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

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

Modi’s Pak visit transformative moment for subcontinent, Cong criticism childish: BJP

He, however, added that all seeds of such a relationship are laid in “silence” and adding that a number of meetings, including the NSA-level talks in Bangkok, Modi’s meeting with Sharif in Paris and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan helped create a conducive atmosphere.

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No Indian casualties in Saudi fire incident: Sushma Swaraj

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

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

Shiv Sena slams Arvind Kejriwal over his allegations against Arun Jaitley

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

Union Minister VK Singh should be sent to a reform home: BSP

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Earlier, General V.K Singh (retired), who has been at the centre of the ‘dog analogy’ controversy, was jeered at by some members of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

VK Singh

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Satish Mishra on Tuesday, while speaking in the Rajya Sabha, said people with polluted mindsets like Minister of State for External Affairs General (Retired) VK Singh should be sent to reform homes.”People with polluted mindsets like Minister V.K. Singh should also be sent to reform homes,” Mishra said. Objecting to Mishra’s comment, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “We take strong objection to Mishra ji’s remark on V.K. Singh ji, it should be expunged.”Earlier, General V.K Singh (retired), who has been at the centre of the ‘dog analogy’ controversy, was jeered at by some members of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. In October, Singh had kicked up a row when he reacted to the killing of two Dalit children by reportedly saying that the government is not responsible if someone ‘throws stones at a dog’. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Sushma Swaraj responds to social media post on 14 Indians stranded in Malaysia

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A Facebook post by one of the victims said they were a group of 14 people from Tamil Nadu and had arrived in Malaysia in July.
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dna Research & Archives
A social media post stating that a group of 14 Indians from Tamil Nadu are stranded in Malaysia after being allegedly duped by a job agent drew External Affairs Minister Sushama Swaraj’s attention on Monday as she said the Indian envoy in Kuala Lumpur has contacted them.A Facebook post by one of the victims said they were a group of 14 people from Tamil Nadu and had arrived in Malaysia in July.The post said they were promised a higher salary by a job agent in Tamil Nadu but were given a lesser amount and when they protested and refused to work they were allegedly beaten.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The post drew the attention of External Affairs Minister Swaraj, who tweeted, “Our High Commission in Malaysia has contacted them. Police has taken cognizance. Please contact Mission for any help.” She also posted a link to the Facebook post.

India sees no role for a third party in Indo-Pak talks: Sources

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They were asked what will happen if Pakistani delegation again met Hurriyat separatists or the Kashmiri separatist leaders tried to meet them here in the run-up to the next month’s meeting between the Indo-Pak Foreign Secretaries.
File Photo
PTI
India is very clear that no third party has any role in Indo-Pak parleys despite Pakistan’s stand that it would continue to speak to Kashmiri separatist leaders whom they term as “voice of Kashmiris”, highly placed government sources said on Monday.”What we have agreed with Pakistan during External Affairs Minister’s visit to Islamabad is Bilateral Comprehensive Dialogue. So, it is a bilateral thing and no third party has any role to play in discussions between India and Pakistan,” the sources said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They were asked what will happen if Pakistani delegation again met Hurriyat separatists or the Kashmiri separatist leaders tried to meet them here in the run-up to the next month’s meeting between the Indo-Pak Foreign Secretaries. India is also very clear that any attempt to consult Kashmiri separatists will be highly undesirable.The Indian assertion assumes significance as Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit recently said at an event, held after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s Islamabad visit, there was no change in Islamabad’s policy towards Hurriyat leaders as they represented the “voice of Kashmiris” and hoped that the dialogue process will not be halted even if there were roadblocks.”Hurriyat represents aspirations of people of Kashmir. As far as we are concerned, there is no change in our policy towards them,” Basit had said when asked whether Hurriyat leaders will be invited for dinner if the talks between India and Pakistan were held in the national capital. The Pakistan envoy had also asserted “it was time both the neighbours behave as mature nations”.Angered by Pakistan’s consultations with Kashmiri separatists India had in August last year called off talks between Foreign Secretaries of the two countries, telling it bluntly to choose between an Indo-Pak dialogue or hobnobbing with the separatists.In August this year also, the NSA-level talks were called off after New Delhi had made it clear that the then Pakistan National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz would not be allowed to meet Kashmiri separatist leaders during his visit in New Delhi.

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

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

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

Pakistan attaches great importance to good ties with India, says PM Nawaz Sharif aide

Fatemi said it would help strengthen the common desire of the two countries to establish peace and stability in the region.

Pakistan accords great importance to good ties with India and the presence of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at a regional meet here would strengthen the common desire of peace and stability in the region, a top aide of Premier Nawaz Sharif said on Thursday. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs (SAPM), Syed Tariq Fatemi, during a farewell call by outgoing Indian High Commissioner T C A Raghavan, described Swaraj’s participation at the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference as a “welcome gesture”. “Stressing that Pakistan attached great importance to establishing good neighourly relations with India, the SAPM underscored that the Indian Foreign Minister’s presence in the ‘Heart of Asia: Istanbul Process’ was a welcome gesture,” Foreign Office said in a statement.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Fatemi said it would help strengthen the common desire of the two countries to establish peace and stability in the region. He appreciated the services of Raghavan for his efforts to improve relations between Pakistan and India during his tenure as India’s High Commissioner. Fatemi expressed hope that the incoming Indian High Commissioner would also continue to promote cordial ties between the two countries. Swaraj last week travelled to Pakistan where she attended the ‘Heart of Asia’ ministerial conference on Afghanistan.During her two-day visit, Swaraj called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and held talks with her counterpart Sartaj Aziz. In the meeting, the two countries decided to engage in a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue. The Foreign Secretaries of Pakistan and India will meet next month in Delhi to work out the details of the dialogue.

Had Pranab become PM in 2004, Congress might have averted 2014 drubbing: Salman Khurshid in his new book

The former External Affairs Minister says that after some initial reluctance, not only was Sonia Gandhi’s decision to choose him to lead the UPA-I widely welcomed but was “also proved correct by the electoral verdict five years later, when we were returned to power with a greater majority”.

