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Nepal’s KP Oli calls up PM Modi; discusses political situation in Nepal

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday emphasised the importance of finding a durable solution based on consensus to Nepal’s political problems during a telephonic conversation with his Nepalese counterpart K P Oli.Oli called up Modi and briefed him on the political developments in his country, days after the Nepalese Cabinet decided to amend the Constitution to address keys demands of Madhesis, largely of Indian-origin, from the country’s Terai region over proportional representation and constituency delimitation.”Prime Minister emphasised the importance of finding a durable solution to the political problems facing Nepal based on consensus or ‘sahmati’,” an External Affairs Ministry release in New Delhi said, adding that Oli “briefed him on the political developments in Nepal”.According to the Nepalese premier’s press advisor Pramod Dahal, during the 20-minute conversation, Modi invited Oli to visit India. Oli accepted the invitation and said he will pay an official visit to India soon after the situation is normalised, Dahal said.Modi also extended his good wishes to the friendly people of Nepal for the New Year 2016. Oli would visit India before undertaking his trip to China, which was earlier supposed to be his maiden visit overseas, sources in the Nepal government said. The Nepalese Prime Minister extended thanks to Modi for welcoming Nepal government’s move to forward a Bill in the Parliament for amending the Constitution to address the demands raised by the agitating Madhesi Front.During the talk, the two leaders also discussed matters relating to improving relations between Nepal and India, Dahal said. Oli said he wanted to see Nepal-India relations move towards a positive direction while also drawing Modi’s attention towards the obstructions prevailing in the Nepal- India border check-points, according to Dahal.He requested Modi to make arrangements for smoothening the Raxaul-Birgunj check-point, the major trading point between the two countries. In response, Modi said he was always in favour of easing Indo-Nepal border trading points and asserted that India was not creating any obstructions in the movement in the border checkpoint, Oli’s Press Advisor added.Modi told Oli that all the border points except the Raxaul-Birgunj check-point are operating in a normal way and the obstructions were created in the Raxaul-Birgunj point due to continued protests by the agitating Madhesi parties, according to Dahal.Modi also recalled that he had instructed the External Affairs Minister to ensure that medicines reach Nepal through airlifting to avoid their scarcity due to agitations there. The two Prime Ministers also discussed issues relating to bilateral interest on the occasion. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

NDA government’s nickname is flipflop: Salman Khurshid

Former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Saturday took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his surprise stop over in Pakistan, saying “flipflop” could be the nickname of his government and wondered what had happened of late that he took such a leap of faith.Another Congress leader Manish Tewari taunted the government, saying if Pakistan had agreed to return those parts of Kashmir which are illegally occupied by it.He alleged that some private business interest played a role in the visit as he claimed that a steel magnate was involved as a “go-between” for the two prime ministers.”Has something changed dramatically over the last four weeks that gave him (Modi) this window? Or has he taken a leap of faith that despite everything being negative he felt he wants to give it a chance. Flipflop could be a nickname for the NDA government. They do flipflop everyday,” Khurshid said.Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar also criticised the government and sought to know what had happened since the Modi government had put some conditions for talks that the prime minister changed his mind. He suggested that Modi was “pressurised” by world leaders like Barack Obama, David Cameron and Francois Hollande whom he had met recently. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

No Indian casualties in Saudi fire incident: Sushma Swaraj

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Describing the incident as “unfortunate”, Swaraj said all Indians were safe.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday said there were no Indian casualties in the fire incident today at a hospital in Saudi Arabia where 30 Indian nurses were on duty. At least 31 people were killed and over 100 injured in the blaze at the hospital in the southwestern port city of Jizan, reports said. The blaze broke out at the intensive care unit and the maternity department of the hospital. Describing the incident as “unfortunate”, Swaraj said all Indians were safe. “Unfortunate fire incident in Jizan Hospital, Saudi Arabia with many casualties. Our Consulate reports from Jeddah that all Indians are safe,” Swaraj tweeted. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also tweeted, saying there were no Indian casualties in the incident. “Update on Fire in Jizan Central Hospital, Saudi Arabia where 30 Indian nurses were on duty. Consulate confirms no Indian casualties,” Swarup tweeted.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Winter Session was ‘victim of strategies aimed to paralyse Parliament’, says Venkaiah Naidu

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Naidu further said that the ruling dispensation at the Centre was ready to discuss issues but for that the House needed to function; but the opposition did not allow the house to function.

Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs M. Venkaiah Naidu

PTI
Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs M. Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday slammed the Opposition for not letting the Parliament function; saying just concluded Winter Session became the victim of strategy which was aimed to paralyse it.”The nation is disappointed in the manner in which the Parliament functioned in the Winter Session. The nation needs to be given an explanation by the Congress as to why they did not let the Rajya Sabha function,” Naidu said. “All international agencies are saying that India is most favoured destination for investments, but our friends in the Opposition don’t respect the mandate of the people and are creating obstacles for us,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Naidu further said that the ruling dispensation at the Centre was ready to discuss issues but for that the House needed to function; but the opposition did not allow the house to function.”The Congress feels threatened by this Prime Minister and the government and they want to sabotage parliament and democracy,” he added.Claiming that the ruling regime didn’t do anything wrong, Naidu said, “No minister has done anything wrong; no one can raise a finger on us….Something happened in Delhi and District Cricket Association in 2012, and they didn’t let Parliament to function in 2015,” he added.Meanwhile both the houses were adjourned sine die today. The Congress lawmakers continued to disrupt the proceedings over the alleged irregularities in DDCA, demanding the resignation of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.Amid the uproar created by the opposition, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan allowed the question hour.

No plan to accord minority status to more communities: Govt

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Naqvi said, the government has so far notified six communities — Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains as minority communities under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.

Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
The government has no plan to accord minority status to more communities at present, the Lok Sabha was informed on Wednesday.”No madam,” Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said in a written reply. He was asked whether government proposes to accord the status of minority to some other communities also.Naqvi said, the government has so far notified six communities — Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains as minority communities under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said there is no specific function conferred under Section 9 of NCM Act to identify any community as a minority.

Shiv Sena slams Arvind Kejriwal over his allegations against Arun Jaitley

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Shiv Sena also said that the previous Parliament session was rocked by allegations against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and alleged that people who were trying to defame her were from her party as well.
File Photo
Reuters
Shiv Sena on Wednesday mounted a scathing attack on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over his allegations against Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of financial irregularities in Delhi cricket body when he headed it.”Now, Kejriwal has levelled allegations against Jaitley, who has termed them baseless and has filed a defamation suit against him, while Kejriwal says that attempts are being made to scare his party in which Jaitley will not succeed,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Filing a defamation suit is Jaitley’s right. Kejriwal can say what he wants to, sling mud on people, but the person who is being defamed by all this cannot even answer back. What kind of goondaism is this,” the ruling alliance partner said.Further hitting out at AAP leader, it said “Arvind Kejriwal first levelled allegations against Nitin Gadkari while he was the BJP’s national president. All the allegations were proved to be incorrect when Gadkari filed a defamation suit against Kejriwal. At that time, there was a possibility of Gadkari getting another term as party president.””Due to the Income Tax raids against Gadkari then, he was defamed and he lost the chance to get a second term. Had he got a second term as the BJP president, he would have been a strong contender for the Prime Minister’s post,” the ruling alliance partner said.”At that time, the instigators of the episode were from the party itself,” it alleged.The Sena also said that the previous Parliament session was rocked by allegations against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and alleged that people who were trying to defame her were from her party as well.

DDCA row: Government rules out Arun Jaitley’s resignation

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“No one will resign,” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said as slogan-shouting Congress members demanded Jaitley’s resignation.

Arun Jaitley
File Photo
PTI
Government on Monday categorically ruled out resignation of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over allegations of corruption in Delhi cricket body DDCA which he headed till 2013, as Congress member disrupted proceedings of Rajya Sabha.”No one will resign,” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said as slogan-shouting Congress members demanded Jaitley’s resignation. No one will resign over “false charges” levelled against them, he asserted. But Congress members continued to shout slogans, forcing two adjournments in the pre-noon session.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Soon after listed papers were laid on the table, placard holding Congress members were up on their feet shouting slogans seeking Jaitley’s resignation. Jaitley said he was ready to reply to all charges and urged the Chair to ask Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad to raise a discussion immediately.”I am not going to live by any vague statements,” Jaitely said, adding “if they have a single statement, let him (Azad) make it right now. I will answer it right now.” He was responding to Azad’s statement that many big allegations including that of a Rs 150 crore fraud, 14 bogus companies being floated and conflict of interest at DDCA, have been in discussion for several days now.Demanding a discussion, Azad said “he (Jaitley) can’t remain on the position.”Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said there is a procedure for levelling allegations against a member of the House or a minister and a prior notice to the concerned has to be given. He then went on to expunge all allegations against the Finance Minister.But Congress members were unrelenting and continued to raise slogans. They held placards that read: “First Resign, Then Discussion” and “Caesar’s Wife Should Be Above Suspicion.””Whey are you allowing all this noise. Ask him to start discussion right now. I will answer it right now,” Jaitley said.Kurien said the Leader of the House was ready for discussion and the Congress should give notice for discussion.”Sir, do I assume that they have nothing to say except raise slogans,” Jaitley remarked as Congress members continued to shout slogans. The slogan shouting intensified after Naqvi ruled out resignation, forcing Kurien to adjourn the House for 15 minutes.

WCD Ministry to formulate guidelines to check harassment of women on matrimonial sites

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The guidelines will be notified under IT Act, the existing rules of which govern only cyber cafes.

WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi

Guidelines to check harassment of women on matrimonial websites will soon be formulated by the Women and Child Development Ministry which will include measures like setting up a dedicated helpline by the site owners for redress of complaints and filing periodical returns.The ministry has set up an inter-ministerial panel to frame the guidelines. It has officials from department of Information Technology, Home Affairs and Women and Child Development Ministry, and three representatives from matrimonial websites as members who will come up with list of directions to mitigate and eliminate fraud in the digital space concerning marriage portals.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ministry also held a meeting on November 17 with online service providers of the matrimonial sites to find out possible ways for better regulations. A senior WCD Ministry official said there has been an increase in the number of complaints about fraud on matrimonial websites.”The complaints are received by our grievance cell and it was observed that such cases have increased in the past few years,” he said, recalling one such case where a woman, who had recently cleared the IAS exam, complained about a user for trying to “tarnish” her image by posting that she is HIV positive.The official said the website managers have also expressed concern over the “serious frauds” happening on these portals targeting women. “The websites have been very responsive. They have also been getting complaints and are concerned about it. Because if there are too many complaints on a particular site, it will also affect their business,” he said.The guidelines will be notified under IT Act, the existing rules of which govern only cyber cafes.”The idea was to develop a mechanism of accountability on these sites. When a person registers on these sites, they do not provide any ID proof. So, he or she is free to commit frauds. We have suggested that they (websites) should take some kind of ID proof, like Aadhaar card, voter card or driving license so that the user can be held accountable if he does something wrong,” the official said.”Secondly they have been asked to set up a helpline for redressal of complaints. They have also been suggested to file periodical returns in which they give details about grievance redressal,” the official said.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif tells ministers not to make anti-India remarks: Reports

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The ministers and senior officials have been stopped from issuing statements which could damage the peace process, the report said.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
File Photo
Getty Images
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed his ministers and aides not to make anti-India statements that can affect the recently resumed peace dialogue, according to a media report.”There will be statements only that encourage the dialogue process rather than digging out the past. The Prime Minister has asked close aides and cabinet members to promote peace,” a close aide of Sharif was quoted as saying by The Nation.The measure was taken to let peace process move forward after being set in motion this month. The ministers and senior officials have been stopped from issuing statements which could damage the peace process, the report said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sharif’s aide was quoted as saying that the Prime Minister was optimistic about better ties with India which would benefit the whole region. He said Sharif was annoyed by some statements from India but understands this is not the Indian government’s policy. Sharif, the aide said, wanted to give top priority to Kashmir, terrorism and trade when the two sides sit on the table to discuss peace.Another official was quoted as saying that the Prime Minister and the military leadership were on the same page to make peace with India.”There is no difference of opinion and both agree that there should be no compromise on the stated position on key issues,” he said.Analysts say it was a positive development that Pakistan and India agreed to resume comprehensive dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Pakistan earlier this month during which she called on Prime Minister Sharif and met his Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.After the meetings, the two countries decided to re-engage under the ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’. The Foreign Secretaries of Pakistan and India will meet next month to work out the details of the dialogue.

