule but there was a tremendous fall in their numbers since NDA came to power due to the trouble in Kashmir.Modi, during his programme today, said he had kept ‘Mann Ki Baat’ away from politics and had tried to connect with the people without getting swayed by the (political) “heat” and “anger” that may prevail at any particular time.

Sushma Swaraj ‘strongly raises’ HIB visa issue in meeting with Rex Tillerson

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day before her speech at United Nations General Assembly, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday held a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The big focus of the meeting was measures taken to curb terrorism and regional issues with a focus of Pakistan, Afghanistan. This comes a day after Pakistan PM Abbasi upped the ante at UNGA by accusing India of indulging in cross-border terrorism and of human rights violation in Jammu and Kashmir. Contentious issues for Indian- Americans like H1B visa and DACA were also discussed during the meeting. The two leaders met on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly session here. This was the highest-level meeting between the leaders of the two countries since June when Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with US President Donald Trump. Swaraj and Tillerson discussed a wide range of bilateral issues, including the situation in the neighbourhood and the Indo-Asia Pacific region, officials said. he meeting also comes ahead of the visit of Defence Secretary Jim Mattis to India next week. Swaraj is scheduled to address the world body on Saturday.”This morning, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New York City,” the US State Department said in a tweet along with a picture of the two leaders greeting each other.Later External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the two leaders reviewed all aspects of the bilateral relationship, including expanding our trade and investment relations. “Deepening global strategic partnership, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj meets with Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State in their first standalone meeting,” Kumar tweeted.The joint statement given by Modi and Trump had no mention of the contentious H1B Visa issue. Changing of the status quo by US authorities can potentially affect many white collar Indian workers particularly in IT industry. However Sushma Swaraj made her concerns clear to Tillerson according to MEA. The issue of Dreamers, who are children of undocumented migrants who entered US illegally was also discussed. Dreamers were protected by the DACA Act, which will cease to exist within the next six months if US Congress fails to reach an agreement.

Income Tax raids on Cafe Coffee Day and other firms of former Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna’s Son-In-law

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The officials of the Income Tax Department are conducting raids on houses and offices belonging to former Karnataka chief minister SM Krishna’s son-in-law. The raids are being conducted on the premises of VG Siddhartha who is SM Krishna’s son-in-law and owner of Cafe Coffee Day, reports ANI. Income Tax Department has not confirmed the raids, but our sources reveal that raids are being carried out at over 20 locations in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, and Chikmagalur.Apart from Cafe Coffe Day, VG Siddhartha is the owner of several firms which includes Way to Wealth Group and Serai Group.These raids come several months after SM Krishna – a veteran Congress politician for over four decades – joined the BJP in March this year.SM Krishna, apart from being the former Chief Minister of Karnataka, has also been the External Affairs Minister in the UPA government as well as the Governor of Maharashtra.

Ivanka Trump meets Sushma Swaraj, calls her charismatic foreign minister

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>US President Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump on Tuesday met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly session.Ivanka took to Twitter to express her respect for Sushma Swaraj, describing her as the ‘charismatic’ foreign minister.”I have long respected India’s accomplished and charismatic Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, and it was an honor to meet her today,” Ivanka tweeted.”We had a great discussion on women’s entrepreneurship, the upcoming #GES2017 and workforce development in the US and India,” she said in another tweet.Ivanka, who would be leading American delegation to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in India in November, discussed about women’s entrepreneurship and workforce development in the two countries.The Indian Embassy in the US also said that Sushma Swaraj discussed ‘Women Empowerment’ and Ivanka’s forthcoming visit to India.During her week-long stay, Swaraj is expected to hold about 20 bilateral and trilateral meetings with leaders attending the session.Swaraj is scheduled to leave for India, a day after her address to the UN General Assembly on September 23.