Salman Khurshid
File Photo

Manmohan Singh’s selection over Pranab Mukherjee in 2004 to head the UPA government came as a surprise not only to the Congress but also to outsiders and many argue the party might have averted the 2014 Lok Sabha drubbing if the choice had been otherwise, says former Union minister Salman Khurshid.”It’s always easy to be wise after the worst has happened. We must not forget the whole nation had applauded Dr Manmohan Singh as the game-changer finance minister during the Narasimha Rao regime (June 1991 to May 1996). But when Dr Singh contested the 1999 Lok Sabha polls from what was thought to be the safest seat in the country for him, South Delhi, he was defeated by a candidate whose name many would scarce recall (It was Professor Vijay Kumar Malhotra of the BJP),” writes Khurshid in his new book “The Other Side of the Mountain” and describes it as a concise biography not of one person but of the many who were part of the UPA.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the former External Affairs Minister says that after some initial reluctance, not only was Sonia Gandhi’s decision to choose him to lead the UPA-I widely welcomed but was “also proved correct by the electoral verdict five years later, when we were returned to power with a greater majority”.Khurshid, who had served as external affairs minister in UPA-II, says he was lucky to have the confidence of the incumbent prime minister though Singh once “gently chastised” him for a comment made before the media indicating India could not provide lethal weapons to Afghanistan. “As external affairs minister, I had a pretty free run on most matters, with the prime minister taking special interest in the neighbourhood, our rediscovery of America, the millennium conversation with China and the excitement of keeping pace with Japan.”I recall just once when Dr Singh gently chastised me for a press comment indicating we could not provide lethal weapons to Afghanistan. It came in the wake of repeated prodding by (Afghan) President Hamid Karzai, although he never did make an issue of it,” Khurshid says. Khurshid felt there was “no harm in being candid about ourprincipled position from which there was no likelihood of departure. This was despite the fact that military personnel had told me we had innumerable tanks in reserve that were unlikely to be used by the army again, which could be refurbished without great expense”.”The soft-spoken prime minister advised me: ‘President Karzai is a suspicious man. You have to be careful as the foreign minister’. I mumbled and left the matter there, quite certain some busybody had carried the tale to the prime minister and he felt obliged to flag it,” writes Khurshid.The book began to take shape soon after the results of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections were announced on 16 May and “we – the ministers in the UPA – returned to New Delhi from the electoral battlefields spread across the country as though we were phantoms in a twilight zone”.He says the then ministers were in substance, vanquished and repudiated warriors.”We were the past and it only remained to become ‘shadows of the past’. Such was the sombre mood in the Congress then,” he says.He also feels Congress is in the midst of a very serious existential crisis.”Some people label it as ‘leadership in crisis’; others believe it is about political content that the country has outgrown; and yet others have the stock explanation of being out of touch with the grassroots.”According to Khurshid, both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are, however, popularly endorsed and elected leaders of the Congress and there is no one even remotely equipped to provide alternative leadership.He says through his book, he would like to set the record straight because the truth must prevail over the widespread falsehood spread over the past few years.Allegations of scams like the 2G spectrum, the 2010 Commonwealth Games and Coalgate considerably tainted the UPA’s image.”But in all the charges that were made and investigated by various law-enforcement agencies, there was not a whisper of money exchanging hands or any disproportionate assets found in the possession of the accused politician or the civil servant accused of misdemeanour or a similar offence.”Simply because a decision was wrong or would have been taken differently by another person was enough to trigger a presumption of illegality and corruption,” he says.

Pakistan HC-Hurriyat meet proves nothing has changed between India-Pak: Shiv Sena

“We have been watching this mutiny for 50 years and the way they have been rebelling against India in Delhi. Yes, I approve of talks between the two countries but the nation is pained which an incident as this happens,” Raut added.

Sanjay Raut
File Photo
RNA
Backing External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s recent statement that nothing has changed between India and Pakistan, the Shiv Sena on Tuesday said the meeting between the Pakistan High Commissioner and Hurriyat leaders on Monday in the national capital was concrete proof that the ties between the two nations remained hostile.”I just read Sushma’s statement where she is saying that nothing has changed on ground between India and Pakistan and it is true and the example of that happened yesterday. On our soil, in the national capital, under our noses the Pakistan High Commissioner is inviting people who want to wage a war on India and we are simply watching the show,” Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He asserted that if the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan had done something similar then his office would have been sealed and he would have been sent back to India in cuffs.”We have been watching this mutiny for 50 years and the way they have been rebelling against India in Delhi. Yes, I approve of talks between the two countries but the nation is pained which an incident as this happens,” Raut added.Speaking in the Lok Sabha on Monday, Swaraj admitted that “nothing has changed on the ground” between India and Pakistan and said while it was not possible to give the assurance of an “uninterrupted” dialogue, the government had no intention of being provoked by those who want halt the bilateral talks between the two nations.”We want to ensure we are not provoked by saboteurs who want to stop the dialogue process. We have elevated the level of terrorism. Now talks related to terrorism will happen at the NSA level, the rest will be taken up during secretary-level talks,” Swaraj said briefing the Lok Sabha on her recent visit to Pakistan.Later in the evening, a delegation of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) met Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit and discussed Swaraj’s recent meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. According to an APMC release, Hurriyat leaders Peer Saifullah and Altaf Ahmad Shah discussed ‘Kashmir policy’ with Basit.”The Hurriyat delegation also handed over a message of their chairman Syed Ali Geelani to Basit, wherein he has stated that Pakistan should continue to maintain consistency and firmness over its Kashmir policy, and should play an active role in highlighting human rights violations committed by the Indian forces in Jammu & Kashmir in international forums,” the release stated.

India, Pakistan PMs decided in Paris to resume NSA-level talks, says Sushma Swaraj

Regarding her visit to Pakistan last week to attend the Heart of Asia conference and to her engagements with the Pakistan leadership, Swaraj said that the announcement for the commencing of a comprehensive bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan was made through a joint statement issued on December 9.