Subramanian Swamy to get government accommodation on security ground

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Sources informed that CCA has taken into consideration that Swamy is a Z-category protectee with CRPF cover and there is no place at his present place of residence for deployment of armed guards

Subramanian Swamy

Centre has decided to allot government accommodation to BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on security considerations and also allowed former Punjab DGP K P S Gill and Chairman of Anti-Terrorism Front M S Bitta to retain their accommodations on the same grounds.Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Harish Rawat has also been allowed to retain government accommodation in the national capital on medical grounds, according to the decision taken by the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation (CCA) chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh yesterday. According to sources, CCA also decided to allot government accommodation to A Surya Prakash, Chairman of Prasar Bharati for the period of his tenure.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sources informed that CCA has taken into consideration that Swamy is a Z-category protectee with CRPF cover and there is no place at his present place of residence for deployment of armed guards. Swamy’s security is being reviewed from time to time by Security Categorisation Committee in the Ministry of Home Affairs. As per security threat assessment carried out by central security agency, there is a felt need for proper government accommodation for Swamy for effective deployment of security and accordingly recommended government accommodation for him for five years, the sources said.The former Union Minister will have to pay five times the normal license fee. Gill and Bitta were allowed to retain their present government accommodation for three more years – till May, 2018 based on security considerations at special license fee of five times the normal. Uttarakhand CM Rawat has been permitted to retain government accommodation for one more year in New Delhi on medical grounds and keeping in view that state government guest house is being demolished.CCA also decided to allot government accommodation for Surya Prakash, Chairman of Prasar Bharati keeping in view that appointment of Chairman and Members of the Board is made by the President of India on the recommendation of Selection Committee headed by Vice-President of India and key functions required to be performed including supervision of functioning of AIR and DD.Present Members holding Personal and Finance portfolios have also been made eligible for accommodation. The committee noted that in the past former CEO and Members of Prasar Bharati and present CEO were allotted government accommodation.Prakash and the two present members were made eligible for government accommodation for the period of their tenure. Sources informed that CCA also made the Chairperson, Member and Member-Secretary of National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes eligible for government accommodation as also Chairperson of National Company Law Tribunal and DG, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sanghatan, an autonomous body under the Ministry of youth Affairs and Sports.

Sailors abducted in Nigeria safe: Sushma Swaraj

“Our High Commissioner in Nigeria AR Ghanshyam met President of Nigeria on 12 Dec. He is making all efforts to secure their release,” she wrote further.

Following the reports of abduction of five Indian sailors in Nigeria, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday said that the sailors were safe and efforts were being made to secure their release.”I have the report on abduction of 5 Indian sailors in Nigeria. The contact with pirates is established. Indian sailors are safe,” Swaraj wrote in a tweet.”Our High Commissioner in Nigeria AR Ghanshyam met President of Nigeria on 12 Dec. He is making all efforts to secure their release,” she wrote further.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Swaraj had yesterday sought a report on the abduction of the sailors.The request was made seeking help on Twitter, about five Indian sailors being kidnapped in Warri, Nigeria on December 11.

New beginning made by India and Pakistan: Sushma Swaraj

A new beginning has been made by India and Pakistan as the two countries have agreed on a new bilateral comprehensive dialogue to address all outstanding issues through peaceful means, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Thursday.

A new beginning has been made by India and Pakistan as the two countries have agreed on a new bilateral comprehensive dialogue to address all outstanding issues through peaceful means, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Thursday.To a question in Rajya Sabha on whether India has raised the issue of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir in international fora, Swaraj replied in affirmative and said government’s principled and consistent position on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir has been that the entire state is an integral part of India.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”A new beginning has been made in the form of the agreement of the two countries on a new bilateral comprehensive dialogue to address all outstanding issues between them through peaceful means,” she said.During her visit to Islamabad earlier this month to attend a multilateral meet on Afghanistan, both India and Pakistan announced that they have decided to engage in a “comprehensive” dialogue.Replying to a query, she said the Permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN has recently written three letters to the President of the UN Security Council which referred to the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and asked the top decision making body to take note of situation along the Line of Control.To a separate question, Swaraj, who is also Overseas Indian Affairs Minister, said it was aware of an Amnesty International report which said that 279 Indian migrant workers died in Qatar in 2014.”The report also states that these figures are of migrant workers deaths from all causes, including fatalities, not directly related to labour conditions,” she said.

ATS questions Pune girl ‘radicalised’ by ISIS sympathisers

The girl is now undergoing a de-radicalisation programme with the help of her family members and community religious leaders.
Representational Image
Reuters
A Pune-based 16-year-old Muslim girl, who was reportedly radicalised by her ISIS contacts abroad and brain-washed to go to Syria, has been questioned by sleuths of Pune Anti-Terrorism Squad and sent to a de-radicalisation programme, an ATS officer said on Thursday night. According to the officer, the girl is a bright convent educated class XI student, studying in a city college.”The girl was interrogated by the ATS last week after monitoring her movements for many days on getting information about her. It confirmed her initiation by the ISIS. The interrogation of the girl revealed that she was ready to go to any extent to carry out the ISIS directive,” Pune ATS officer Bhanupratap Barge told PTI revealing the details of the ATS operation.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The girl is now undergoing a de-radicalisation programme with the help of her family members and community religious leaders, who are fully cooperating with us, he added.According to the ATS, the minor girl got attracted to the ISIS ideology after watching a documentary on television and subsequently started regularly monitoring news on Al Jazeera channel.”Later, she used the internet to get in touch with ISIS contacts and got in touch with about 200 young persons from different countries. Her interrogation revealed that she was told to come to Syria for medical education and for further initiation,” Barge said.He said that the girl, who is highly intelligent, had recently changed her lifestyle and started wearing burqa, giving up jeans she used to wear before her exposure to the ISIS contacts.”Even her family members noticed the change in her and felt disturbed,” the ATS inspector said.Barge said the de-radicalisation programme of the ATS with the help of community clergy and family members was “working” for the girl with encouraging results. Pune has been on the terrorist radar and had witnessed bomb blasts including the German Bakery blast that killed 17 persons including many foreigners in 2010.2 YSRC MLAs suspended; House adjourned over ‘call money’ issue Hyderabad, Dec 17 (PTI) Two members of YSR Congress were today suspended from Andhra Pradesh Assembly for two days after the Opposition party stalled the House proceedings on the issue of ‘call money’ racket.Speaker K Sivaprasad Rao suspended B Sivaprasad Reddy and D Ramalingeswara Rao alias Raja for two days, for obstructing the cameras meant for showing the House proceedings. Legislative Affairs Minister Y Ramakrishnudu, who moved a motion for suspension of the two members, said obstructing the cameras is against the democratic principles of letting people know the proceedings of the Legislature.The YSR Congress stalled the proceedings seeking a debate on the alleged ‘call money’ racket, pertaining to harassment and exploitation of borrowers by private money lenders after providing loan on call. The racket, in which names of people with political connections cropped up, came to light in Vijayawada and police conducted searches across the state on private money lenders. The Speaker rejected the adjournment motion given by YSR Congress for a debate on the issue and sought to take up scheduled debate. The YSRCP members, however, stood in the well of the House and raised slogans against the TDP government. As the din continued, the Speaker adjourned the House twice but the situation did not improve.Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said he would make a statement tomorrow on the ‘call money’ issue and sought to speak on Constitution and the contribution of B R Ambedkar to its making. The Legislative Affairs Minister attacked Opposition leader and YSRCP President Y S Jaganmohan Reddy for not letting the House debate on as noble an issue as Constitution and Ambedkar.As the Opposition members continued to insist on a debate on the ‘call money’ issue, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day.

External Affairs Ministry releases picture of Geeta, urges nation to help find her parents

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“We would also circulate this picture of Geeta through the public broadcasters so that if anyone who knows Geeta find this photograph , they can come forward and help us,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday released a picture of Geeta, the hearing and speech-impaired young woman who had returned to India recently over a decade after inadvertently crossing into Pakistan and asked the media to help them in finding her parents. “We appeal to everyone including the media to help us find the parents of Geeta. We would also circulate this picture of Geeta through the public broadcasters so that if anyone who knows Geeta find this photograph , they can come forward and help us,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup told the media. “Geeta doesn’t have pictures of herself when she was a teenager. Based on the information we got from Geeta we have taken her picture. This is an actual picture, not a photo-shopped one of Geeta as she would have looked when she was living India,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Swarup also said that the photograph was taken up in a photo studio. “The only thing is Geeta as her parents would have remembered her, we have tried to bring the same look of Geeta when she was a teenager,” he added.”This is our best bet and we hope that those who can ‘recognize her as she looked back then can come forward and we still remain hopeful that Geeta can be reunited with her family,” he further said.

India, Pakistan to engage in ‘comprehensive dialogue’: Sushma Swaraj

During her visit to Islamabad earlier this month to attend a multilateral meet on Afghanistan, both India and Pakistan announced that they have decided to engage in a “comprehensive” dialogue.

A new beginning has been made by India and Pakistan as the two countries have agreed on a new bilateral comprehensive dialogue to address all outstanding issues through peaceful means, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Thursday. To a question in Rajya Sabha on whether India has raised the issue of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir in international fora, Swaraj replied in affirmative and said government’s principled and consistent position on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir has been that the entire state is an integral part of India. “A new beginning has been made in the form of the agreement of the two countries on a new bilateral comprehensive dialogue to address all outstanding issues between them through peaceful means,” she said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During her visit to Islamabad earlier this month to attend a multilateral meet on Afghanistan, both India and Pakistan announced that they have decided to engage in a “comprehensive” dialogue. Replying to a query, she said the Permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN has recently written three letters to the President of the UN Security Council which referred to the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and asked the top decision-making body to take note of situation along the Line of Control.To a separate question, Swaraj, who is also Overseas Indian Affairs Minister, said it was aware of an Amnesty International report which said that 279 Indian migrant workers died in Qatar in 2014. “The report also states that these figures are of migrant workers deaths from all causes, including fatalities, not directly related to labour conditions,” she said.

159 Indians arrested in Sri Lanka for visa abuse in 2015, says minister

Some of those arrested persons had overstayed or given false information on their stay in the country.

Sri Lanka flag

Sri Lanka on Thursday said that around 159 Indians were among 402 people arrested in the country for alleged abuse of entry visa during 2015.”They have been arrested for various illegal acts including illegal employment and illegal religious propaganda work,” Internal Affairs Minister SB Nawinna told parliament. Three foreigners were arrested for begging, he added.Some of those arrested persons had overstayed or given false information on their stay in the country. At least 83 of them had found employment illegally, Nawinna said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sri Lanka restricted its visa on arrival policy to the Maldivian and Singaporean passport holders on a reciprocity basis. All other ‘nationalists’ are required to apply for visas.

No India-type nuclear agreement with Pakistan: US

Olson said Pakistan is well aware of the extremist and insurgent threats to the security of its nuclear weapons and has a professional and dedicated security force.

US flag

The Obama Administration today ruled out any India-type nuclear agreement with Pakistan as top American lawmakers expressed serious concerns over the growing Pakistani nuclear arsenal. “We are not negotiating a 123 agreement with Pakistan,” Richard G Olson, Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told lawmakers during a hearing on Pakistan convened by the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We had a very candid discussion with Pak about some of the concerns that we have including about short range nuclear weapons. Pakistan is prepared to have discussions with us,” he said in response to a question.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Olson said Pakistan is well aware of the extremist and insurgent threats to the security of its nuclear weapons and has a professional and dedicated security force. “As with all nuclear-capable states, we have urged Pakistan to restrain its nuclear weapons and missile development and stressed the importance of avoiding any developments that might invite increased risk to nuclear safety, security, or strategic stability,” he said. Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in his remarks alleged that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is on a track to be the third largest. “It’s addition of small tactical nuclear weapons in recent years is even more troubling. This is a country which spends a fifth of its budget on the military, from long-range missiles to F-16s, but under 2.5 per cent on education,” he said. “Through all of the double-dealing, US policy has essentially stood still. Security assistance, cash, and arms has continued to flow under the occasional temporary delays,” Royce said. “Indeed, despite some Department of Defence assistance for Pakistan being held because of inadequate efforts against the Haqqani network, the State Department is currently seeking more arms for Islamabad,” Royce said. “We have a very stringent end use monitoring requirements with security co-operation with high tech. The results have been satisfactory. The end use monitoring systems have been effective,” Olson said in response to a question.