Sushma Swaraj arrives in NY, holds trilateral meet with Japan, US FMs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived in New York on a week-long visit to the US. Soon after her arrival, she held seven meetings at the United Nations Headquarters, that included a crucial trilateral meet with the foreign ministers of US and Japan. Three foreign ministers, US Secretary of State Rex Wayne Tillerson, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, and Swaraj met on Monday morning to discuss maritime security, connectivity, and proliferation issues. The meeting assumes significance in the wake of aggressive Chinese postures and nuclear testing by its ally North Korea.A statement issued by Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated that the ministers emphasised the need for ensuring freedom of navigation, respect for international law, and peaceful resolution of disputes, a reference to Chinese claims of South China Sea. There was also an indirect reference to China’s One-Belt-One–Road (OBOR) initiative. The three sides underlined that for connectivity initiatives, the importance of basing them on universally recognised international norms, prudent financing and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity was important. On North Korea, they deplored its recent actions and said that its proliferation linkages must be explored and those involved be held accountable. They also directed their officials to explore practical steps to enhance cooperation.Swaraj will also participate in a high-level meeting on UN reforms, hosted and chaired by US President Donald Trump. India is among the 120 countries which have supported the reform efforts of the UN Secretary General.In a preview of Swaraj’s engagements, India’s permanent Representative to the United Nations Syed Akbaruddin had said that issues of climate change, terrorism, people-centric migration and peacekeeping are other key focus areas for India this year. She will address the UN General Assembly on September 23. Akbaruddin in an interaction with Indian reporters ruled out a bilateral meeting between Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Khawaja Asif. However, the two leaders are likely to meet during several multilateral meetings, including that of SAARC and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).India is also expected to press for a ban on Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, which was blocked by China consistently in the past at the UN. India is also pushing an international initiative on solar alliance. But India’s diplomatic nerves will be tested on Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina proposal for Rohingya Muslims. Akbarudin said, India is “confident that a process will ensure “India’s tradition of not turning our back on the vulnerable and persecuted is maintained, as we balance our security concerns”.

India has every right to develop country within its boundary: Amit Shah rebukes China

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP President Amit Shah asserted that India has the sovereign right to develop the country within its boundaries, dismissing China’s objection to Japan showing interests in investment in the north eastern states.”India’s policy has been very well clarified by Sushmaji (External Affairs Minister). It is our sovereign right to develop the country inside our boundaries and we will utilise that right,” Shah told a press conference here while replying to a query on the issue.Amid Japan’s push for stepping up investments in India’s north east, China had yesterday stated that it was opposed to any third-party involvement in the resolution of the Sino- India boundary disputes or any foreign investments in areas over which it has claims in the region.A joint statement, issued by India and Japan on Thursday following talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, had announced the setting up of the Act East Forum and referred to plans to take up infrastructure projects such as road connectivity and electricity in India’s northeastern states.Reacting to it, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Hunyin had said, “You also mentioned Act East policy. “You must be clear that the boundary of India and China border area has not been totally delimited. We have disputes on the eastern section of the boundary.””We are now trying to seek a solution through negotiations that is acceptable to both sides. Under such circumstances, various parties should respect such aspects and any third party should not be involved in our efforts to resolve the disputes,” she said.

Operation Insaniyat: India to provide humanitarian assistance for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Days after Dhaka briefed New Delhi about the problems faced by it due to the influx of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, India will on Thursday send a consignment of humanitarian assistance to Bangladesh.”In response to the humanitarian crisis being faced on account of the large influx of refugees into Bangladesh, government of India has decided to extend assistance to Bangladesh,” said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a statementThe relief material consists of items required urgently by the affected people, namely rice, pulses, sugar, salt, cooking oil, tea, ready to eat noodles, biscuits, mosquito nets etc. ALSO READ Rohingya crisis: UN chief asks Myanmar to end violence; Suu Kyi to address nation next week The MEA said that the relief material will be delivered in multiple consignments. “The first tranche of which will be brought to Chittagong by an Indian Air Force plane on 14th September 2017,” the release said.Stating that India has always responded readily and swiftly to any crisis in Bangladesh, MEA said, “India stands ready to provide any assistance required by Government of Bangladesh in this hour of need.”According to the UN estimates, over 379,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state into Bangladesh since August 25 when fresh wave of violence erupted.According to media reports, the violence began when Rohingya militants attacked police posts in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state.Bangladesh had earlier said the new influx of Rohingya refugees is an unbearable additional burden on the country which has been hosting around 400,000 Myanmar nationals who had to leave their country in the past due to communal violence and repeated military operations. ALSO READ Suspend military action, violence against Rohingya Muslims: UN tells Myanmar

