BJP defends its IT head over K’taka poll dates row

Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvion Tuesday defended Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) IT Cell head Amit Malviya for his tweet on Karnataka assembly election dates.

Naqvi said Malviya had no intention to undermine the stature of the Election Commission (EC).

Talking to media, Naqvi said, “Amit Malviya’s tweet was based on a TV channel’s source. He had no intention to undermine the stature of the EC. A Karnataka Congress leader had also tweeted the same thing. We agree that he (Malviya) should not have tweeted it.”

A delegation led by Naqvi met the EC officials in connection with the case.

Ahead of the announcement of polling and counting dates for Karnataka, Malviya took to Twitter to announce that the polling date would be May 12 and counting would be on May 18.

However, following social media uproar on his knowledge of the dates prior to the official announcement, Malviya deleted the tweet.

On a related note, a delegation led by Naqvi is slated to meet EC officials in connection with Malviya’s tweet on the election dates.

The 224-member Karnataka Assembly will go to polls on May 12, and counting of votes will be held on May 15, as announced by Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat in a press conference held earlier today. (ANI)

Five militants killed in Kupwara

Two policemen and three jawans also lost their lives in the encounter.

Five militants have been killed and five security personnel lost their lives in an ongoing gunfight in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district on Wednesday.

“Earlier [in the day], three bodies of the militants were recovered. The fourth body of a militant was also spotted at the encounter site in Kupwara. The firing continued [till late Wednesday evening],” said Director General of Police S.P. Vaid.

Late in the evening, a Srinagar-based spokesman confirmed that a fifth militant was “neutralised” at the encounter site. All slain militants, according to the police, were “foreigners and part of a recently infiltrated group”.

“Owing to the thick vegetation and low visibility, the mopping operation is heading slowly in the area and with due caution,” said the police spokesman. “Incriminating documents have also been seized from the slain militants,” he added.

The bodies recovered were strapped with weapons and ammunition, including live grenades, said the police.

A fresh gunfight started on Wednesday morning after an intermittent exchange of fire during the night in Kupwara’s dense forest area of Check Fatehkhan in Halmatpora range.

Officials said the group of militants, which attacked on Army’s domination domination patrol on Tuesday afternoon, “resumed target fire during the day and were holed up in natural caves offered by the mountain range in the area.” The militants fanned out in different directions and “positioned at multiple points”, they said.

According to the spokesmen of the Army and the police, two policeman and three army jawans were also killed in the fierce exchange of fire.

The deceased personnel were identified as Mohammad Ashraf Rather and Naik Ranjeet Singh of 160 battalion of the Territorial Army, and Special Police Officer Mohammad Yousuf Cheche and policeman Deepak Thesoo. The identity of third deceased Army jawan could not be ascertained.

One policeman of the Special Operation Group (SOG) was also injured and “is stated to be stable”.

The Army’s elite force, Para Commandos, have also been brought in to wrap up the encounter. Kupwara is over 110 km north of Srinagar and is a frontier district, close to the Line of Control.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed solidarity with the bereaved families of the deceased personnel.

Early general election possible in 2018, says Nomura

Political events may stall reform push’

A series of political developments over the last few weeks has placed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the back foot and an early general election in the fourth quarter of 2018 cannot be ruled out, according to global financial major Nomura.

In its latest ‘Asia Insights’ report, the Tokya-based financial services firm says that while the Centre may not breach its 2018-19 fiscal deficit target of 3.3% of gross domestic product, greater capital requirements for bank recapitalisation and State-level farm loan waivers could lead to increased debt burden and a higher general government (Centre and States combined) fiscal deficit.

‘Populist overtone’

“From an economic perspective, this suggests that big-ticket reforms are less likely and a populist overtone is more likely as the government raises its pro-farmer, pro-common man profile via higher minimum support prices (MSPs) and fiscal transfers that ensure that MSPs are effective, increasing both inflation and fiscal risks,” Nomura said.

“We were leaning towards the view that concerns over the current account deficit, fiscal slippage and rising inflation were beginning to be priced in, but the risks around politics have turned less favourable for markets after the by-election losses in Uttar Pradesh,” it added.

Interestingly, Nomura is of the view that there is a 25% probability of an early general election, clubbed with State elections scheduled in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first half of 2019. Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh will go to the polls in that period.

The financial major opines that the political developments are proving to be irritants for the BJP-led central government due to which big-ticket reforms would be difficult. The focus was instead likely to turn towards implementation along with restrained populism, Nomura added.

Raj Thackeray calls for ‘Modi-mukt Bharat’

Mumbai [Maharashtra] [India], Mar 19 (ANI): Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday called for a ‘Modi-mukt Bharat.’

Addressing a rally on the occasion of Gudi Padwa in Mumbai‘s Shivaji Park, Thackeray said, ‘Today, we have to gear up for the third independence. All the political parties must unite to make Modi-mukt Bharat a reality.’

In an hour-long speech, the MNS chief also warned about attempts by certain elements to spark nation-wide riots in future.

Voices of a “united opposition” gained even more momentum after the Bharatiya Janata Party‘s (BJP) lost two crucial seats in the Uttar Pradesh by-polls.

According to the experts, joining forces is the only way to dethrone the Modi-led government in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. (ANI)

Karnataka orders probe against two prison officials.

They are accused of providing special treatment to Sasikala

The Karnataka government has ordered an inquiry against two senior officials of the Parappana Agrahara Central Prison in Bengaluru for allegedly providing special treatment to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s aide V.K. Sasikala, who is serving a four-year sentence in a disproportionate assets case.

India to double state purchases of oilseeds, pulses.

In a bid to give a boost to farmers, the Union Cabinet has doubled state purchases of oilseeds and pulses from them.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the regularisation and extension of Government Guarantee provided to lender bank for providing credit limit to National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) Rs 19,000 crore from earlier Rs 9,500 crore for undertaking procurement operation of pulses and oilseeds under Price Support Scheme (PSS) and to Small Farmers Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC) for Rs 45 crore for meeting their existing liability and settlement of extant claims.

These Government Guarantees are valid for a period of five years, till 2021-22.

As the market price of most pulses and oilseeds is below the Government of India prescribed-Minimum Support Price (MSP) these provisions will help farmers in selling their produce at the MSP, and will also help prevent a situation where they are forced to make flash sales of their crops, because of the supply-demand gap, during peak arrival periods.

It will also encourage higher investment in the agro-sector and consequently yield higher production and safeguard the interest of the consumers by making supplies available at a reasonable price.

No evidence of Islamic State hand in Kashmir policeman’s killing: J&K DGP.

A Union Home Ministry official says there was no “physical infrastructure” of terror group in the Kashmir Valley.

The Home Ministry said on Tuesday that an engineering student who recently joined militancy had pushed a message on an Islamic State-affiliated news agency that the outfit had killed a policeman in Srinagar’s Soura area on Sunday. A senior Ministry official said there was no “physical infrastructure” of the IS in the Kashmir Valley and the militant might have used the platform to create confusion.

The militant, Eisa Fazli, who the Home Ministry said was associated with both Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Hizbul Mujahideen, had pushed the message on news agency Amaq along with a picture of the dead policeman and his rifle.

Gauri Lankesh murder case: Bengaluru Police clarifies ‘no arrest by SIT’

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], Feb 23 (ANI): Rebuffing the media reports, the Bengaluru Police on Friday clarified that nobody has been arrested in connection with the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh.

Police said that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) has not arrested anyone in the case so far.

‘Attack’ on Delhi Chief Secretary: Kejriwal, Ministers meet LG after police ‘raid’

The Delhi Cabinet of Ministers called on Lieutenant Governor (LG) Anil Baijal on Friday hours after the police ”raided” Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s official residence in connection with the investigation related to the alleged attack on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash earlier this week.

Hyderabad man loses vision after hair transplant

A case of medical negligence has been recorded in Hyderabad, wherein a diabetic man lost his vision following a botched hair transplant surgery.

After the surgery, Tariq Khusrou was infected with gas gangrene that had put his life at risk.

He went for the hair transplant in July 2016 at the clinic of the accused, Dr Khan, in Telangana. He fixed an appointment with the doctor who later operated on the victim and transplanted 2700 strands of hair within 6 hours. The entire surgery was priced at Rs 1,25,000.

The very next day, the victim claimed to have a high fever and his head got swollen.

First Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft

Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi became the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo when on 19 February she flew a MiG-21 bison
She is one of the three in the first batch of female pilots, besides Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh, who were inducted in Indian Air Force fighter squadron on June 18, 2016.

Kamal Haasan takes the plunge, launches Makkal Needhi Maiam

Veteran actor Kamal Haasan on Wednesday launched his political party, the Makkal Needhi Maiam (People’s Justice Centre), projecting himself as a serious alternative to the Dravidian majors in Tamilnadu.

Explaining where his ideology lay, he said, “People are asking me if I am left or right (in ideology). That’s why we have ‘maiam’ (centre) in our party (name). We will absorb all good things from whichever direction they come.”

One lakh Indians book ticket for Mars

Around 1,38,899, people from India are Mars-bound. They have ‘booked’ a flight to the Red Planet via Nasa’s InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) mission slated for launch on May 5, 2018. Nasa states that those who submitted their names were provided online ‘boarding passes’ for the mission.

The names are being etched on a silicon wafer microchip using an electron beam to form letters with lines one one-thousandth the diameter of of a human hair. This chip will then be attached to the top hull of the lander.

Several Indians responded to Nasa’s call for names for the Mars mission. The total number of names received by Nasa from all over the world is 2,429,807.

According to Nasa on Wednesday, India ranks third in the global list with regard to the number of names submitted for the Mars mission.

The first is the US with 6,76,773 names followed by China with 2,62,752 names. India stands at number three.

Space experts point out that US leading the list is not surprising since it is, after all, a NASA mission. However, they do say that the fact that India is next to China is a matter of significance. They attribute India being ranked among the first three nations to two factors: the excitement and interest in Mars flights triggered by India’s ground-breaking Mangalyaan mission, and the overall strengthening of India-US space ties.

Slated for landing near the Mars equator on November 26, 2018, it is a 720-day mission, which will gather data on the Martian interior by monitoring Marsquakes.

B.E. MBA MCA graduates appeared for “Sweeper Exam” held in HC, Chennai

On Last Sunday, the Written exam for the Sweepers happened in High Court, Chennai. More than 3000 people participated in this examination & shockingly 2500 cleared it successfully but the more shocking thing is yet to come. When the Lawyers and evaluation panel of High Court tried to find the reason behind it that how 2500 candidates out of 3000 cleared the examination then they came to know that all the selected candidates were B.E., MBA, MCA graduates. Yes, you heard it right. B.E., MBA, MCA graduates applied for the position for which 8th Standard candidates were required.

Now, the question arises whether it’s joblessness or the greed of Government Job because if the same vacancy arises in the Private Sector, none of them will apply.

Please write your views in the comment.

 

 

Published By

Arafat Akhtar

Indian 4G speed lowest in 77 nations

India has 84.03% 4G availability, making it one of the top countries in terms of 4G availability, according to a report by OpenSignal. However, in terms of 4G speed, India lies at the very bottom among 77 countries with 6.13 Mbps being the average speed.

The report highlighted that there is no country that has yet cracked 50 Mbps average 4G download speed even though some of the operators may have broken this barrier but there is no country that has consistently been able to provide LTE connections greater than 50 Mbps. South Korea and Singapore cut the closest with average 45.9 Mbps and 46.6 Mbps 4G speeds respectively.

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella to visit India next week

Satya Nadella, the India-born CEO of tech giant Microsoft, will be in India next week on a two- day visit to promote his book ‘Hit Refresh’.

Nadella, who will be in India on November 6-7, will visit Hyderabad and Delhi and engage with government officials, industry leaders, students and academia among other stakeholders, a Microsoft spokesperson told.

“The two-day trip is focused on the book. His (Nadella) engagements include meetings with customers and industry leaders across sectors, union government and employees,” the spokesperson added.”

At least 22 people dead in Power Plant Explosion

At least 22 people have been killed and as many as 100 injured in a blast at a coal-fired power plant in north India’s Uttar Pradesh state, officials say.

About 80 people have been rushed to the company hospital, the government-owned plant operator National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Limited said.

A further 10 people with serious injuries were sent to other facilities.

NTPC said there had been a “sudden abnormal sound” and an escape of gases and steam before the explosion.

The firm has launched an investigation into the blast at the plant, based near the town of Unchahar.

A state police chief, Anand Kumar, said in a video statement, that preliminary findings suggested ash had collected in the furnace below the boiler, which meant “pressure built up inside and led to the blast”.

Airtel offers Celkon 4G smartphone at ₹1,349

Telecom service provider Bharti Airtel has joined hands with mobile phone maker Celkon to offer its pre-paid customers 4G smartphone at an effective price of ₹1,349.

The current market price of the Celkon Smart 4G model, which comes with 4-inch touch-screen, dual SIM slots, 1 GB RAM and 8GB ROM, is ₹3,500.

Launched under the ‘MeraPehla Smartphone’ initiative of Airtel, customers need to make a down payment of ₹2,849 towards the device. Further, they need to make 36 continuous monthly recharges of ₹169. After 18 months, the customers will get a cash refund of ₹500 and after 36 months an additional ₹1,000, Airtel said.

Describing it as a stylish and affordable 4G phone, CEO (AP and Telangana) of Bharti Airtel Venkatesh Vijayaraghavan told presspersons…

Also http://indiannationalnews.com/android-tips-tricks/

10 documents you can use at airports to prove identity

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has issued a list of 10 identity documents that can be used to gain entry to airport terminals and for checking in, dispelling confusion over the issue.