Critical for Pakistan to improve ties with India: US

Olson also said, “We hope the high-level talks between Indian and Pakistani officials will be used to increase ties between the two nations.”

India-Pakistan flags

It is critical for Pakistan to improve its relations with India, and the entire region will benefit substantially from increased economic cooperation between the two neighbours, a top Obama Administration official told lawmakers on Wednesday. “It is also critical that Pakistan improve relations with its other neighbour India,” Richard G. Olson, Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing on Pakistan. “We hope the recent high-level talks between Indian and Pakistani officials and the announcement of the resumption of formal dialogue will be used to reduce tensions and increase ties between the two nations,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “More broadly, the entire region stands to benefit substantially from increased economic integration,” Olson said in his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The hearing on Pakistan was chaired by Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

War with Pakistan not an option, talks only way to end terror: Sushma Swaraj

When BJP member Ganesh Singh asked whether India was exploring options like the US did to hunt down terrorists like Osama Bin Laden, Swaraj said India is talking to Pakistan on the terrorist camps existing in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) as “war is not an option”.

PTI
Declaring that “war is not an option”, India on Wednesday said it had decided to hold dialogue with Pakistan as it is the only way to remove “the shadow of terrorism”.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in Lok Sabha that India and Pakistan decided to hold talks on terror when the Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif met in Ufa (Russia) in July and then in Paris recently.”We said we can talk so that terrorism comes to an end. So talks (between NSAs) took place in Bangkok where we discussed about terrorism. But one meeting will not bring a solution to all the problem. So we will continue the dialogue,” she said during Question Hour.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When BJP member Ganesh Singh asked whether India was exploring options like the US did to hunt down terrorists like Osama Bin Laden, Swaraj said India is talking to Pakistan on the terrorist camps existing in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) as “war is not an option”.”We have decided that through talks we will resolve the issue of terrorism as talks is the way forward so that the shadow of terror is removed. But we want to make it clear, our Prime Minister has made it clear that talks and terror can’t go together. Dialogue is drowned by the sound of explosion,” she said.Swaraj was speaking against the backdrop of recent decision to re-start the ‘Comprehensive’ dialogue with Pakistan under which various subjects, including terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir, will be discussed.The External Affairs Minister said Modi had said there was a need for talks to resolve the issue of terrorism.”The Prime Minister said let’s talk on terror. For talks we will have to put in faith. There is no third party. Through talks, both the countries are trying to resolve the issue of terrorism,” she said.Swaraj said following Modi’s conversation with Sharif in Paris on November 30 on the sidelines of climate change summit and in line with the Ufa understanding between the two leaders, the National Security Advisors of the two countries met in Bangkok on December 6.”They held candid and constructive discussions. During my recent visit to Pakistan on December 8-9, the two sides decided that the NSAs will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism. The Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai trial,” she said.

CBI raids: ‘It has become fashion for Kejriwal to quarrel with Centre’: Venkaiah Naidu

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With Arvind Kejriwal blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raiding his office, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday said that it has become a ‘fashion’ for the Delhi Chief Minister to bicker with the Centre and blame them for everything.

With Arvind Kejriwal blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raiding his office, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday said that it has become a ‘fashion’ for the Delhi Chief Minister to bicker with the Centre and blame them for everything.”It has become fashion for Delhi Chief Minister to quarrel with Central Government and to take Prime Minister’s name for everything. Prime Minister has nothing to do with this. There is a law, there is a Constitution and law has to take its own course,” Naidu told reporters here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Naidu added that he did not have details of the raid as they do not monitor the CBI.Kejriwal slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the raid and accused him of resorting to ‘cowardice’.”CBI raids my office…When Modi cudn’t handle me politically, he resorts to this cowardice,” he tweeted.

Educational conference calls for Urdu to be integrated with mainstream

Organised by First Dignity-All India Confederation for Women Empowerment through Education and Centre for Women Studies, under the aegis of the Ministry of Minority Affairs, the conference was called to discuss the issue of empowering women through education.

High drop out rates from Urdu medium schools in Maharashtra and absence of trained teachers to teach sciences and mathematics in Urdu medium was highlighted as a matter of concern at a two-day conference on ‘Understanding of Educational Aspirations and Attainment of Minority Girls in India’. Organised by First Dignity-All India Confederation for Women Empowerment through Education and Centre for Women Studies, under the aegis of the Ministry of Minority Affairs, the conference was called to discuss the issue of empowering women through education. The conference will evolve participation from representatives of minority institutions from several parts of the country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Interestingly, while on the one hand Sanskrit scholars have been lobbying to promote Sanskrit as a medium of teaching, Urdu scholars feel that Urdu should not remain a medium of teaching at schools, but should only be taught as a language. “The government is taking about a three language formula. In Urdu medium schools, while Urdu can be the first language, our schools should teach English, Hindi or the regional language of the area,” said Professor Anita Nuna of Department of Women’s Studies, NCERT. Highlighting the problem faced by 4,900 Urdu medium schools of the state, where girls to boys ratio is one and a half is to one, Professor A Shaban, of School of Development Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences observed that lack of aspirations and absence of skill and employment opportunities for Urdu passouts are leading to a huge drop out rate amongst Muslim boys. “We need to realise the fact that employment opportunities for Urdu medium passouts are very limited. As boys start realising this, they move out. Most of these boys end up doing odd jobs and fail to make a career for themselves,” he said. Professor Shaban also opposed the quota system applied while recruiting teachers for Urdu medium schools. “Fifty percent teaching posts marked in these schools for reserved category remain vacant, as it is becomes difficult to find Muslim candidates from scheduled caste and scheduled tribe categories. This hampers the teaching process, results in students dropping out and subsequently shutting down of the school,” he added. The conference held the view that these schools should either give opportunities to NGOs or should allow teachers from unreserved categories to fill these posts.The conference that is scheduled to end on Sunday evening, will then send its recommendation to the minority affairs ministry. “The ministry has asked the view point of stakeholders in on the issue of empowering women through education. The conclusion of the two-day workshop will be sent to the ministry. We want these suggestions to be incorporated in the New Education Policy being formulated by the Human Resource Development Ministry,” said Dr Shabistan Gaffar of First Dignity.

Justice for Nirbhaya: Delhi HC seeks Centre’s reply on steps post release of juvenile

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw also asked the government to inform it about the measures taken, if any, regarding post release rehabilitation of the juvenile, who will walk out of the observation home on December 15 after serving the stipulated three year incarceration

The Delhi High Court on Friday sought Centre’s response on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s plea that the juvenile convict in the December 16, 2012, gangrape case be not released till it is “demonstrably assured” that he has reformed and was not a menace to society.A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw also asked the government to inform it about the measures taken, if any, regarding post release rehabilitation of the juvenile, who will walk out of the observation home on December 15 after serving the stipulated three year incarceration. The court asked whether a management committee has been constituted as per the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Rules, is it still in existence and what are its activities.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”What are the plans, take instruction. it is not an ordinary case and requires consideration,” the bench said. It issued notice to the Ministry of Law, Ministry of Home Affairs and the juvenile convict through JJ Board and also asked the government to get instructions from the committee and listed it for hearing on December 14. The court passed the order after Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain and central government’s standing counsel Jasmeet Singh told the bench that while there was no opposition to extension of the juvenile’s stay at the observation home, as per the rules the committee has to make plans for post release rehabilitation.Counsel for the Centre placed before the court the reports of the IB relating to the behaviour of the juvenile during his stay in special home. However, the court asked the counsel to place the report before it in a sealed cover.The government was responding to Swamy’s petition, who claimed that there is lacuna in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, as amended in 2011. JJ Board had sentenced the juvenile three years detention in reformation home.In his petition before the HC, Swamy contended that “no provision has been made in the Act, to provide for vicious unregenerate convicted juveniles who despite having undergone the reformation process for the maximum penalty of three year’s custody in a special home, continue to be a menace to the society”. “…provision has to be made to deal with such juvenile for further period in such a manner that he does not prove menace to the society.”The question arises, in a very acute form, in the instant gangrape case, where the respondent no.1 (juvenile), one of the offenders, who was adjudged to be under eighteen years of age at the time of the offence, is about to complete the maximum period of the offence prescribed…. and yet it is learnt that there is a report of the Ministry of Home Affairs wherefrom it emerges that this juvenile has not reformed but has become worse, having been radicalized by association with another juvenile convicted of involvement in the 2011 Delhi High Court blast,” the plea said.He also said in his petition that the JJ Board should be given some “teeth to deal with such a case of an unreformed juvenile criminal”. The Supreme Court had earlier rejected Swamy’s petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000.He had sought that juvenile in the case be prosecuted in a criminal court in view of the gravity of his offence. Six persons, including the juvenile, had brutally assaulting and raping a 23-year-old girl in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16, 2012. The victim had died in a Singapore hospital on December 29, 2012.Mukesh, Vinay, Pawan and Akshay were awarded death penalty by trial court in the gang rape and murder case which was later confirmed by Delhi High Court. Their appeals are pending before the Supreme Court. Accused Ram Singh had allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail on March 11, 2013, and proceedings against him were abated following his death.

Pakistan opposition alleges joint statement favours India

The opposition assault was led by Shireen Mazari of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday in parliament as even a key coalition partner expressed reservations over the outcome of talks between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz at the Heart of Asia conference.

Reuters
Opposition parties have criticised the Pakistan government over the joint statement with India, alleging that it heavily favoured New Delhi at the cost of Islamabad’s stance on the Kashmir issue.The opposition assault was led by Shireen Mazari of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday in parliament as even a key coalition partner expressed reservations over the outcome of talks between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz at the Heart of Asia conference here, the Dawn reported. “While the statement categorically addressed Indian concerns over the Mumbai trial, what about Samjhauta Express case and Kashmir cause which the government recently took up at the United Nations and kept on boasting about taking such a bold stand,” Mazari said in the National Assembly.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Quoting from the joint statement that “the Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai attack trial,” she sought clarification about the difference between “composite” and “comprehensive” bilateral dialogue. She wondered whether the resumption of bilateral talks meant Pakistan had relinquished its options to use multilateral forums to take up issues, particularly Kashmir.She questioned the language of the statement and said the prime minister must clarify it on the floor of the house. Chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman was also of the view that such statements warranted a clarification from the government side because apparently it didn’t explain what actually transpired during the talks. “When Pakistan highlights the issue of Kashmir at the UN under its resolution, India says it’s a bilateral issue which requires no international forum. At the bilateral level, the Indian argument has been that Kashmir is its integral part.Then somebody must explain to this house at what level the government intends to take it up with India,” he said. Rehman said that as far as the issue of Kashmir was concerned, under the UN resolution, no one could bar Pakistan from highlighting it at any forum in the world. He called for strengthening the National Assembly’s Kashmir committee which he heads, and making it a powerful arm of parliament.However, the JUI-F chief, whose party shares the treasury benches with the ruling PML-N, praised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for organising the Heart of Asia ministerial conference on Afghanistan which he believed would go a long way in bringing regional countries together. Leader of Opposition Khursheed Ahmed Shah, however, reserved harsh comments for the prime minister for his continued absence from the assembly.”Whom should I address? Empty chairs on the treasury benches? I have decided I will not open the discussion on the presidential address unless the prime minister attends proceedings of the house,” he said.

26/11 trial in Pakistan: Witness turns hostile, claims Kasab is alive

The hearing of the case was held by the Anti-Terrorism Court Islamabad judge at Adiala Jail Rawalpindi yesterday, the same day when Pakistan assured India of “steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion” of the Mumbai attack trial during a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.