Election Commission asks law ministry to make law on service voters gender-neutral

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An armyman’s wife is entitled to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman army officer’s husband is not, according to provisions in the electoral law.But this may change in the coming months as the Election Commission has approached the law ministry to amend the Representation of the People Act to make it gender-neutral.The poll panel has asked the law ministry to replace the term ‘wife’ with ‘spouse’ in the provision in the R P Act related to service voters.Addressing a seminar here on enrolling service voters, Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena said there have been demands to make the provision gender neutral.Representatives from the Defence, the Home, and the External Affairs ministries, besides officers from the armed forces and central armed police forces were present.Since the change entails amendments in law, the law ministry will move the union cabinet for approval. After getting the nod, the amendment bill will be taken to Parliament for approval.Members of the armed forces, central armed police forces, personnel of state police forces posted outside their state and employees of the Centre posted outside India are eligible to be enrolled as service voters.The wife of a service voter, if she is residing with him, is also entitled to be enrolled as a service voter in the constituency specified by that person.But children and other relatives residing with a service voter cannot be enrolled as service voters, according to EC website.

No ransom paid for release of Father Tom Uzhunnalil, says VK Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre today said no ransom amount was paid to abductors for the release of Father Tom Uzhunnalil and underlined that the Ministry of External Affairs “works quietly without noise, but ultimately gets the work done”.The Keralite priest was abducted by Islamic State terrorists during a deadly attack on a care home in the port city of Aden in war-ravaged Yemen on March 6, 2016. At least 15 people at the old-age home were killed in the attack.”Release of Father Uzhunnalil yesterday underlines one thing that the Ministry of External Affairs works quietly and without noise, but ultimately gets the work done,” Union Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh told a press conference here.
ALSO READ ‘Crucified’ on Good Friday, how Father Tom Uzhunnalil came back from deadThe Union minister said “no” when asked whether any ransom was paid for the release of the priest. “We know the type of criticism that had come couple of times when Father Uzhunnalil disappeared in Yeman. We are very happy that he has come back safely and I’m sure people will appreciate that we were able to get him out safe and sound,” Singh added. On the role played by Oman, Singh said various methods were adopted to tackle a problem.”If a direct method failed to yield results, indirect methods are adopted and the aim is to get the problem solved,” he said. Asked whether Uzhunnanlil contacted any Indian officials to thank the government following his release, Singh said, “I’m quite sure that he will do it after he gets back from the Vatican.” It was for the priest to decide when he would come to India, Singh said responding to a question. A video of Uzhunnalil had surfaced in December last year in which he appealed to the government to free him.
ALSO READ Father Tom Uzhunnalil reaches Vatican, confirms Sushma SwarajIn the clip, Uzhunnalil was seen saying, “If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously. I’m from India. I’m perhaps not considered of much value.” In July, Union minister Sushma Swaraj had taken up the the issue of Uzhunnalil’s abduction with the Deputy Prime Minister of Yemen and requested him to secure the release of the priest. Last year, Swaraj had said Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has spoken to various countries so that the the priest could be released.

PM Modi, Japan’s Abe to set ‘future direction’ of partnership this week: MEA

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe will set the future direction of the special strategic and global partnership between the two countries when they meet this week, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Monday.Abe begins a two-day visit on Wednesday, during which he and PM Modi will hold the 12th India-Japan annual summit in Gandhinagar in Gujarat.The summit takes place amid rising tension in the region following the nuclear test by North Korea and growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea.This will be the fourth annual summit between Mr. Modi and Mr. Abe.“The two leaders will review the recent progress in the multifaceted cooperation between India and Japan under the framework of their ‘Special Strategic and Global Partnership’ and will set its future direction,” MEA said in a statement.India—Japan ties are on an upswing in a range of areas, including defence and security.In their annual defence dialogue last week, the two countries had resolved to collaborate closely in defence production, including on dual-use technologies.Prime Minister Modi had visited Japan in November last year. Both sides had decided to ramp up bilateral defence and security cooperation during the visit

