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Heroin trade strained India-UK relations in 1980s: UK files

India’s reluctance to allow Britain to position British officers in New Delhi and Mumbai to monitor illegal heroin trade in the 1980s strained India-UK relations, according to newly-released UK cabinet files.Then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s government believed that “illicit heroin movement from India” was at an “all-time peak” and wanted her Indian counterpart Rajiv Gandhi to agree to two British Drug Liaison Officers (DLOs) to be appointed in India.However, Gandhi resisted until India had received information of its own on offenders seeking refuge in the UK, according to newly declassified documents in the National Archives. In contrast, Pakistan under President Zia-ul-Haq seemed more receptive to Britain’s requests with DLOs placed in Karachi and Islamabad happy with “effective steps to tackle the problem of heroin production”.”The evidence was that Pakistan was getting on top of the drug production problem,” a letter to Downing Street dated December 4, 1985, noted following a visit by then UK health minister David Mellor to Pakistan.It went on to warn of the problem shifting to India, saying “Mr Mellor believed that, as drug controls were increased in Pakistan, and particularly at Karachi Airport, much of the traffic was now taking the land route to India”.”This would inevitably have an impact on the extent of heroin used and production in India itself. India might replace Afghanistan and Pakistan as the major world supplier,” it said. Mellor was concerned about delays in securing India’s agreement to the secondment of two Customs officers. Following a telegram from Thatcher questioning the reason for the delay, Gandhi responded “I feel that there is a communication gap somewhere. We are determined to combat the drug menace with every resource at our command. We had readily agreed, in principle, to British drug liaison presence in India.”We have an equally pressing problem in relation to economic and commercial offenders, who operate from or seek foreign sanctuaries. Our Parliament and people continue to be exercised on what is perceived to be lack of adequate action against such offenders,” Gandhi wrote.Britain finally got its way and Hartley Booth, an adviser to Thatcher, confirmed the success in a memo dated November 28, 1986, “After 31 approaches from officials and FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) ministers during the last 15 months, India relented on November 20 and accepted the appointment of two drugs liaison officers from the United Kingdom to India”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Delhi Assembly passes bill to effect 400% hike in MLA salary

The Delhi government will now send the bill to the Centre and if it is approved, then basic salaries of legislators will rise from current Rs 12,000 to Rs 50,000 and their overall monthly package will be around Rs 2.1 lakh as against existing Rs 88,000.

The basic monthly salary of Delhi MLAs and ministers is all set to go up by a whopping 400 per cent besides significant hike in a slew of allowances with the assembly on Thursday approving a bill to effect the increase considering rising cost of living.The Delhi government will now send the bill to the Centre and if it is approved, then basic salaries of legislators will rise from current Rs 12,000 to Rs 50,000 and their overall monthly package will be around Rs 2.1 lakh as against existing Rs 88,000. As per provisions of the bill, the basic salary of a minister will be Rs 80,000 which is currently Rs 20,000. If the Centre approves the Bill, then salaries of Delhi legislators will among the highest in the country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Overall the hike proposed is two-and-a-half fold. “The bill proposes to increase the salaries, allowances and other facilities of the Members of the Legislative Assembly of Delhi so as to facilitate them to work effectively in their fields,” Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, presenting the bill in the assembly. The Members of the Legislative Assembly of the Government of NCT of Delhi (Salaries, Allowances, Pension) Amendment Bill 2015 was drafted based on a report of a three-member committee chaired by former Secretary General of Lok Sabha PDT Achary.”We have accepted all the recommendations of the panel,” Sisodia said. In July, a group of AAP legislators had demanded a significant hike in salary, arguing their earnings were not enough to run their family and offices.Apart from basic salary, the bill proposes hiking constituency allowance from current Rs 18,000 to Rs 50,000, saying the current amount was “grossly” inadequate.The bill also provides for a reimbursable sum of Rs 70,000 per month was also recommended as allowance under ‘Secretarial, Research and Office Assistance’ head which is Rs 30,000 at present.An ‘office rental and related utilities’ allowance of Rs 25,000 has been proposed for meeting expenditure on office space and other essential amenities provided by government agencies.As per the bill, the legislators will be entitled to a communication allowance of Rs 10,000 per month as well as Rs 30,000 as monthly conveyance allowance for each MLA.The ‘daily’ allowance of each MLA during every sitting of the House or its committees has been proposed to be hiked from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000. The salaries of Leader of Opposition, Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Chief Whip will be on par with the ministers. The one-time allowances of MLAs have also been recommended to be increased significantly with one time ‘office furnishing’ allowance of Rs 1 lakh, Rs 60,000 for purchasing office equipment and a vehicle loan of Rs 12 lakh, which is Rs 4 lakh at present.Lawmakers’ salaries were last increased by 100 per cent in September 2011 by the then Sheila Dikshit government, citing inflation and the rise in the cost of living.The Bill also provides for a hike in monthly pension from the existing Rs 7,500 to Rs 15,000 per month for first term of membership and an additional pension of Rs 1,000 per month for every successive year of membership beyond the first term, Achary said.The family pension has been recommended at 50 per cent of the pension being paid to a deceased member or an ex-member, he said. The bill also features a maximum reimbursable travel allowance of Rs 3 lakh per annum for each MLA and his dependents by air, rail, road or steamer. In an important recommendation, the bill also provides for a 10 per cent hike in the basic salary, Rs 5,000 per month, after every 12 months, from the date on which new salary and allowances come into force.The three-member committee of experts had finalised its 21-page “unanimous report” in October. The committee, including non-official members KV Prasad and Balraj Malik, went through pay and allowances structures of many state assemblies as well as those of the US Congress, UK, Australia and many other Commonwealth nations.The Delhi Cabinet on November 28 had approved the hike in salaries and allowances of the MLAs. Both BJP, which has three legislators and Congress with no representative in the House, had opposed the hike.

PM Modi leaves for Paris to attend global climate change meet

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday left for Paris to attend the world conference on climate change amid his emphasis that it is the responsibility of all to work against global warming.

“Leaving for Paris, where I will join @COP21. In the Summit, we will deliberate on crucial issues relating to environment & climate change,” he tweeted just before his departure.

PM Narendra Modi. ReutersPM Narendra Modi. Reuters

PM Narendra Modi. Reuters

“At the @COP21 will inaugurate India Pavilion, showcasing India’s harmony with nature, environment & commitment to mitigate climate change,” Modi said in another tweet.

The Prime Minister said he and French President Francois Hollande will jointly host a meeting of International Solar Alliance.

Modi will also attend ‘Mission Innovation’ being hosted by US President Barack Obama.

Prior to his departure, the Prime Minister said in his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’: “The whole world is worried about climate change. There are discussions everywhere over it and concerns are being expressed…. The temperature of the Earth should not increase now. It is the responsibility and concern of all.”

His emphasis on the responsibility of all assumes significance as the developed world is trying to place greater onus on developing nations like India in the fight against climate change.

India has been maintaining that the developed countries have been the major polluters over centuries and should assume greater role in fighting global warming by funding and transferring low-cost technology to developing nations.

Joining a select group of countries, India said it will provide USD 2.5 million for the vulnerable nations in the Commonwealth to help them introduce clean energy and reduce green-house gas emissions.

PTI

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.

Sushma Swaraj leaves for Malta to attend Commonwealth Summit

The Summit of the 53-member bloc, born out of the British empire, comes two weeks after the deadly terror attack in Paris and it is expected to deliberate extensively on finding effective ways to counter terrorism and radicalisation.

Sushma Swaraj leaves for Malta. Image Courtesy: MEA

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday embarked on a visit to Malta to attend the Commonwealth Summit beginning on Friday which is likely to focus on combating terrorism and violent extremism as well as tackling climate change.The Summit of the 53-member bloc, born out of the British empire, comes two weeks after the deadly terror attack in Paris and it is expected to deliberate extensively on finding effective ways to counter terrorism and radicalisation.India is Commonwealth’s biggest member country and Swaraj will articulate India’s position on a number of key issues at the Summit which is likely to be attended by more than 30 heads of state and government.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Adding Global Value, with the Commonwealth! EAM @SushmaSwaraj departs for the CHOGM Summit in Malta,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.The three-day long Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is also going to discuss a range of issues relating to climate change and it will try to drum up political support before the Paris Summit.A special Executive Session on Climate Change will discuss various issues to tackle climate change with particular focus on producing a unified commitment by the Commonwealth countries at the Paris summit.UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius are likely to attend the session.CHOGM is held after every two years and the theme for this year’s meeting is Adding Global Value. The Summit is also likely to deliberate on issues relating to trade and commerce and migration among others.In 2013, the then Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh did not participate in the CHOGM summit held in Colombo in view of opposition by parties in Tamil Nadu as well as a section in Congress over alleged human rights abuses by the host during the 26-year civil war.The Commonwealth countries are home to around 2.2 billion people of which over 60 per cent are under the age of 30. The grouping includes some of the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries. Thirty-one of its members are small states, many of them island nations.The Summit, likely to be attended by Queen Elizabeth II, will also deliberate on ways to tackle radicalisation and extremism.Malta, a Southern European island country comprising an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea, is hosting the CHOGM for the second time.