List of 10 identity documents issued by BCAS

. Passport
2. Voter ID
3. Aadhaar or m-Aadhaar
4. Pan Card
5. Driving licence

6. Service ID
7. Student ID card
8. Passbook of account in a nationalised bank with photo
9. Pension card or pension documents with photo
10. Disability ID card or handicapped medical certificate

In a first, BCAS chief Kumar Rajesh Chandra has also put in place a system for flyers to establish their identity if they lose their ID cards. “In case of a passenger who for some valid reasons is not in a position to produce any of the above photo identity proofs, the identity certificate issued by a Group A gazetted officer of central/state government on his/her official letterhead with passenger’s photo duly attested will be valid…” for this purpose,” the BCAS said….

UIDAI launches ‘mAadhaar’ app

 

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has launched ‘mAadhaar app’, giving a further boost to the government’s Digital India initiative.

The UIDAI announced the launch of the app via its verified Twitter account. “mAadhaar App for AndroidLaunched by UIDAI, Lets You Carry Aadhaar on Smartphone #AadhaarInNews,” says UIDAI’s Tweet.

So far the ‘mAadhaar’ app is available only to Android users, who can download it from Google Play store. The app can run on any Android smartphones running Android 5.0 version or above. Also, users need to use their registered mobile number to sign-up for the app. Using the registered mobile number is mandatory.

Here are some other key features of the mAadhaar app:

* The mAadhar app aims to let users carry their Aadhaar identity on their smartphones.

* UIDAI claims that the app allows users to block their biometric data anytime, anywhere.

* Users can also view and share their Aadhaar profile via QR code

EC announces Gujarat Assembly elections date

The term of the 182-member Gujarat Assembly gets over on January 23 next year.

The Election Commission is announcing the schedule for the Gujarat polls. The term of the 182-member Gujarat Assembly gets over on January 23, 2018.

Updates:
All critical events of the polling will be covered by CCTVs.

Model Code of Conduct applicable to Union Government also, insists Mr. Joti.

There will be a total of 50, 128 polling stations for 182 seats. And the polls will be fully VVPAT-based. All EVMs to be attached with VVPATs.

Differently-abled voters have been identified and the kind of help needed has also been identified and necessary arrangements have been made to help them vote, the CEC says.

All-woman managed polling stations to be introduced in Gujarat polls, says Mr. Joti. 102 all-woman polling stations will be there.

CEC A.K. Joti: Total 4.33 crore voters.

The Himachal Pradesh Assembly poll will be held in a single phase on November 9, the EC announced on October 12.

The EC has been under attack from Opposition parties for not having announced the dates for Gujarat Assembly elections along with Himachal Pradesh.

Modi taking no chances with V-P elections

NDA MPs to take part in mock voting.

The vice-presidential election, scheduled for Saturday, may look like it is in the bag for the ruling NDA, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking no chances.

On Friday evening, he will meet all MPs of the NDA and the parties that have pledged support to its candidate M. Venkaiah Naidu at the G.M.C. Balayogi Auditorium in the Parliament House complex. The meeting will be different from the routine as it involves an exercise of mock voting with replicas of the ballot.

Two names

“There were 21 invalid votes polled in the presidential election, and many of them were from the BJP. It was felt, therefore, that there should be a demo of the voting process again,” said a senior office-bearer of the BJP.

The ballot will have the names of the two candidates in the fray: Mr. Naidu and Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who has been put up by the Opposition. Mr. Modi will also take part in the exercise as an MP.

At the meeting, all parties of the NDA will express their support for Mr. Naidu. This will be followed by a cultural programme and a dinner. The cultural programme is being arranged by Union Minister Mahesh Sharma.

Overseas direct investment falls to USD 1.1 billion in June 2017

Symbolic photo

Guarantees issue decline by 48.1%

Overseas direct investments from India declined by 11.4 per cent to USD 1.1 billion in June 2017. Outward FDI from India touched a nine-year low. This fall in outward FDI was on the back of a sharp 48.1 per cent decline in guarantees issued. On the other hand, equity held increased by 47.3 per cent to USD 568.3 million, while loans disbursed during the month rose by 10.6 per cent to USD 161 million.

References

https://www.rbi.org.in/scripts/BS_PressReleaseDisplay.aspx?prid=41154

No end to VIP culture in UP: Yogi govt. wants special toll lane for MPs, MLAs

VIP culture in Uttar Pradesh doesn’t seem to end. Yogi government writes letter to DMs to create special lane for MPs, MLAs during traffic jams.New Delhi: Narendra Modi’s government had decided to do away with VIP culture across the country from May 1, a move that was widely appreciated and followed across all states in the country. But here comes a move by Yogi Government that indicates that the VIP culture hasn’t ended in totally in the state of Uttar Pradesh

A letter from the UP government has been sent to all DMs who have asked to ensure that toll plazas under their jurisdiction will provide a separate lane to MPs and MLAs in the event of traffic jams

It also states that no road toll would be charged from any MLA or MLC of the UP assembly, or MPs from the state directed by the Centre. (Read the letter below in Hindi)

12

Notoriety by MLAs and MLCs at toll plazas have often been witnessed and paying the brunt for it are toll collectors who are usually abused or beaten up for seeking toll.

As decided by the Centre, only vehicles on emergency and disaster management duties are exempt from the beacon ban and will be allowed to use multi-coloured (red, blue and white) flashers, while ambulances will be allowed to use purple beacons.

According to the Centre’s directive, fire fighters, police, paramilitary forces or defence forces on law and order duty, and those on duty related to management of natural disasters can use the multi-coloured flashers.

Vehicles plying within airports, ports, mines and project sites can use amber beacons for operational purposes on the condition they don’t leave the premises on to public roads.

17-yr-old junior kabaddi player raped by man posing as stadium official

A 17-year-old national level junior kabaddi player has alleged that she was raped by a man in his thirties in northwest Delhi’s Model Town area on Saturday.

The teenager told police in her statement that on July 9 she was outside a stadium when the man, who runs a wrestling training centre, befriended her posing as a stadium official. She alleged that the man took her to a flat in Rohini on the pretext of introducing her to a few of his friends and then raped her.

The girl alleged that he served her drinks laced with sedatives after which she fell unconscious and realised later that she was sexually abused.

The girl approached police on Monday morning and said that she was traumatised because of which she could not approach police earlier. She alleged the man dropped her on a road outside the stadium and threatened to kill her if she reported the matter.

Police took the girl to a hospital for medical examination, which confirmed rape. Police are yet to make any arrests. Following her complaint, police have registered a case of rape and other sections of POCSO (Protection of children from sexual offences act) and have also detained the man.

“He was identified and has been detained. He is being questioned and will soon be put under arrest,” a police officer said.

According to the Delhi Police crime statistics, a rape case is reported every four hours in the city. In 2016, 2,155 cases of rape were reported. This year the number has already touched 930. The Delhi Police have released a tender inviting experts to conduct a sociological and psychological study on the causes of rape in Delhi.

‘8 murders and notes promising revolution’: Delhi gang claims to be vigilantes

“Long live the revolution”

“We want to correct injustices. We are against crimes in society. We want peace against oppression. If war is the solution then so be it.”

This is the note left by a group whose members claim to be “the saviours of society” and promise to make it crime free. The note was found at a spot where a 32-year- old businessman, identified as Vikas, was gunned down on Monday night in Dwarka’s sector 22.

According to reports, the string of events that led to Vikas’ murder began on July 14 when a 23-year-old youth named Hemant Kumar was shot at by the gang. Hemant allegedly was in a relationship with the sister of one of the gang members and they did not approve of it. It is suspected that Vikas was targeted because he supported the couple.

In the note left after Vikas’ murder, the group claimed that Hemant had been taught a lesson for molesting a girl and said they will not spare rapists.

The group have been allegedly involved in seven to eight murder cases and the car they use for committing crimes is also said to be a stolen one.

The group struck again on Tuesday afternoon. They are suspected to have murdered a 21-year-old man, Pradeep, who had brushed his bike against their car in Kanjhawala, a day after the Dwarka incident.

Pradeep was on his bike with his brother Pawan when it accidentally brushed against a Verna car. After an argument the men in the car allegedly whipped out a pistol and shot Pradeep dead. Pawan, his brother later identified the accused, who is also a suspect in the Dwarka murder case.

The group claim to be fighting against corrupt doctors, molesters,rapists, gamblers, anti-nationals and those with black money. The note signs off with “Jai Hind, Jai Bharat”, however, the police suspect that this may be a way of misleading the investigators.

Dismissing the gang’s claims of wiping out ‘criminals’, the police said the two murders were a result of gang rivalry that took place in Gurgaon, Jhajjar and Chhawla in May. They claimed the killers may have been hired to eliminate rivals.

The one-page note also mentions the names of the group members. The group members claim that the idea behind the killings was to “bring peace to the nation” and that they would gun down all offenders across Delhi using “high tech weapons”.

हमारी जेलें आपकी जेलों की तरह अच्‍छी हैं, विजय माल्‍या यहां ठीक रहेंगे : भारत ने ब्रिटेन से कहा

नई दिल्‍ली: भारत सरकार ने ब्रिटेन सरकार को यह यक़ीन दिला दिया है कि अगर शराब व्यापारी विजय माल्या को वो वापस भारत भेज देते हैं तो उसे भारत की जेल में ठीक से रखा जाएगा और भारत की जेलों में सुविधा यूरोप की जेलों से कम नहीं हैं.

भारत ने ये पक्ष केन्द्रीय गृह सचिव राजीव महर्षि के द्वारा ब्रिटेन में उनकी काउंटर पार्ट पैटसी विल्किनसन, जोकि ब्रिटेन के होम डिपार्टमेंट की परमानेंट सचिव हैं, को बताया. गृह सचिव पिछले हफ़्ते लंदन के दौरे में थे.

भारतीय प्रतिनिधिमंडल ने ब्रिटेन को ये साफ़ तौर पर कहा कि अगर विजय माल्या का प्रत्‍यर्पण किया जाता है तो न सिर्फ़ उसे उचित जेल में रखा जाएगा, बल्कि मेडिकल सुविधाएं भी दी जाएंगी.

एक सीनियर अफ़सर ने एनडीटीवी इंडिया से कहा, “ब्रिटेन को बताया गया कि भारत की जेलों के सेल यूरोप की जेलों के सेल से बड़े हैं”.

यह भी पढ़ें… 
विजय माल्‍या मामला : पीएम मोदी ने भगोड़े आर्थिक अपराधियों के मामले में ब्रिटेन से मांगी मदद
विजय माल्या, अन्य के खिलाफ प्रवर्तन निदेशालय ने दायर की चार्जशीट, बढ़ेंगी मुश्किलें
विजय माल्या ने भारतीय अधिकारियों पर कसा तंज, कहा- ‘आप अरबों पाउंड के सपने देखते रहें’

हालांकि ये भी साफ़ कर दिया गया कि माल्या को कोई ख़ास ट्रीटमेंट नहीं दिया जाएगा. प्रतिनिधिमंडल ने ब्रिटिश अधिकारियों से भारत के इस रुख से लंदन स्थित अदालत को भी अवगत करा देने को कहा है।

अधिकारी का कहना है कि “हर जेल में अस्पताल भी है, इसीलिए उन्हें ये भी बताया गया कि जैसा फ़िल्मों में जेल की हालत के बारे में दिखाया जाता है, भारत में वैसा नहीं है”.

ये इसीलिए अहम है, क्‍योंकि विजय माल्या ने भारत की खस्ता जेलों का हवाला देकर ब्रिटेन की कोर्ट से प्रत्यर्पण नहीं करने की गुहार लगाई है.

इस संबंध में केंद्रीय गृह सचिव राजीव महर्षि ने 23 जून को महाराष्ट्र के गृह सचिव सुमित मुलिक को एक पत्र लिखकर राज्य में जेलों की स्थिति का जायजा लिया था.  सूत्रों की मानें तो विजय माल्या को भारत लाए जाने के बाद मुंबई के ऑर्थर रोड जेल में रखा जा सकता है.

गौरतलब है कि माल्या की किंगफिशर एयरलाइंस को लोने देने वाले देश के 17 बैंकों ने जब उन्हें देश से बाहर जाने से रोकने की अपील के साथ सुप्रीम कोर्ट का रुख किया तो माल्या मार्च 2016 में इंग्लैंड भाग गए थे. इन बैंकों का माल्या पर 9,000 करोड़ रुपये बकाया है. भारत में बैंकों से 9,000 करोड़ रुपये के कर्ज की अदायगी नहीं करने के आरोप में माल्या को भारतीय अदालत से भगोड़ा घोषित किया जा चुका है. वह भारत से मार्च 2016 में चोरी छुपे भागकर ब्रिटेन में जा छुपा है.

तो क्या शिक्षा पर ख़र्च ही सबसे बड़ी फ़िज़ूलख़र्ची?

उत्तर प्रदेश सरकार ने मौजूदा बजट में किसानों की कर्ज़माफ़ी के लिए 36 हज़ार करोड़ रुपये का प्रावधान किया और बताया कि इस धनराशि का इंतज़ाम सरकारी ख़र्चों में कटौती और अपव्यय को कम करके किया जाएगा.

वहीं शिक्षा के मद में पिछले बजट की तुलना में नब्बे फ़ीसद तक कटौती करके ये सवाल भी खड़ा कर दिया है कि क्या शिक्षा पर ख़र्च करना ही सबसे बड़ी फ़िज़ूलख़र्ची है?

योगी सरकार ने 2017-18 के बजट में माध्यमिक शिक्षा के लिए 576 करोड़ रुपये और उच्च शिक्षा के लिए 272 करोड़ रुपये निर्धारित किए हैं जबकि प्राथमिक शिक्षा के लिए क़रीब 22 हज़ार करोड़ रुपये का प्रावधान किया गया है.