Image Courtesy: Ministry of External Affairs

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday told members of the Lok Sabha that both Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif had decided during their meeting in Paris, France, to resume dialogue at the level of National Security Advisors.Delivering a statement in Hindi in the Lower House, Swaraj said, “PMs (India-Pakistan) decided to resume NSA -level talks after they met in Paris recently.”Regarding her visit to Pakistan last week to attend the Heart of Asia conference and to her engagements with the Pakistan leadership, Swaraj said that the announcement for the commencing of a comprehensive bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan was made through a joint statement issued on December 9.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She also informed the House that India had played a positive role at the Heart of Asia Summit.On the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, she informed members of the Lok Sabha that the Indian Government had categorically told the Pakistan Government that there was a need to expedite trial and bring those involved in the horrific incident that claimed 166 lives to justice.During an 30-minute discussion following the statement, thirteen Members of the Lok Sabha by and large welcomed the Indian Government’s decision to restart the talks and the dignified way in which Swaraj had led the Indian delegation in the engagement with their Pakistani counterparts, but some said that it was procedural achievement moving forward that needed to be converted into actionable results on the ground. They insisted that India’s vital interests needed to be protected at all costs.They also flagged their concerns over the issue of cross-border militancy and terrorism, and asked whether the Pakistan Government had given concrete assurances to the Indian delegation that these sorts of incidents would be stopped and acted upon firmly should they occur.After the 30-minute intervention, Swaraj said that it was not at all her intention to deliberately delay in giving a statement on her visit to the Parliament, and categorically said that as of now, ‘nothing has changed on the ground’, and it would be erroneous at this point in time to think so.She also said that the political status of Jammu and Kashmir had not been raised or discussed in Islamabad, and added that the joint statement issued on December 9 clearly mentions that the region was only mentioned in the context of NSAs dealing with the issue of terrorism.She also took exception to the remark that the current Indian Government was engaged in a ‘flip-flop’ exercise with Pakistan. She reminded members of the Lower House that back channel dialogue has been ongoing at various places around the world to find a way to formalise the talks process. Such talks had taken place during the UPA regime in places like Thimphu and Havana and there was no secrecy or third country involvement in these back channel talks, she added.All issues would be taken up during the next round of dialogue, she said, and hopefully with an element of trust on both sides.Earlier, delivering a similar statement in the Rajya Sabha, Swaraj maintained that the talks between India and Pakistan would mark the beginning of peace and development in South Asia.Though most of her statement was drowned out by raucous opposition protests over the state of lawlessness in Punjab and a demand for the dismissal of the Prakash Singh Badal-led state government, Swaraj expressed the hope that re-engaging with Pakistan under a ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’ will mark beginning of peace and development as continued estrangement was a hurdle to peace and prosperity in the region.The suo motu statement on her visit to Islamabad last week and the recent developments relating to bilateral ties between the two neighbours, also mentioned the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had discussed with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the environment conference in Paris of the need to “again re-engage with each other.She said, there was also a “sharp awareness” that principal obstacles to the growth of ties, especially terrorism, would have to be clearly and directly addressed.Swaraj said initiatives on trade and connectivity, people-to-people exchanges and humanitarian issues would contribute to welfare of the entire region and promote better understanding and mutual trust.She said the government accords the highest priority to the country’s security and building an environment of peaceful, cooperative relations with neighbours, including Pakistan.She also said foreign secretaries of both countries have been tasked to work out modalities and schedule of the meetings under the new dialogue.The External Affairs Minister said the government will take all steps, including through diplomatic channels in order to meet any security threat.Swaraj said both India and Pakistan have condemned terrorism in all of its manifestations and resolved to cooperate to eliminate this menace.She said New Delhi has been assured that steps are being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the 26/11 Mumbai trial.

India can’t prove my role in 26/11 Mumbai attacks: Hafiz Saeed

Less than a week after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Pakistan, Mumbai attacks mastermind Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed has dared India to prove his involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Image Courtesy: Twitter Video

Less than a week after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Pakistan, Mumbai attacks mastermind Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed has dared India to prove his involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.”Our government remained silent, but let me respond to Sushma. It’s been seven years but they could not prove who was behind the Mumbai attacks and Insha Allah (if Allah wills it) they will never be able to prove it until eternity,” said Saeed in a video posted on his Twitter account.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”India has failed to provide any evidence of Mumbai attacks, while on the other hand Modi has confessed for worst terrorism of #1971,” he said in another tweet.Saeed’s statement comes after India was assured of steps being taken to expedite the 26/11 Mumbai attacks trial.India last week extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan, saying it was time the two countries display “maturity and self-confidence” to do business with each other as the world was rooting for a change and offered to move cooperation at a pace Pakistan is comfortable with.Speaking at ‘Heart of Asia’ ministerial conference, Swaraj said, “Let me take this opportunity to extend our hand to Pakistan as well. It is time that we display the maturity and self-confidence to do business with each other and strengthen regional trade and cooperation. The entire world is waiting and rooting for a change. Let us not disappoint them.”(With agency inputs)

Pakistan opposition alleges joint statement favours India

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

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

EAM Sushma Swaraj to discuss Indo-Pak developments in Parliament

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

Sushma Swaraj
File Photo

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

Sushma Swaraj returns after ‘successful’ Pakistan visit

Holding a bilateral discussion, Swaraj and Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Wednesday ‘condemned’ terrorism and ‘resolved’ to cooperate to eliminate it.

Sushma Swaraj reaches New Delhi

Image courtesy: ANI
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj reached New Delhi late Wednesday evening after a ‘successful’ visit to Pakistan, where she attended the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference and held bilateral talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his adviser Sartaj Aziz.”After a successful visit to Pakistan, EAM @SushmaSwaraj departs for Delhi,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted. Holding a bilateral discussion, Swaraj and Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz today ‘condemned’ terrorism and ‘resolved’ to cooperate to eliminate it.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They acknowledged the successful talks on terrorism and security-related issues in Bangkok by the NSAs of both the countries, and decided that the NSAs would continue to address all issues connected to terrorism.However, Indian was assured by Pakistan of the steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai trial. Both sides, accordingly, agreed to a ‘Comprehensive’ Bilateral Dialogue, and directed the Foreign Secretaries of their respective countries to work out the modalities and schedule of the meetings. During her two day visit, Swaraj also met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and discussed the terror threat in Afghanistan and the status of peace and reconciliation process.Swaraj also held bilateral meeting with her Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Minister Erlan Abdyldaev and discussed issues of mutual interest.