Following Emergency in island nation, Sushma Swaraj holds talks with Maldivian FM Dunya Maumoon

Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen had on November 4 imposed Emergency in the country for 30 days citing threat to national security and gave sweeping powers to security forces.

Maumoon’s visit here comes nearly a month after Swaraj’s trip to Male during which she co-chaired a Joint Commission meeting. ”

Imgae credit: MEA Twitter
Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon on Saturday apprised External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj circumstances leading to imposition of Emergency in the island nation earlier this month besides current political situation. After her extensive talks with Swaraj, Maumoon, who arrived here today on a two-day visit, said she came here to apprise India about the Emergency and developments leading to it. Both Swaraj and Maumoon also deliberated on a range of other issues of mutual interest. “I came largely to personally apprise about the emergency and other developments leading to the Emergency,” she said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen had on November 4 imposed Emergency in the country for 30 days citing threat to national security and gave sweeping powers to security forces. However, the Emergency was lifted on November 10, a week after its imposition after requests from many countries including the US and Sri Lanka and the Commonwealth. Maumoon’s visit here comes nearly a month after Swaraj’s trip to Male during which she co-chaired a Joint Commission meeting. “Diplomacy at home and abroad! Earlier today EAM @SushmaSwaraj met Maldives Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon,” MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.During her visit, Swaraj had called on Yameen who had bluntly told her that his government will not tolerate that “foreign parties” interfere in domestic issues. The remarks were downplayed by India, maintaining that they were aimed at the Commonwealth and not at it.

Mr Rahul Gandhi, please tick your answer: Did you apply for British passport at any stage? Yes/No

How difficult is it really to go through official channels and find out if Rahul Gandhi was ever British? It literally is just a case of picking up the phone and making a call, rather than waving pieces of privately-acquired paper around.

We have a massive High Commission functioning in London.

We have 1.6 million Indians in the UK — working in government, media and even the intelligence services. By that token, we have our own intelligence services working across the globe.

We have Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is good chums with his counterpart David Cameron, and three days ago we saw tangible evidence of that friendship.

Both nations are members of the Commonwealth and share information.

File image of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

File image of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

In this hi-tech age nothing is secret.

Surely, all it needs is one call to the UK Foreign Office to get confirmation about whether this accusation against Rahul applying for British citizenship has any merit. This is the number of the Foreign Office on King Charles Street: +44 20 7270 3000.

They are closed now but will reopen in the morning (GMT). Give them a call.

If the UK government issued him a passport or can show an application under his signature, he is toast. Dump him, make him pay the penalty, whatever the law says. The paper trail will be thick and impossible to cover up. He is the son of a former Prime Minister of India and with the BJP in the current bilateral flow of affection, even the Brits would be hard-placed to wipe away the trail.

Let’s go a step further. Where were our agencies these 10 years of which we can for the sake of argument, concede that the Congress strong-armed Whitehall into submission, but the BJP has been in command for 18 months and it’s only now that this comes up.

You cannot get a visa to the UK as an Indian without jumping through multi-coloured hoops and doing the most humiliating Q and As possible, and we are to believe that this guy strolled in and got British citizenship, and the whole of the Indian administrative system never had a clue?

Try getting a British passport. Half the guys working there in the passport services are Indian and no one said, “Uh-oh, isn’t this that Rahul Gandhi fellow?”.

There is no mystery, no great intrigue. Either he did or he didn’t apply for a document that made him a British passport holder. Even the Mohamed al-Fayed couldn’t get one, and he owned Harrods… and his son was dating Princess Diana.

Does Subramaniam Swamy have any idea how vicious the tabloid press is in the UK? And does he really think they would pass up a story like this for a decade and nobody would know? Heathrow probably has more Indians in the airport than Delhi, if you get the drift.

Throw the book at Rahul by just demanding, not asking, but demanding an answer. Summon the British High Commissioner to the External Affairs Ministry and ask for an official clarification. Is that so difficult? You should get an answer in a day.

Ask Rahul directly. He is on Indian soil, so what’s the problem? Besides, he loves microphones.

Having his name on some company document without legal or official declaration is not evidence and that is plain common sense.

When you can print currency, what is the big deal in producing some company document with wrong information?

That said, there is one area of grey. That striking out of the nationality from ‘British’ to a handwritten ‘Indian’ is odd. And clumsy. And foolish. And amateurish.

Surely, if Rahul was guilty someone on his side would have had the common sense not to be so obviously stupid.

What it boils down to is simply finding out the answer officially and ending this speculation:

Attn: Rahul Gandhi
Did you at any stage apply for a British passport? Yes/No
Have you ever filled in any form requesting British citizenship? Yes/No
Were you, at any time a British passport holder? Yes/No
Have you ever been abroad from India on any passport besides an Indian one? Yes/No
Have you ever been rejected by the British government in an application to be a British citizen? Yes/No

Sign here.

Frankly, I would be a lot more concerned about about Mani Shankar Aiyer and his mouthings in Pakistan.

Bihar Elections 2015: Why you should hold your horses before declaring Lalu-Nitish Kumar as the next messiahs

We will see the same circus all over again as the Bihar results project Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar as the new heroes

Over the last five years, we in the media specifically, and the Indian society as a whole, are guilty of celebrating individuals way too early. Not just celebrating, but turning them into demi-gods, and then quickly dumping them to embrace new ones.Following their splendid victory in the Bihar assembly polls, one won’t be surprised if Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar are celebrated as the new political alternatives to the invincible Narendra Modi-Amit Shah pair (the latter have lost only one state, so to speak, since Delhi shouldn’t be counted as one). However, it is important we don’t do so.One started seeing the trend soon after the 2009 Lok Sabha polls – when the UPA scored its second win, the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was credited for the victory that few had anticipated. One remembers television channels and leading national newspapers using ‘Singh is King’ in their banner headlines. But in just two years, ‘the man who had ably steered India through one of its worst recessions’ was the villain.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In 2011-12, it was Anna Hazare who emerged as the ‘Big Hope’ and we declared him as the ‘Doosara Gandhi’. Hazare’s narrative of being the sole and fearless anti-corruption voice was extremely fascinating. The country was being bombarded with fantastical figures of corruption from the Commonwealth Games, 2G auctions etc and Hazare was the flavour of the season. His agitation gathered momentum riding on this mood of the nation and was fuelled by television channels looking to up their TRP.The Bharatiya Janata Party cashed in on this sentiment and projected Narendra Modi as the ‘Vikas Purush’ who developed Gujarat like never before. The 2014 Lok Sabha polls gave Modi a landslide victory and a clear majority for the BJP. This was no mean feat. But Modi was now the “Rambo who rescued 15000 Gujaratis from the Uttarakhand floods” and the “Sabarmati ka Sant” (a title so far reserved for Mahatma Gandhi).Last year, it was Arvind Kejriwal who was shunned and written off by the media after AAP’s debacle in the Lok Sabha polls. And then he stunned the media and the BJP with a stupendous win in the Delhi assembly polls with a monstrous majority. Suddenly, the tables had turned and it was Kejriwal who was the media’s darling.We will see the same circus all over again as the Bihar results project Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar as the new heroes. We will forget that Lalu was convicted in a corruption case and that Nitish Kumar is after all, a convert who ruled Bihar with the BJP’s Sushilkumar Modi as the deputy Chief Minister, till not so long ago.One understands the cliché that ‘public memory is short’. But this is shorter memory than that depicted in the movie Ghajini and all of us seem to be victims of anterograde amnesia, something that the character played by Aamir Khan suffers from in the movie!At the end of the day, nothing rings more truer than a quote by Khalil Gibran here:”Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting, and farewells him with hooting, only to welcome another with trumpeting again..”