Prosecution in Mumbai attack case faced embarrassment when a key witness turned hostile and said that Ajmal Kasab, the lone gunman caught alive after the assault and later hanged, was alive.”Mudassir Lakhvi, the headmaster of a primary school in Faridkot, where Ajmal Kasab studied for three years told the court that he taught Kasab and he is alive,” a court official told PTI on Lahore. The hearing of the case was held by the Anti-Terrorism Court Islamabad judge at Adiala Jail Rawalpindi yesterday, the same day when Pakistan assured India of “steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion” of the Mumbai attack trial during a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The headmaster caused a lot of embarrassment for the prosecution team by claiming that Ajmal Kasab is alive. He was supposed to present the record of the period during which Ajmal Kasab studied in the school and other relevant record but talked otherwise. The prosecution also failed to properly examine him,” the official said. The official said the headmaster belongs to the native town of accused Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and there is a possibility that he testified under his (Lakhvi’s) pressure.In May 2014, the headmaster told the court that Kasab was still alive. The prosecution moved an application to examine him again on the ground that the witness turned ‘hostile’. He was summoned yesterday but he stuck to his last statement. The headmaster made no reference to Kasab (hanged in India) and did not mention if he (Kasab) was the same person who studied in the school in Faridkot. The witness earlier had also claimed that Kasab could be produced in court if needed.The next hearing in the case would be held on December 16. India blames Pakistan-based militants belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba for orchestrating the attack that killed 166 people. Initially, Pakistani authorities had denied Indian claims of Kasab being a Pakistani national but had later confirmed that the only surviving attacker belonged to Pakistan.Kasab was hanged in November 2012 in a Pune jail.The trial against LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Sadiq, Shahid Jamil, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum has been underway since 2009 for their alleged role in the Mumbai attacks. Lakhvi secured bail in December 2014 and was subsequently released from the Adiala Jail on this April after the Lahore High Court set aside the government’s order to detain him under a public security act.He is currently out on bail and living at an undisclosed location.

EAM Sushma Swaraj to discuss Indo-Pak developments in Parliament

Responding to a notice of adjournment motion by Saugata Roy (Trinamool Congress) on the issue, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said Swaraj will make a statement in the House and the government is also willing for a discussion.

Sushma Swaraj
File Photo

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will make a statement in Parliament on the recent developments in India Pakistan relations on Friday, government said in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.Responding to a notice of adjournment motion by Saugata Roy (Trinamool Congress) on the issue, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said Swaraj will make a statement in the House and the government is also willing for a discussion. He said usually there is no discussion after a statement but the External Affairs Minister is willing for a debate on the issue.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Several developments have taken place in between. I spoke with the minister (who was in Islamabad on Wednesday) and she will make a statement…we are willing for a discussion,” he said apparently responding to Roy’s notice on the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Paris during climate change talks.India and Pakistan on Wednesday agreed to start a comprehensive bilateral dialogue as Swaraj confirmed that Prime Minister Modi will visit Islamabad next year to attend the SAARC summit.

India, Pakistan to resume dialogue; Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen among issues to be discussed

The National Security Advisors (NSAs) of India and Pakistan who had recently met in Bangkok, will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism, according to a joint statement issued by the two countries

Reuters
Breaking the logjam in their ties, India and Pakistan on Wednesday announced that they have decided to engage in a “comprehensive” dialogue that will include peace and security and Jammu and Kashmir.Capping a series of positive developments since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif met in Paris only ten days ago, it was announced here that the Foreign Secretaries will meet to decide the modalities and schedule of the dialogue. Pakistan has assured India of “steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion” of the Mumbai attack trial, something that India has been pressing for long.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Security Advisors (NSAs) of India and Pakistan who had recently met in Bangkok, will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism, according to a joint statement issued by the two countries. The joint statement came after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met Sharif and later his Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz here on the concluding day of her two-day visit for attending a multilateral conference on Afghanistan.In another significant step towards betterment of ties, Modi will visit Pakistan to attend the SAARC summit likely to be held in September. The “comprehensive bilateral dialogue” will also include Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Baragge/Tulbul Navigation Project, Economic and Commercial Cooperation, Counter-Terrorism, Narcotics Control, Humanitarian Issues, People-to-People exchanges and religious tourism.The joint statement condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate to eliminate it. Swaraj and Aziz noted the successful talks on terrorism and security-related issues in Bangkok by the two NSAs and decided that the NSAs will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism. At a joint press conference with Aziz, Swaraj said that she had a “very good meeting” with both Aziz and Sharif. She said we have decided to start afresh the dialogue, which was going on under the composite dialogue earlier and then in the name of resumed dialogue, and call it Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD).”The CBD will have all the pillars of Composite Dialogue and some additional components. How this dialogue process should be taken forward will be decided in a meeting between our Foreign Secretaries, who will work on scheduling and modalities of the process.”Scheduling means which all pillars, when, what modalities and who all Secretaries will hold it,” Swaraj said adding “It will have additional components apart from those in the composite dialogue.”Earlier, speaking at the ‘Heart of Asia’ ministerial conference on Afghanistan, Swaraj extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan, saying it was time the two countries displayed “maturity and self-confidence” to do business with each other and offered to move cooperation at a pace Pakistan is comfortable with.”Let me take this opportunity to extend our hand to Pakistan as well. It is time that we display the maturity and self-confidence to do business with each other and strengthen regional trade and cooperation. The entire world is waiting and rooting for a change. Let us not disappoint them.”For its part, India is prepared to move our cooperation at a pace which Pakistan is comfortable with. But today, let us at least resolve to help Afghanistan – in the best traditions of good neighbourliness – through more effective transit arrangements,” she said.Swaraj, who was accompanied by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan TCA Raghavan and envoy to Afghanistan Amar Sinha, said terrorism in that country has grown in both intensity and scope in the last few months and that India was ready to work with the Afghan government to strengthen its defensive capability.Swaraj will make a detail statement on her Pakistan visit in Parliament tomorrow. Asked what was the “big change” for India to commence a comprehensive bilateral dialogue, sources said the NSA-level meeting to address terror-related issues went off constructively and that was a big change.They said Pakistani side showed that they understand India’s concerns over the Mumbai attacks trial on which the Pakistani side assured India of the steps to expedite the judicial process. On the Swaraj-Aziz meeting, the sources said some amount of time was spent on the Mumbai trial case.On renaming the dialogue process, they said, “the sense was that we could re-engage but there are other issues like fishermen and religious tourism which needed to be discussed…” The sources said the dialogue process is not disowning the past but taking forward the broad-based dialogue. “We wanted more than the existing subset in the composite dialogue that is why it was renamed,” the sources said.They said the Bangkok meeting was a good meeting and the issues were complex but were not dealt in an accusatory manner but in a constructive way. Swaraj’s meeting with Sharif was multi-lingual where Urdu, Hindustani and Punjabi were used for the conversation.She also met Sharif’s family which included four generations of his family — his mother, wife, daughter and granddaughter. The effort was to unblock ties and move forward, the sources said.In her meeting with Aziz, Swaraj discussed a number of issues with the Pakistani side showing an understanding to India’s concerns over terror. Asked about the progress in ties, the sources said this goes back to Paris where the two Prime Ministers desired to find a way to go forward and India saw the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference as a good opportunity and to convince Pakistan to have NSAs meeting before the External Affairs Minister comes here.

National Herald case: 100% political vendetta coming out of PM’s office, says Rahul Gandhi

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said the National Herald case is “hundred per cent political vendetta coming out of PMO” but declared that he has full faith in the judiciary.

PTI
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said the National Herald case is “hundred per cent political vendetta coming out of PMO” but declared that he has full faith in the judiciary.He also rejected the charge that Congress was using Parliament to threaten judiciary saying “it is the other way round”.”One hundred per cent political vendetta. Pure political vendetta coming out of PMO. It is their way of doing politics. Pure 100 per cent vendetta,” Gandhi told reporters outside Parliament.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said he has full faith in the judiciary. “I have full faith in judiciary. We will see at the end what comes out. Truth will come out.”Asked about Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu’s charge that Congress was using Parliament to threaten judiciary (by disruption), he said, “It is the other way round. Who is threatening judiciary. We all know.”Congress members disrupted proceedings in both the houses of Parliament yesterday and got the Rajya Sabha adjourned till 2 PM today.

FIR filed against Russian diplomat who allegedly assaulted Delhi traffic cop

The Delhi Police has no authority to arrest the diplomatic due to his ‘diplomatic immunity’ which is why through the MHA, intervention of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is being sought.

The Russian diplomat’s car, stopped by police

ANI
An FIR has been registered against a Russian diplomat who in an allegedly intoxicated state allegedly hit a constable in Moti Bagh in Delhi. Meanwhile the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been briefed about the incident.The diplomat has been booked under IPC Section 186- obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions, 353- assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty, 332- voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty and 337- causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi Police has no authority to arrest the diplomatic due to his ‘diplomatic immunity’ which is why through the MHA, intervention of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is being sought.Following this, the Russian Embassy will be left to contemplate action on the diplomat. Earlier on Wednesday, the diplomat, who was severely intoxicated, rammed into a police barricade and also rear-ended a motorbike, injuring two.The incident happened late at night around 1:30 am where the diplomat after hitting the bike was asked to stop by the police. But instead of stopping, he slammed his car into the barricade.The diplomat refused to come out of the car and allegedly punched and abused a constable on duty. Besides the other biker who has been admitted in AIIMS, the Russian official also sustained injuries and was seen with a heavily bleeding nose.

India to host next ‘Heart of Asia’ conference in 2016

External Affairs Minister is currently in Islamabad attending the Heart of Asia 2015.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj

AFP photo
India will host the next multilateral meeting on Afghanistan in the last quarter of 2016.Talking to reporters after the meeting of the senior officials of the participating nations at the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad, Indian delegates said that the gathering was working on a declaration which will call for denial of sanctuaries and safe havens to terrorists in the region.The senior officials’ meeting was part of the ‘Istanbul Process’ aimed at enhancing cooperation for countering security threats and promoting connectivity in the region.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The significant development is that India is going to host the next Heart of Asia conference in the last quarter of 2016,” officials said.Giving details of the ongoing deliberations, the officials said the aim is coordinate the efforts of the countries in the region to support Afghanistan in achieving peace and stability.

External Affiars Minister Sushma Swaraj to visit Pakistan today; to meet Nawaz Sharif, Sartaj Aziz

Swaraj will visit the Pakistan capital to attend the ministerial segment on Afghanistan during the annual Heart of Asia conference on December 9

Sushma Swaraj
File Photo
ANI
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will leave for a two-day visit to Pakistan on Tuesday, where she is expected to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his advisor on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad this week.Swaraj will visit the Pakistan capital to attend the ministerial segment on Afghanistan during the annual Heart of Asia conference on December 9. Upon her return from Islamabad on December 10, Swaraj will be making a statement on the latest developments that have taken place in diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy also confirmed Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad and said that she would brief both the houses of Parliament in detail on the present status of Indo-Pak relations once she returns. “Sushma Swaraj will be visiting Pakistan tomorrow and once she returns, she will give a detailed statement about the discussions with Pakistan over issues including Terrorism. The government is fully prepared to give an updated status of Indo-Pak talks and this has been communicated to both the houses,” Rudy told the media outside the Parliament.Earlier, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had said the deadlock in Indo-Pak ties had eased to some extent and he is looking forward towards the bilateral talks with Sushma Swaraj which would focus on the resumption of composite dialogue process. In a surprising move, India-Pakistan had NSA-level talks in Bangkok on Sunday on a wide range of issues including terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, and border issues.Post the meeting, both the nations released a joint statement saying that the discussions were held in a “candid, cordial and constructive atmosphere”.According to reports, the meeting was agreed upon by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif when they met in Paris last week on the sidelines of COP-21. A joint statement issued later said that the discussions “covered peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, other issues, including tranquility over the Line of Control”.

Dog analogy row: Delhi Court quashes plea seeking FIR against VK Singh

Meanwhile, the Congress, led by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, protested against the former army chief outside the Parliament today and demanded his resignation.