नज़रिया: योगी को ताजमहल से नफ़रत क्यों?

पिछले साल यानी वित्त वर्ष 2016-17 के बजट को देखा जाए तो उसमें माध्यमिक शिक्षा के लिए साढ़े नौ हज़ार करोड़ रुपये और उच्च शिक्षा के लिए 2742 करोड़ रुपये निर्धारित किए गए थे.

यानी दोनों ही क्षेत्रों के लिए बजट में नब्बे फ़ीसद तक की कमी कर दी गई है. ये अलग बात है कि प्राथमिक शिक्षा के लिए पिछले साल की तुलना में बजट में 5,867 करोड़ रुपये की बढ़ोत्तरी की गई है.

नहीं मानते कि बजट में कटौती हुई

उत्तर प्रदेश विधानसभाइमेज कॉपीरइटSAMEERATMAJ MISHRA

हालांकि यदि कुल बजट की बात की जाए तो ये पिछले साल के मुक़ाबले दस फ़ीसद ज़्यादा है लेकिन शिक्षा के मद में इतनी बड़ी कटौती क्यों है, ये समझ से परे है.

राज्य के उप मुख्यमंत्री डॉक्टर दिनेश शर्मा शिक्षा मंत्री भी हैं और उनके पास उच्च, माध्यमिक और प्राथमिक तीनों ही विभाग हैं. डॉक्टर दिनेश शर्मा ये नहीं मानते कि बजट में कटौती की गई है.

बीबीसी से ख़ास बातचीत में वो कहते हैं, “कोई कटौती नहीं की गई है, सिर्फ़ अपव्यय को रोका गया है. अभी तक बजट का एक बड़ा हिस्सा इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर और दूसरी ऐसी जगहों पर ख़र्च होता था जिनकी ज़रूरत नहीं थी, लेकिन अब शिक्षा की गुणवत्ता और शिक्षकों पर ख़र्च होगा. बड़ी बड़ी इमारतें बना देने से क्या होगा यदि वहां शिक्षक ही नहीं होंगे?”

शिक्षा को निजी हाथों में देने की मंशा

जानकारों का कहना है कि शिक्षा के लिए जितने रुपये इस बजट में निर्धारित किए गए हैं, उतने से तो शायद अध्यापकों के वेतन भी पूरे नहीं होंगे.

लखनऊ विश्वविद्यालय की पूर्व कुलपति और शिक्षाविद प्रोफ़ेसर रूपरेखा वर्मा सीधे तौर पर कहती हैं कि इसके ज़रिए सरकार माध्यमिक और उच्च शिक्षा को निजी हाथों में पूरी तरह सौंप देना चाहती है.

प्राथमिक विद्यालयइमेज कॉपीरइटJITENDRA TRIPATHI

प्रोफ़ेसर रूपरेखा वर्मा कहती हैं, “पांच सौ करोड़ और दो सौ-तीन सौ करोड़ रुपये शिक्षा पर ख़र्च करना तो किसी भी तरह से समझ में ही नहीं आता. इससे कई गुना ज़्यादा तो तीर्थ स्थलों के विकास के लिए आवंटित कर दिया गया है. साफ़ है कि प्राथमिक स्कूलों के निजीकरण के बाद अब सरकार माध्यमिक और उच्च शिक्षा का भी पूर्णतया निजीकरण कर देना चाहती है. जिनके पास पैसा होगा वो पढ़ेंगे, जिनके पास नहीं होगा, नहीं पढ़ेंगे.”

जानकारों का कहना है कि इतनी कम धनराशि में तो इन विभागों का सामान्य ख़र्च चल जाए, वही बड़ी बात है, शोध और सेमिनारों की बात तो दूर की कौड़ी है.

अपव्यय रोकने की बात

हालांकि डॉक्टर दिनेश शर्मा कहते हैं कि शोध के लिए, गुणवत्ता के लिए कोई कटौती नहीं की गई है, सिर्फ़ अपव्यय रोका गया है. लेकिन 272 करोड़ और 576 करोड़ रुपये में कितना शोध हो सकेगा और कितनी गुणवत्ता बनी रहेगी, समझ से परे है.

योगी की प्रेस वार्ताइमेज कॉपीरइटSAMEERATMAJ MISHRA

लेकिन सवाल उठता है कि इतनी बड़ी कटौती कैसे की गई है, वो भी तब जबकि माध्यमिक और उच्च शिक्षा में कर्मचारियों की ही एक बड़ी संख्या है. क्या सरकार सच में शिक्षा पर व्यय को फ़िज़ूलख़र्ची मानती है?

पैसा कहां से आए

वरिष्ठ पत्रकार योगेश मिश्र कहते हैं, “बीजेपी सरकार के एजेंडे में वैसे तो शिक्षा का मुद्दा सबसे ऊपर रहता है लेकिन किसानों की कर्ज़माफ़ी का इतना बड़ा ‘हाथी पालने’ जैसा उसने जो वादा कर लिया और दबाव में घोषणा भी करनी पड़ी, उसके लिए पैसा कहां से आए, ये बड़ी समस्या है. उन्हें लगता है कि सबसे ज़्यादा फ़िज़ूलख़र्ची शिक्षा पर ही हो रही है, सो सारी कटौती यहीं कर दी. उन्हें पता नहीं है कि इसकी प्रतिक्रिया कितनी बड़ी होगी और ये क़दम कितना आत्मघाती होगा?”

बहरहाल, सरकार आश्वस्त है कि बजट में जितनी धनराशि का निर्धारण किया गया है, वो शिक्षा विभाग के लिए पर्याप्त है और वो फ़िज़ूलख़र्ची रोककर सब ठीक कर लेगी. लेकिन सवाल उठता है कि क्या अब तक इतनी बड़ी धनराशि सिर्फ़ अपव्यय के लिए निर्धारित की जाती थी या फिर नई सरकार शिक्षा पर ख़र्च को अपव्यय समझती है?

नज़रिया: क्या मोदी के लिए चुनौती हैं योगी?

योगी आदित्यनाथ का उत्तर प्रदेश में सत्ता की शीर्ष कुर्सी तक पहुंचना हर किसी को चौंका गया था. उनका नाम मुख्यमंत्री पद के लिए आख़िरी वक़्त पर सामने आया था.

इससे पहले केंद्रीय राज्य रेल मंत्री मनोज सिन्हा का नाम लगभग तय माना जा रहा था और वो नरेंद्र मोदी की पसंद बताए जा रहे थे.

योगी को ताजमहल से नफ़रत क्यों?

मुसलमानों पर आदित्यनाथ के बयान पर विवाद

शपथ ग्रहण समारोह में मोदी शांत नज़र आए और इससे बहुतों को यह अटकल लगाने का मौका लग गया कि क्या आख़िरी वक़्त में यह फ़ैसला थोपा गया है.

लेकिन कोई इसकी कल्पना कैसे कर सकता है कि कोई मुख्यमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी जैसे ताकतवर प्रधानमंत्री से आगे निकल जाए?

मोदी के नक्शे कदम पर

मोदी और योगी

करीब चार महीने गुज़रने के बाद योगी एक ऐसे सिस्टम में ख़ुद को फिट करने की कोशिश करने में लगे हुए हैं, जो उनके लिए बिल्कुल अजनबी है.

गोरखपुर में एक मंदिर के महंत की भूमिका से लेकर देश के सबसे अधिक आबादी वाले राज्य के मुख्यमंत्री बनने का उनका सफ़र अद्भुत था और इसीलिए कुछ लोगों को यह आसानी से हजम नहीं हुआ.

शायद योगी ने वही रास्ता अख्तियार किया जो मोदी ने सत्ता में आने के लिए अपनाया था. जैसे मोदी लालकृष्ण आडवाणी और मुरली मनोहर जोशी जैसे कद्दावर पार्टी नेताओं को दरकिनार कर आगे निकल गए, वैसे ही योगी ने भी उत्तर प्रदेश में मुख्यमंत्री की दौड़ में शामिल दूसरे प्रतिस्पर्धियों को पीछे छोड़ सत्ता हासिल करने में कामयाबी हासिल की.

जिस तरह से उन्होंने कट्टरपंथी हिंदू होने की अपनी छवि का इस्तेमाल किया है वो तरीका काफी हद तक नरेंद्र मोदी से मिलता-जुलता है.

नरेंद्र मोदी ने भी गोधरा के बाद बनी अपनी छवि का इस्तेमाल आख़िरकार राजनीतिक फ़ायदे के लिए किया.

संभावनाएँ

कार्टून

इसमें कोई राज़ की बात नहीं है कि गेरुआ वस्त्र पहनने वाले योगी आदित्यनाथ लखनऊ की कुर्सी पाने के लिए महत्वकांक्षी थे.

उनके कट्टर समर्थकों ने इस बात को सार्वजनिक तौर पर ज़ाहिर करने में कभी कोई कसर नहीं छोड़ी. उनके समर्थकों ने नारा दिया, “देश का नेता कैसा हो, योगी आदित्यनाथ जैसा हो.”

अभी ज़्यादा वक़्त नहीं गुजरा जब योगी के समर्थक यह कहते सुने गए कि, “उत्तर प्रदेश में रहना है तो योगी-योगी कहना होगा.”

योगी आदित्यनाथ ने जिस दिन शपथ ली, उसी दिन से उनके हिंदू युवा वाहिनी के समर्थक यह कहने लगे कि, “योगी भविष्य के प्रधानमंत्री हैं.”

दिल्ली और लखनऊ दोनों ही जगहों के राजनीतिक हलकों में 2024 में उनके प्रधानमंत्री बनने की संभावनाओं पर चर्चा शुरू हो गई थी.

उनके समर्थक यह भी कहने लगे कि 44 साल के योगी आदित्यनाथ बीजेपी के सबसे युवा चेहरे होंगे 2024 में जबकि मौजूदा प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी भी उस वक्त तक 70 से ऊपर के हो जाएंगे.

यह अलग बात है कि इतनी सारी बातें होने के बावजूद योगी आदित्यनाथ ख़ुद को लखनऊ की गद्दी पर स्थापित करने के लिए अभी भी संघर्ष करते दिख रहे हैं.

दिखावटी चेतावनी?

मोदी और योगी

उनकी साफ-सुथरी छवि और प्रतिष्ठा के बावजूद योगी अब तक राज्य की लचर कानून व्यवस्था पर लगाम नहीं कस पाए हैं.

बलात्कार, हत्या, डकैती और लूट-खसोट जैसे जघन्य अपराध पूरे राज्य में चरम पर है. इसी बीच गोरक्षकों और नैतिकता के स्वंयभू ठेकेदारों की वजह से बढ़ रहा सांप्रदायिक तनाव इसमें घी का काम कर रहा है.

मोदी और योगी दोनों ही इन कथित गोरक्षकों को मौखिक रूप से चेतावनी दे रहे हैं जबकि ये उन्हीं की पार्टी से जुड़े लोग हैं.

लेकिन सच्चाई तो यह है कि इन चेतावनियों का कोई ख़ास असर होता नहीं दिख रहा.

कोई यकीन करेगा कि पार्टी के अंदर के ये उपद्रवी तत्व इतने निडर हो गए हैं कि उन्हें मोदी और योगी की कोई परवाह नहीं है?

ऐसे हालात में यह मानना क्या सही नहीं होगा कि ये चेतावनियां सिर्फ दिखावटी हैं ताकि लोगों के बीच छवि सुधार का फायदा उठाया जा सके?

उम्मीदवारी को धक्का

योगी समर्थक

जो कुछ भी हो लेकिन आख़िरकार ये योगी आदित्यनाथ के लिए ज़रूर नुकसानदायक हो सकता हैं.

सरकारी स्तर पर कोई कार्रवाई नहीं होने से योगी की छवि एक ऐसे मुख्यमंत्री की बनेगी जो प्रभावी नहीं हैं.

इससे 2024 में प्रधानमंत्री पद की उम्मीदवारी की उनकी संभावनाओं को धक्का पहुंचेगा.

इसके उलट अगर मोदी अगले 12 महीनों में अपने आप को एक ‘सफल’ मुख्यमंत्री के तौर पर पेश करने में कामयाब होते हैं तो वो 2019 में भी आश्चर्यचकित कर सकते हैं.

आखिरकार 2019 में उत्तर प्रदेश में पार्टी का प्रदर्शन कैसा होता है इसकी ज़िम्मेदारी भी योगी के ऊपर ही है.

क़ब्रिस्तान पर कब्ज़े की अफ़वाह से वाराणसी में सांप्रदायिक संघर्ष

क़ब्रिस्तान पर क़ब्ज़े की कथित अफ़वाह के चलते वाराणसी में रविवार रात दो समुदायों में जमकर संघर्ष हुआ. हालात पर काबू पाने के लिए पुलिस को लाठी चार्ज करना पड़ा और आंसू गैस का इस्तेमाल करना पड़ा.

वाराणसी के वरिष्ठ पुलिस अधीक्षक आरके भारद्वाज ने बीबीसी को बताया कि अफ़वाह फैलाने के आरोप में मुस्लिम समुदाय के कई अज्ञात लोगों के ख़िलाफ़ मुक़दमा दर्ज किया गया है और गिरफ़्तारी की कार्रवाई की जा रही है.

पुलिस के मुताबिक हिंसा की शुरुआत इस अफ़वाह के चलते हुए कि सिगरा थाना क्षेत्र में पड़ने वाले क़ब्रिस्तान के बाहर की ज़मीन पर कोई अवैध कब्ज़ा कर रहा है.