West Bengal bids a teary adieu to ex- speaker Hashim Abdul Halim

West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury condoled the death of Halim who had the distinction of being the longest-serving Speaker in the country

Hashim Abdul Halim

Zee 24 Ghanta
Former West Bengal Assembly Speaker and CPI-M veteran Hashim Abdul Halim died on Monday after a cardiac arrest at a city nursing home, his family members said.He was 80 and is survived by wife, two sons and a daughter. West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury condoled the death of Halim who had the distinction of being the longest-serving Speaker in the country. Halim held the Speaker’s post in the state Assembly from 1982 to 2011 during the Left Front rule He had been suffering from cardiac problems for the last few years.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Halim complained of chest pain after returning from a morning walk and was immediately shifted to a nursing home where he breathed his last at 10.10 am, his son Fuad said. West Bengal governor K N Tripathi in his condolence message recalled his long association with him. “I am deeply grieved to learn about the sad demise of Hasim Abdul Halim, a leader of the democratic movement and former Speaker of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly. He was my friend, having worked together in several commonwealth parliamentary Association conferences. His death is a personal loss to me,” Tripathi said.Leaders cutting across political lines condoled Halim’s death and remembered him as a gentleman whose death, they said, created a vacuum in parliamentary democracy. Present West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee also paid his condolence to the veteran. Halim had also served as the chairman of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and president of World Federation of United Nations Association.CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury in a series of tweets said, “Lal Salaam…Comrade Hasim Abdul Halim. Served longest as Speaker of West Bengal Assembly. Remained strong pillar of support in maintaining communal harmony.” In another tweet, Yechury said, “Steered with statesmanship, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association as Chairman of its executive committee.”Senior Congress leader Manas Bhunia said Halim had created an example of how a speaker should perform rising above the party line. Halim was elected as a CPI-M MLA for the first time in 1977, when the CPI(M) led Left Front came to power. He was elected to the state Assembly for seven consecutive terms till 2011. He also served as Judicial Affairs minister from 1977 to 1982, the year when he was elected the Speaker. His body was laid to rest on Tuesday. Thousands of people cutting across political lineage paid their last respects to Halim in the state Assembly building. Many fondly remembered how Halim reached out to people from all walk of life during his long stint as Speaker.

National level shooter Sippy Sidhu found murdered in Chandigarh

Chandigarh: Sippy Sidhu, a national level shooter, was murdered and his bullet-riddled body was found in a park in Chandigarh, leaving the shooting fraternity shocked.

The body of the 34-year-old shooter was recovered from a park in Sector 27 at around 11 on Monday night.

Police sources said that they received a call from a local that a dead body was lying in the park, after which a team rushed to the spot. Upon verification, the body was found to be that of Sidhu.

Shooter Sippy Sidhu. Image Credit: FacebookShooter Sippy Sidhu. Image Credit: Facebook

Shooter Sippy Sidhu. Image Credit: Facebook

The motive behind the murder is not yet known. Sidhu was also a lawyer and a sports promoter, who came from an affluent family. He was proprietor of the ‘Sippy Sidhu Law Firm’ based in the city.

Confirming the incident, Chandigarh SSP Sukhchain Singh Gill said that it was a case of murder and the police were investigating it.

“His body was found at around 11 00 pm on Sunday night in the Sector-27 park. He was probably shot dead at around 10 15 pm His body has two or three bullet injuries,” he said.

Sippy was a rifle shooter and had won the team gold along with Abhinav Bindra in the Punjab National Games in 2001. He had been on the shooting circuit for more than fifteen years and won medals regularly at various shooting competitions. He was also a joint secretary of the Paralympic Committee of India.

The news of Sippy’s murder sent shock waves in the Indian shooting fraternity.

“This is very shocking and I came to know about today only. He was a young shooter,” said National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) secretary Rajiv Bhatia.

Rifle shooter Shimon Sharif said, “It’s a great loss to shooting sports and to me personally. Sippy was a close friend. He had the passion to promote sports in India. He was working very hard in the field of sports promotion and development and surely had a very bright future.

“This is very shocking for me, he was very friendly and full of life,” said 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Sameer Ambekar.

On hearing the news, London Olympic bronze medallist Gagan Narang immediately left for Chandigarh from Delhi to attend Sidhu’s funeral.

PTI

36-yr-old succumbs to dengue; toll in Delhi at 22

Family members of the deceased woman, Amita Sharma, alleged medical negligence on part of a private hospital where she was first treated.

A 36-year-old woman died of suspected dengue in New Delhi on Sunday evening, taking the toll from the disease in the national capital to 22 even as Delhi government claimed the health situation in response to the vector-borne fever has “improved”.Family members of the deceased woman, Amita Sharma, alleged medical negligence on part of a private hospital where she was first treated. While civic authorities are yet to update the official figure, which still stands at five, this was the 22nd dengue casualty reported in Delhi this season. “She (Sharma) was admitted to a private hospital with fever, but wasn’t properly treated there,” alleged a family member.”We then took her to a government hospital, where she was diagnosed with dengue. After that, she was admitted to another private hospital under EWS category. She passed away this evening due to multi-organ failure,” the family member added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the city in the grip of the dengue scare, thousands of fever patients flocked hospitals to get tested for dengue while several others were admitted for treatment. “Even today (Sunday), a large number of patients visited the fever clinics which have been set up to deal with the dengue crisis. “People are still panicking as cases refuse to come down. Several patients having slight fever have also checked in at hospital fearing they have contracted the disease,” a doctor at Safdarjung Hospital said on Sunday. Meanwhile, Delhi government claimed that it was “winning the battle” against the deadly disease. “The health situation is now better and we are winning the battle the against dengue,” Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia told reporters here.More than 2,000 dengue cases have been reported this year. Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain on Sunday conducted surprise inspection at Janakpuri’s Super Speciality Hospital and Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital and took stock of the dengue preparedness there. Recently, 200 new beds were set up at the hospital to accommodate the increasing numbers of dengue patients. The health minister also met representatives of School Management Committee (SMC) to spread dengue awareness in 1,100 government schools in the national capital.Meanwhile, a team of a municipal corporation staff were allegedly not allowed to carry out dengue breeding checking at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s official residence here with the Delhi government saying that they had come only with the intention of “creating drama”. While the civic bodies, in a rather delayed response, are undertaking special preventive drives, Delhiites feel that the worst outbreak of the vector-borne disease in the last five years has exposed the “ill-preparedness” of the MCD in dealing with the menace. Union Health Minister JP Nadda today promised “whatever support” the Delhi government needed to fight the disease, saying it was not the time to engage in a blame-game. Delhi Metro has also joined in spreading awareness on the disease. It has put up posters and banners at all stations and fed its public information display system with messages aimed at preventing further spread of the vector-borne disease Battling rising number of dengue cases, Delhi government has ordered that 55 government-run dispensaries be converted into ‘Fever and Dengue Clinics’ from tomorrow. These clinics will operate from 7 am to 9 pm on all days, including Sundays and holidays, till further orders.Also, fresh showers in the city have stoked fears of dengue cases flaring up, with the Union Health Ministry issuing an advisory to Delhi government to “intensify” measures to check the breeding of mosquitoes in the national capital. The ministry had earlier directed all hospitals under central government to not deny treatment to any patient suffering from fever or suspected dengue and has asked hospitals to increase their bed strength to accommodate more patients.The ministry also asked Delhi government to take action against any over-charging by private hospitals in treating dengue patients. In 2010, the city saw a massive outbreak of the vector- borne disease, and eight official deaths and at least 6,259 cases were recorded. The year saw huge spurt in the cases due to construction activities happening as the Commonwealth Games were being hosted in the city.While till September 12 this year, 1,872 cases were recorded, during the same period in 2010, 1,933 cases were registered. Central teams have visited high-endemic states which have reported a large number of cases to provide technical guidance for dealing with the situation.

Next month’s India-Africa Summit will be Narendra Modi’s biggest global diplomacy spectacle

With the Modi government planning to host representatives of more than 50 African States in New Delhi from 26 to 29 October, it is time to understand what this means for India, the reason for this sudden interest and what the dimensions are of this engagement.

First the ground realities. Despite the warmth and fraternity that draws from the common fight against colonialism and the support India extended to the struggle against apartheid and the desire to make common cause in an inequitable world order, India has not focused enough on Africa.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. APPrime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

Today, we have embassies only in 29 of the 54 African states that we have diplomatic relations with. On the other hand, 42 African countries have their missions in Africa. The same restricted approach to engagement was reflected in the two Africa Summits held under the Manmohan Singh government.

In 2007, only 14 leaders participated at the first India-Africa Summit in Delhi while at the second Summit at Addis Ababa in 2011 it was 12 leaders. The Indian target this time is to ensure that at least 40 African heads of state/government turn up.

The Modi government’s inclusive and non-discriminatory approach of inviting all 54 African countries with which India has diplomatic relations seems by all accounts to have been widely welcomed. As many as 35 leaders said to have already confirmed participation two months prior to the Summit, even as Indian Special Envoys are reaching out to the rest during the course of this month.

In short, Africa has more than adequately responded to the Modi government’s overtures. This gathering of leaders will be the largest India has hosted since 1983 November when 33 of the Commonwealth leaders gathered in New Delhi in response to Mrs Indira Gandhi’s invite.

The inclusive ‘all of Africa’ engagement therefore is a good first step. It reflects PM Modi’s view that India’s foreign policy is moving from a balancing role to a leadership role.