VK Singh

A Delhi Court on Monday dismissed a criminal complaint seeking lodging of an FIR against Minister of State for External Affairs General (Retd.) VK Singh for his dog analogy.Earlier in the day, the government appealed to the opposition to stop politicising General (Retd.) Singh’s remark and said that the matter was now over since he has apologised in this regard. “This issue is being repeated and escalated unnecessarily as he has reiterated time and again that in no way he wanted to hurt or insult any section of the society with his statement. But we can’t help it if the people want to keep this issue alive for political reasons,” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told ANI here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meanwhile, the Congress, led by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, protested against the former army chief outside the Parliament today and demanded his resignation.

Government to replace ‘lost, damaged’ passports of Chennai flood victims for free

This news comes as a major relief for the Chennaites, who are facing a massive lose of property among other valuables due to the deluge and the resulting floods.

Chennai floods
File Photo
AFP
The government on Monday announced that those who have lost their passports or got them damaged due to the floods in Chennai can have them replaced free of charge. “If your passport is lost or damaged in floods, pl go to any of three Passport Seva Kendra’s in Chennai. They will issue u fresh passport free of charge,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.This news comes as a major relief for the Chennaites, who are facing a massive lose of property among other valuables due to the deluge and the resulting floods.Meanwhile, the Chennai Airport has become fully operational from Monday morning, as airliners are resuming their domestic and international flights from there. The Civil Aviation authorities said the airport that was shut down last Wednesday due to heavy inundation is now ready for operation day and night.”We are happy to announce that it has been decided to resume the round the clock services, all weather operations from 6 a.m. December 7. In other words, from 7th December, 2015, normal operations of Chennai Airport i.e. both domestic and international flight operations will start operating,” said a statement released by Chennai Airport Director Deepak Shastri.

A new beginning: India- Pak held NSA level meet; terrorism, Kashmir among issues discussed

According to MEA, talks were held in a candid, cordial and constructive atmosphere.

Image courtesy: MEA

Ministry of External Affairs revealed that National Security Advisors of both India and Pakistan met in Bangkok on Sunday along with the respective foreign secretaries.According to MEA, talks were held in a candid, cordial and constructive atmosphere.PM Modi and Nawaz Sharif had earlier met briefly on the sidelines of Paris Climate Conference. During the meeting, the NSAs discuss peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir and other issues. NSAs have agreed to carry forward the constructive engagement in the future, said the MEA statement.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is slated to travel to Pakistan to attend a multilateral summit. Earlier in the year, a proposed meeting of Pakistan NSA to India was called off after both sides failed to agree about the issues to be discussed.

Singapore to provide US $75,000 assistance to flood-hit Chennai

Additionally, Singapore’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan has also sent a letter to Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Saturday.

Chennai floods

Singapore has contributed US $75,000 to assist those affected by the devastating flood in Chennai, country’s foreign affairs ministry said on Saturday. Additionally, Singapore’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan has also sent a letter to Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Saturday. Balakrishnan has also informed the Chief Minister of Singapore’s contribution of US $75,000 to the Singapore Red Cross’ “South Asia Floods 2015” public appeal, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said. “I am saddened by the hundreds of lives lost and disrupted due to the severe flooding in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu. “Like many Singaporeans, I hope that the floods will recede soon. I am confident that normalcy will return to your state in the near future under your leadership,” he wrote.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Balakrishnan added that he hoped the Singapore contribution to the fund would be able to help those affected. “We hope that this will be of some assistance to those affected by the floods and demonstrate Singapore’s solidarity with the people of Tamil Nadu during this difficult period,” Balakrishnan said. Meanwhile, all flights between Singapore’s Changi and Chennai have been suspended due to the heavy rains. Heavy rains have lashed the region with over 250 people killed in Tamil Nadu.

Centre begins process of declassifying Netaji files

Principal secretary in the PMO Nripendra Misra, on Friday officially handed over the first set of files related to Netaji to the Director General, National Archives of India Serya Guha.

The central government on Friday handed over the first batch of 33 files related to Netaji to the National Archives of India, setting the stage for their declassification beginning on January 23, 2016. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his meeting with the extended family of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on October 14 had assured that the files labeled classified so far will be made public.Principal secretary in the PMO Nripendra Misra, on Friday officially handed over the first set of files related to Netaji to the Director General, National Archives of India Serya Guha. Emphasizing that history cannot be created by those who forget their own history, the Prime Minister had categorically stated that his government did not believe in constraining or strangulating history in any way, and was committed to opening up information on Netaji to the people of India. According to an RTI reply, the PMO had said there were a total of 58 files related to Netaji in its custody. Recently the government told Rajya Sabha that there were 134 classified files which are being examined for the purpose of declassification.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a written reply, minister of state for home affairs Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said, “Government is examining all the files in its custody for the purpose of declassifying the same. “As per available records on date, Ministry of Home Affairs is in possession of 12 files. Among these 12 files, three files are classified and nine files are unclassified,” the minister said. He said as per available record, as on date, the Prime Minister’s Office is in possession of 58 files.Prime Minister had assured Netaji’s family that all possible effort towards the same would be made, from the declassification of Netaji files to taking up the matter with other nations. He had further promised that the declassification and public release of the files would begin on 23rd January, 2016, the Birth Anniversary of Netaji. “Working towards this commitment, the government has been undertaking the process of due diligence stipulated under declassification procedures and guidelines,” said a government spokesman. He said the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of External Affairs were separately taking action for release of files under their custody. “This marks an important milestone in fulfilling the long pending demand of the people of India, for the declassification of files related to Netaji,” he said,The Centre last April had also set up a committee headed by the cabinet secretary to review the Official Secrets Act in the light of increasing demands for declassification of the files on Netaji. Early this year, it had emerged that the Intelligence Bureau had spied on Bose’s family for over 20 years starting under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s government. In past, the government had stonewalled all queries related to these files, saying their declassification will hamper India’s relations with some foreign countries.Most democracies in the world declassify secret documents after 25 to 30 years. But in India the Official Secrets Act an archaic law perpetuated by the government hampers access to government material even for research purposes. In the US, declassification is automatic after 25 years – with nine exceptions – while in the UK, all classified files are reviewed after 30 years to ascertain whether they still need to be kept under wraps. India amended the 1925 Act in 1967, but instead of making it liberal, made it it even more stringent.

Congress gearing up to aggressively corner VK Singh in Parliament next week

Reports had it that Congress had decided to boycott the Union minister in both Houses of Parliament for his remark, but party leaders said that a more aggressive strategy could be on the anvil next week.

VK Singh

The row over Union Minister VK Singh’s “dog” remarks could generate more heat in Parliament next week with the Congress on Friday stepping up attack on him demanding that he be “removed” from government and alleging that he was not fit to be an MP.”This government has not been able to control V K Singh as also the Culture Minister. Singh has repeatedly made improper statements. Government should ask him to go,” party spokesperson Sushmita Dev told reporters.She said that the opposition parties were asking for apology from the Minister for his dog analogy in the wake of burning to death of two Dalit children in Haryana, “but the government has remained adamant”. Rajya Sabha witnessed two adjournments on the demand for his resignation with Congress and BSP members targeting the Minister.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad went to the extent of saying that Singh should also be removed from Parliament. “Such a minister, I feel, should not be a member of the Union Cabinet for even a minute and he should neither be a member of Parliament. I request the government to not just remove V K Singh from the Cabinet but also from Parliament,” he said.Reports had it that Congress had decided to boycott the Union minister in both Houses of Parliament for his remark, but party leaders said that a more aggressive strategy could be on the anvil next week. Government has been insisting that Singh had not made any such comment about Dalits and there is no reason for the Opposition to raise the issue repeatedly.Hitting back, V K Singh today questioned the conduct of Opposition members in Rajya Sabha, saying they were indulging in “petty political oneupmanship” and “cheap political wranglings”. “Even in wild imagination my ‘dog analogy for government not being responsible for every incident’ being taken as a remark against any human is a travesty of intelligence,” the Minister of State for External Affairs said in a Facebook post.

India yet to confirm Sushma Swaraj’s visit: Pakistan envoy Abdul Basit

Heart of Asia conference, which will discuss regional cooperation on Afghanistan, is scheduled to begin in Islamabad on December 9.

Amid reports of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s likely visit to Pakistan to attend a conference, Pakistan Ambassador to India Abdul Basit on Friday said that they are yet to get confirmation in this regard from the Indian government.”We have not got confirmation yet,” the Pakistan Envoy told exclusively to ANI when asked about Swaraj’s participation in the conference on Afghanistan to be held in Islamabad. If Swaraj visits Pakistan then it will be the first bilateral visit at the Foreign Minister’s level to Pakistan under the NDA government.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Heart of Asia conference, which will discuss regional cooperation on Afghanistan, is scheduled to begin in Islamabad on December 9.India has been invited for the conference. But, the MEA has not yet given any indication as to who will represent India there.

Government to bring comprehensive law to criminalise marital rape

Rijiju added that the Law Commission “is very much in sync with us and sentiments of this House” and the government is not opposed to to the idea mooted by member Avinash Pande of Congress in the private member bill — ‘The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2014’.

Image for representational purpose

Government on Friday said it will bring a comprehensive law to criminalise marital rape by amending the IPC and was awaiting the Law Commission report on the issue.”The issue of marital rape is very complicated and it is very difficult to explain and describe it. These are of such extreme private nature and no records of any consent are available. The matter has been dealt in detail by a Parliamentary Committee as well as the Law Commission,” Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiran Rijiju said while replying to a debate on a private member bill. He said the Parliamentary Committee in its report has recommended the need for a comprehensive review of the criminal system of law.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”To move in peacemeal is not right. We have asked for comprehensive review and Law Commission also took up the matter. We are awaiting the report and we want it to come early,” the minister said. Rijiju added that the Law Commission “is very much in sync with us and sentiments of this House” and the government is not opposed to to the idea mooted by member Avinash Pande of Congress in the private member bill — ‘The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2014’. He asked Pande to withdraw the bill who did it.”We are waiting for the appropriate suggestions from the Law Commission of India, and, the Parliamentary Standing Committee Report also has been mentioned during my reply. So, it is the fittest thing for us to wait for the Committee Report,” he said. The Minister said there is a specific clause under Section 498A, which already deals with cruelty against women.”It is a very specific provision and it is taking care of the problems being faced by the women, and we have expressed our concern also…. we should wait for the comprehensive report which we are waiting from the Law Commission of India. “Once that report comes, we will definitely come back to the House and seek the support of the member and the entire House…. We are expecting that the report will come as soon as possible,” he said. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said, “If you think that rape by a husband is a crime, then, why should the government wait for the report? Rape is a crime, you accept it; whether it is a rape by a husband or any other person, it is equally a crime. You are tending to say that. But then, in that case, why do you wait for the Report? That is the question.” Rijiju said, on July 6 2010, then Home Minister in consultation with the Ministry of Law and Justice made a request to the Law Commission of India to examine and give a comprehensive report covering all aspects of the criminal law so that comprehensive amendments can be made in various laws, especially, in the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure as well as the Indian Evidence Act.”These three Acts are being dealt with by Home Ministry. So, we have asked for comprehensive suggestions,” he said. The Law Commission of India also took up the matter for study and examination on October 11, 2013. Last year, he said, the Law Commission informed the Ministry of Home Affairs, that they have identified certain focus areas and formed sub-groups to deliberate on such areas, and, that the Commission is actively pursuing the issue and will finalize its views as early as possible.”So, I feel that the Law Commission is in very much sync with the sense of the House and the sentiments being expressed by the members. We also want that the Law Commission should submit its report as early as possible. We have also communicated recently that the comprehensive suggestions may be submitted to us as soon as possible,” he said.Participating in the debate, Husain Dalwai (Cong) said the bill seeks to criminalise the offence of marital rape by removing Exception (2) to Section 375 of the IPC Act which people say that this is against Indian family values.”I think the House should be very generous in passing this law,” he pleaded.

First step towards declassification: 33 Netaji files handed over to National Archives of India

The first batch of 33 PMO files have been cleared and handed over to National Archives of India for further processing, preservation and digitisation.