‘Heart of Asia’ summit ends with pledge to tackle menace of terrorism

Leaders and ministers from 14 member countries, including External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, 17 supporting nations and officials of 12 organisations attended the two-day meet

AFP
The fifth Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan ended on Thursday with a commitment from member states to address the menace of terrorism and to foster close economic cooperation to stabilise the war-torn country.Leaders and ministers from 14 member countries, including External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, 17 supporting nations and officials of 12 organisations attended the two-day meet here that adopted the Islamabad Declaration which also called on all Afghan Taliban groups to enter into peace talks. Pakistan’s advisor on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz and Afghan foreign minister Salahauddin Rabbani announced the declaration at the joint press conference.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Aziz said that the conference was a major success as the participants agreed on close cooperation in stabilising Afghanistan. Rabbani shared the major points of the declaration in which the participants affirmed to respect each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence and follow the principles of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states. He said that it was decided that militancy was major threat for Afghanistan and the region and joint efforts were needed to address it.
Picture courtesy by AFP”We recognise that terrorism and violent extremism are constant and serious threats to regional and international peace, security, stability and economic growth,” according to the declaration. It reiterated that terrorism, extremism and separatism, and linkages among them, pose a serious challenge to many of the countries, as well as the region and beyond, which can only be addressed through concerted efforts. “We resolve to eradicate the menace of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. While recognising the importance of international cooperation and coordination, any measure taken by states to prevent and combat terrorism must comply fully with our obligations under international law and the United Nations Charter,” it said.The countries also agreed to put into practice specific measures and steps necessary for countering and eliminating the menace of terrorism, all terrorist organisations, in particular al-Qaeda, IS and their affiliates. The participants also decided to take necessary actions to deny terrorists access to financial and material resources, to dismantle their sanctuaries and training facilities, and to curtail their ability to recruit and train new terrorists.The members agreed to resolve conflicts through peaceful negotiations and supported “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation initiatives”. “We urge all Afghan Taliban groups and all other armed opposition groups to enter into peace talks with the Afghan government,” it said. They also agreed to take measures for increasing cooperation and tasked the regional technical groups to come up with proposals for CBMs within three months to promote peace and stability.They also welcomed willingness of India to host the next ministerial conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in 2016. The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was launched in 2011 and includes Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the UAE. The conference began yesterday with the meeting of senior officials of the participating nations.

India, Pakistan to resume comprehensive bilateral dialogue: Sushma Swaraj

Joint statement says pledge taken for cooperation to eliminate terror.

Sharif- Swaraj

Sushma Swaraj and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process Ministerial conference here and held bilateral talks with him and his adviser Sartaj Aziz.Addressing a joint press conference with Sartaj Aziz, Foreign Affairs Adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj said, “We have decided to start a fresh and call the commencement of dialogue as comprehensive bilateral dialogue. It was earlier known as ‘composite’ dialogue, which later came to be known as ‘resumed’dialogue.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Elaborating upon the decision of comprehensive bilateral dialogue, she said: “All pillars, which were present in composite and resumed dialogues, will be there in the comprehensive bilateral dialogue, besides some other issues can also be added to it.” “To move the comprehensive bilateral dialogue forward, we have asked the Foreign Secretaries of both the countries to chalk out schedules and modalities,” said Swaraj. The External Affairs Minister acknowledged that the National Security Advisers of both the countries were able to break the ice in Bangkok, which resulted in her visit to Islamabad and the decision to start the comprehensive bilateral dialogueWith Agency inputs

Watch: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj meets Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif

Swaraj also called on Afghan President Ashraf Ghani here and discussed connectivity, terror threats to the war-torn country and the peace and reconciliation process there.

Swaraj, who was accompanied by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and India’s envoys to Pakistan and Afghanistan, also met Ghani

Photo courtesy: MEA Twitter handle
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad. Swaraj also called on Afghan President Ashraf Ghani here and discussed connectivity, terror threats to the war-torn country and the peace and reconciliation process there.Swaraj, who was accompanied by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and India’s envoys to Pakistan and Afghanistan, met Ghani for nearly 30 minutes on the sidelines of the ‘Heart of Asia’ Conference, during which they also talked about India’s willingness to join Afghanistan-Pakistan trade and transit agreement. The two sides also noted the forward movement on long-pending TAPI gas pipeline, ground-breaking ceremony of which will take place in Turkmenistan next week which will be attended by Ghani and India will be represented by Vice President Hamid Ansari. “A Strong Bond of Friendship. EAM Sushma Swaraj calls on President Ashraf Ghani for a bilateral on sidelines of HoA,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted along with a picture of the two leaders. “They reviewed bilateral ties including transit.Discussed terror threat in Afghanistan and status of peace and reconciliation process,” he said. The two leaders also discussed developmental projects assisted by India in Afghanistan. Earlier, while speaking at the Heart of Asia Conference, Swaraj expressed India’s willingness to help Afghanistan in shoring up its defence capability. She also said India’s vision of the Istanbul process is one of interlinked trade, transit, energy and communication routes, with Afghanistan as an important hub.Swaraj also held bilateral meetings with Kyrgyzstan Foreign Minister Erlan Abdyldaev and her Iranian counterpart Javed Zarif, whom she personally thanked for the release of Indian crew members of a ship. “Strengthening a Continuing Development Partnership: EAM Sushma Swaraj meets with Kyrgyzstan FM Erlan Abdyldaev,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted along with a picture of the two ministers at the meeting.Swaraj and Abdyldaev discussed key bilateral issues and ways to enhance cooperation. The Kyrgystan minister asserted that “India’s presence in Central Asia is much needed and appreciated,” Swarup said. During her meeting with Zarif, Swaraj thanked him for the release of Indians, to which the Iranian minister also hoped that India will reciprocate by releasing Iranian sailors lodged in Indian jails. Swaraj assured Zarif that Indian officials will examine and expedite the process. According to reports, there are about 11 Iranians lodged in the jails in the country. The two sides also discussed operationalisation of the MoU signed for the Chabahar port which was inked earlier between the two countries. Zarif also talked about the joint action plan after the announcement of lifting of sanctions by some countries against Iran.