Only three other countries – China, Japan and USA have engaged the entire African continent. So this summit is the Modi government’s coming out party as a leader rather than a bit player in international relations. Coupled with the Pacific Islands summit earlier in August, India would have hosted over 70 leaders in about 2 months. Clearly the Modi government is playing for big stakes in the international arena.

Now the question arises of what is there in it for India in this all of Africa engagement. To a discerning observer, Africa is crucial to every issue of interest in international relations in the long term.

Security Council permanent membership can only materialise if Africa supports India.

International terror is fast becoming a major challenge for Africa – Boko Haram, Al Shabab or the terror groups in the Sinai, or Tunisia have brought home to several African states that terror is no longer a distant threat. India and Africa need to make common cause in terms of declaratory and practical support to each other.

Africa is fast becoming a major supplier of India’s energy needs with already 20 percent of oil imports sourced from there.

Modi’s gambit for an international solar group as a practical response to climate change concerns will involve getting support of nearly 50 African states who will constitute almost half of the entire group of 100 odd countries who can join together.

Africa, even though the oldest continent, has amongst the youngest population and can make common cause with India on matters such as health and education. Indian models in both these areas can work for Africa too.

Agriculture is another area where India can both gain from the outputs of large tracts of arable lands (Onions from Egypt is most recent example) and also support by providing expertise.

For all these reasons Modi’s ‘all of Africa’ gambit needs to be watched more closely than forays to distant lands. In the long run the potential of this quiet but strategically serious effort far outweighs many others that may have garnered more attention.

CWG street lighting scam: Main accused TP Singh sentenced to six years in jail

The main accused, TP Singh has been sentenced to 6 years in jail.

In the first conviction in the Commonwealth Games scam, a Delhi Court on Wednesday sentenced five persons, including four MCD officials to a four year jail term, each in the 2010 CWG street lighting case.The main accused, TP Singh has been sentenced to 6 years in jail. The other accused have been accorded with 4-year jail sentence. The four MCD officials are former superintendent engineer D K Sugan, executive engineer O P Mahala, accountant Raju V and tender clerk Gurcharan Singh, according to reports.The convicts were accused of charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery for purpose of cheating and were also charged under sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Lack of toilets, sexual harassment, top problems faced by policewomen in India: Report

The CHRI report titled ‘Rough Roads to Equality’ (conducted in police departments in Kerala, Haryana, Meghalaya, Rajasthan and Jharkand) stated that even in places where toilets were available, they were badly maintained.

dna Research & Archives
She spends the whole day toiling under the hot sun, but doesn’t dare quench her thirst. With no restroom facilities to make use of, a female traffic constable in the country says she would rather go thirsty than struggle to find a place to relieve herself. It may be shocking, but lack of toilets and sexual harassment are two major issues hampering the lives of policewomen in India, according to a report by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative​ (CHRI).While men and women in the police force have always been held to different standards and men have benefited more in terms of promotions and postings, these recent findings show the inefficiencies in the system.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite the fact that the Government of India issued guidelines first in February 2013 and then in May 2014 stating that police stations should mandatorily have creches and toilets, it doesn’t seem to have been implemented. The CHRI report titled ‘Rough Roads to Equality’ (conducted in police departments in Kerala, Haryana, Meghalaya, Rajasthan and Jharkhand) stated that in many places where toilets were available, they were badly maintained. If women were part of the traffic department, it became all the more difficult for them, as public restrooms are not widely prevalent. In fact, one police constable in Rajasthan revealed that she didn’t drink water even when it was very hot, to get around the issue. While men also had to deal with these conditions, the outdoors was an option available to them.The report highlighted that sexual harassment also existed in the police force. Some of the women whom the CHRI spoke to – surprisingly – didn’t know they could complain about sexual harassment. This was possibly because they weren’t aware nor educated on what measures they could take. Thus, sexual harassment went largely unreported in the police force, said the CHRI report.The khaki uniform the policewomen wore was more than just a uniform for them – not only did it give them strength, confidence and respect, the women felt a lot of pride in wearing it as well, stated the report. But the male culture in the police force was an area of concern. Allocation of duties and promotions and postings were seen to be biased and apparently women had to work twice as much as men to prove their worth in the police force.

Amazing India: Maha Kumbh 2013 beats FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil

It seems that the Maha Kumbh, the world’s largest religious congregation was better organised that the FIFA World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010.

It seems that the Maha Kumbh, the world’s largest religious congregation was better organised that the FIFA World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010. A book produced by scholars and students of Harvard University along with others claimed. A book called Kumbh Mela – Mapping the Ephemeral Megacity added: “For a country notorious for its ‘lethargic’ bureaucracy, the success of Maha Kumbh is truly noteworthy.”The book was launched by Akhilesh Yadav recently. Over 50 Harvard students, professors and other staff members went to the site. Meena Sonea Hewett, exectuvive director of the South Asian Institute of Harvard University said the book served as an “example of sophisticated Referring to the Kumbh Mela project undertaken by the South Asia Institute (SAI) of the Harvard University as a “keystone project” the book goes on to discuss in detail the entire multi-year research project findings.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During the period of the project, over 50 Harvard professors, students, administrative staff, doctors and researchers made a pilgrimage to the site, with the duration of stay spanning between two days to several weeks. Meena Sonea Hewett, executive director of the SAI in the preamble states that the book serves as an “example of sophisticated, interdisciplinary researched and produced a set of teaching tools, useful across the disciplines of public health, data science, architecture, urban planning, business, religion and culture.”

Civilians bear the brunt as Pakistan fire targets NSA-level talks; Pak envoy says India behind ceasefire violation

During the talks scheduled on August 23, NSA Ajit Doval is expected to raise Indian concerns on Pak-sponsored terrorism with counterpart Sartaz Aziz by giving ample proof of evidence of terror, including the recent ones in Gurdaspur in Punjab and near Udhampur in Jammu.

Relatives during the funeral of Sarpanch Karamat Hussain who was killed in Pakistani shelling at Balakot sector at Poonch in Jammu on Sunday.

PTI photo
Barely a week before NSA-level talks, relations between India and Pakistan turned sour again with the latter resorting to unprovoked firing along the LoC, even after its High Commissioner was summoned by the New Delhi. Five civilians, including a Sarpanch, had lost their lives on the Independence Day. Sunday’s firing claimed another civilian, even while injuring five others.However, after meeting external affairs ministry secretary Anil Wadhwa, Basit went on the offensive, accusing India of 70 ceasefire violations along the LoC and International Boundary in the months of July and August. “…Our side would like to have a more effective mechanism in place so as to determine who indulges in these unprovoked firing,” said Basit.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Debunking Basit claims, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “We lodged a strong protest and conveyed our anger at the unprovoked firing by Pakistan troops since August 8, particularly, with regard to incidents of yesterday and today in Poonch that saw systematic targeting of our civilian population. On several occasions issue of ceasefire violations has been raised at DGMO level. Assurances have been received that firing will stop. But, the firing continued until today.”The escalation in hostilities leading up to NSA level talks, sources said, means Pakistan Army does not want the talks to happen or wants to convey belligerence even during the talks. Incidents in the recent past including the terror incidents in Jammu and Punjab and Pakistan’s refusal to invite J&K speaker to a conference of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, give an impression that Pak Army is trying to undermine the spirit of Ufa talks between the two premiers, sources said.”It seems that Pakistan, especially the ISI and the Army, is trying to force India to scuttle it,” sources said.During the talks scheduled on August 23, NSA Ajit Doval is expected to raise Indian concerns on Pak-sponsored terrorism with counterpart Sartaz Aziz by giving ample proof of evidence of terror, including the recent ones in Gurdaspur in Punjab and near Udhampur in Jammu.India has strong case in the capture of Mohammed Naved Yakub, a Pakistani national and an LeT operative, who hails from Faisalabad.

Kashmir: Radical outfit leader Asiya Andrabi addresses Hafiz Saeed rally, stokes controversy

Srinagar: Chief of radical women’s outfit Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Asiya Andrabi, has stoked a controversy by addressing a rally organised by Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa in Pakistan.

Asiya Andrabi. Reuters

Asiya Andrabi. Reuters

In her telephonic address to the rally, organised in Lahore on 14 August, Andrabi greeted the people of the neighbouring country on their Independence Day.

Saeed was seen sitting on the stage during Andrabi’s address.

Hours before her address, the DeM chief had celebrated Pakistan’s Independence Day at her residence.

Dozens of DeM activists had gathered in Bachpora area of the city where they celebrated Pakistan’s Independence Day.

Andrabi’s telephone address triggered a controversy with BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir unit president Jugal Kishore demanding strict action against her.

“These are instances of treason and will not be tolerated at all…Asiya Andrabi should be arrested. I expect that she would have been arrested by now and a case of treason would have been registered against her.”