इस अफ़वाह के चलते मुस्लिम समुदाय के कई लोग इकट्ठा हो गए और नारेबाज़ी करने लगे. कुछ ही देर में हिन्दू समुदाय के लोग भी बड़ी संख्या में इकट्ठा हो गए और फिर दोनों पक्षों में टकराव शुरू हो गया.

इस दौरान न सिर्फ़ पत्थरबाज़ी और आगज़नी हुई बल्कि कई वाहनों में भी तोड़-फोड़ की गई.

क़ब्रिस्तान के कब्ज़े की अफ़वाह से वाराणसी में सांप्रदायिक संघर्ष

गाय बांधने के बाद अफ़वाह

वाराणसी के ज़िलाधिकारी योगेश्वर राम मिश्र ने बीबीसी को बताया कि फ़िलहाल स्थिति नियंत्रण में है और लोगों से अफ़वाहों पर ध्यान न देने की अपील की जा रही है.

बताया जा रहा है कि विवादित ज़मीन पर पास में ही रहने वाले एक वकील महेंद्र सिंह बारिश के चलते टूट गए घर के एक हिस्से की मरम्मत करा रहे थे और इसीलिए उन्होंने क़ब्रिस्तान के पास अपनी गायें बांध दी.

पुलिस के मुताबिक इसी घटना को क़ब्रिस्तान पर कब्ज़े की अफ़वाह के तौर पर प्रचारित किया गया और देखते-देखते इतना बड़ा विवाद हो गया.

इलाक़े में तनाव को देखते हुए कई थानों की पुलिस और पीएसी तैनात की गई है.

मोदी राज में नौकरियों का क्यों है इतना बुरा हाल

भारत के आईटी सेक्टर ने साल 2016-2017 में 8. 6 प्रतिशत की विकास दर हासिल की मगर इस दौरान नौकरियों की दर सिर्फ़ 5 प्रतिशत ही रही. ये सरकारी आंकड़े हैं.

अनुमान लगाए जा रहे हैं कि अगले तीन सालों के दौरान इस क्षेत्र में नौकरियों में 20 से 25 प्रतिशत तक की गिरावट देखी जा सकती है.

हाल के दिनों में आईटी क्षेत्र की जिन बड़ी कंपनियों में छंटनी देखी गई, उनमें इन्फ़ोसिस, कॉग्निजेंट और विप्रो जैसे नाम हैं.

भारत सरकार द्वारा किए गए रोज़गार और बेरोज़गारी संबंधी सर्वेक्षण के अनुसार केवल पचास प्रतिशत कामगारों की ही रोज़गार में भागेदारी है.

जबकि हर वर्ष 1.20 करोड़ युवक और युवतियां डिग्रियां लेकर रोज़गार के बाज़ार में आते हैं, मगर नौकरियां नहीं हैं.

भारतीय मज़दूर

वित्त मंत्रालय

निजी क्षेत्र हो या फिर सरकारी. रिक्त पद तो हैं मगर उनपर बहाली रुकी हुई है.

इस बीच इसी साल अप्रैल माह में भारत सरकार के वित्त मंत्रालय ने एक अध्यादेश जारी कर कहा है कि पिछले दो तीन सालों के विभिन्न मंत्रालयों के विभागों में जो पद रिक्त पड़े हुए हैं उन्हें निरस्त किया जाता है.

ऐसी कई लड़कियां हैं जिन्होंने अच्छी पढ़ाई की और अब दूसरों के लिए उदाहरण बन रही हैं.

कई विभाग ऐसे हैं जहां पिछले कई सालों से रिक्तियां भरी नहीं जा रही थीं. हालांकि उनके भरने के लिए हर साल विज्ञापन जारी किए जाते रहे हैं. अब वित्त मंत्रालय के नए अध्यादेश के बाद ये पद ही समाप्त किए जा रहे हैं.

सिर्फ़ मंत्रालयों के विभागों की ही बात नहीं है. न्यायपालिका में भी जजों की रिक्तियों को कई सालों से भरा नहीं जा रहा है.

भारतीय मज़दूर

सरकारी आदेश

मज़दूर संगठनों ने बढ़ती बेरोज़गारी के बीच खाली पड़े पदों पर सरकार को आड़े हाथों लिया है.

संघ परिवार से सम्बद्ध भारतीय मज़दूर संघ यानी बीएमएस का कहना है कि मौजूदा रिक्तियों को ख़त्म कर सरकार उन्ही पदों पर ठेके पर बहालियां कर रही है.

बीएमएस के महासचिव बृजेश उपाध्याय कहते हैं, ”खाली पदों को ख़त्म करने का फ़ैसला बहुत पहले से चला आ रहा है. चाहे वो यूपीए का दौर हो या एनडीए का. हर साल खाली पड़े पदों को सरकारें ख़त्म करती चली आ रही हैं.”

उपाध्याय कहते हैं, “जो थोड़ी बहुत रिक्तियां कहीं कहीं बची हुई भी थीं वो भी हाल के सरकारी आदेश के बाद निरस्त हो गई हैं. थोक के भाव पर सब रिक्तियां ख़त्म. वास्तव में नियमित बहालियों के स्वरूप को बदलकर सरकार ने ठेकेदारी प्रथा शुरू कर दी है.”

भारतीय मज़दूर

रेलवे में खाली पद

बीएमएस का कहना है कि सरकारी और ग़ैर सरकारी प्रतिष्ठानों में लगभग 67 प्रतिशत नौकरियां पूरी तरह से ठेकेदारी पर आधारित हो गई हैं.

उपाध्याय कहते हैं, “क़ानून बनाने वाली एजेंसी भी सरकार है और क़ानून तोड़ने वाली सबसे बड़ी एजेंसी भी सरकार ही है. क़ानून कहता है कि नियमित स्वरूप के कामों को नियमित कर्मचारियों द्वारा ही किया जाना चाहिए. अगर कोई इस क़ानून को तोड़ता है तो सरकार उसको दंडित करती है. अब सरकार खुद ऐसा ही कर रही है.”

नियमित प्रारूप के कामों में भारतीय रेल का भी नाम है जहां भी बड़े पैमाने पर मौजूद रिक्तियों को ख़त्म किया जा रहा है. मज़दूर यूनियन भी इस मुद्दे को लेकर पिछले कई सालों से संघर्ष करते आ रहे हैं.

‘ऑल इण्डिया रेलवेमेन्स फ़ेडरेशन’ यानी एआईआरएफ़ के शिव गोपाल मिश्रा का कहना है भारतीय रेल के विभिन्न विभागों में 2.5 लाख रिक्तियां हैं जिन्हें भरा नहीं जा रहा है.

भारतीय मज़दूर

लोकसभा में उठा सवाल

मिश्रा केंद्रीय मज़दूर संगठनों के संयोजक भी हैं. वो कहते हैं कि केंद्र सरकार के विभिन्न मंत्रालयों के अधीन विभागों में 46 लाख कर्मचारी होने चाहिए जबकि उनकी संख्या 32 से 33 लाख के बीच रह गई है. यानी लगभग 13 से 14 लाख पद रिक्त पड़े हुए हैं.

कार्मिक, जन शिकायत और पेंशन राज्य मंत्री जितेंद्र सिंह ने लोकसभा में पूछे गए सवाल के जवाब में कहा था कि लोक सेवा में भी काफी रिक्तियां हैं जिसमे आईएएस, आईपीएस और वन सेवा के पद शामिल हैं.

उन्होंने बताया कि जहां देश भर में 1470 पद रिक्त हैं वहीं आईपीएस अफसरों के 908 पद खाली पड़े हुए हैं. प्रश्न का जवाब देते हुए जितेंद्र सिंह का कहना था कि सबसे ज़्यादा आईएएस के 128 रिक्त पद बिहार में हैं, उत्तर प्रदेश में 117 और पश्चिम बंगाल में 101.

उसी तरह आईपीएस के पदों में सबसे ज़्यादा 114 पद उत्तर प्रदेश में रिक्त हैं जबकि 88 पद पश्चिम बंगाल, 79 ओडिशा में और 72 कर्नाटक में. बिहार में भी आईपीएस के 43 पद रिक्त पड़े हुए हैं.

भारतीय मज़दूर

सरकारी नौकरियां

इससे पहले संसद की एक स्थायी समिति ने संघीय लोक सेवा के अधिकारियों के रिक्त पदों पर अपनी गहरी चिंता जताई है.

इस कमेटी की सिफ़ारिशों के बाद सरकार का कहना है कि पिछले चार सालों से सरकार ने आईएएस, आईपीएस और आईएफ़एस अफ़सरों की रिक्तियों में बढ़ोतरी की है.

सरकार के कार्मिक मंत्रालय का कहना है कि चालू वित्तीय वर्ष में दो लाख नई सरकारी नौकरियां सृजित की जाएंगी.

मगर अप्रैल में वित्त मंत्रालय के अध्यादेश के बाद यह पता नहीं चल पा रहा है कि यह कैसे संभव हो पाएगा.

इन पांच ‘राष्ट्रीय भ्रमों’ के शिकार कहीं आप तो नहीं

राजस्थान हाई कोर्ट के जज ने हाल ही में गाय को राष्ट्रीय पशु का दर्जा देने की सिफारिश की थी. जस्टिस शर्मा की सिफारिश को लेकर काफ़ी विवाद हुआ. ऐसे विवादों में अक्सर सच कहीं और छिप जाता और लोगों की धारणा हावी हो जाती है.

जिस तरह से राष्ट्रीय ध्वज, राष्ट्रीय चिह्न, राष्ट्र गान और राष्ट्र गीत हैं क्या उसी तरह से वाकई राष्ट्रीय पशु या राष्ट्रीय पक्षी हैं? देश के जाने माने संविधान विशेषज्ञ सुभाष कश्यप का कहना है कि राष्ट्रीय ध्वज और चिह्न को संविधान सभा ने स्वीकार किया था लेकिन पशु और पक्षी के साथ ऐसा नहीं है.

कश्यप का कहना है कि ऐसे मामलों में नोटिफिकेशन जारी किया जाता है.

गाय राष्ट्रीय पशु घोषित होः राजस्थान हाईकोर्ट

कार्टून

नोटिफ़िकेशन

पर्यावरण और वन मंत्रालय ने इस मामले में 2011 में नोटिफिकेशन जारी किया था. इस नोटिफिकेशन में बाघ को राष्ट्रीय पशु और मोर को राष्ट्रीय पक्षी का दर्जा देने की बात कही गई लेकिन ये दर्जा संवैधानिक हैसियत नहीं रखता.

इस नोटिफिकेशन को पर्यावरण और वन मंत्रालय के वाइल्ड लाइफ विभाग ने जारी किया था. वाइल्ड लाइफ विभाग ने कहा कि किसी पशु को राष्ट्रीय पशु का दर्जा मिलने का मतलब उसके संरक्षण से है न कि राष्ट्रीय अस्मिता और गर्व से.

कौन बने राष्ट्रीय पशु? गधा!

क्या राष्ट्रीय है और क्या क्षेत्रीय इसे लेकर लोगों की बीच काफ़ी भ्रम की स्थिति रहती है. हम यहां ऐसे ही कुछ ‘राष्ट्रीय झूठ’ के बारे में आपको बता रहे हैं.

हिन्दी राष्ट्र भाषा नहीं है

हिंदी

सुभाष कश्यप का कहना है कि देश की कोई एक राष्ट्रभाषा नहीं है बल्कि संविधान की आठवीं अनुसूची में शामिल सभी 22 भाषाएं राष्ट्रभाषा हैं.

कमल राष्ट्रीय फूल नहीं

कमल का फूल

कमल के राष्ट्रीय फूल होने के संबंध में भी सरकार के पास कोई रिकॉर्ड नहीं है. कमल बीजेपी का चुनाव चिह्न है, न कि राष्ट्रीय फूल.

महात्मा गांधी राष्ट्रपिता हैं?

आधिकारिक रूप से महात्मा गांधी राष्ट्रपिता नहीं हैं. महात्मा गांधी के लिए पहली बार राष्ट्रपिता शब्द का इस्तेमाल सुभाषचंद्र बोस ने किया था. इसके बाद से ही उन्हें सम्मान देने के लिए राष्ट्रपिता कहा जाने लगा.

महात्मा गांधी

कोई राष्ट्रीय मिठाई या फल नहीं

लोगों के बीच आम धारणा है कि आम राष्ट्रीय फल है लेकिन यह ग़लत है. देश में पैदा होने वाले किसी भी फल को राष्ट्रीय और क्षेत्रीय श्रेणी में नहीं रखा गया है.

उसी तरह किसी मिठाई को भी राष्ट्रीय या क्षेत्रीय श्रेणी में नहीं रखा गया है.

हॉकी राष्ट्रीय खेल नहीं है

हॉकी

भारत में हॉकी को लेकर भी एक राष्ट्रीय भ्रम है कि यह राष्ट्रीय खेल है. जब भी हॉकी की स्थिति पर यहां बात होती है तो तो सबसे पहले यह कहा जाता है कि हमारे देश के राष्ट्रीय खेल की ऐसी दुर्दशा हो गई है. 2012 में केंद्र सरकार से युवा मामलों के मंत्रालय ने साफ़ कर दिया था कि हॉकी राष्ट्रीय खेल नहीं है.

India is getting hotter than previously thought, study shows

However, the temperature rise in India is sober considering that the world is on track for far more warming.

India is now two and a half times more likely to experience a deadly heat wave than a half century ago, and all it took was an increase in the average temperature of just 0.5 degrees Celsius, a new study shows.