Pakistani channel says PM Modi to visit Pak for SAARC meet next year

Geo TV quoted External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is here for the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference, for the news report but Indian officials said she had made no such statement.

A leading Pakistani TV channel on Wednesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting Pakistan for the SAARC Summit next year.Geo TV quoted External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is here for the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference, for the news report but Indian officials said she had made no such statement.However, the officials made it clear that Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to attend the SAARC Summit was reflected in the Ufa joint statement. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had invited Modi for the SAARC summit when they had met for a bilateral meeting in the Russian city of Ufa in July.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is slated to be held in Pakistan late next year.

Govt under pressure to have ‘pointless’ talks with Pakistan: Shiv Sena

“Terror groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan are waging a war on India, is the government blind to that?” Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said.

Maintaining their stand against Pakistan, the Shiv Sena on Wednesday said that it was pointless to have talks with the hostile neighbour and alleged that the government was under duress to hold dialogues. “Have been saying from the start that it’s pointless to have talks with Pakistan is pointless. It seems as if the government is under pressure and is being forced to talk to them. Terror groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan are waging a war on India, is the government blind to that?” Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said. The Shiv Sena had earlier condemned the India-Pakistan National Security Advisor (NSA) level talks happened in Bangkok, saying that having talks with the hostile neighbour was futile as their main goal was to destroy India by sponsoring terrorism.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who is in Islamabad attending the Heart of Asia Summit, called for a mature relationship between India and Pakistan in their trade relation and said that the world is rooting for change between the relations of the two hostile neighbours.Post the opening address at the Summit, Swaraj met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and is slated to hold bilateral talks with him and his adviser Sartaj Aziz later in the day.

FIR filed against Russian diplomat who allegedly assaulted Delhi traffic cop

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

The Russian diplomat’s car, stopped by police

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

Sushma Swaraj to visit Pakistan for ‘Heart of Asia’ meeting, talks with Sartaj Aziz on cards

Swaraj’s visit comes two days after talks between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan on Sunday in Bangkok, where they discussed terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir and a range of key bilateral issues apart from agreeing to carry forward the “constructive” engagement.

During her visit, Sushma Swaraj will be accompanied by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, who was also present during the four-hour-long meeting between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Naseer Janjua in the Thai capital.

PTI
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will travel on Tuesday for a multilateral conference in Islamabad, where she will also hold talks with her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz, who said the focus would be on the resumption of composite dialogue process.”External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to lead Indian delegation for ‘Heart of Asia’ 5th Ministerial Meeting on Afghanistan on December 9 in Islamabad,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.Swaraj’s visit comes two days after talks between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan on Sunday in Bangkok, where they discussed terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir and a range of key bilateral issues apart from agreeing to carry forward the “constructive” engagement. She will call on Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and meet his Adviser on Foreign Affairs Aziz on the sidelines of the Afghan meet on Wednesday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In Islamabad, Aziz told reporters that Swaraj is arriving tomorrow to attend the ‘Heart of Asia’ Conference and during her visit she will also call on Sharif. Aziz said the deadlock in Indo-Pak ties had eased to some extent.During his talks with Swaraj, Aziz said various matters with focus on resumption of composite dialogue process between the two countries will be discussed. Swaraj’s visit comes three years after former External Affairs Minister S M Krishna travelled to Islamabad in 2012 when the countries also inked a visa liberalisation pact.During her visit, Swaraj will be accompanied by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, who was also present during the four-hour-long meeting between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Naseer Janjua in the Thai capital.The joint statement after the meeting of NSAs said the talks were held pursuant to a meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the climate meet in Paris, rejecting the version given by the Indian side then that it was a mere “exchange of courtesies” although Sharif had told Pakistani media that he had a “good meeting” and “doors of dialogue should open”.Before Paris, Modi and Sharif had held bilateral meeting in Russian city of Ufa where they decided that their NSAs would meet to discuss all “terror-related” issues. However, Pakistan had called-off Aziz’ visit after New Delhi had made it clear that he would not be allowed to meet Kashmiri separatist leaders in the Indian capital.

Nepal’s Madhesi leaders meet Sushma Swaraj

“EAM @SushmaSwaraj called for broad based ownership of Constitution & encouraged speedy political solution and return to normalcy on that basis,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup later tweeted.

Leaders of Nepal s Indian-origin Madhesi community, whose protest against the country s new Constitution has crippled supplies from India, today met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who called for a “speedy” political solution to the crisis. The leaders who arrived here to hold talks with top Indian leadership including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, apprised Swaraj of their position on various contentious issues.Swaraj, on her part, said India supports an “inclusive Nepal”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”EAM @SushmaSwaraj called for broad based ownership of Constitution & encouraged speedy political solution and return to normalcy on that basis,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup later tweeted. The agitation by Madhesi leaders in Terai region bordering India has crippled services in Nepal as the protesters have blocked all border trade points between the two countries, triggering shortage of supplies including fuel and medicines. The Madhesi community is opposed to splitting the country into seven provinces under the new Constitution and has been demanding adequate protection of their rights.Three major demands of the Madhesi community include re-demarcation of the boundary, inclusion of proportionate representation and allocation of Parliament seats on the basis of population. The senior leaders of Joint Madhesi Morcha who have come here for talks include Mahantha Thakur, president of Terai Madhes Democratic Party, Upendra Yadav, president of Madhesi Peoples Rights Forum-Nepal, Rajendra Mahato, president of Sadbhawana Party, and Mahendra Yadav, president of Terai Madhes Sadbhawana Party.On Saturday, these leaders had a crucial meeting with Nepal s major political parties including main opposition Nepali Congress and ruling alliance members CPN-UML and Unified CPN-Maoist to discuss ways to resolve the ongoing crisis.

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

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

Image courtesy: MEA

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

After Rahul Gandhi accuses PM Modi of weakening labour laws, BJP hits back

BJP leader Vijay Sonkar Shastri highlighted the controversy over Minister of State for External Affairs General (Retd.) V.K. Singh’s remark to taunt the Congress vice-president’s assertion.