Congress spokesman RPN Singh demanded that concrete action should be taken against those working against the state.

“The NSA-level talks are slated to be held on August 23-24. A lot of talks have happened and the government claims about a breakthrough. But, with the terrorists attacking India, there is an urgent need to take concrete action against them, whether it is Hafiz Saeed or Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi via these talks with Pakistan.”

JKNPP leader Harsh Dev Singh noted that this was not the first time that Andrabi has indulged in such acts.

“I don’t understand why these people have been given a long rope by the present government in J-K. They ought to have booked the culprits by now, because it’s not the first time that Asiya is indulging in such kind of anti-national activities… So, we feel unnerved by the government’s approach in taking action against people like her.”

Andrabi had earlier also celebrated Pakistan’s National Day on 23 March this year and hoisted the flag of that country, following which the police had registered a case against her under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

PTI

PM Modi greets Pakistan on its Independence Day

“Greetings & good wishes to the people of Pakistan on their Independence Day,” Modi tweeted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday greeted Pakistan on its Independence Day, notwithstanding the chill between the two countries in the wake of recent attacks in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.”Greetings & good wishes to the people of Pakistan on their Independence Day,” Modi tweeted. His greetings came in the midst of chill between the two countries in the wake of terror attacks at Gurdaspur in Punjab and Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir.The terrorists, who struck at these two places, had infiltrated from Pakistan. One of the terrorists was caught alive in the Udhampur attack. The relations between the two countries suffered another blow recently with Pakistan refusing to invite Jammu and Kashmir assembly speaker to a conference of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, in protest to which India decided to boycott the meet to be held in Islamabad from September 30 to October. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

If India wants to boycott Commonwealth Conference, it’s their problem, says Pakistan

Islamabad: Pakistan will not invite the speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly to the upcoming Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference as it would compromise its position on the Kashmir issue, the Pakistan government has said.

If India boycotts the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC) here because the Jammu and Kashmir assembly speaker was not invited, it is India’s problem, IANS quoted Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, speaker of the National Assembly who is also the president of the CPC as saying.

But come what may, Pakistan won’t budge from its stand, Sadiq said.

Representative image. AgenciesRepresentative image. Agencies

Representative image. Agencies

The Dawn on Tuesday quoted Sadiq as saying that Pakistan’s position on Jammu and Kashmir was clear. “Pakistan will not invite the speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly to the (CPC) (next month). The assembly of Indian-held Kashmir is not legitimate so we will not accept it,” he said on Monday. “If India does not attend the conference, because of the Kashmir issue, it is their choice. We cannot budge from our stand,” he added. The speaker said Jammu and Kashmir was on the UN agenda and had been an unsettled dispute since 1947.

Special Advisor to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs and National Security, Sartaj Aziz said here that Kashmir was a disputed territory and Pakistan does not recognise its assembly.

“We will never invite the speaker of occupied Jammu and Kashmir Assembly,” Aziz said.

He said Pakistan’s principled position on Jammu and Kashmir will be compromised if the speaker of held Kashmir is invited to the conference.

“Pakistan does not recognise and accept the said assembly as a legitimate one,” he said.

Pakistan is hosting the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference from 30 September to 8 October for which over 70 per cent of the delegates have confirmed participation.

India has threatened to boycott the meet if the speaker of the J&K assembly was not invited.

Indian High Commissioner T C A Raghavan said Pakistan had violated protocol by not inviting the speaker of Jammu and Kashmir, The Dawn reported.

“In the past Pakistan has invited delegations from Kashmir,” he said.

Raghavan also said that India will not attend the conference if Pakistan did not invite the speaker.

India has refused to attend the Commonwealth meet in protest against the refusal of Pakistan to invite the Jammu and Kashmir speaker.

PTI and IANS

Congress terms Pak’s refusal to invite Jammu and Kashmir Speaker as dramatics

I do not think any country can play with India’s sovereignty and integrity and I think therefore we have no reason to participate with Pakistan, which is highly insecure, fragmented and is imploding… and yet wants to play such cheap games,” Singhvi said.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi

dna Research & Archives
Congress on Sunday said Pakistan’s refusal to invite the Speaker of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Union (CPU) conference in Islamabad was nothing but dramatics and an attempt to insult “Indian sovereignty”.India decided to boycott the conference, to be held in Islamabad from September 30 to October 8, after the move by Pakistan which maintained that Jammu and Kashmir was a “disputed” territory. “Pakistan does these purely cheap political tactics, stuntbazi. I would call it dramatics to try and insult Indian sovereignty, integrity. A meeting or a seminar is a very small thing,” Congress leader Abhisek Singhvi said. Supporting the government’s decision to boycot the conference, he said the neighbouring country is playing “cheap games”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I do not think any country can play with India’s sovereignty and integrity and I think therefore we have no reason to participate with Pakistan, which is highly insecure, fragmented and is imploding… and yet wants to play such cheap games,” he said.

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Won’t invite Jammu & Kashmir speaker to CPC as it compromises position: Pakistan

“Pakistan does not recognise and accept the said assembly as a legitimate one,” he said.

Pakistan will not invite the speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly to the upcoming Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference as it would compromise its position on the Kashmir issue, the government said on Saturday.Special Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs and National Security, Sartaj Aziz said here that Kashmir was a disputed territory and Pakistan does not recognise its assembly.”We will never invite the speaker of occupied Jammu and Kashmir Assembly,” Aziz said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said Pakistan’s principled position on Jammu and Kashmir will be compromised if the speaker of held Kashmir is invited to the conference.”Pakistan does not recognise and accept the said assembly as a legitimate one,” he said.Pakistan is hosting the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference from September 30 to October 8 for which over 70 per cent of the delegates have confirmed participation.India has threatened to boycott the meet if the speaker of the J&K assembly was not invited.Indian High Commissioner T C A Raghavan said Pakistan had violated protocol by not inviting the speaker of Jammu and Kashmir, the Dawn reported.”In the past Pakistan has invited delegations from Kashmir,” he said.Raghavan also said that India will not attend the conference if Pakistan did not invite the speaker.

After J&K snub, India threatens to boycott Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference held in Pakistan

New Delhi: To drive home the point that the state of Jammu and Kashmir is an “integral” part of India, the Speaker of Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan and Speakers of state Assemblies are likely to announce a boycott of the 61st Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference to be held at Islamabad in September-October this year. Pakistan has not issued an invitation to the Speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Kavinder Gupta.

“The invitation accorded from the host country (Pakistan) has surprisingly and in utter disregard of parliamentary decorum, left out Jammu and Kashmir. This is unprecedented and unacceptable”, a high-ranking source in the Parliament told Firstpost on Friday.

File photo of Indian Parliament. Reuters

File photo of Indian Parliament. Reuters

According to sources, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Pakistan and the CPA Headquarters Secretariat will host the 61st Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Islamabad between 30 September and 8 October. This year’s theme is ‘Renewing the commitment to pluralism and inclusive democracy in the Commonwealth’, and discussions will also cover  general discussions on issues such as religious freedom, parliamentary action on terrorism, the economic impact of gender-based violence, and a debate on the role of the media in political and public life.

Mahajan is holding a meeting of state Assembly Speakers in the capital later on Friday to pass a formal resolution against the host country’s approach. According to sources, a resolution will be passed to request the CPA Pakistan and CPA Secretariat in London to “ensure issuing of invitation to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association branch of Jammu and Kashmir”.

The Indian CPA’s position is that the non-issuance of such an invite will warrant a “boycott” of the Islamabad meet. Not extending an invitation to the Jammu and Kashmir CPA is “unacceptable” as the CPA unit of Jammu and Kashmir state is “very much a bonafide member of the CPA”. The CPA was originally founded in 1911 and at present has 53 members. India, along with several other countries joined only at a later stage.

Pakistan and its provinces were active members of CPA till the military coup in 1999 when Gen Pervez Musharraf took over powers. “They (Pakistan and its provincial assemblies) were allowed to rejoin the CPA again in 2004,” sources said. The CPA Secretariat is located in London and it maintains “close relations” with branches across the globe, and promotes cooperation among them.