Principal Secretary to PM, Shri Nripendra Misra has handed over first set of files related to Netaji to the DG, National Archives of India.”Today an important milestone has been reached in the process to declassify the Netaji files. Principal Secretary to the PM, Shri Nripendra Misra handed over first set of files related to Netaji to the DG, National Archives of India.The first batch of 33 PMO files have been cleared and handed over to National Archives of India for further processing, preservation and digitisation, the PMO said. Prime.The Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of External Affairs are separately taking action for the release of files under their custody.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Political parties in West Bengal have said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to declassify Netaji files from January 23, next year is an attempt to hijack the legacy of Bose by cashing in on the emotions revolving around him.Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal had earlier declassified all the files which were with them.

No secret meeting held between Modi-Nawaz in Kathmandu: Government

On Tuesday, Pakistan’s Federal Government spokesman had also rubbished reports, saying no such meeting was held during the SAARC conference in Kathmandu

Sharif- Modi

The External Affairs Ministry on Wednesday trashed reports of a secret meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of SAARC summit in Kathmandu last year.Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry Vikas Swarup called the reports based on a book as completely baseless. “The Report is completely baseless. NO such meeting took place in Kathmandu during the SAARC Summit,” he said in a tweet while responding to queries on whether the meeting had taken place or not.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Tuesday, Pakistan’s Federal Government spokesman had also rubbished reports, saying no such meeting was held during the SAARC conference in Kathmandu. Media reports quoting a book said that a year ago, Modi and Sharif held an hour-long secret meeting where the two leaders shared their constraints while agreeing they needed more time and greater political space to move forward with public engagements. Earlier in the day, the Congress sought a clarification from the government on the issue.”Did the Prime Minister at all have a meeting with Pakistan PM? If yes, then why did his government keep it secret? Was it for image? Optics? 56-inch-chest or for political deliverables?” party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi asked while talking to reporters. If it is yes, then did the Prime Minister consider the Ministry of External Affairs either incompetent or incapable as he had to engage an industrialist for the purpose, Singhvi asked.Asked for his reaction, a senior BJP leader said, “Anyone who understands the way Modi conducts his foreign affairs would realise that he believes in direct diplomacy. So, involving anyone else is almost out of the question.”

PM seeks justice for TN woman whose hand was chopped off by Saudi employer: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent meeting with Saudi ruler Salman Al Saud in Turkey sought justice for Kasthuri Munirathnam the woman from Tamil Nadu whose arm was chopped off recently by her employer in Saudi Arabia, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in Lok Sabha during Question Hour.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTIExternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

PM Modi met the king Salman Al Saud in Turkey on the margins of the G20 Summit on 16 November.

The 56-year-old maid hails from Mungileri village near Katpadi in Tamil Nadu. She has returned home since the brutal attack in Riyadh in October.

Swaraj said when the incident of Munirathnam came to light, the Indian Embassy immediately contacted the Saudi¬†Arabian authorities and insisted on registering an attempt to murder case,”However, I am pained to say that the Saudi authorities soon issued a statement saying she fell down while trying to flee the house of her employer… We have not accepted this and continue to pursue the case to get her justice.”

The External Affairs Minister said the government was working with several Gulf countries to stop the exploitation of Indian labourers in those countries.

Swaraj, who is also Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, said that it was a common complaint that many employers in Gulf countries seize the passports of their Indian employees to ensure that they do not return home easily.

To help such distressed Indian workers, she said, Indian missions often hold public grievance meetings to help them and try to retrieve such passports from their employers…If these efforts do not bear fruit, such distressed Indians are given emergency exit permit for their return.

The Minister said the government has already decided that all Indians going abroad as domestic help must go through government-registered recruitment agencies so that no exploitation takes place.

Swaraj futher added that those who go abroad through unregistered recruitment agents in an unscrupulous manner would be held under human trafficking and that the government is trying to bring such activities under the ambit of Anti-Human Trafficking Act.

PTI

Maid’s arm chopped off: PM Modi seeks justice for victim from Saudi employer, says Sushma Swaraj

The 56-year-old maid hails from Mungileri village near Katpadi in Tamil Nadu. She has since returned home after the brutal attack in Riyadh in October.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought justice for a woman from Tamil Nadu whose arm was chopped off recently by her employer in Saudi Arabia.”The Prime Minister has sought justice for Kasthuri Munirathnam, whose arm was chopped off by her employer, during his recent meeting with Saudi ruler,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in Lok Sabha during Question Hour. Modi had met Saudi King Salman Al Saud in Turkey on the margins of the G20 Summit on November 16.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The 56-year-old maid hails from Mungileri village near Katpadi in Tamil Nadu. She has since returned home after the brutal attack in Riyadh in October. Swaraj said when the incident of Munirathnam came to light, the Indian Embassy immediately contacted the Saudi Arabian authorities and insisted on registering an attempt to murder case.”However, I am pained to say that the Saudi authorities soon issued a statement saying she fell down while trying to flee the house of her employer. We have not accepted this and continue to pursue the case to get her justice,” she said.The Minister said the government was working with several Gulf countries to stop exploitation of Indian labourers in those countries. Swaraj, who is also Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, said it was a common complaint that many employers in Gulf countries seize the passports of their Indian employees to ensure that they do not return home easily.To help such distressed Indian workers, she said, Indian missions often hold public grievance meetings to help them and try to retrieve such passports from their employers. If these efforts do not bear fruit, such distressed Indians are given emergency exit permit for their return.The Minister said the government has already decided that all Indians going abroad as domestic help must go through government-registered recruitment agencies so that no exploitation takes place. Swaraj said those who go abroad through unregistered recruitment agents in an unscrupulous manner can be termed as human trafficking.”We are trying to bring such activities under the ambit of Anti-Human Trafficking Act,” she said.The Minister said as per the information made available to the Ministry, there is no general pattern to indicate an increase in cases of exploitation or torture of Indian workers.

Three out of four terror cases in last two years unsolved, government tells Lok Sabha

The data on terror attacks in the hinterland of the country given by Minister of State for Home Affairs shows that there have been three such attacks in 2014 and one in 2015, in which a total of 11 people were killed.

Representational Image

Investigation agencies have failed to arrest the perpetrators or identity groups behind three out of four terror attacks in the country in 2014 and 2015, Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.The data on terror attacks in the hinterland of the country given by Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary shows that there have been three such attacks in 2014 and one in 2015, in which a total of 11 people were killed. The data says bomb blast in Burdwan on October 2, 2014 is the handiwork of Jammat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh in which seven arrests were made by the NIA.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The perpetrators of the remaining three–IED explosion at Chennai Central Railway Station on May 1, 2014 probed by CB CID Tamil Nadu, IED blast in Bengaluru on December 28, 2014 probed by NIA and terror attack in Gurdaspur on July 27, 2015 probed by Punjab Police remain unidentified with no arrest being made, the data shows.It shows two terror attacks took place in 2012, four in 2013 in which 51 arrests have been made.

ISIS influenced very few Indian youths; govt monitoring cyber space, minister tells Parliament

New Delhi: The terrorist organisation Islamic State has been able to influence very few Indian youths and security agencies are closely monitoring the situation, including keeping potential recruits under surveillance.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary told Lok Sabha that the government is closely monitoring the situation and has directed the intelligence and security agencies to identify potential recruits and keep them under surveillance.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“The cyber space is being closely monitored in this regard,” he said.

The minister said a few incidents of unfurling of flags of ISIS by some misguided youths were noticed on different occasions in Jammu and Kashmir and some other states in the recent past.

“…state governments concerned have been directed to take appropriate action against such statements as per relevant provisions of law,” he said.

Home Ministry officials had earlier said that 23 youths have joined ISIS of which six were reportedly killed.

Quoting intelligence inputs, officials had said, it emerged that the dreaded terror outfit considered South Asian Muslims, including Indians, inferior to Arab fighters in the conflict zones of Iraq and Syria.

According to an intelligence report prepared by foreign agencies and shared with Indian agencies, fighters from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh as well as certain countries like Nigeria and Sudan are considered not good enough by ISIS and often tricked into suicide attacks.

Around 150 Indians are under surveillance for their alleged online links with ISIS, the officials had said.

PTI

Government thanks opposition for restoring normalcy in both Houses of Parliament

The last Monsoon session was a complete washout and the government is running short of its deadline for the GST.

Venkaiah Naidu

Keen to pass key bills including GST, Government on Monday reached out to Opposition ahead of an expected stormy week of winter session, saying the credit goes to both the ruling party and the Opposition if Parliament transacts business.Acknowledging that Opposition has the majority in Rajya Sabha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu flagged the importance of collaborative parliamentary democracy and expressed happiness over the relative calm in Parliament in the last three days of the session contrary to speculation. Sources said that the ruling alliance members have been asked “not to get provoked” and engage in unncessary sparring with the Opposition as the government is keen to get through its pending legislative business.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The last Monsoon session was a complete washout and the government is running short of its deadline for the GST. Thanking Oppostion for “restoring normalcy in both the Houses and move forward”, Naidu said that the functioning of Parliament so far comes as a relief to the people. “The meeting between the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and Congress president (Sonia Gandhi) has been widely welcomed across the country. This response is a clear indication that people strongly want collaborative parliamentary democracy and not confrontationist politics.”This is also a clear indication that people want Parliament to deliver on matters that concern their life and aspirations. I hope that this spirit of collaborative functioning of Parliament will continue to prevail for larger good,” he said. Naidu said that the Prime Minister has made it clear that he prefers consensus based approach rather than going by the numbers of majority.”Government has the numbers in the Lok Sabha while the opposition has it in Rajya Sabha. This dynamics of numbers highlights the need for collaboration in furthering the cause of the nation. “In such a scenario, for any good work done by the Parliament by way of passing important legislation, credit goes to both the ruling and opposition. This in essence means, both the sides have equal stakes and responsibilities in ensuring effective functioning of Parliament,” Naidu said.With the Opposition raising the issue of “intolerance” in a big way, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister also assured that there is “no place for intolerance in our country”. “Both the ruling and opposition are equally concerned about any stray incidents betraying intolerance. Collectively, we need to promote unity and harmony. This message going out of Parliament would be a major outcome of this Winter session,” he said expressing hope that Parliament would go about passing major pending legislations including the GST.

GST will be implemented from next fiscal: Venkaiah Naidu

“The (GST) bill will be implemented next year as it will be passed in the ensuing Parliament session.”

Union minister for Parliamentary Affairs M Venkaiah Naidu

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to the Opposition over the passage of the GST Bill, Union minister for Parliamentary Affairs M Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday said the Goods and Service Tax Bill will be rolled out in the next financial year.”The (GST) bill will be implemented next year as it will be passed in the ensuing Parliament session,” Naidu said on the sidelines of an event here.The minister said the GST will be the biggest tax reform since independence as it subsumes all indirect taxes to create one rate and integrates country into one market.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Though Lok Sabha has approved the GST Bill, the Opposition in Rajya Sabha referred it to the select committee even though the standing committee had already approved it, he said, adding the select committee has completed its study and made recommendations to Rajya Sabha for its passage.Naidu said the BJP government wanted to pass the GST Bill with broad consensus as this kind of tax is operational in 160 countries across the globe.

India joins UK, Australia to help poor nations combat climate change

The announcement was made on the second day of the biennial summit of the Commonwealth whose membership.