Rahul Gandhi

Hours after Congress vice-president lambasted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the ‘pro-rich’ initiatives taken by his government, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday accused the grand old party of giving minimal amount of pension to the labourers and said that the issues put forward by the former are clear only to his party men.BJP leader Vijay Sonkar Shastri highlighted the controversy over Minister of State for External Affairs General (Retd.) V.K. Singh’s remark to taunt the Congress vice-president’s assertion.”Rahul Gandhi says General (Retd.) V.K. Singh has violated the Constitution. He should also specify as to which section has he violated”, Shastri said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Under their (UPA) rule, the Congress Party had not given a provident fund of Rs. 27,000 crores to the labourers. They used to give them (the labourers) minimal amount of pension. Our government has increased that to Rs. 1000. Only the people in his party know what he says and what he asks, the people of this country don’t even understand the issues raised by him,” he added.Launching a blistering attack on Prime Minister Modi, Rahul Gandhi had earlier in the day alleged that the initiatives launched by the BJP-led NDA Government were not benefitting the labour class and was instead trampling their rights. “Prime Minister Modi thinks that the India labourer is corrupt and can work in fear. He thinks he can break and discipline them. The labourers are scared and are living in fear. Modiji, try and secure their children’s future and then watch how far they take India,” Rahul said while addressing the 31st plenary session of Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC).

Sushma Swaraj’s visit will help improve Indo-Pak ties: National Conference

National leaders Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, both former Chief Ministers of the state, welcomed the fact that Swaraj will be travelling to Pakistan, hoping that it will help reduce tensions between the two countries

Sushma Swaraj

National Conference on Saturday hoped that the proposed visit of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Pakistan next week will help in improving relations, lead to resumption of dialogue process and resolution of all outstanding issues between the two countries.National leaders Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, both former Chief Ministers of the state, welcomed the fact that Swaraj will be travelling to Pakistan, hoping that it will help reduce tensions between the two countries. “We hope that Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan will improve the relations between the two countries and also in carrying forward the dialogue process so that all issues between them can be resolved,” Farooq told reporters here after paying tributes to his father and party’s founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah on his 110th birth anniversary.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Farooq, who was commenting on media reports about Swaraj’s visit, also welcomed the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Paris last week. “We do not know what they talked about but let us hope that they find some way of resolving this (Jammu and Kashmir) issue,” the NC leader said, addressing the party supporters at Sheikh’s mausoleum on the banks of Dal lake here.Omar Abdullah said although Swaraj was visiting Pakistan for a conference on Afghanistan it should not be taken lightly given the circumstances in which it is happening.”It is a good thing that Sushma Swaraj is going to Pakistan. Although this is not a bilateral visit… However, External Affairs Minister’s visit to Pakistan is not a small issue, especially in conditions where there is tension between the two countries. “Even if the visit is happening due to Afghanistan, we will be hopeful that the bilateral dialogue is also resumed,” Omar said.”We hope that this visit will lead to improvement in situation (between India and Pakistan), the ceasefire (along the border and LoC) will be respected and the dialogue process will be resumed,” Omar told reporters here.Farooq Abdullah addressed the party workers in Kashmiri, refusing a request by mediapersons to speak in English or Urdu. “This is our mother tongue and we should promote it,” he said to a loud applause from the party workers.He reiterated his earlier statement that neither India nor Pakistan had the capability to annexe the territory of Jammu and Kashmir in each other’s control. “Both have atom (nuclear) bombs. Are we going to drop these bombs on each other and get wiped out?” he asked. Supporting the status quo, he said the two countries should grant greater autonomy to their respective regions of Kashmir and make the Line of Control irrelevant by allowing free travel and trade between the two sides of the state.

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

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

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

Man files FIR to get back wife’s stolen hearing device

A man has registered an FIR with the Mumbai police after the external part of his wife’s cochlear implant device, called a sound processor, was stolen by thieves.

A man has registered an FIR with the Mumbai police after the external part of his wife’s cochlear implant device, called a sound processor, was stolen by thieves.Costing Rs 2.5 lakh, the device, along with other things, was stolen from the Andheri home of Pradeep Bamne, a tailor in a small chawl in Andheri, in April this year. The device belonged to his wife Prerna.Forty six-year-old lost her hearing abilities in March 2012. After doing lots of tests, the family realised that she had permanent hearing loss. The cause of the sudden hearing loss was unknown but doctors said it could be the effect of drugs she had consumed in the past.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Finally, they met an ENT specialist in KEM Hospital. Prerna was advised to undergo cochlear implant surgery, costing Rs 5.8 lakh. They came into contact with Dr Hetal Marfatia, professor, unit head, ENT department at KEM.Prerna successfully underwent the surgery in 2012. The entire money for the implant was raised with the help of different NGOs.In April 2015, there was a theft in her house. The dry box, in which she had kept the implant in the night to get rid of moisture, was stolen. She lost her processor.”There are two parts to an implant. An internal device, which is fitted surgically and the external device, which is worn behind the ear – sound processor. When patients go to sleep, they remove the external device (sound processor). The device is kept in a dry box with silica gel so that moisture doesn’t destroy it. This improves the life span of the implant,” said Dr Marfatia.”Now to hear again, Prerna need to buy the processor, which costs Rs 2.5 lakh. She has to raise funds. It’s very unfortunate,” she said.When the processor is wet with sweat or rainwater, one must dry it up and put it in a box to prevent it from getting spoilt.”She has not been hearing anything for the last seven months. Now she speaks loudly. I have registered an FIR at DN Nager police station. I told the police we don’t want anything else which we lost, but please try to recover the processor. This is of no use to anybody. We will try to raise funds for the processor. But I find it very difficult,” said Pradeep.