India to boycott Commonwealth meet after Pakistan snub to J&K speaker

CPA has not invited presiding officers of two houses of Jammu and Kashmir assembly

A paramilitary jawan patrols near a railway track where a Lashkar militant was killed during a gunfight in south Kashmir on Friday

AFP
India on Friday announced that it will boycott the meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) in Pakistan. The provocation is that hosts Pakistan, while inviting speakers of all the state assemblies, didn’t invite presiding officers of two Houses of Jammu and Kashmir legislature, citing disputed nature of the territory and a 60-year old UN Security Council resolution.Pakistan is hosting the 61st CPA conference in Islamabad from September 30 to October 8. Under the norms, the host country is authorised to send invitations to the member countries and their state branches for the summit.Ironically, in 2007 at the height of peace process between the two countries, Pakistan had allowed J&K legislature to proceed to attend the CPA meeting in their country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An emergency meeting of Speakers and Chairmen of Legislative Bodies in India was convened by the Lok Sabha Speaker, Sumitra Mahajan in a resolution decided to boycott Islamabad meeting in solidarity with the presiding officers of J&K assembly. The resolution also asked the CPA Secretariat to shift the venue from Islamabad.”We all (the Chairs of state assemblies) met today (Friday) and have decided that we will boycott the CPA if Pakistan does not send the invite to J&K,” Mahajan said. “Either the venue needs to be changed or we will not attend,” the resolution said.”They cited some old rule and said they had mentioned that they will not send the invite to J&K as the issue is in the UN Security Council,” Mahajan said. She said J&K was an inseparable part of India and Pakistan’s decision was not acceptable.India is represented in the CPA, through its 31 branches that constitute speakers and representatives from state assemblies. So far as relevant provision in the CPA constitution is concerned, Article 8 provides that each branch shall be entitled to send prescribed number of delegates and officials to each plenary conference and accordingly Jammu and Kashmir branch is entitled to send one delegate to the conference.The meeting resolved to call upon Dr Shirin Chaudhury, Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament and Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee to use her good offices to immediately resolve the matter and ensure issue of invitation to the Jammu & Kashmir, failing which India will boycott the 61st Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Islamabad. Political parties unitePakistan’s snub to speaker has triggered a major political storm with almost all the mainstream parties rallying behind the speaker to hit out at Pakistan for questioning the representative character of the assembly.Main opposition National Conference lambasted Pakistan for not inviting J&K speaker saying assembly represents the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”Apart from the fact that he belongs to BJP, one thing is sure that the speaker represents the assembly which has a representative character of the state. It is no business of Pakistan to put a question mark on the representative character of the assembly. It cannot trespass the legitimacy of the Assembly,” said Aga Ruhullah Mehdi, chief spokesman of NC.BJP took a strong objection to Pakistan for denying invite to speaker saying it proves that the neighbouring country does not believe in democratic set up. “Pakistan does not believe in democracy. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir has been deprived of democracy. They are feeling threatened,” said Khalid Jahangir, BJP spokesman for Kashmir.

After J&K snub, India threatens to boycott Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Pakistan

New Delhi: To drive home the point that the state of Jammu and Kashmir is an “integral” part of India, the Speaker of Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan and Speakers of state Assemblies are likely to announce a boycott of the 61st Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference to be held at Islamabad in September-October this year. Pakistan has not issued an invitation to the Speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Kavinder Gupta.

“The invitation accorded from the host country (Pakistan) has surprisingly and in utter disregard of parliamentary decorum, left out Jammu and Kashmir. This is unprecedented and unacceptable”, a high-ranking source in the Parliament told Firstpost on Friday.

File photo of Indian Parliament. Reuters

File photo of Indian Parliament. Reuters

According to sources, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Pakistan and the CPA Headquarters Secretariat will host the 61st Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Islamabad between 30 September and 8 October. This year’s theme is ‘Renewing the commitment to pluralism and inclusive democracy in the Commonwealth’, and discussions will also cover  general discussions on issues such as religious freedom, parliamentary action on terrorism, the economic impact of gender-based violence, and a debate on the role of the media in political and public life.

Mahajan is holding a meeting of state Assembly Speakers in the capital later on Friday to pass a formal resolution against the host country’s approach. According to sources, a resolution will be passed to request the CPA Pakistan and CPA Secretariat in London to “ensure issuing of invitation to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association branch of Jammu and Kashmir”.

The Indian CPA’s position is that the non-issuance of such an invite will warrant a “boycott” of the Islamabad meet. Not extending an invitation to the Jammu and Kashmir CPA is “unacceptable” as the CPA unit of Jammu and Kashmir state is “very much a bonafide member of the CPA”. The CPA was originally founded in 1911 and at present has 53 members. India, along with several other countries joined only at a later stage.

Pakistan and its provinces were active members of CPA till the military coup in 1999 when Gen Pervez Musharraf took over powers. “They (Pakistan and its provincial assemblies) were allowed to rejoin the CPA again in 2004,” sources said. The CPA Secretariat is located in London and it maintains “close relations” with branches across the globe, and promotes cooperation among them.

India will boycott Commonwealth Parliamentary Union in Pakistan if J&K Speaker not invited: Sumitra Mahajan

Mahajan said this was against a rule in the CPU in which all the Speakers, who are members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), have to be extended an invitation to the CPU meeting.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
India will boycott a Commonwealth Parliamentary Union meeting in Islamabad next month in protest against Pakistan not inviting the Speaker of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, a decision that comes in the midst of tensions over two terror attacks in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.”A meeting of Speakers of all states here today unanimously decided that India will boycott the meeting of the CPU if the Speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly is not invited,” Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said. This follows Pakistan not sending an invitation to Jammu and Kashmir Speaker to the Inter Parliamentary Union meeting to be held from September 30 to October 8 in Islamabad while invitations have been sent to all the other Speakers in India.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The decision of the Speakers come against the backdrop of simmering tensions between the two countries over the recent terror attacks in Gurdaspur in Punjab and near Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir by terrorists, perpetrated by terrorists who had infiltrated from Pakistan. Mahajan said this was against a rule in the CPU in which all the Speakers, who are members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), have to be extended an invitation to the CPU meeting.”It is wrong (on the part of Pakistan). They cited an old rule of 1951-57 regarding their having raised an issue in the UN Security Council for not inviting J and K Speaker,” she said adding it had lost relevance. The Speaker said Pakistan gave this reply when India took up the matter strongly with the CPA Chairperson and Secretary General against leaving out Jammu and Kashmir Speaker.”We (31 Speakers) reviewed this issue and felt this was wrong. We reject this decision (of Pakistan). We are writing to the CPA Chairperson that if J&K Speaker is not invited then India will not attend the meeting or change the venue (for us to attend),” she said.Welcoming the decision J&K Speaker Ravindra Gupta, who attended the meeting, thanked the Speakers for the decision saying it was a question of unity and integrity of the country. He called Pakistan a terrorist state. Gupta said Pakistan has done this (not inviting J&K Speaker) “deliberately” and added today’s decision is a strong message to that country. Mahajan made it clear that to ensure participation of the Speaker of Lok Sabha and those of Indian Assemblies, J and K Speaker will have to be invited or the venue should be changed to some other country. She said Pakistan had expressed “constraint” in inviting Jammu and Kashmir Speaker citing an old rule which was “irrelevant” now as the state had participated in such a conference in 2007.Describing Pakistan’s decision as “wrong”, she said she had called today’s meeting to consult Speakers of the Assemblies before taking a decision. The meeting noted that since Speakers of all the state Assemblies are members of the ‘India Region of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA)’, it was wrong to single out Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and not invite its Speaker.After detailed discussions at the meeting attended by Speakers of 31 Assemblies, a resolution was adopted “unanimously”, condemning the unilateral decision of Pakistan for not inviting Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Speaker to the 61st Conference.The resolution said Pakistani decisions violates the “provisions of the CPA Constitution, keeping the Executive Committee and the General Assembly of CPA in the dark while acting against the century-old tradition of CPA which is a membership organisation that has constitutionally been bound to invite all its member branches to the CPA annual conference so long as a Branch is in good financial standing with the Association.””The meeting resolved to call upon Dr Shirin Chaudhury,Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament and Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee to use her good offices to immediately resolve the matter and ensure issue of invitation to the Jammu and Kashmir ‘CPA Branch’ failing which ‘CPA India Region’ including the Union and State Branches’ (will) boycott the 61st Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Islamabad, Pakistan from September 30 to October 8…,” the resolution said.India’s Parliament and Assemblies are treated as ‘India region’ and all the Assemblies are the members of the CPA.The resolution underlined that Jammu and Kashmir “fulfills all conditions” of CPA membership.”The meeting further resolved that Chairperson and members of the Executive Committee of CPA view this matter in all seriousness and insist that Pakistan CPA Branch forfeit its right to host the 61st CP conference for not inviting Jammu and Kashmir CPA Branch to the conference in violation of Article 8 of the CPA Constitution and that the venue of the conference be shifted to another country,” it said.Article 8 of the CPA Constitution says that each ‘Branch’ (meaning Parliament and State Assemblies) “shall be entitled to send prescribed number of delegates and officials to each plenary conference and accordingly Jammu and Kashmir Branch is entitled to send one delegate to the Conference.” The meeting authorised Lok Sabha Speaker, who is the chairperson of CPA India Region, to take “such further action as may be deemed necessary in the matter”.The Speaker said India took up the issue with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Secretariat after Jammu and Kashmir was not invited while all other states of India received the invitations.The CPA Secretariat talked to Pakistan Assembly Speaker who expressed “constraint” in inviting Jammu and Kashmir.Invitations for the conference are sent by the host country.Gupta said Pakistan deliberately wanted to keep his state away from the conference to “humiliate” India.He said Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and thanked the Lok Sabha Speaker and Speakers of other Assemblies on taking the stand.Gupta added that “Pakistan is a terrorist state and many countries do not want to go there” to attend the Conference.PTI AKK “The meeting resolved to call upon Dr Shirin Chaudhury,Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament and Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee to use her good offices to immediately resolve the matter and ensure issue of invitation to the Jammu and Kashmir ‘CPA Branch’ failing which ‘CPA India Region’ including the Union and State Branches’ (will) boycott the 61st Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Islamabad, Pakistan from September 30 to October 8…,” the resolution said.India’s Parliament and Assemblies are treated as ‘India region’ and all the Assemblies are the members of the CPA. The resolution underlined that Jammu and Kashmir “fulfils all conditions” of CPA membership.”The meeting further resolved that Chairperson and members of the Executive Committee of CPA view this matter in all seriousness and insist that Pakistan CPA Branch forfeit its right to host the 61st CP conference for not inviting Jammu and Kashmir CPA Branch to the conference in violation of Article 8 of the CPA Constitution and that the venue of the conference be shifted to another country,” it said.Article 8 of the CPA Constitution says that each ‘Branch’ (meaning Parliament and State Assemblies) “shall be entitled to send prescribed number of delegates and officials to each plenary conference and accordingly Jammu and Kashmir Branch is entitled to send one delegate to the Conference.” The meeting authorised Lok Sabha Speaker, who is the chairperson of CPA India Region, to take “such further action as may be deemed necessary in the matter”.The Speaker said India took up the issue with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Secretariat after Jammu and Kashmir was not invited while all other states of India received the invitations. The CPA Secretariat talked to Pakistan Assembly Speaker who expressed “constraint” in inviting Jammu and Kashmir. Invitations for the conference are sent by the host country.Gupta said Pakistan deliberately wanted to keep his state away from the conference to “humiliate” India. He said Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and thanked the Lok Sabha Speaker and Speakers of other Assemblies on taking the stand. Gupta added that “Pakistan is a terrorist state and many countries do not want to go there” to attend the Conference.