The findings are sobering considering that the world is on track for far more warming. For the last two weeks much of Asia has been gripped by a heat wave, with a record high of 53.5 degrees C set in the southwest Pakistani city of Turbat on May 28 the world’s hottest-ever temperature recorded for the month of May. Temperatures in New Delhi have soared beyond 44 degrees C.

Even if countries are able to meet the Paris Agreement goals in curbing climate-warming carbon emissions, that would still only limit the global temperature rise to an estimated 2 degrees C. U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent pledge to exit the Paris treaty won’t help.

“It’s getting hotter, and of course more heat waves are going to kill more people,” said climatologist Omid Mazdiyasni of the University of California, Irvine, who led an international team of scientists in analysing a half century of data from the Indian Meteorological Department on temperature, heat waves and heat-related mortality.

“We knew there was going to be an impact, but we didn’t expect it to be this big,” he said.

Their study, published on Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, shows that, while India’s average temperatures rose by more than 0.5 degrees C between 1960 and 2009, the probability of India experiencing a massive heat-related mortality event defined by more than 100 deaths shot up by 146 per cent.

The study also found that the number of heat wave days increased by 25 per cent across most of India. Areas in the south and west experienced 50 per cent more heat wave events, or periods of extreme heat lasting more than three or four days, in 1985-2009 compared with the previous 25-year period.

It’s harder to estimate how deadly future warming might be. There is no historical data for heat wave mortality at those peak temperatures, and death tolls could increase sharply as it gets even hotter.

“The general public may think that a 1 or 2 degree temperature rise is not that significant, but our results show that even small changes can result in more heat waves and more death,” said Amir AghaKouchak, another climatologist at UC Irvine and a co-author of the report.

Scientists have warned for years that climate change will make heat waves more intense, more frequent and longer lasting.

“It stands to reason there would be more dire health impacts with more severe heat waves, and this paper provides a key quantification of those impacts for one region of the world,” said climate scientist Gerald Meehl of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, who was not involved in the study.

The same methodology can be applied in any region to get a sense of how vulnerable a country or population might be, the authors said.

They accounted for India’s fast-rising population and income levels in the analysis, to make sure neither affected the results. In the case of income, they found an even stronger correlation between heat waves and deaths among those who are poor.

That’s bad news as India is already seeing new deadly highs. Last year in May, Jaisalmer recorded a record 52.4 degrees C.

The vast majority of India’s 1.25 billion people are poor and have few options as temperatures hit sweltering levels, drying forests and riverbeds and wiping out farm animals. Most in India rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, and climate change is likely to hurt their crops.

Many who work as farmers or in construction will have to shorten their work days by 2-3 hours within four decades, simply because it will be too hot outdoors, according to a report last year by the U.N. Environment Program.

Most cities and states are not prepared to handle more heat, even if they understand the devastation it can wreak. In 2010, some 1,200 people died in a heat wave in Ahmedabad, prompting city officials to introduce seven-day weather forecasts, extra water supplies and cool-air summer shelters.

After more than 2,500 were killed in heat-ravaged areas across India in 2015, nine other cities rolled out a plan to educate children about heat risk, stock hospitals with ice packs and extra water, and train medical workers to identify heat stress, dehydration and heat stroke.

But the nine cities cover only about 11 million people, not even 1 per cent of the country’s population.

“Heat wave stress is a relatively new aspect that hasn’t been recognized” as a climate change threat in the region, said scientist Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Dhaka. In Bangladesh, “we are seeing more heat waves, there’s no doubt about it. And there is strong anecdotal evidence that we are seeing a similar trend in mortality. I would recommend a similar study here.”

Is ‘plastic rice’ for real?

Telangana Civil Supplies Department flooded with complaints about hotels using ‘plastic rice’ in their food items

The Telangana Civil Supplies Department is being flooded with complaintsabout hotels in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad using ‘plastic rice’ in their food items. Samples have been collected from various hotels to verify the claims. And this is not limited to Telangana alone. Over the past few years, rumours of ‘plastic rice’ being sold have been doing the rounds and a public interest litigation was even filed before the Delhi High Court .

The origin

The term ‘plastic rice’ first surfaced in China in 2010. Dubbed the Wuchang rice scandal, Chinese officials unearthed a scam by companies who passed off ordinary rice as premium Wuchang rice by adding flavours to it. The Wuchang rice, known for its unique aroma, is exported to various nations. Chinese traders are believed to have made a huge profit through this scam.

In 2011, a report by The Korea Times said: “Some distributors are selling fake rice in Taiyuan, Shaanxi Province, and this rice is a mixture of potatoes, sweet potatoes and plastic.” Needless to say, the report mentioned in detail the hazards of eating synthetic resin. Thus the term ‘plastic rice’ came into existence.

The BBC, last December, reported that a huge shipment of ‘plastic rice’ was seized in Nigeria, making it the first major confiscation. Days later, Nigeria ruled out plastic in the confiscated shipment. “The rice was contaminated with bacteria,” Nigeria’s National Agency For Food and Drugs said.

Apart from these two reports, the mainstream media doesn’t have much information on ‘plastic rice’. But the web is flooded with information ranging from YouTube videos on how it is manufactured to “Ways to spot a fake rice.” And the social media too is cluttered with forwards on the “Chinese conspiracy” behind dumping ‘plastic rice’.

Fact check

So is ‘plastic rice’ real? Unfortunately, there is no credible answer to this question. As far as India is concerned, ‘plastic rice’ has never been seized so far, though time and again there have been reports of demonstrations against such rice. Fact verification website snopes.com said the claim stands “unproven”.

In a report, it said, “The plastic rice story [and its fellow counterfeit Chinese food export legends] resemble an internationally viral 2007 CCTV segment about pork buns purportedly made with scrap cardboard, for which an independent journalist was eventually detained and accused of faking the oft-referenced story.”

5 lakh for kin of man killed in Jewar ambush

Adityanath promises aid and security for women

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday announced financial assistance of ₹5 lakh to the kin of a man who was killed in the recent Jewar ambush, where four women were also allegedly gangraped.

Mr. Adityanath has said that the State government would provide educational aid, financial support and security to the women of the victim’s family, a government spokesperson stated after two of the women met the Chief Minister here.

“He [Mr. Adityanath] said that strict action should be taken against those who carried out this incident, so that no criminal would dare repeat it in the future,” the spokesperson said.

Last week, a scrap dealer was allegedly shot dead and four women from his family gangraped in Jewar, after half-a-dozen men brought their car to a halt near the Yamuna Expressway. The U.P. police’s special task force is probing the case.

“We want the accused to be punished…hang them. Why is the police delaying in arresting them? We want justice,” Shafiq, one of the family, told The Hindu after the meeting with Mr. Adityanath.

Gau rakshak supporter stabs student

A teenager who participated in a demonstration organised by gau rakshaks in Sonipat on Thursday stabbed a student, mistaking him for a journalist, after the latter refused to click his photograph.

The protest was organised by the Gau Rakshak Seva Dal against the slaughtering of a cow in Kerala last week, said SHO (Gohana) Kuldeep Deshwal, adding that the teenager was not a member of the group.

The accused, Mohit, 19, has been arrested on charges of attempt to murder. The victim, Shivam, a Gohana resident, has been admitted to Medanta Hospital in Gurugram.

According to the police, Shivam had accompanied a journalist friend to the protest site outside the Mini-secretariat here around 2:30 p.m. An argument broke out between him and Mohit over taking pictures. “Shivam was fiddling with a camera when Mohit asked him to take pictures of the memorandum being submitted to the SDM. Shivam refused to oblige and an argument ensued. The onlookers pacified them,” said Mr. Deshwal.

Shivam lodged a complaint with the police an hour later.

“I sent Shivam with a constable to detain Mohit. When Mohit tried to run away, Shivam chased him. At this, Mohit stabbed him thrice. He was, however, caught,” the SHO added.

No midday meal without Aadhaar in UP schools

The present rate of Aadhaar enrolment of students in primary schools in the State is extremely low

Students of government-run primary schools in Uttar Pradesh, who do not have an Aadhaar card, will not be able to get midday meal after June 30.

List of students

The direction from the State government comes three months after the Union Human Resource Development Ministry made Aadhaar cards mandatory for midday meals and asked UP schools to make a list of students who possess the cards.

“The government has directed the basic education officers in all the districts to ensure that every beneficiary of the midday meal has an Aadhaar card so that the scheme doesn’t get affected. If Aadhaar cards for all beneficiaries of the midday meal scheme are not made and their numbers not submitted to the State government, then the students without such cards will not be able to benefit from the different schemes of the government. And you will be held responsible for that,” warned a letter written by Director, Basic Education, Sarvendra Vikram Bahadur Singh, addressed to primary education officers.

The present rate of Aadhaar enrolment of students of primary schools in the State is extremely low.

In Meerut for instance, of a total of 1.73 lakh students in 1,561 schools, only about 29,000 students have Aadhaar cards, which comes to less than 17 %.

Schools puzzled

The direction has left the school authorities puzzled as schools have closed for vacation and will reopen only on July 1.

The letter by Mr. Singh has asked all the primary education officers to submit a list of students who possess Aadhaar cards to the State government by May 30. Mr. Singh has sent a reminder to the primary education officers of Meerut, Hapur, Moradabad, Sambhal, Kannauj, Farrukhabad and Kanpur (rural) as they have not yet sent the list to the government.

Officials helpless

Most officials who handle the midday meal scheme have expressed their helpless in the face of the ultimatum. A coordinator for the midday meal scheme in Meerut said with primary schools closed for vacations, it would be almost impossible to follow the direction.

‘Students out of town’

“Schools have closed for vacations and most children have gone out of town. Teachers can be asked to help the students get their Aadhaar cards made, but the challenge is how to make cards for students who are out of town,” he said.

India is no longer the fastest-growing economy

Slowdown brings GDP down to 6.1% in fourth quarter

India lost its fastest-growing major economy tag in the fourth quarter of 2016-17, with GDP growth coming in at 6.1% compared with China’s 6.9% in the same period.

Data from the Ministry of Statistics on Wednesday showed GDP grew 7.1% in the financial year 2016-17, slower than the 8% registered in 2015-16. The GDP numbers were based on the new 2011-12 base year recently adopted for data including the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and Wholesale Price Index (WPI). Gross value added (GVA) growth was 6.6% for 2016-17 and 5.6% in the fourth quarter, compared with 7.9% in 2015-16 and 8.7% in Q4 of that year.

The “numbers show a clear slowdown in GVA,” DK Srivastava, Chief Economic Adviser at EY India, said.

“That is, post-demonetisation there has been a slowdown,” he said. “The GDP growth rate is slightly higher (than GVA growth) because of a more than proportionate increase in indirect tax net of subsidies. But the GDP also shows a reduction in Q3 and Q4 numbers compared with the beginning of the year. So demonetisation has clearly had a tangible and adverse impact.”

The Centre, however, maintained that it was happy with the growth rate, with Chief Statistician T.C.A. Anant saying that the economy was growing “reasonably well.”

“If you look at the current and time series estimates, it is clear the economy is growing reasonably well,” Mr. Anant said, while briefing the press about the GDP numbers.

“However, if you look at it from the perspective of what sort of growth rates do we desire over a period of time, then from that perspective there is more to be achieved.”

“We can take some measure of satisfaction, but the numbers do reveal there are areas that still could improve,” Mr. Anant added. “One of the areas is capital formation. It continues to be relatively soft, with growth still below 30%. We would like to see these rates well above 30%.”

Looking deeper, GVA growth slowed in almost every sector in Q4 of 2016-17 compared to the growth witnessed in the corresponding period of the previous year.

Advani to face court today

Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar too summoned in Babri case

Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, and Union Minister Uma Bharti, are expected to appear before a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court here on Tuesday in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

On May 25, the court summoned the leaders to appear before it in person on May 30 for the framing of charges against them.

No relaxation

The BJP leaders had moved court seeking exemption from appearance but the court said they would be allowed no such relaxation.

This is the first time that the leaders would appear before a court in connection with the Babri Masjid demolition case after the Supreme Court in April restored the criminal conspiracy charges framed against them, overruling the Allahabad High Court judgment that dropped the charges.

Along with the trio, BJP leader Vinay Katiyar, Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Vishnu Hari Dalmia, Ram Vilas Vedanti, Sadhvi Ritambara, Mahant Nritya Gopaldas, Mahant Dharamdas, Champat Rai and Satish Pradhan are also scheduled to appear before the court.

The Special CBI court is conducting a daily hearing of the December 6, 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case, in which Mr. Advani, Mr. Joshi and Ms. Bharti, among others, are accused of criminal conspiracy.

The apex court had in April used its extraordinary constitutional powers under Article 142 to revive the criminal charges against the BJP leaders. The court also transferred the Rae Bareli case in the demolition and clubbed it with the Lucknow case pending before a CBI Special Court.

Provocative speeches

While the case in Rae Bareli accuses Mr. Advani, Mr. Joshi, Ms. Bharti and other BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders of giving provocative speeches, the case in Lucknow is against “lakhs of unknown kar sevaks” and deals with the actual act of demolition of the mosque, and violence.

The SC, however, exempted Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, who was the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister at the time of the incident, from facing trial as of now.

The trial, on a day-to-day basis, is to be completed in two years, the apex court ordered.

‘Isn’t this our country?’ Why Muslims in Uttar Pradesh feel shaken, ‘harassed’

Anam Nisha is a first-year student in the department of chemical engineering at the Rohilkhand University in Bareilly. The daughter of a mechanic, her parents battled hostile relatives, uncomfortable with sending a girl to college, and decided to educate her— she will become the first engineer in her family.

Nisha has made friends with her classmates, a majority of Hindus. But something changed during the 2017 elections in UP.