India to provide further defence assistance to Afghanistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India on Monday agreed to provide Afghanistan further assistance to strengthen its security forces as the two strategic partners decided to deepen security cooperation and resolved to work closely to deal with the challenge of cross-border terrorism from Pakistan.After holding wide-ranging talks with her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani, External Affairs Mnister Sushma Swaraj said 116 new “high impact” development projects would be implemented jointly in 31 provinces of Afghanistan.”We remain united in overcoming the challenges posed by cross-border terrorism and safe havens and sanctuaries to both our countries,” Swaraj said at a joint media briefing with Rabbani.Afghanistan has faced a wave of terror attacks in the last few months and the proposed reconciliation and peace process is yet to make any progress.Asserting that its relationship with Afghanistan is an “article of faith” for India, she said New Delhi would continue to work with Afghan people in their efforts to build a secure, stable, peaceful, prosperous, united and inclusive Afghanistan.The two sides also inked four pacts, including one on vehicular movement to boost overland transit and another on fresh batch of development projects by India in Afghanistan.”We support national peace and reconciliation in an atmosphere free from violence and within the framework of Afghanistan’s Constitution,” Swaraj said, reiterating that India would continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Afghanistan in realising their dreams.Both Swaraj and Rabbani were clear in their references about terrorism emanating from Pakistan though they did not name the country.Thanking India for its unflinching support for peace and stability in Afghanistan, Rabbani said both countries agreed to strengthen security cooperation. “India has further agreed to provide assistance for Afghan national defence forces.” India has already invested over USD 2 billion in reconstruction of Afghanistan in the last 15 years but has been adopting a cautious approach in supplying military hardware.India has given four military helicopters to Afghanistan and imparted training to hundreds of Afghan security personnel.Rabbani said the current regional situation brings Afghanistan and India closer to protect and achieve their socio-economic goal and protect citizens.”The enabling environment for terrorism is directly linked to continued support they receive from outside of Afghanistan,” he said.The Afghan foreign minister said the countries have been the target of terrorism and violent extremism which is threatening the stability of the region.He referred to “terrorists groups like LeT and JeM which have been launching attacks against India and indiscriminately killing civilians in this country and engaging in similar terrorist activities along with Taliban Al-Qaeda and Daesh in Afghanistan”.He said Afghanistan’s friendship with India or any other country does not mean hostility with others in the neighbourhood.”Unlike others, Afghanistan has hardly sought security in the insecurity of others.”Afghanistan, Rabbani added, is a landlocked country and its peace and prosperity is dependent on “those of our neighbours near and extended”.”That is why we reject zero sum approaches that undermine our collective security today and years to come.” In her remarks, Swaraj said India was “indebted” to Afghan security forces for ensuring safety of Indians working in Afghanistan.Discussing connectivity projects, Swaraj said the development of Chahbahar Port in trilateral cooperation with Iran was being expedited. The supply of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chahbahar port would begin in the coming weeks.She also announced 500 new scholarships programmes for next of kin of the martyrs of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces from academic year 2018.Rabbani said Afghanistan strongly supports India’s membership of the UN Security Council and other groupings and hoped that it would back Kabul’s entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).The two sides also discussed easing of visas.Swaraj said India would assist in development projects like the Shatoot dam and drinking water supply project for Kabul, low cost housing for returning refugees, water supply network for Charikar city and a polyclinic in Mazar-e-Sharif.”Focus will continue on building governance and democratic institutions, human resource capacity and skill development, including in the areas of education, health, agriculture, energy, application of remote sensing in resource management and space technology in governance,” she said. ​