Vikas Swarup

Joining a select group of countries, India on Sunday said it will provide US $2.5 million for the vulnerable nations in the Commonwealth to help them introduce clean energy and reduce green-house gas emissions. The announcement was made on the second day of the biennial summit of the Commonwealth whose membership includes powerful countries like Britain, Australia, Canada, Singapore and small island nations such the Maldives, Tonga and Nauru. “India has announced US $2.5 million for the Commonwealth small states trade finance facility. As you are aware, Commonwealth has 31 small states as its members out of the 53 countries and trade finance is very important to them,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The 24th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting here deliberated extensively on combating climate change and a number of nations pledged their financial assistance to vulnerable countries ahead of the UN Climate Change conference in Paris beginning tomorrow. India has been pushing for the rich nations to deliver “climate justice” for developing countries while insisting that commitment of the rich nations towards small islands and poor countries must go beyond the current level. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj represented India at the summit which was attended by heads of state and government of around 30 countries. A number of countries including Canada, Britain and Australia have pledged nearly US $2.5 billion to help the poor countries fight global warming. Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat unveiled a US $1 billion Commonwealth Green Finance Facility to support environmental projects in the poor countries of the bloc. Separately, the UK has committed 21 million pounds for disaster management and 5.5 million pound for the ocean-based economy. Australia has committed US $1 million for a new Commonwealth idea — a Climate Finance Access Hub.Canada has pledged US $2 billion assistance to help poor countries limiting green-house gas emission. Earlier, the Commonwealth and the Governments of India, Malta, Mauritius and Sri Lanka announced the new trade financing fund to help boost trade and investment flows in small countries. The voluntary fund is aimed at attracting start-up capital of US $20 million. It will provide member countries facing trade challenges with the finance they need to increase their trade capacity. “We are acting as facilitators so small traders in small jurisdictions can penetrate new markets. We are very keen to create necessary trade infrastructure for ourselves and other small Commonwealth countries,” said Prime Minister Muscat. The fund will seek to stimulate lending by major banks to smaller banks in member states and reduce risk. Financial investment will be sought from member countries and other parties that have expressed an interest in participating. The first phase of the fund will run over three years followed by a review.

Farooq Abdullah’s remark on defence forces will encourage terrorism, says Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

Naqvi further said that terrorism is a threat for the entire humanity and everyone should work together to fight against it.

“He (Farooq Abdullah) should refrain from statements which have potential to boost confidence of terrorists,” he said.

File Photo
Lashing out at National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah over his remark that the Indian security forces would not be able to defend the nation from terrorists, Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Saturday said that the former?s remark would encourage terrorism across the world. “Terrorism is not only a problem of India, it is a global issue. Today the whole world has united against terrorism. In such a time, he (Farooq Abdullah) should refrain from statements which have potential to boost confidence of terrorists.” <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Naqvi further said that terrorism is a threat for the entire humanity and everyone should work together to fight against it.Earlier today, Farooq Abdullah called for a dialogue between the India and Pakistan to end violence at the border.”For how long do we want to see innocents being killed (in the border areas)? How much the army can defend us? Even if the entire Indian Army comes then they will not be able to defend against the terrorists. There is only one way and that is to talk to them,? Abdullah said at a press conference here.

Journalists appeal to the government for the release of two Chhattisgarh reporters

A petition was submitted to the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, Union home minister Rajnath Singh, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Arun Jaitley and Minister for Tribal Affairs Jual Oram, on Friday.

Some 160 journalists and members of civil society from across India have appealed to the central government and to the Chhattisgarh state government to release two journalists in jail in the state, on charges of supporting Maoists. Santosh Yadav, a resident of Darbha and a journalist for Hindi publications such as Dainik Navbharat and Dainik Chhattisgarh, and Somaru Nag an Adivasi journalist and stringer for Rajasthan Patrika were arrested by the state police in September and July this year.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A petition was submitted to the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, Union home minister Rajnath Singh, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Arun Jaitley and Minister for Tribal Affairs Jual Oram, on Friday.According to the petition, under the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act, Yadav has been charged under the Indian Penal Code, the Arms Act, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act (CPSA). The petition adds, “there is no clarity as to the charges against them, or the evidence which the police hold about their alleged involvement with Maoists.”Media reports and the July edition of People’s Union for Civil Liberty bulletin said that Yadav was first called to a police station in June 2015, where the police told him a warrant for his arrest had been issued. The police then took him to the lock up, stripped him off his clothes and was about to, according to the bulletin, start beating him when Yadav told him that he was a journalist who would report everything they did to him. Only this stopped the police hand, something that Yadav told the bureau chief at Dainik Chhattisgarh, Harjit Singh Pappu, according to a report on the media watchdog journal The Hoot.The police pressure on Yadav started when he was first on the scene to report on the Maoist attack that killed Congressman and Salwa Judum founder Mahendra Karma, in May 2013. Apparently, to the police that was a sign that Yadav was in cahoots with the Maoists.According to the petition, Yadav has been dragged into a case that charged 18 villagers with an encounter in August that killed a Special Police Officer. Nag has been named in a case, for keeping a lookout on police movements as a group of people “burnt a crusher plant employed in road construction in Chote Kadma on 26th June”.The PUCL bulletin recounted how the police had been pressuring Yadav to become their informer, by trying to give him five lakh rupees to catch Naxals, which Yadav refused.Yadav and Nag are hardly the only people to be harassed by a state police long infamous for the number of adivasis it picks up and jails on trumped up charges, where they languish for years as undertrials. According to the NCRB data, Chhattisgarh’s jails are 260 percent overcrowded, and human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover stated previously at a press conference in New Delhi that the actual conviction rate in Chhattisgarh for undertrials is 1 per cent to 3 per cent.

GST legislation in the interest of nation, let Parliament fulfill people’s expectations: PM Modi at all-party meet

PM says Parliament should run constructively and fulfils people’s expectations: Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu

PTI
Appealing to the Opposition for cooperation on the eve of the winter session of Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday made a strong pitch for early passage of the GST, saying it will be in the interest of the nation.Modi, who made a brief appearance at the all-party meeting hosted by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, assured the Opposition leaders that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will talk to them to address their concerns, if any, on the key reform measure.”PM Narendra Modi has said that GST legislation is in the interest of nation,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters after the all-party meeting.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Prime Minister also said that Finance Minister will speak to all parties to address their doubts on GST, adding, “Parliament should run constructively and fulfils people’s expectations,” said Naidu.Significantly, the JD(U) also backed the GST with party president Sharad Yadav announcing support of his party to the measure after the all-party meeting.CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury, however, said that the Centre should hold talks with states on the issue of GST in view of the fact that they will lose all legislative power on tax matters once GST comes into force.He regretted that such talks have not been held despite repeated pleas for the same by the Left parties.Earlier in the day, stating that we need to leave memories of Monsoon session behind and move forward, Naidu said, “Government is aware of Opposition concerns like Dadri.”He also said that 38 legislative items including seven new Bills for introduction will come up in Parliament in Winter session.Meanwhile, Naqvi said that their interaction with other political parties about the upcoming Winter Session had been ‘positive’ so far.Also read: Government ready to discuss changes in GST bill with Congress: FM Arun Jaitley”There is nothing wrong for an opposition party to have different view on any issue, but the only thing is that it should be constructive. We should not do politics over the questions pertaining to the nation?s development, upliftment of the poor and other such things,” Naqvi said.In the Monsoon Session, Congress-led opposition had disrupted the Monsoon session of the Parliament over the Lalit Modi row and the Vyapam scam.During nearly month-long session, around 30 bills, including GST and Real Estate regulation Bills, are slated to be taken up for consideration and passing.On Tuesday, speaking at the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India’s (ASSOCHAM) 95th Annual Event here, Finance Minsiter Arun Jaitley had said, “We are reaching out to people (Opposition) who are suggesting changes. We are willing to have discussions with them, and they too need to reconsider some changes they are suggesting”.

Some are misleading, some are misled, says Venkaiah Naidu on Aamir Khan’s ‘intolerance’ remarks

In the backdrop of a raging controversy over actor Aamir Khan’s remarks on “intolerance” issue, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday said “some people are misleading and some people are misled”.

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In the backdrop of a raging controversy over actor Aamir Khan’s remarks on “intolerance” issue, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday said “some people are misleading and some people are misled”.”Who comes in which category, I do not want to say. Some are propagating wrong things some are coming under wrong propaganda. My suggestion is that the situation in India is better than any other country. There is more tolerance in India. People of India are tolerant. “Recently since our government came, communal clashes have come down. The killing of innocent people by Naxalites have come down. Incidents of atrocities have also come down,” he said in an oblique reference to the Bollywood superstar’s statement.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Aamir Khan was at the centre of a raging debate a day after he expressed “alarm and despondency” over the rise in incidents of intolerance in the last six to eight months. Referring to Dadri lynching incident, the Union Minister said some “stray incidents” are blown out of proportion. “These are issues related to state. Now they are blaming the Centre because they could not digest the emergence of Narendra Modi as world leader. In order to defame Modi they are defaming the country, too.”M M Kalburgi (killing) incident happened in Karnataka, ruled by Congress. Instead of taking responsibility Congress made it political. Dadri incident happened in Uttar Pradesh, which is ruled by Congress-friendly Samajwadi Party. “I am not trying to blame them but if you try to play the blame game then you have to take back it because it will boomerang on you. Let us not vitiate the atmosphere. Try to understand the problem and try to address them,” Naidu said.He said as far as the government of India is concerned it has not done anything wrong. “There are no atrocities by the government. There is no restriction on anybody by the government, no force on anybody by the government. Modi government focuses on development. We are focusing our attention on development and these people are trying to distract from development. “BJP is a rising force in a different part of the country some of the political parties are seeing BJP is a potential state in some of these states,” he said.On the award wapasi issue, Naidu said he would like to remind that some of the people who returned the awards had in past issued public appeal to the people asking them to defeat Modi and not allow him to become Prime Minister. “Now after some time after some incidents here and there, they are trying to defame the government and they are becoming tools of the Congress party. This protest is against the mandate of the people. Otherwise issues are local and they need to be condemned and action has to be taken,” he said.

Govt to maintain centralised data on pending litigations

It can send reminders through SMS to official to provide alerts about particular cases coming up for hearing.

Though there are no official estimates, the Law Ministry believes government is a party in 46 per cent of the cases being contested in various courts, including tribunals, in the country.

Despite being perceived as the biggest litigant, the government does not maintain a centralised data of pending cases where it is a party. But this is now set to change as the Law Ministry has embarked upon an ambitious project to streamline litigation related data and make it available at a single point. The Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS) conceived by the Law Ministry can capture information pertaining to different courts and tribunals and categorise them into various sets of management information system reports for concerned officials to take action.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It can send reminders through SMS to official to provide alerts about particular cases coming up for hearing. Law Secretary P K Malhotra has urged other Union Secretaries appoint a joint secretary level officer as the project coordinator to implement LIMBS. “… this department (Legal Affairs) is mandated to give legal advice to all government departments on the issues raised by them and also advise them on litigation matters conducted on behalf of Union of India. “However, the court cases are monitored by the concerned departments and there is no centralised system for collecting information with regard to pendency and status of these cases… centralised data to this effect is not available,” he wrote.According to a status note on the National Litigation Policy pending before the Union Cabinet for approval, “government enjoys the dubious distinction of being the largest litigant in the courts involving a big draught on public exchequer.”Though there are no official estimates, the Law Ministry believes government is a party in 46 per cent of the cases being contested in various courts, including tribunals, in the country. “We are the biggest decision makers. Hence we are the biggest litigant as some decisions are bound to go against the interest of some people who would approach court and the government would certainly defend itself,” said a senior functionary.

India undecided on whether Sushma Swaraj will attend Pakistan conference

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup confirmed that a formal invitation has been received for the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference on Afghanistan that will take place in Islamabad on December 7 and 8.

Sushma Swaraj

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India is undecided on whether External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will participate at the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference for which host Pakistan has invited her, it was officially said in New Delhi on Thursday. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup confirmed that a formal invitation has been received for the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference on Afghanistan that will take place in Islamabad on December 7 and 8. But added that “We are yet to decide on the level of our participation.” The pros and cons of Pakistan’s invitation are being weighed with one view being that Swaraj should attend the conference given India’s strategic interest in Afghanistan and any low-level participation to the ministerial meet may not be good.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, a counter view to this was that Swaraj’s travel may undermine India’s concerns over terror emanating from Pakistan and she may have to hold a bilateral meeting with her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz which is not how India wants to sequence its interactions with that country. Swarup also made it clear that India was “more than willing” to start the process that was agreed in Ufa between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. Under the Ufa understanding, the next meeting should be between the National Security Advisors of the two countries on all issues pertaining to terror.Asked about Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s remarks on Wednesday that unilateralism and preconditions were a recipe for gridlock in relations and his assertion that “aspirations of Kashmiris can neither be ignored nor suppressed”, Swarup said there was nothing new in the comments.