“I did not feel this earlier. But in this election, among our friends, this feeling of being Hindu and Muslim sharpened. In discussions, our friends made us feel we were different.” She says the BJP had created this ‘division’.

Mohammed Tanweer, a final year student from Gorakhpur, nods. “When the PM came and said kabristan and shamshanghat, we felt uncomfortable. Look at issues being raised everyday. It makes us sometimes ask — do we have the wrong name?”

No generalisation about a community as large and diverse as Indian Muslims can be entirely accurate. Yet, in the course of meeting dozens of young Muslims, from west UP to the eastern most edge of Bihar, it became clear that Nisha and Tanweer are not exceptions. Muslims are shaken, disturbed, and worried.

Living as ‘anti-nationals’

Firoze Ahmad is an assistant professor in the Aligarh Muslim University’s campus in Kishanganj, in Bihar’s Seemanchal. “Muslims have begun avoiding public gatherings because anything you say can be misconstrued. On social media, as soon as you say something, you are immediately branded anti-national, terrorist, and of course Pakistani,” he says.

Read more

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A survey conducted by the well-regarded Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in four states — Gujarat, Haryana, Odisha and Karnataka — gives a clue into the mindset that leads to these labels. Only 13% of Hindus saw Muslims as ‘highly patriotic’, even though 77% Muslims saw themselves as ‘highly patriotic’.

When asked what, specifically, was bothering him, Firoze Ahmad says, “Look at the hate campaigns. When they say love jehad, raise triple talaq, talk of gau raksha, want ghar wapsi, who are they targeting? There is a common pattern. They want to ignite new debates with Muslims as the target group.”

He then clarifies. “It is not the PM. He is for Sabka saath, sabka vikaas. It is those acting in his name. They need to be punished.”

Shadab Khan is pursuing an MBA in the campus.

“This nationalism discourse has created a gulf. If I say I love Barcelona, I am a nationalist. But if I say I love Pakistani player Shahid Afridi, I become an anti-national. This has percolated down to every college, every street, every social media conversation.”

Across age groups and regions, most Muslims blamed BJP and the Sangh parivar, but they were as critical of the media.

Back in Bareilly, Heeba Roshan, a second year student of chemical engineering, noted, with a laugh, “There would have been far more peace, and so much less insecurity, if we all stopped TV news.”

Muslim women vote in Varanasi in the final phase of UP election 2017. (PTI File Photo)
Media penetration had increased, every household was watching news, this was shaping mindsets, and the content usually reinforced the views that Hindus held of the community, and alienated Muslims, pointed Ahmad.

Sense of discrimination

All of this points to a degree of psychological alienation. But is this merely perceptional or is it rooted in facts?

In Kishanganj, Raashid Nehaal is the director of the AMU campus — which operates out of two temporary buildings, one of which also doubles up as both the academic block and the girls hostel. There are only two courses being offered; he has not been able to appoint faculty, expand courses, or even build boundary walls. Work on a new campus building is halted.

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Why?

“Since the BJP government has come to power, they have not released a single paisa to us. The approved funds for this campus — meant to serve the backward region — is ₹136 crore; all we have got so far is ₹10 crore, which was released before the BJP won.”

Nehaal does not mince words. “What should we understand from this? They have become prejudiced.” He pins it on politics, and the difference in nature of regimes is palpable here. The ‘secular government’ of Nitish Kumar — which relied on Muslim votes — has extended all support to the campus, but the Union government, Nehaal claims, has been hostile.

At the other end of the Hindi heartland lies the small town of Deoband, famous for its influential Islamic seminary.

At a cloth shop in the bazaar, a group of young men look back at 2017 polls. Shah Alam tells his friends, “We were unnecessarily living with a myth that at 18%, Muslims can decide elections. The majority decides elections. And BJP has shown they don’t need us at all.”

What has been the impact of this?

“Secular parties treated us as just a vote-bank, but we at least had leaders to go to. There is no one here to listen to us. Sunwai khatam ho gayi,” replies Alam.

Adnan owns the cloth shop, and says, “Under the Mudra scheme, I applied for a loan of ₹5 lakh. I have gone to the bank repeatedly. But my application got rejected.”

But maybe his loan got rejected because it did not meet the criteria? Would it be correct to pin it to religion? He replies, “It is the mindset. The bank official told me — you will not get it. Don’t waste your time.”

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Whether it is indeed, factually, their religious identity which is leading to Adnan’s loan being rejected, Alam’s voice not being heard, Ahmad or Khan being called anti-national, Nisha and Tanweer feeling a sense of distance from their friends, Roshan getting uncomfortable watching television, or Nehaal struggling to get funds for his campus is one part of the story, open to debate. The more important part is that all of them feel that this is discrimination that stems from their religious identity.

And all of this is leading to a question that Khan — the Kishanganj student — asks bluntly, “I have always felt Indian. But today, I am being forced to ask myself — is this my country?”

Gandhi’s death: Plea in SC hints at second assassin

Outfit inspired by Savarkar questions his conviction.

Was there a second assassin involved in the death of Mahatma Gandhi?

Though the police went by the theory that three bullets were fired upon him, was there a fourth bullet also which was fired by someone apart from Nathuram Godse?

These questions are among several which have been raised in a petition before the Supreme Court with a plea that there is a compelling need to uncover the larger conspiracy behind the murder of the Mahatma by constituting a new Commission of Inquiry.

The petition also raises questions about the investigation into Gandhi’s murder, suggesting it was one of the biggest cover-ups in history and also questioning whether there was any basis to blame Vinayak Damodar Savarkar for it.

The petition by Dr Pankaj Phadnis, a researcher and a trustee of Abhinav Bharat, Mumbai, has claimed that the Justice J.L. Kapur Commission of Inquiry set up in 1966 had not been able to unearth the entire conspiracy that culminated in the killing of the Father of the Nation. Phadnis has also questioned the three bullet theory relied upon by various courts of law to uphold the conviction of accused, including Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte, who were hanged to death on November 15, 1949, while Savarkar was given the benefit of doubt due to lack of evidence.

Inspired by Savarkar, Abinav Bharat, Mumbai, was set up in 2001 and it claims to work for the socially and economically weaker sections with a focus on bridging the digital divide.

Mr. Phadnis said his research and media reports of those days suggested that four bullets were pumped into Gandhi and the difference between three and four shots was material as the pistol by which Godse shot Mahatma on January 30, 1948 had a seven-bullet chamber.

Modi in Berlin today, says ‘new chapter’ in ties

PM’s six-day tour to Germany, Spain, Russia and France assumes added significance as all are members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive in Berlin on Monday beginning a six-day, four-nation tour of Europe.

He will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks to tackle issues such as the impasse in the India-EU free trade agreement, as well as developing a common strategy to counter China’s moves on connectivity and preserving the international “rules-based” system.

“Our strategic partnership is based on democratic values and commitment to an open, inclusive and rules-based global order,” Mr. Modi said in a series of messages on his website, describing the visit to Germany as a “new chapter” in the bilateral strategic partnership.

From Germany, the Prime Minister will travel to Spain (May 29-30), Russia (May 31-June 1) and France (June 2-3). His meetings at each of these countries will also be significant given that all four are members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group that will meet in June to once again consider India’s membership application.

Mr. Modi is to meet all the leaders once again in July at the G-20 summit in Hamburg (Spain is not a G-20 country, but is a permanent invitee).

Free trade pact

Mr. Modi will land in the German capital and leave directly for Schloss Meseberg, a castle outside Berlin that serves as the official retreat for Chancellor Merkel and has been the backdrop for several high level summits. The Prime Minister he is expected to dine alone with the Chancellor.

On Tuesday morning, the leaders will meet for the fourth bi-annual Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC) in Berlin, and are expected to sign a number of MoUs on trade and investment, security and counter-terrorism, innovation and science & technology, skill development, urban infrastructure, railways, civil aviation, clean energy, development cooperation, health and alternative medicine, according to officials.

Germany is India’s largest trading partner in the EU, and Ms. Merkel will make a push for a resumption of the EU-India Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), that has been suspended for four years.

Germany wants a commitment from India on either resuming talks with the EU or at least renewing the bilateral investment treaty that lapsed in March 2017.

Officials have warned that in the absence of any mechanism to protect German companies considering investments in India, their plans may be shelved.

Tackling Beijing

In a candid statement last week, German Ambassador Martin Ney had also said the “common questions” both countries share about China’s Belt and Road Initiative will be discussed, even as Germany and India explore joint projects for connectivity and development in Africa and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Mr. Modi will travel next to Spain for talks with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, expected to yield an agreement on counter-terrorism cooperation, which Mr. Modi referred to as a “common concern”.

“We seek [the] active participation of [the] Spanish industry in various Indian projects including infrastructure, smart cities, digital economy, renewable energy, defence and tourism,” he added in his statement on Sunday.

Mr Modi’s visit to St. Petersburg will mark the first time the Annual India-Russia summit is held outside of Moscow.

The Prime Minister will meet President Vladimir Putin for a “one-on-one” dinner on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

India and Austria are the guest countries this year at the SPIEF, an investor’s conference called the “Russian Davos”. Mr. Modi and Mr. Putin are expected to announce a “series of agreements”, officials said, while an MoU to construct the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project’s (KKNPP) reactors 5 & 6 is in its “final stages” before being signed.

Meet with Macron

The Prime Minister’s final stop in France will see his first meeting with newly elected President Emmanuel Macron. The two leaders are expected to review bilateral relations including cooperation on nuclear and renewable energy, and defence cooperation.

No report yet on Kanpur derailment

Six months after accident that killed over 150, agencies yet to ascertain the cause

Six months after the derailment of the Indore-Rajendranagar Express near Kanpur claimed over 150 lives, investigating agencies are yet to ascertain the cause of the accident. The Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) hasn’t submitted its preliminary report.

“It is informed that the preliminary report of the said accident is not available in the office,” Rajiv Kumar, Deputy Commissioner of Railway Safety, said in response to a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act posed by The Hindu, on May 15. On November 20 last year, 14 coaches of the Patna-bound train derailed between Pokhrayan and Malasa stations in Uttar Pradesh, killing at least 152 passengers and injuring 183.

According to the rules, the CRS has to submit its preliminary report to the Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety and the Indian Railway Board Secretary within one month of the inquiry, and it has to make the report public as well. The CRS, under the Civil Aviation Ministry, then submits a detailed report within six months of the inquiry to the Chief Commissioner. Commissioner of Railway Safety (Eastern Circle) P.K. Acharya, who is inquiring into the matter, declined to comment.

Civil Aviation Secretary R.N. Choubey didn’t respond to an e-mail questionnaire.

The accident became a high-profile case after Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, suspecting sabotage, had written to Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanding a high-level investigation.

The Home Ministry then forwarded the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the sabotage angle.

“This matter is being monitored at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) level. We are awaiting an inquiry report from the NIA which had taken up the investigation soon after the accident,” said a senior CRS official, on condition of anonymity. However, NIA officials said they were yet to get a report from the Commission and a team of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) experts to finalise their investigations.

Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a speech during one of his election rallies had termed the accident a cross-border “conspiracy.”

The initial inquiry of the CRS which was held up for submission to authorities after the National Investigation Agency started a probe into the case had identified ‘carriage and wagon defects’ as the prime reason for the accident.

Of cows, compassion and communal comity

A cattle shelter run by a Jodhpur-based Muslim educational and welfare society earns goodwill

Even as cow vigilante groups in the northern States are targeting people on the mere suspicion of eating beef or smuggling cattle, an adarsh gaushala (model cow shelter) established by a Muslim institution in Jodhpur is taking care of old and sick cows. It is also assisting dairy farmers in a dozen surrounding villages in looking after their animals, and earning goodwill for promoting communal amity.

Launched in 2004 by Jodhpur-based Marwar Muslim Educational and Welfare Society (MMEWS), the initiative has won mass appreciation, with hundreds of people handing over cows and bulls to the shelter.

Old, weak, sick, abandoned, and neglected cows are given priority at the sprawling gaushala located in Bujhawad village off the Jodhpur-Barmer highway, 12km from Jodhpur. The shelter claims to be the first gaushala to be wholly owned and managed by the Muslim community.

Situated on a large piece of land without any boundary wall, the shelter is currently home to 217 bovines tagged by the State government’s Animal Husbandry Department.

The shelter’s full-time caretaker Hakim Khan and his wife Allahrakhi are in charge of the bovines’ welfare. Dogs and wild animals intruding into the shelter is a major concern, but Mr. Khan says the job is worth it. “We are glad to receive appreciation from the majority community, which sees the gaushala as an enterprise promoting communal harmony,” he said.

A trained team brings the cows, mostly from nearby villages, to the gaushala in a specially-designed vehicle. The MMEWS currently spends a little over ₹1 lakh a month on the animals. It is planning to double the shelter’s capacity by taking over a part of the 56 acres of land allotted for the construction of the Maulana Azad University, the society’s general secretary, Mohammed Atique, told The Hindu.

“When we started the gaushala, some fringe elements objected to Muslims operating the shelter,” Mr. Atique said. “But over the years, the shelter has won people’s admiration and generated immense goodwill as villagers appreciate the selfless work.”

Most of the bovines in the shelter have come from villages such as Doli, Gangana, Bhandu, Narnadi, Khudala, Jhanwar and Rohila Kalan. The shelter also employs a team of veterinarians who not only attend to the animals but also visit the nearby villages to assist dairy farmers in taking care of their cattle. Filling gaps in the government’s veterinary infrastructure, the team runs vaccination and treatment camps for stray cows in the villages. “A mobile van visits these villages to treat cows, goats and buffaloes free of cost,” Mr. Atique said.