CBA no longer advising on Adani mine

Australia’s biggest bank is no longer advising Adani on its giant Queensland coal mine project, raising concerns about the project’s future.

India’s New Zealand envoy Ravi Thapar recalled after wife accused of assaulting domestic staff

Wellington: Delhi’s top diplomat in New Zealand said he would return to India but denied that his relocation was linked to accusations that his wife had assaulted a staff member.

Police said a member of staff at the Indian diplomatic mission alleged he was assaulted by Sharmila Thapar, the wife of High Commissioner Ravi Thapar, but declined to lay a formal complaint.

A removal van was at Thapar’s Wellington home Saturday morning where Sharmila refused to answer questions.

Ravi Thapar. Ibnlive imageRavi Thapar. Ibnlive image

Ravi Thapar. Ibnlive image

However, Ravi denied any suggestions a staff member had been assaulted and said he was returning to India to care for his mother.

“I’m going but to take care of my mum because my dad passed away last year. I can’t keep up 13,000km away just talking to her on the phone,” he told reporters.

He added his wife continued to suffer the effects of a car accident, sometimes wore a neck support, and would not have assaulted anyone.

“It’s very, very absurd that a lady of 50 plus with these medical issues could confront or could even think of or even conceptualise assaulting a physically able-bodied person of about 26 years old,” he told Fairfax Media.

A New Zealand foreign ministry (MFAT) spokesman confirmed to the New Zealand Herald that they were aware the high commissioner – the equivalent of ambassador in Commonwealth countries – was leaving.

“MFAT was aware a staff member raised with New Zealand police concerns about his treatment in the high commission,” the spokesman said.

New Zealand officials said further questions about Ravi’s departure should be directed to India’s ministry of external affairs.

The staff member was taken to the Wellington police station in early May when he was found wandering the streets in a distressed state after walking nearly 20km from the high commission.

Ravi also rejected allegations that the man had been kept in slavery, saying he was free to move about at all times.

“He was the custodian of the house, he had our implicit and complete trust. He had the keys. Everything was open,” Ravi said.

AFP

AAP names new Delhi Law Minister after Tomar’s arrest: Who is Kapil Mishra?

After the arrest of former Delhi Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar over the fake law degree controversy, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in New Delhi on Wednesday named the Delhi Jal Board vice-chairman Kapil Mishra as the new Law Minister.

Kapil Mishra was named the new Delhi Law Minister. Image Courtesy: Twitter

Kapil Mishra was named the new Delhi Law Minister. Image Courtesy: Twitter

The 34-year-old Mishra is an AAP MLA from Delhi’s Karawal Nagar constituency. In the 2015 Delhi Assembly elections, Mishra won from his constituency as he got 1,01,865 votes, defeating BJP’s Mohan Singh Bisht by 44,431 votes. He is a first-time MLA.

Known as a Kejriwal loyalist, Mishra has been associated with him since the India Against Corruption (IAC) days, reported PTI.

When Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan upped their ante against the party leadership, he took a lead in starting a signature campaign urging all MLAs to back Kejriwal.

He has worked for non-governmental organisations like Greenpeace and Amnesty International, according to IBNLive.

He is also the co-founder and coordinator of a New Delhi-based youth action group called Youth for Justice. He has been involved in campaigning on various social issues.

Mishra also led a protest over the Jessical Lal murder case, demanding justice in the same.

In 2007, he had also raised his voice against the exploitation of the Yamuna river in the Delhi Assembly, after which he had been detained for a day, according to a report in The Hindu.

He was also one of the first people to protest against the 2010 Commonwealth Games scam. In fact, he also wrote a book called ‘It’s Common v/s Wealth – Exposing Commonwealth Games 2010’ on the issue which was released in 2010, according to IANS.

He took charge as the vice-chairman of the Delhi Jal Board in March this year.

(With agency inputs)

Innovative maths teaching highly rated by Commonwealth jury

The SSA project director said the outcome of the programme will be seen in a few years’ time when these students go to higher classes.

Representational Image
File Photo

Meghalaya’s innovative teaching of maths in foundation classes, aimed at making learning of the subject easy and attractive, has been highly rated by the Commonwealth Education Good Practice Awards jury though it missed the awards by a whisker, officials said on Saturday. The innovative teaching which was implemented in about 1,000 schools in the Khasi Jaintia Hills region of the state was shortlisted as one of the top ten finalists for the prestigious awards this year but missed it narrowly, Sarva Sikhsha Abhiyan (SSA) state project director FR Kharkongor said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> He said the project was highly rated by the jury which had recommended it to be featured in a Commonwealth publication and for its publication at its website.Commonwealth Secretariat Head of the Health and Education Unit Dr Joana Nurse had officially intimated that the SSA Meghalaya’s project submission on its fledgling attempt at teaching Mathematics innovatively for foundational classes had been shortlisted as one of the Ten Top Finalists for the Commonwealth Education Good Practice Awards which is scheduled to be presented during the opening ceremony of the 19th Commonwealth Education Ministers’ Meet at Bahamas on June 23. As the name suggests, the innovative teaching of maths in foundational classes was introduced in 57 schools only as a pilot project without any government support two years ago, he said. Based on the positive feedbacks received from these schools, the Union Ministry for Human Resources Development gave its nod to expand the project to 1,000 schools last year, Kharkongor said.He said the whole approach to teaching mathematics in foundational classes was made easy and attractive by incorporating stories, colours, shapes and songs. The pilot project was proven successful and students were engaged in the classroom while teachers have also dropped their “chalk and talk” methods of teaching.The SSA project director said the outcome of the programme will be seen in a few years’ time when these students go to higher classes. He also said there is a proposal to spread the same project to 3,000 schools in the Garo Hills region, known for its bad performance in secondary and higher secondary examinations in the last few years. At present the MHRD provides Rs 3,000 support for each school to procure learning kits and also for training the teachers, Kharkongor said.Also Read: Decoding Vedic Maths

Government yet to refer CAG report on Nitin Gadkari’s Purti group to Public Accounts Committee

The Public Accounts Committee is yet to receive sanction from the government to consider CAG report alleging irregularities regarding the Purti group linked to Union minister Nitin Gadkari.