OROP row: VK Singh to mediate between ex-servicemen & government

As their protest entered 168th today, the war veterans are also contemplating on whether to exercise legal option to fight the government on the OROP issue

VK Singh

Former Army chief and Union Minister Gen (Retd) VK Singh has been appointed as a mediator between government and protesting ex-servicemen over ‘One Rank One Pension’ scheme, the agitators said today as they decided to hold an ‘Aakrosh’ rally at Jantar Mantar on December 13.As their protest entered 168th today, the war veterans are also contemplating on whether to exercise legal option to fight the government on the OROP issue. The protesting veterans claimed that they met with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar last night and together they have decided to appoint Gen (Retd) V K Singh as a mediator. Singh, the Minister of State for External Affairs, has been involved in back-channel negotiations on the contentious issue earlier also.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The satyagrah has been confronted with two major challenges. These are in the form of, firstly the government notification of November 8 on OROP, and secondly the effect of the recommendations of the 7CPC (Central Pay Commission) if accepted in toto by the government,” the protesting veterans said in a statement. Our focus and aim remains on the implementation of the OROP award without dilution and to that extent we will continue to engage with the GoI for justice, they said.The statement added that while they appreciate the overcoming of the huddle of acceptance of OROP by the government of the day, the final thanksgiving will have to wait till the same hurdle is cleared in a clean jump rather than the “present pitfalls of a combine of created problems -referral to judicial commission – time delays- killing the very soul of OROP”. It added that a rally would be held on December 13. A press conference is also likely to be held on December 7 which could have former BJP leader and senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani coming out in their support.

India reiterates need for political solution to Nepal’s crisis

New Delhi: With the political impasse in Nepal showing no signs of easing, India on Wednesday asked its neighbour to normalise the situation as soon as possible while asserting that it has always stood for a peaceful and prosperous Nepal which also is in India’s interest.

During her meeting with visiting Nepalese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told him that India has gone out of the way to ensure medical supplies to the Himalayan nation while rejecting any hindrance to supplies from the country.

Sushma Swaraj. AFPSushma Swaraj. AFP

Sushma Swaraj. AFP

On his part, Thapa briefed Swaraj on the political dialogue with various stakeholders and informed her that the ministerial level dialogue has been upgraded to the top leadership level in his country.

Swaraj “reiterates need for urgent political solution to political problems facing Nepal”, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

She also told Thapa “that there is no hindrance to supplies from India. But Nepal needs to normalise situation as soon as possible”, the Spokesperson added.

The minister also underlined the fact that India has gone out of the way to ensure medical supplies to Nepal during the talks.

The visiting dignitary told Swaraj that there has been focused discussions on four key issues concerning a section of Nepalese population i.e – constituency delimitation, political representation, citizenship and demarcation of provinces.

Thapa, who is visiting India for the second time in less than two months, hoped for an early resolution of the issues, official sources said. During his first visit in October within days of assuming office, Thapa had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Swaraj after which Indian officials had agreed to re-route the vehicles carrying essential supplies to Nepal from those border points which are less disturbed.

Since the promulgation of the Constitution in Nepal in September, the Indian-origin Madhesi population has been agitating as they believe the country’s new Constitution discriminates against them, denying them equal standing with other Nepalis.

The agitation obstructed supply of essential commodities including petrol thereby creating a crisis in Nepal, which accused India of imposing a “economic blockade”. India has denied the charge and has been asking that country to take steps which should ensure broad-based ownership and acceptance of the Constitution by all section of the society including those disaffected agitating forces.

Meanwhile, in Parliament, Swaraj said India would continue to maintain close engagement and bilateral exchanges, as well as extend all assistance in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Nepal, for peace, stability and socio-economic development of the country.

PTI

PM Modi shaking hands with Nawaz Sharif indicates his ‘tolerance’: Shiv Sena

During their meeting in Paris, Modi himself walked up to Nawaz Sharif and shook hands; it shows the tolerance of our Prime Minister, said Raut.

Image Courtesy: MEA

The Shiv Sena on Tuesday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s gesture of walking up to his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif and shaking hands with him on the sidelines of the recently held Climate Summit in Paris, France, indicated his ‘tolerance’.”During their meeting in Paris, Modi himself walked up to Nawaz Sharif and shook hands; it shows the tolerance of our Prime Minister. Under the prevailing atmosphere in the country, where Modi is being criticised, it should be understood that to meet the Prime Minister of a country which is spreading terrorism is the most tolerant thing he has done. Such discussions should be stopped,” Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut told ANI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi and Sharif had a brief meeting during which they warmly held hands before sitting down for a chat amidst frosty ties between the two neighbours.Downplaying the chance encounter, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “this was a brief exchange of courtesies in the Leaders Lounge. Prime Minister meets many Heads of State/Government.”After his meeting with Modi, Sharif told Pakistani media that the talks were held in a “good way, in a good environment”.”I had good discussions with the Indian Prime Minister in a good way, in a good environment and even they have expressed that we should take our issues forward. And we also have the same opinion and hope,” he said.”Pakistan desires better bilateral relations with India,” he said.(With ANI-PTI inputs)

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.

PM Narendra Modi on maiden visit to Singapore from tomorrow

The same day, the two premiers – Modi and Lee – will sign the India-Singapore Strategic Partnership to boost bilateral ties.

Modi’s visit also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Singapore and India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive in Singapore on his maiden official visit beginning tomorrow during which the two countries will elevate their relations to strategic partnership by signing an agreement. During his visit Prime Minister Modi will meet his counterpart Lee Hsien Loong, President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong. An official welcome ceremony will be held for Modi on Tuesday, the final day of his two-day visit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here said today.The same day, the two premiers – Modi and Lee – will sign the India-Singapore Strategic Partnership to boost bilateral ties. “The Strategic Partnership will broaden and deepen ties across various sectors including defence relations, economic and cultural cooperation, skills development and capacity building,” said the statement.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi’s visit also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Singapore and India this year, and underscores the excellent and longstanding ties between the two countries. “To mark this milestone, the two Prime Ministers will unveil a commemorative joint stamp issue,” the statement said. Modi , who is visiting the city-state at the invitation of Lee, will also be hosted to an official lunch at the Istana (Presidential Palace) by his counterpart.He will deliver the 37th Singapore Lecture tomorrow, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam. He will also deliver a Special Address at the India- Singapore Economic Convention hosted by Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran on Tuesday and interact with Singapore business leaders.In addition, Prime Minister Modi will visit ITE (technical) College Central together with Prime Minister Lee, where he will learn more about Singapore’s approach to vocational education and skills training. Prime Minister Modi will be accompanied by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and senior officials from the Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of External Affairs.

‘We want Ramzan to unite with his mother’, says Sushma Swaraj

“I have asked my mother to come here. I have told her that I am being treated well here. I want to go to Pakistan,” he said.