Paper balls hurled at podium on maiden day of UP Assembly session

The maiden session of the newly elected Uttar Pradesh Assembly began on a stormy note today with opposition members throwing paper balls at the podium and the marshals trying to dodge them with files.

The customary address of Governor Ram Naik to the joint sitting of the two Houses of the State legislature was drowned in the uproar created by the opposition.

Slogan-shouting opposition members trooped into the Well despite Speaker Hridaya Narain Dixit’s appeal at an all-party meeting to ensure smooth proceedings.

The Governor was flanked by Mr. Dixit and Chairman of the Legislative Council Ramesh Yadav.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was present when the Governor read the address despite the bedlam.

For the first time, the proceedings were telecast live by Doordarshan.

Sara Uttar Pradesh dekh raha hai aap ko (the entire Uttar Pradesh is watching you),” a visibly annoyed Governor told the shouting members, who kept throwing papers at the podium and creating din.

The opposition SP and BSP have decided to take on the Yogi Adityanath government on the law and order front.

Make cow Indian national animal says Arshad Madani


NEW DELHI: The government should consider declaring the cow as the national animal, Jamiat Ulema-i- Hind president Maulana Syed Arshad Madani suggested as he expressed concern over the “atmosphere of fear” following attacks by gau rakshaks. “The government should give national animal status to the cow and we will support it,” Mr Madani said.

The country has witnessed many incidents of violence by cow vigilantes, he said. “These gau rakshaks are exploiting religion to loot and murder people. We respect the religious sentiments of our Hindu brethren but no one can be allowed to take law and order into their own hands,” he said.

He urged the government to bring a cow protection law that will protect cows so that people’s lives can also be saved.

Referring to the issue of triple talaq that will be discussed in the Supreme Court today, he said it was a “religious matter and could have only a religious solution”. “If the Supreme Court comes out with such an acceptable solution, we will welcome it,” he said.
The top court, he added, should ask the ulemas or Islamic scholars, to discuss its objections and come out with solutions before direct intervention in the matter. “… the court should give a chance to the ulemas to discuss and sort out its objections over triple talaq. Then they (Supreme Court) may consider those solutions and give judgement. Such a judgement based on religious interpretation will be acceptable to us,” he added.

The matter was being “blown out of proportion” by the media and now even the Supreme Court was inclined to intervene in it, Mr Madani said. “The way triple talaq is being talked about these days, it appears as though there are divorced women in every household and each Muslim man has four wives.”

The Islamic law gives 14 rights to a married woman who can seek talaq if she feels any of these rights are infringed upon by her husband.

In Shocking Video, Burning Man Didn’t Stop Traffic On Maharashtra Highway


BEED (MAHARASHTRA): A man is engulfed in flames on the highway as cars, two-wheelers and people go past without stopping to help, in a horrific video that appears to have been taken by one of many thoughtless bystanders at the spot. The man, a biker, was involved in an accident yesterday with another biker. Both have died.

The video, say the police, was taken on the highway in Maharashtra’s Beed district, at a point some eight hours from Mumbai. When the two bikers collided, one of them was trapped under the wrecked bikes, which caught fire.

The police say the man probably didn’t shout for help as he was unconscious from a head injury. By the time help arrived and the police put out the fire, he was charred beyond recognition. The other biker died in hospital today.

The burning man made little difference to the flow of traffic, and no pedestrian rushed to help put out the blaze either. In one visual, a small crowd watches the grisly spectacle; some have their mobile cameras trained on it.
The police are investigating whether one of the bikers was carrying bottles of alcohol which could have started the fire.

“We are yet to establish who the victim is,” senior police officer G Sreedhar told NDTV.

“Since the number plates on the bike were burnt, we are unable to get much details about the victim. All we could tell from the plates was that the bike was registered in Parbhani (a town nearby). We have given the plate to the Regional Transport Office, which can give us details,” Mr Sreedhar said.

U.P. declines sanction to prosecute CM

The Uttar Pradesh government has refused to sanction the prosecution of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in a communal riots case, Chief Secretary Rahul Bhatnagar told the Allahabad High Court on Thursday.

Riots broke out in Gorakhpur in January 2007 allegedly after a provocative speech by Adityanath, then the local MP, over the killing of a Hindu youth in clashes between two groups during a Moharram procession.

He was arrested and jailed for 10 days before he got bail.

An affidavit stating that sanction had been “refused” for prosecuting Yogi Adityanath was filed before the court by Mr. Bhatnagar.

The sanction is needed to file a charge sheet against Yogi Adityanath under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code on the charge of promoting enmity on grounds of religion and caste. This offence is punishable with imprisonment of up to five years.

The police request to t Home Department for sanction to prosecute Yogi Adityanath and four others, including BJP MLA from Gorakhpur Radhamohan Das Agarwal, has been hanging fire for two years.

On May 7, a Division Bench of Justices Ramesh Sinha and Umesh Chandra Srivastava asked the Chief Secretary to appear in court on Thursday. In his affidavit, Mr. Bhatnagar said the CB-CID, which was investigating the case, proposed to submit its closure report, and it would be submitted to the trial court.

The development came at the hearing of a petition for an independent probe into the violence. The petition was filed by Parvez Parwaz, the complainant in the FIR filed at the Cantonment police station in Gorakhpur in connection with the riots, and Asad Hayat, a witness.

If god finds triple talaq sinful, can laws validate it, asks Supreme Court

“Triple talaq is inherently unequal to women. The practice is abhorrent to god and no amount of advocacy by man can cure it,” senior advocate Ram Jethmalani told a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar, on the second day of hearing on the matter on Friday.

“No discrimination against a woman is possible just because she is a woman. Law can be made only to improve the lot of women,” he said.

“Secularism is the subjection of religion to the rule of law,” he said. He urged the court not to shy away from bringing triple talaq under Article 13 (Laws inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights). “as any customary usage enforceable by court comes under the article.”

Justice Khehar said that if triple talaq comes to an end, whatever the consequences would be decided then. “There is no mutual consent in triple talaq.”

When Justice Khehar said, “Article 15 [Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth] talks about State law and we are on personal law here,” Mr. Jethmalani asked: “Can any law allow a man to get rid of a woman on a whim.”

When former Union Minister and senior advocate Salman Khurshid, who is assisting the court in his personal capacity, said, “Islam says triple talaq is sinful but permissible,”

Justice Kurian Joseph retorted: “Can something found sinful by god be validated by laws of man?”

Mr. Khurshid said: “The AIMPLB [All India Muslim Personal Law Board] is the best body to guide the court on the varying philosophies of schools of Islam about triple talaq.”

Salute to All freedom fighters on Kranti Diwas (Shaheed Diwas).

Sharing with you names of all freedom fighters those statrted pratham savtantrata sangram in Meerut on 10th may 1857.

After seen this Pat Rock one poetry came in mind which is written by Dr Rahat Indori sahab.

Sabhi ka khoon he shamil is Hindustan ki mitti me
Kisi ke bap ka Hindustan thode hi he.

Once again salute and Thanks to all freedom fighters those sacrificed their lives for India.

Jai Hind.

SC finds Vijay Mallya guilty of contempt

The Supreme Court on Tuesday found businessman Vijay Mallya guilty of contempt of court and asked him to appear before it on July 10 to argue on the quantum of punishment in the matter.

The apex court was hearing a plea filed by a consortium of banks against Mr. Mallya for contempt of court proceedings in a loan default case. Mr. Mallya, who is currently living in the United Kingdom, is facing cases of bank loan default to the tune of ₹9,000 crore by his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

“We have found respondent number 3 (Mallya) guilty of contempt of court on two grounds,” a Bench comprising Justices A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit said.

Mr. Mallya had received a deposit of $40 million from offshore firm Diageo in February last year. In violation of the court’s order, Mr. Mallya had allegedly transferred the money to his children instead of repaying the loans.

SC sentences Justice Karnan to six months imprisonment

Orders media from publishing content of orders passed by him.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday held Calcutta High Court Judge C.S. Karnan guilty of contempt of court, judiciary and judicial process and sentenced him to six months imprisonment.

Justice Karnan will be forthwith taken into custody.

“We are of the unanimous opinion that Justice C.S. Karnan has committed contempt of court, judiciary and judicial process of the gravest nature,” Chief Justice J.S. Khehar mentioned in the order.

The court also ordered media from publishing the content of orders passed by Justice Karnan, who on Monday issued an order sentencing eight Supreme Court judges to five years of “rigorous imprisonment” and imposed a fine of Rs. 1,00,000 each under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 and the amended Act of 2015.

The eight include members of the seven-judge Bench, headed by Justice Khehar which, in February, issued a contempt order against him on the charge of degrading the judiciary.

Justice Karnan, on his part, directed the Supreme Court judges “to appear before him on May 28” and later “reposted” the matter to May 1.

The Supreme Court Bench ordered Justice Karnan to be medically examined and on May 4, he refused to undergo medical tests as directed by the Supreme Court and told the team of doctors, in a written response, that he is “absolutely normal and with a stable mind.”

No surprises in Indian team for Champions Trophy

Rohit Sharma and Mohammed Shami return to the squad after injuries.

The The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) selection committee on Monday announced the Indian team for the Champions Trophy to be held in England from June 1.

On Sunday, at a special general meeting (SGM) held in New Delhi, the BCCI said India would participate in the Champions Trophy.

Rohit, after recovering from a thigh injury he sustained during the Test series against England last year, has replaced opener K L Rahul, who suffers from a shoulder injury.

Manish Pandey has been drafted in as an extra batsman in the 15-member squad, to be led by Virat Kohli.

India will play their Champions Trophy lung-opener against arch-rival Pakistan on June 4.

The squad

Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, M.S. Dhoni, Manish Pandey, Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Husband tied up, woman raped by 8 on UP highway

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Jalaun based couple was travelling home from Jaipur, where they work as artisans
  • After raping the woman, the men dumped the couple on the highway

JHANSI: Eight men allegedly gang-raped a woman before her husband in a vehicle on Thursday night in Jalaun district. The couple was then robbed and dumped on Auraiya-Jalaun highway. Police said the Jalaun based couple was travelling home from Jaipur, where they work as artisans. They reached Auraiya by train around Thursday midnight and were looking for a public transport, when the driver of a loader van offered them a lift.
Shortly afterwards, the vehicle halted at a liquor shop from where some other men boarded it. It was then driven to a secluded spot, where eight men took turns to rape the woman after tying up her husband. The duo was also abused and threatened against raising an alarm, cops said.

The couple was then dumped on the highway after being robbed of their belongings. They somehow reached out to Jalaun cops around 3 am on Friday, and lodged an FIR, following which the woman was sent for medical examination.

 Additional SP of Jalaun S C Shakya said, “An FIR has been lodged against eight unidentified men for gang rape and dacoity. We’ll arrest the culprits soon.” Some people have been rounded up and the probe is on, Shakya added.

Arvind Kejriwal took ₹2 crore from Satyendar Jain, alleges Kapil Mishra

Day after his sacking from the Delhi Cabinet, Mr. Mishra accuses the Delhi Chief Minister of corruption.

A day after he was sacked from the Arvind Kejriwal Cabinet, former Minister Kapil Mishra has lobbed corruption charges at the Delhi Chief Minister himsel. He said he saw Dellhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain give Mr. Kejriwal ₹2 crore. “Satyendar Jain gave ₹2 crore to Arvind Kejriwal and the transaction happened before my eyes,” Mr. Mishra told the media at Raj Ghat on Sunday. “I had thought that Kejriwal will not tolerate corruption but he needs to reveal the reason behind the transaction,” he added.

After making corruption allegations against Mr. Kejriwal, Mr. Mishra says the Delhi CM is evading appearance before the media. In a tweet in Hindi he says: “Till yesterday he was telling the whole world that (MCD) poll loss was due to EVM. Now, (he) suddenly (raises) the water issue. Why does Arvind Kejriwal evade appearance before the media?”

2 civilians, a policeman among 4 killed in Kashmir terror attack

The militant killed has been identified as Fayaz Ahmed alias Setha who was wanted by the NIA in Udhampur terror case.

Two civilians and a policeman were killed in a militant attack in Kulgam district of south Kashmir on Saturday night, while one militant was killed in retaliatory action, police said.

One of the militants was killed, while another was injured in retaliatory firing by police, Director General of Police S.P. Vaid informed.

The militant killed has been identified as Fayaz Ahmed alias Setha who was wanted by the NIA in Udhampur terror case.

The militants, travelling in a car, opened fire at a police team which had gone to Mir Bazaar area to investigate a road accident, the DGP said.

He said the police also retaliated and even managed to snatch a pistol from one of the militants.

“Four bodies were found at the spot. Two of the deceased are civilians and one policeman has been martyred,” Vaid said.

He said the fourth deceased was a militant who was carrying a grenade and some ammunition.

“While one militant has managed to escape, we are following the blood trail of another who was injured in the police action,” the DGP added.

Indian-origin couple shot dead in US

WASHINGTON: An Indian-origin couple was killed in the US in an apparent revenge attack by their daughter’s ex-boyfriend who was eventually shot dead in a standoff with police.

Mirza Tatlic, 24, fatally shot Naren Prabhu, a Silicon Valley tech executive, and his wife at their home in San Jose, CBS San Francisco reported.

Prabhu’s daughter, who lives in another state, was not present.

“The suspect had been in a dating relationship with the victims’ adult daughter who was not home,” San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia said. “The relationship ended last year. The suspect had a history of domestic violence and there was an active criminal restraining order.”

The incident was reported by the victims’ 20-year-old son.

300 students of Delhi school hospitalised after gas leak

Fumes emanating from a chemical container is said to have caused the irritation.

More than 300 students and few teachers were rushed to hospital in Delhi’s Tughlaqabad area on Saturday morning after they complained of irritation in eyes.