Ready to reroute vehicles carrying medicines: India to Nepal

Nepal is facing acute shortage of fuel, medicine and other essential supplies due to the blockade amid protests by Indian-origin Madhesi people who are opposed to splitting the country into seven provinces in the new Constitution.

Nepal protests.
File Photo
PTI
As Nepal reels under severe shortage of medicines and other essential goods due to blockade of key trade points, India today said it was ready to facilitate rerouting of vehicles carrying drugs to the landlocked country and even airlifting medical supplies.External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup reiterated that there has been “no blockade” by India and the problem was political in nature which has to be resolved by the Nepalese leadership through dialogue. He said India has conveyed to Nepal that it was “ready to facilitate rerouting of vehicles carrying medicines. We are also ready to facilitate airlift. Nepalese importers of medicines are also advised to use those border crossings where there is no protest and disruptions in supply”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nepal is facing acute shortage of fuel, medicine and other essential supplies due to the blockade amid protests by Indian-origin Madhesi people who are opposed to splitting the country into seven provinces in the new Constitution. Hospitals in the country have run out of medicines and they are facing acute shortage of other essential medical supplies.”There has been no blockade by India, whatsoever. This question should really be put to Government of Nepal and not to the government of India. There is no blockade by India and I want to repeat it for umpteen times. Issues facing Nepal are political in nature. They are internal to Nepal and Nepalese leadership has to resolve them through dialogue with the agitating parties,” he said replying to a question on the blockade along the Terai region bordering India.He hoped that addressing concerns of the protesters will help in restoring peace in the affected areas.”If the political challenges facing Nepal are addressed, we can hope it would assuage the concerns of the protesters leading to peace and normalcy in the affected areas of the Terai including the border crossings currently occupied by Nepalese protesters,” said Swarup.The MEA Spokesperson said the shortages in Nepal were due to the blockade of major border crossing points of Birgunj-Raxaul border trading point which handles two-thirds of trade between the two countries.Till last evening, nearly 6,000 trucks are waiting to cross into Nepal at various border crossings including 4,700 at Raxaul, he said adding out of the 10 border points, capable of handling commercial cargo, seven including Sunauli and Panitanki have been operational”I can confirm to you that between 400 and 800 cargo trucks have been passing daily over the last four days through the India Nepal border. Petrol and lubricants supplies continue to move to the extent possible,” he said.Nepal has bee accusing India of imposing the blockade. India has been firmly denying having any role in imposing the blockade, saying truck drivers are concerned for their safety after violent protests against Nepal’s new Constitution in which over 40 people were killed.

Meeting of NDA leaders postponed due to Ashok Singhal’s death

Sources said the meeting of NDA leaders scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed due to the death of VHP patron Ashok Singhal in a Gurgaon hospital

Ashok Singhal

Government on Tuesday cancelled the meeting of NDA leaders convened on Wednesday to work out strategy ahead of the winter session of Parliament beginning November 26 that is expected to be stormy.Sources said the meeting of NDA leaders scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed due to the death of VHP patron Ashok Singhal in a Gurgaon hospital today. His cremation will take place on Wednesday. Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu was to meet the leaders of all NDA allies at his residence to chalk out the government plans on its legislative business and floor coordination plans amid indications of the Opposition parties closing ranks on various issues.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Naidu will hold a meeting with NDA leaders later now and with all other Opposition parties within a week. Lok Sabha Speaker holds an all-party meeting a day or two before the Session begins. The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh met here on November 9, a day after BJP’s rout in Bihar polls, and decided to hold the session between November 26 and December 23.Reaching out to the Opposition to pass key reform bills, Naidu had urged them not to interpret the Bihar polls result as a “mandate to disrupt Parliament”.

Intolerance debate created by those being paid money, says Union Minister VK Singh

Attending the two-day event in place of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who had to return mid-way from Dubai in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, Singh alleged that debate over intolerance in India was politically motivated and purposefully generated before the Bihar Assembly elections.

The debate over intolerance in India is an “unnecessary” creation of very imaginative minds being “paid with a lot of money”, Union Minister V K Singh has alleged, asserting that it was a politically motivated move before the Bihar polls.”This particular debate (on intolerance) is no debate. It is the unnecessary creation of very imaginative minds who are being paid with a lot of money,” Minister of State for External Affairs Singh told reporters on the sidelines of the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Attending the two-day event in place of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who had to return mid-way from Dubai in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, Singh alleged that debate over intolerance in India was politically motivated and purposefully generated before the Bihar Assembly elections.”I do not want to comment on how Indian media works. And I will take you back about all the funny things that are being talked about intolerance, what you are meaning. When the Delhi (Assembly) elections took place, suddenly we found a spate of articles and a lot of hysteria that was created that churches are being attacked, the Christian community is being isolated etc,” Singh, who is a former army chief, said in response to a question on intolerance in India.”A small incidence of theft in a church was depicted as an attack on church. Why? Because there was somebody who was trying to garner the votes, and the media was playing the ball. Whether it was being paid or not paid, I do not know.That’s a decision or opinion that you have to make,” he said.”I am just giving you the facts. The day that election was over all the hoopla was gone,” he alleged.”Same is (the case with) this intolerance debate. The moment Bihar elections are over everything is gone. So lets not unnecessarily do things, which are wrong. All these people who were talking of intolerance and I would like you to put it down in your papers what happened when a Gandhian (Anna Hazare) in his 70s protesting against corruption was picked up in the middle of a night and put into Tihar (Jail). Which was the government in place at that time?” he asked.”Have these people got any moral authority to even speak anything. So lets not unnecessarily confuse ourselves with this that is happening and lesson is for the Indian media,” Singh said.Earlier, in his keynote address to the Regional PravasiBharatiya Divas here, Singh said inclusiveness has become the hallmark of the Narendra Modi-led government.”Things in India have changed. After the new government came (to power) in India last year, the thrust of the Government of India has changed. Inclusiveness become the hall mark of the government policies. The present climate that is being created in India is investor friendly, to ensure people feel confident in investing and to ensure that you reap the benefit of investing in India,” Singh said.At least 75 members of the intelligentsia have returned national or literary awards in an escalation of protests by writers, historians, filmmakers and scientists over “growing intolerance”, voicing fears that the country’s robust democracy might be “coming apart” in the current atmosphere.The BJP-led government has dismissed the protest as “manufactured rebellion” and “politically” motivated.

Paris attacks: All Indians safe in France, says External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj

At least 127 people were killed and nearly 200 others injured in a series of attacks targeting young concert-goers, soccer fans and Parisians enjoying a Friday night out at popular restaurants, in the deadliest violence to strike France since World War II.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
File Photo
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No Indian casualty has been reported in the dreadful terror attacks in France that killed at least 127 people and injured nearly 200 others, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Saturday.”I have spoken to Indian Ambassador in France. He has informed me that all Indians are safe. France has advised citizens to stay indoors,” Swaraj, who is in Los Angeles to attend Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), tweeted.Earlier, Manish Prabhat, Indian Deputy Chief of Mission here had told PTI that “So far, no casualty of any Indian has been reported as per the information available with us. We released a helpline number following the information of attacks and throughout the night have received calls, but no incident involving an Indian has been reported.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are trying to reach out to the Indian community members here also using the social media and are advising them to further reach out in their circles for any information,” he added.At least 127 people were killed and nearly 200 others injured in a series of attacks targeting young concert-goers, soccer fans and Parisians enjoying a Friday night out at popular restaurants, in the deadliest violence to strike France since World War II.

PM Modi thanks Bangladesh PM Hasina for Anup Chetia handover

Chetia was first arrested in March, 1991 in Assam but was released by then Chief Minister Hiteswar Saikia

Anup Chetia

Zee 24 Ghanta
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday thanked his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina for facilitating the extradition and handover of United Liberation Front of Asom militant and leader Anup Chetia.”PM @narendramodi spoke to Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina. He wished PM Hasina on Diwali & thanked her for the help in fighting terrorism,” the Prime Minister’s office said in a tweet. Earlier, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju dubbed Chetia’s deportation to India as a major breakthrough which would help in cracking many important terror-related cases. “This is a major breakthrough that the Bangladesh Government has decided to hand over ULFA leader Anup Chetia to India. This will lead to cracking of many cases, would like to thank Bangladesh Prime Minister and the government for finally heeding to our demands” Rijiju told ANI here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This has been a long standing demand of ours that Anup Chetia be handed over to India and lastly it has become a reality. Anup Chetia is a senior leader of ULFA and his custody would mean that we can crack some of important cases in which investigation is going on,” he added. When asked if the investigation would be done by the Central agency, Rijiju said that the case would be investigated by both the central agency and Assam Police.”Because there are many cases against him but most of the cases are north-east based,” he added. Responding on a question of Chetia being brought to Delhi for investigation, Rijiju said that it was for the agencies to decide. Anup Chetia, whose original name is Golap Baruah and was also known as Sunil Baruah, Bhaijan or Ahmed, is the General Secretary of ULFA. He is also one of the founder leaders of the group. He was born at Jerai Gaon in Tinsukia district of Assam.Chetia was first arrested in March, 1991 in Assam but was released by then Chief Minister Hiteswar Saikia. On December 21, 1997, he was again arrested in Dhaka under the Foreigners Act and the Passports Act for illegally carrying foreign currencies and a satellite phone. He was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment by a Bangladeshi court and was being held at Kashimpur Jail located on the outskirts of Dhaka.Chetia was charged with illegally entering Bangladesh using a forged passport; possession of illegal foreign currency from 16 different countries and illegal possession of arms. He was also a wanted by the Assam Police for various cases, including killing, kidnapping and extortion. Since his arrest in Dhaka in 1997, the Indian Government had been asking the Bangladesh Government to extradite Chetia.Dhaka had earlier refused to entertain New Delhi’s request on grounds that the two countries did not have an extradition treaty. After the 15th India-Bangladesh Home Secretary-level meeting at Dhaka, Bangladesh Home Affairs Secretary Mozammel Haque Khan had confirmed that Bangladesh has agreed to hand over Anup Chetia to India, which will send back Nur Hossain, prime accused in a case of seven murders in Narayanganj.Despite the expiry of his prison term, Chetia was in jail under a 2003 High Court directive asking authorities to keep him in safe custody until a decision was taken on his asylum plea.

Government hopes parties would extend cooperation in Winter session

The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) headed by the Home Minister decided that the Winter Session of the Parliament will be held between November 26-December 23

Rajnath Singh

Government on Tuesday hoped all political parties will extend cooperation to it in passing crucial bills in Parliament during the forthcoming Winter Session beginning November 26.”We hope that everyone, all political parties will cooperate in the House and help us to pass the bills which are in the interests of the country,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters at a ‘Diwali Milan’ function.”All should help us,” he said. There are eight pending bills in Lok Sabha and 11 in Rajya Sabha. Among the crucial legislations which are pending for Parliamentary approval include GST Bill.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) headed by the Home Minister on Monday decided that the Winter Session of the Parliament will be held between November 26-December 23, including a special two-day sitting on the first two days of the session to commemorate the adoption of the Indian Constitution on November 26, 1949, and honour its architect, Dalit icon BR Ambedkar.

AAP suspends Munish Kumar Raizada for anti-party activities

The AAP on Monday said that Raizada, who is based in Chicago, mislead volunteers by floating a website through which he sought ideas and inputs on organisation related activities, portraying it to be a platform of the party’s Lokpal.

Munish Kumar Raizada
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Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member Munish Kumar Raizada, who allegedly mislead the volunteers by projected himself as the chief of party’s international cell, has been suspended for anti-party activity.The AAP on Monday said that Raizada, who is based in Chicago, mislead volunteers by floating a website through which he sought ideas and inputs on organisation related activities, portraying it to be a platform of the party’s Lokpal.”He (Raizada) was suspended from the party’s primary membership since he floated a parallel platform which he is not authorised to do. He also made the internal communication of the party public,” said AAP spokesperson Preeti Sharma Menon.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The party’s Overseas Affairs Cell is headed by senior AAP leader Kumar Vishwas. Further enquiry will be initiated and Raizada will be asked to present his version, she said.”We had even given him a notice but he chose not to reply,” said Menon, who is also co-ordinator of the party’s Overseas Affairs Cell.

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