Nitin Gadkari

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The Public Accounts Committee is yet to receive sanction from the government to consider CAG report alleging irregularities regarding the Purti group linked to Union minister Nitin Gadkari.It is yet to be decided whether the CAG report will be considered by the PAC or the committee on public undertakings (CPU), said chairperson of the PAC, K V Thomas. According to parliamentary sources the government may take the decision to give the matter to the Committee on Public Undertakings as it is related to Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA), a public sector undertaking.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The PAC is headed by veteran Congress MP from Kerala K V Thomas known for being tough and doing meticulous work while BJP leader, Shanta Kumar heads the Committee on Public Undertakings.The committee has taken evidence from representatives of ministry of petroleum and natural gas on hydrocarbon production sharing contracts, ministry of external affairs on global estate management, ministry of health on procurement of allopathic drugs in CGHS, ministry of defence on role and functioning of coast guard and Archaeological Survey of India on protection of monuments. Thomas, who was re-appointed as chairperson of PAC early this month said, We are in the final stages of preparing the report that will done in the final meeting on these issues.Of these, PAC’s report on hydrocarbons that deals CAG’s allegations of irregularities in allotment and functioning of KG Basin gas wells is keenly awaited.Dissatisfied with government’s indifferent approach towards its reports, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has decided to convene a conference of PACs of all states on September 8 to find ways for better implantation of its recommendations.Only in few cases the government has taken action. We will consider how to improve upon implementation of our recommendations and action taken report of the government, said a PAC member.The PAC conference is taking place after 15 years gap may include chairpersons of PACs of legislatures of all Commonwealth countries.“Subject to the approval of Speaker, I have also proposed to include chairpersons of PACs of all Commonwealth countries as we all have similar issues,” said Thomas.

Snooping on Rahul: Practice of seeking intrusive information should be junked

New Delhi: The arguments given by the Delhi Police in support of its claims that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi was not being snooped upon appear to be convincing but many find the details sought unnecessary and even ridiculous. Many have asked why the police need to find intrusive information on the complexion of the leader, the colour of his hair and eyes, the clothes he generally wears, the places he often visits and the contact numbers and details of his associates.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Details regarding the profession and the residence of the politician have also been sought in the pro forma titled ‘Rahul Gandhi: Leader of a party’ which was left by ASI Shamsher Singh with the personal staff of the Congress scion. That Gandhi has been a member of Lok Sabha for three consecutive terms and lives in his 12, Tughlaq Lane bungalow, is public knowledge.

So, how useful are these micro details? Is this procedure of gathering information about a high-profile person obsolete and does it need a revision?

Former Research Analysis Wing (RAW) chief AS Dulat believes that there is “no need for such enquiry” because Rahul Gandhi is known to everyone. “What is the need to write about his complexion and clothes when he is known to everyone? People see him speaking live on television, his pictures in newspapers and on internet,” he told Firstpost.

When asked if he believes that it was a case of espionage, he said, “Ï won’t draw any conclusion. But if it was an investigation, it should have been done professionally. And if it was really snooping, the method adopted was laughable and full of stupidity.”

Another retired top cop, who did not want to be identified, was not convinced with Delhi Police Commissioner Bassi’s claim that it was “routine enquiry” to ensure security of all “ganya-manya (important)” people in Delhi.

“No such investigation involving a high-profile leader was done in my career of policing in the national capital. It is being argued the profiling is done after the constitution of new Parliament and assembly. Rahul Gandhi and many other leaders are being elected for consecutive terms. When he had first entered Parliament, he would have gone through this process. Then what is the need to gather information about him again and again? Since he was first elected, he was allotted the Tughlaq Lane residence and he has been living there since. What is the point of wasting resource and energy on knowing about his residence, colour, cloth and the place he visits?” he asked.

Former Delhi Police Commissioner Ved Prakash Marwah rejected the Congress party’s allegation that it was a case of “political espionage” but wondered why the city police are using the decades pro forma for collecting information about a person.

“It was not at all snooping. The police action came under the scanner because we still follow decades-old system for collecting information of an individual. The format of questioning needs to be revised. In this age of globalisation when everything is available on the internet, what is the need for asking about the appearance of a leader like Rahul Gandhi who is known to everyone?” he said, adding that the pro forma was relevant those days when technology was not much developed and high-profile people were a rare sight.

Neeraj Kumar, ex-commissioner of the city police, said instead of raising hue and cry and painting the steps taken by the police to ensure safety and security of an individual with political brush, people should cooperate with law-enforcing agencies.

“Instead of making the necessary police investigation a political issue, one must cooperate with cops. Why don’t people get infuriated when they are asked to furnish details while applying for passport and during police enquiry? Objecting to the routine exercise reeks of VIP culture,” he told Firstpost.

“There are thousands of ways to spy on a person. Why will an individual who is to be snooped be informed and asked to give his details in writing,” he added.

Adding that some high-profile people feel offended when they are asked to furnish necessary details, he recalled, “During the Commonwealth Games, we were issuing VIP passes. Some of them, who did not want to reveal their details, refused to fill the form required to procure the passes. We denied them the passes and therefore, they had shell out money to watch the game.”

Shri Ram Arun, former director general of police, Uttar Pradesh, said, “Police keeps records of all high profile people. But in UP, not such profiling is done.”

He admitted that some people are kept on surveillance for different reasons and to do so, their “movements and activities are closely monitored by policemen in plain clothes, Local Intelligence Officers and other state and central agencies”. But it remains top secret, he added.

Snooping on Rahul Gandhi: Practice of seeking intrusive info needs to be junked

New Delhi: The arguments given by the Delhi Police in support of its claims that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi was not being snooped upon appear to be convincing but many find the details sought unnecessary and even ridiculous. Many have asked why the police need to find intrusive information on the complexion of the leader, the colour of his hair and eyes, the clothes he generally wears, the places he often visits and the contact numbers and details of his associates.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Details regarding the profession and the residence of the politician have also been sought in the pro forma titled ‘Rahul Gandhi: Leader of a party’ which was left by ASI Shamsher Singh with the personal staff of the Congress scion. That Gandhi has been a member of Lok Sabha for three consecutive terms and lives in his 12, Tughlaq Lane bungalow, is public knowledge.

So, how useful are these micro details? Is this procedure of gathering information about a high-profile person obsolete and does it need a revision?

Former Research Analysis Wing (RAW) chief AS Dulat believes that there is “no need for such enquiry” because Rahul Gandhi is known to everyone. “What is the need to write about his complexion and clothes when he is known to everyone? People see him speaking live on television, his pictures in newspapers and on internet,” he told Firstpost.

When asked if he believes that it was a case of espionage, he said, “Ï won’t draw any conclusion. But if it was an investigation, it should have been done professionally. And if it was really snooping, the method adopted was laughable and full of stupidity.”

Another retired top cop, who did not want to be identified, was not convinced with Delhi Police Commissioner Bassi’s claim that it was “routine enquiry” to ensure security of all “ganya-manya (important)” people in Delhi.

“No such investigation involving a high-profile leader was done in my career of policing in the national capital. It is being argued the profiling is done after the constitution of new Parliament and assembly. Rahul Gandhi and many other leaders are being elected for consecutive terms. When he had first entered Parliament, he would have gone through this process. Then what is the need to gather information about him again and again? Since he was first elected, he was allotted the Tughlaq Lane residence and he has been living there since. What is the point of wasting resource and energy on knowing about his residence, colour, cloth and the place he visits?” he asked.

Former Delhi Police Commissioner Ved Prakash Marwah rejected the Congress party’s allegation that it was a case of “political espionage” but wondered why the city police are using the decades pro forma for collecting information about a person.

“It was not at all snooping. The police action came under the scanner because we still follow decades-old system for collecting information of an individual. The format of questioning needs to be revised. In this age of globalisation when everything is available on the internet, what is the need for asking about the appearance of a leader like Rahul Gandhi who is known to everyone?” he said, adding that the pro forma was relevant those days when technology was not much developed and high-profile people were a rare sight.

Neeraj Kumar, ex-commissioner of the city police, said instead of raising hue and cry and painting the steps taken by the police to ensure safety and security of an individual with political brush, people should cooperate with law-enforcing agencies.

“Instead of making the necessary police investigation a political issue, one must cooperate with cops. Why don’t people get infuriated when they are asked to furnish details while applying for passport and during police enquiry? Objecting to the routine exercise reeks of VIP culture,” he told Firstpost.

“There are thousands of ways to spy on a person. Why will an individual who is to be snooped be informed and asked to give his details in writing,” he added.

Adding that some high-profile people feel offended when they are asked to furnish necessary details, he recalled, “During the Commonwealth Games, we were issuing VIP passes. Some of them, who did not want to reveal their details, refused to fill the form required to procure the passes. We denied them the passes and therefore, they had shell out money to watch the game.”

Shri Ram Arun, former director general of police, Uttar Pradesh, said, “Police keeps records of all high profile people. But in UP, not such profiling is done.”

He admitted that some people are kept on surveillance for different reasons and to do so, their “movements and activities are closely monitored by policemen in plain clothes, Local Intelligence Officers and other state and central agencies”. But it remains top secret, he added.

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