Sushma Swaraj arrives in Russia for third Eastern Economic Forum

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today arrived in Russian port city of Vladivostok on a three-day visit to attend the third Eastern Economic Forum which will deliberate on pressing issues relating to global trade.She will also hold bilateral talks with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov during which various issues relating to trade, investment and defence cooperation are likely to figure.Swaraj is visiting Russia at the invitation of Deputy Prime Minister and Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev.”The External Affairs Minister’s visit reflects the importance attached by India to emerging opportunities in the Russian Far East, and to its strategic partnership with Russia,” the external affairs ministry had said last week.The Eastern Economic Forum is considered as the biggest international communication platform for cooperation between businesses leaders and senior government representatives from Russia, the Pacific Region and theAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).Delegates from at least 24 countries including the US, Japan, China, Australia, Canada, Britain and Germany are attending the gathering, as per Russian media report.Swaraj’s trip to Russia follows the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as guest of honour at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June.Yesterday, Modi had held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Chinese city of Xiamen and discussed ways for boosting bilateral trade and investment.They also discussed the security situation in Afghanistan.

Cabinet reshuffle: From international diplomat to MoS, Hardeep Singh Puri has had a worldly-wise journey

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Retired diplomat Hardeep Singh Puri, who was today inducted into the Union Council of Ministers, has a distinguished four-decade career in diplomacy spanning the multilateral arena behind him.The 65-year-old, who took oath as a Minister of State, has served as India’s Ambassador to the UN in New York and Geneva, and with his decades of diplomatic experience, his presence in the Council would be a rarity.Puri has had an over 40-year innings in diplomacy covering the multilateral arena, including as India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations both in Geneva (2002-2005) and in New York (2009-2013).He is one of the few Indians to preside over the United Nations Security Council and the only one to have chaired its Counter-terrorism Committee.Puri, a 1974-batch Indian Foreign Service officer, most recently served as Vice President at the International Peace Institute and as the Secretary General of the Independent Commission on Multilateralism in New York. He was also India’s envoy to Brazil and the United Kingdom.An alumnus of the Hindu College in Delhi University who also taught briefly at the St Stephen’s College, he is the author of the book ‘Perilous Interventions: The Security Council & The Politics of Chaos’, published last year.During his college days, Puri was a student leader who was also active in the JP movement.Earlier this year, he was appointed the chairman of the Research and Information System for Developing Country (RIS), a city-based autonomous think-tank that works under the Ministry of External Affairs.RIS is an organisation that specialises in policy research on international economic issues and development cooperation, besides focussing on promoting South-South Cooperation and assisting developing countries in multilateral negotiations in various fora.

BVSL: Chinese, S Korean bidders red-flagged

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After shortlisting Chinese and South Korean companies for construction of Bandra-Versova Sea Link (BVSL), MSRDC has raised a red flag on these bidders, stating that their eligibility is subject to security clearance from the Union Home Ministry considering that the construction site is crucial from the security point of view.In July, the Union Home Ministry had denied security clearance to a Chinese consortium for construction of Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) between Sewri and Nhava Sheva being executed by Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).MSRDC, in a communication dated August 21, 2017, sent to the five shortlisted companies that include Chinese and South Korean consortium, that eligibility of the bidder shall be subject to the outcome of security clearance.A senior MSRDC official said, “We have submitted the names of the five bidders and have sought security clearance from the Centre a month ago and expect the clearance soon. Also, it was done after Chinese bidders shared with us the problems they faced when they were denied security clearance during construction of Bandra-Worli Sea Link.”A security clearance is required when the construction site is in the vicinity of crucial defence or security installations, and is granted by the Union Home Ministry that consults the Intelligence Bureau and the Ministry of External Affairs before granting it.In the past, Chinese companies or groups with Chinese connections have been barred from bidding for Indian port projects by the Union Cabinet Committee on security grounds because of the shifting political relationship between the two countries.The five shortlisted bidders include China Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd-Soma joint venture (JV), Hyundai-ITD Cementation JV, L&T-Daewoo JV, HCC-SKEC JV and Reliance-CGCD JV.The 9.5-km-long Bandra-Versova sea link will be constructed at a cost of Rs 5,500 crore, and to make the project financially viable, the project’s concession period would be for 28 years, which means that the sea link will be tollable for 28 years.

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