The students of the Rani Jhansi Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya near the customs area of Tughlaqabad are said to have complained of irritation in eye, and some even fainted, after they reached school on Saturday morning.

Fumes emanating from a chemical container is said to have caused the irritation. Police too said chemical leakage in the area was the reason.

“Local police, fire department and ambulance teams reached the spot and took the students to a nearby hospital. They are reported normal,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (South East) Romil Baaniya.

One of the school’s teachers who did not wish to be named told The Hindu that some of the students have been discharged after treatment and sent home. Meanwhile, the school has been temporarily shut.

According to Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the students are fine.

“We received complaints about pain and related issues with their eyes by 85 students and got them admitted to three big hospitals located in the vicinity. I have spoken to the students and doctors, they are now fine. I have directed the district magistrate to investigate the incident.”

He said that he has ordered the area district magistrate and SDM to launch a probe into the gas leakage incident at the container depot.

“There was an exam in the school which we have cancelled following the incident,” the Deputy Chief Minister said.

Nadda directs Centre-run hospitals to help victims

Meanwhile, Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda directed the Centre-run hospitals to be ready to help the gas leak victims.

“Central GoI hospitals have been instructed to be ready to help all victims of Delhi gas leak incident. My prayers are with children & families,” Mr. Nadda tweeted.

More than 40 students were admitted to the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals. According to the hospital statement, the patients — 42 children and one adult — were immediately managed by a multi-disciplinary team. Therapeutic interventions as per clinical requirements were administered and all patients are in a stable condition.

Shivpal didn’t speak to me before announcing secular front, says Mulayam | Exclusive

Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s statement comes a day after his brother Shivpal announced that he will form a new front within three months

Samajwadi Party (SP) patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav said on Saturday his brother Shivpal didn’t speak to him before announcing the formation of an all-India secular front.

In an exclusive interview to HT, Mulayam said he would talk to Shivpal and pacify him, and that no one in the family or party wanted a split in the 25-year-old Samajwadi Party.

“I have not met Shivpal for the last one week… He has not spoken to me as yet about it (the front)… I will talk to him,” a visibly relaxed Mulayam told HT in Lucknow.

“As for the front, he has simply given a statement. I will talk to him, pacify him.”

The statement came a day after the 62-year-old Shivpal, former UP president of the party, announced that he will form within three months the Samajwadi Secular Morcha (SSM) that will be led by Mulayam.

Shivpal didn’t make it clear if he was walking out of the Samajwadi Party or if the new front will enter electoral politics.

But the SSM’s formation was seen as a fresh twist in a months-long battle between Shivpal and his nephew Akhilesh for control of the party – a dispute that was held responsible for the party’s bruising defeat in state elections two months ago.

But Mulayam appeared to dismiss any speculation of a split. “Nobody in the family or party want it to split. What will they get if the party divides and weakens?”

“He (Shivpal) is hurt. I don’t know why my son Akhilesh Yadav doesn’t like him. I will always stand by my brother who has struggled and suffered so much for me and the party,” Mulayam said.

No media glare for South Asia Satellite

ISRO has been unusually reticent about its launch from Sriharikota today

A communication spacecraft, the South Asia Satellite, which will serve India and six of its regional neighbours, is set to lift off from Sriharikota off Andhra Pradesh on Friday evening.

Some bare information on this regional diplomatic overture apart, mystery shrouded the civil mission until late on the eve of the launch. The 2230-kg spacecraft will be launched on a GSLV, the Indian Space Research Organisation’s medium-lift rocket, numbered F09.

A normally transparent ISRO has been unusually reticent about a less than routine launch. The time of the launch has a cryptic clue – one must infer it as 4.57 p.m. from the duration of the countdown. There will be no live telecast. Brochures that would be routinely released about five days ahead of a mission are still to be uploaded on the ISRO website.

SC verdict today on appeals of Nirbhaya case convicts

The four have opposed death penalty for the December 16, 2012 gangrape, murder

The Supreme Court will on Friday pronounce the judgment on the appeals filed by four death row convicts against death penalty in the December 16, 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case.

The brutal crime against the 23-year-old had created public furore for a more stringent law to deal with sex crimes against women. She was brutally assaulted and raped by six persons on a moving bus in South Delhi and thrown out of the vehicle with her male friend on the night of December 16, 2012. She died days later in a Singapore hospital.

Nirbhaya Act

In 2013, Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 or the Anti-Rape Bill, which was later called the Nirbhaya Act, came into existence. The new law mandated death penalty under Section 376A of the Indian Penal Code.

Under Section 376A, whoever commits rape, which leads to the death of the victim or causes her to be in a “persistent vegetative state,” shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a minimum term of 20 years which may extend to life or with death.

Marathon hearings

The three-judge Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra wrapped up the marathon hearings on their appeals on March 27. The appeals were heard for almost a year on a day-to-day basis.

The arguments ended with senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the Delhi Police, strongly pushing for death penalty for the convicts as a proportionate punishment for their “brutal crime.”

Amicus curiae and senior advocate Raju Ramachandran had, however, opposed, asking the court to consider sentencing the convicts to a life in prison.

Incidentally, the Bench had prima facie agreed with the contention of the amicus that Section 235 of the Code of Criminal Procedure — which provides that a trial court should individually hear a convict before sentencing him — was not followed in this case.

Young age

Advocates A.P. Singh and M.L. Sharma, appearing for the convicts, asked the court to consider their family background and young age as mitigating factors.

The convicts — Mukesh, Pawan, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Kumar Singh — had approached the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court decision confirming the death penalty awarded to them by the trial court.

More locals take to militancy in Kashmir Valley

Once zero-militancy districts, Srinagar & Ganderbal are home to 23 ultras now.

The latest figures of militants in the Kashmir Valley reflect a grim picture as 30 locals joined the militant ranks in the first four months this year, and the once zero-militancy districts of Srinagar and Ganderbal are home to 23 active militants now.

A district-wise mapping of militants by the police’s counter-insurgency cell, accessed exclusively by The Hindu, shows at least 224 militants are active in central, south and north Kashmir.

These numbers are alarming because the ranks have swelled in the winter, when most passes on the Line of Control remain closed.

“Summers and melting snow always spike militants’ numbers. The fact that we have such a huge number of militants so early in the year only points to the swelling ranks of militants internally,” said a top counter-insurgency police officer.

Of 224 militants, 130 militants are locals and “trained within the Valley”. Growing street unrest, especially in 2016, helped militants recruit more and more youth, said the police officer.

Of the 30 youths who picked up arms in the first four months this year, the highest number of ten were from Pulwama, which has become a springboard of militancy with the presence of 70 militants, including 12 foreigners.

A police official said the “bold activities” of militants have forced the top leaders of several mainstream political parties to leave Pulwama and shift to Srinagar. “Even MLAs find it hard to visit their constituencies in Shopian, Kulgam and Pulwama,” he added.

According to the police data, Ganderbal, Budgam and Srinagar, which were zero-militancy districts till 2015, have 11, 11 and 13 militants respectively hiding in the built-up areas.

In capital Srinagar, 11 locals have joined the militants, including from parts of the old city and the outskirts, according to the police. “The ideology of recruits from Srinagar is more radical,” said the police.

The number of militants in Kashmir numbered less than 100 till 2015. However, slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani infused new strength in the ranks by galvanising ground support in south Kashmir in 2013, after the hanging of the Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

Volatile south Kashmir remains highly populated with militants numbering 141 in four districts of Shopian (24), Pulwama (70), Anantnag (21) and Kulgam (25).

The north too is slowly slipping on the security front, with a higher presence of foreign militants. “Fresh infiltration has replenished militant ranks in north Kashmir, too, as Kupwara has 24 foreign militants and Baramula 15,” says the report.

The presence of local militants in the north is slowly swelling, with five youth from Bandipora, five from Kupwara and 22 from Baramulla.

Both the Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) have neck-to-neck numbers in Kashmir Valley now. “In south and central Kashmir, both the outfits prefer to work in tandem,” said the police.

India, Sri Lanka slip on oil, trade deals

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe’s visit preceded by opposition, disquiet.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday for official meetings expected to finalise an MoU on developing energy and infrastructure projects in Trincomalee, as well as fast-tracking negotiations for the upgraded Free Trade Agreement —the ETCA (Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement) — both of which face opposition in Sri Lanka.

Mr. Wickremsinghe, whose visit is also expected to confirm a number of agreements to be announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka next month, May 12-14, will meet with Mr. Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Trincomalee oil storage

MEA officials said they hoped to see the agreement on the Trinco Oil storage, which was first negotiated in 2003, as well as the development of infrastructure — highways, power plants, a refinery and an SEZ — around the key port town of Trincomalee to be wrapped up during Mr. Wickremsinghe’s talks on Wednesday.

In a last minute hitch on Sunday night, oil union workers in Colombo went on a strike against the planned MoU with India for 84 tanks in the Trincomalee upper oil tank farm, of which Sri Lanka is keen to retain at least 10 for use by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation. After day long talks with Sri Lanka’s Petroleum Minister Chandima Weerakoddy, and an intervention by Mr. Wickremsinghe, the unions called off the strike that hit fuel supplies in the country on Monday, but claim they have an assurance that their concerns over leasing the tanks to India will be taken into consideration before any announcement is made.

Backing their protest were members of the Joint Opposition (JO) and the leftist JVP, who said the deal would give India control over energy resources in the island nation.

Upgraded FTA

Meanwhile in Delhi, Commerce Ministry officials continued their three-day talks on the ETCA, that began on Monday, to iron out differences on the upgraded Free Trade Agreement of 2000 to include services, investment and technological trade, that has also faced opposition from political parties as well as some businessmen.

“There is widespread opposition to ETCA in Sri Lanka. Professionals are strongly against it, so are businessmen,” said Mr. G.L. Peiris, the leader of the Joint Opposition (JO), who is close to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“The actual working experience of the FTA for the past 17 years is responsible (for the opposition). A variety of means have been resorted to, that make it difficult for Sri Lankans — import licenses, restrictions on ports, times of the year they are allowed to use the ports, certification and quarantine times,” Mr. Peiris told The Hindu in an interview in Delhi. He went on to warn of opposition protests if Prime Minister Wickremsinghe “shut his eyes to the problems.”

Acknowledging the problems, a Commerce Ministry official said India had sent a three member team to visit three or four cities in Sri Lanka recently to make presentations on the benefits of widening the FTA and has formally asked the SL government for a list of perceived “Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs)” that businessmen were complaining about.

“Every country is hesitant these days to negotiate trade in services. This is an inevitable part and has to be navigated,” the official said, while MEA officials also conceded that the ETCA was far from being concluded at present.

Maoists used villagers as human shields in Sukma: Home Ministry official

Extremists had been monitoring movements of the CRPF jawans, says official

Maoists used villagers as “human shields” when they attacked CRPF personnel in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh on Monday, a senior Home Ministry official said on Monday. Twenty-five CRPF jawans were killed in the ambush, and seven critically injured.

Sudhir Sonwale, Assistant Commandant of the CRPF posted near the encounter site, told The Hindu that the body of at least one jawan had been mutilated by the Maoists. The CRPF team, which came under attack, was providing protection to workers and contractors engaged in constructing a 5.5 km road stretch near Burkapal and had been following a routine for the past few days. The attack took place on a main road, around 12.30 p.m.

A senior CRPF official said the Maoists were monitoring the movement of the CRPF personnel and they turned out to be “sitting ducks.”

On Monday, the Maoists, pretending to be villagers, pushed cattle near the road construction site. As per a precise plan, they struck when some of the jawans broke for lunch.

A CRPF camp is located barely 2.5 km away and the entire stretch is picketed. Describing it as an “act of desperation,” the official said the Maoists “used all that they had” in the attack and sprayed bullets on the jawans. “There were more than 90 personnel providing cover to the workers. They took turns to have lunch. They were attacked when one group sat down for lunch. There were 40 civilians working at the site, and the jawans ensured that no harm was done to them,” he said.

Former CRPF DG K. Durga Prasad who retired on February 28, said, “This (providing cover) is something they had been doing on a daily basis. It is for anybody to see the everyday movement. Road construction is fraught with danger. Why does it take five years to construct a road? The government has to think differently and we have to adopt new technologies.”

The Maoists also looted a huge assortment of weapons and ammunition belonging to the jawans. This included 12 AK-47 rifles, five of them fitted with under barrel grenade launchers (UBGLs), five INSAS machine guns and rifles, more than 2,800 rounds of AK-47 ammunition, 600 rounds of INSAS ammunition, 22 bullet-proof jackets, five wireless sets, two binoculars and a metal detector.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited State capital Raipur and met the injured jawans in the hospital. “The sacrifice of our brave jawans will not go in vain. A meeting of all Maoist-affected States will be held on May 8 to look at ways of rooting out Left Wing Extremism. We will review the strategy [of dealing with Naxailtes] and if necessary we will revisit it,” Mr. Singh told reporters in Raipur after paying homage to the CRPF personnel killed in the ambush.

Mr. Singh said the Maoists were seeking to destabilise development in the State and using tribals as fodder. “They are being used as human shields. It was an act of cowardice and desperation and a cold-blooded murder,” he said.

Asked by a reporter at the press conference if the attack indicated an “intelligence failure”, Mr. Singh said, “This is not the time for a blame game.”

On why a full-time director general of the CRPF had not been appointed, he said, “We don’t have a dearth of leadership…whenever needed we will appoint a senior officer here.”

A senior Home Ministry official ruled out “Army intervention” and said that Left Wing Extremism (LWE) was a “law and order” problem and it ought to be handled by “civilian forces.”