“The Pakistan High Commission has not said anything about it yet,” Swaraj told the media here. (File Photo)

AFP
External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday said India wants 15-year-old Pakistani boy Ramzan, who has been stranded in Bhopal for over two years, to unite with his mother. “Ramzan told me that his mother has told him that she wants to come to take him from here. We want Ramzan to unite with his mother. Now it’s up to Pakistan if they want to accept him as a citizen because Pakistan will give that visa. The Pakistan High Commission has not said anything about it yet,” Swaraj told the media here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”When I learnt about Ramzan’s case, I asked the Indian High Commission to Pakistan to meet Ramzan’s mother and ask her if she wishes to come to India. If Ramzan’s mother is ready to come to India, then we are willing to give her visa for that time,” she added. Swaraj further said if Ramzan’s mother does not have any document or proof to give to the Pakistan High Commission then the DNAs can be matched. Meanwhile, Ramzan looked quite relaxed and expressed his desire to go back home. “I have asked my mother to come here. I have told her that I am being treated well here. I want to go to Pakistan,” he said.Ramzan, who hails from Karachi, was separated from his mother at age of 10 when his father Mohammad took him to Bangladesh and remarried. After being tortured by his step-mother, the boy crossed the border alone in 2011 with the hope of coming back to his mother in Pakistan.Ramzan travelled to many states before landing in Bhopal.

Sighs of relief as Indian hostages safe and free

The hostage siege at the luxury hotel in Mali’s capital left at least 18 people dead on Friday and was declared “over” after several hours.

People flee from the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali; Still image from video show a hostage rushed out from the hotel; security forces crouch down outside the hotel; The lobby of the hotel with a body bundled under a blanket near the staircase

AP, Reuters, Mali TV
After several hours of nerve-wracking suspense at the headquarters of the Ministry of External Affairs (MeA) here, there were sighs of relief in the evening, when the Indian ambassador in Mali confirmed that the 20 Indians being held hostage, along with more than 100 others by gunmen at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel, are free and safe. Malian special forces stormed the hotel at the capital Bamako after the gunmen took 170 people as hostage. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said Indians trapped at the hotel have been rescued and are safe. He said that Indian ambassador in Mali had confirmed the news.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The hostage siege at the luxury hotel in Mali’s capital left at least 18 people dead on Friday and was declared “over” after several hours. The Ministry spokesperson said the Indian ambassador was in touch with the nationals. Reports reaching here said a joint team of UN, Mali and French soldiers evacuated all Indians from the hotel under siege. The Ministry sources here said the Indians were employees of a Dubai-based wholesale company, which belongs to a Sindhi businessman, Dev Bulani. They had permanent rooms booked at the hotel. Bulani, who was in Dubai, said the workers were held in a house inside the hotel complex. “He told us that he is in touch with the hostages and they are being looked after by the rescue forces,”officials said. Bulani, a resident of Bamako, has a network of business with offices in West Asian countries including Dubai. “He is a major manpower supplier and also a known wholesaler,” said the diplomat. Ministry officials here said the Malian authorities were still ascertaining the identity of the hostage-takers, who came in shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’. “Our ambassador is also in Mali and he is personally supervising the situation,” said a Mali embassy spokesman in New Delhi. Northern Mali fell under the control of Islamist militants in 2012. A French-led offensive ousted them in 2013, but remnants of the group have staged a number of attacks on United Nations peacekeepers and Malian forces. Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was here last month to attend the India-Africa Forum Summit, had invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit his country and told him that he would personally take him to Timbuktu, which he said was a heritage site that faced the threat of being destroyed by extremist groups. Stating that his country was badly affected by terrorism, he also sought India’s cooperation in counter-terrorist measures.

India undecided on whether Sushma Swaraj will attend Pakistan conference

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

Sushma Swaraj

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

Mani Shankar Aiyar’s remarks are seditious, Sonia Gandhi should apologise: BJP

The comments made by Aiyar and Khurshid are highly objectionable and anti-national, said Prakash Javadekar.

Mani Shankar Aiyar

Escalating its attack against Mani Shankar Aiyar over his controversial remarks in Pakistani media, BJP on Wednesday called it ‘treason’ and demanded an apology from Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.Union ministers M Venkaiah Naidu and Prakash Javadekar, who also hit out at former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid for criticising the NDA government for adopting a tough stand towards Pakistan, said Congress should take strong action against the two leaders for their “seditious” and “anti-national” remarks.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The comments made by Aiyar and Khurshid are highly objectionable and anti-national. Going to a foreign country and calling upon the people to overthrow a democratically elected PM is nothing but sedition.”Congress party should condemn these remarks and take strongest possible action against these two people. They are not ordinary people to be brushed aside. They were ex-ministers and spokesmen of the Congress party. This shows the level of the frustration of the party and its leaders,” Naidu told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.He said the remarks by Congress leaders are “disgusting” for any patriotic and nationalist Indian. “Aiyar’s attempt is clearly aimed at de-stabilizing the democratically elected government led by Shri Modi. To say so on a foreign soil is even worse and amounts to clear act of treason,” he said in a statement later.Javadekar wondered if the opposition party approved of their remarks and demanded Gandhi’s apology. “Does Congress approve of Aiyar’s remarks? If the two leaders are not forthcoming, then the Congress president should apologise. Being the chief of the party she should take responsibility and apologise,” he told reporters at party headquarters.”The way Khurshid and Aiyar are singing paeans of Pakistan and denigrating the Prime Minister’s office is unacceptable.”They are playing with the sentiments of the people who are seeing their action as a betrayal of the country. They are free to disagree with us in India but not on foreign soil,” he said.Aiyar sparked a controversy by reportedly saying, during a panel discussion on a Pakistani news channel, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to be removed if talks between the two nations have to resume. His comments have evoked sharp reactions. Khurshid had criticised the NDA government for adopting a tough stand towards Pakistan.While Khurshid served in various capacities including as External Affairs Minister in UPA government, Aiyar was a Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas and then Panchayati Raj Minister.Countering Congress’ criticism of its handling of Kashmir issue and Pakistan, Naidu asked, “If it is so simple for the Congress, they should explain to the people in the last 50 years why they have not resolved the Kashmir issue through peace dialogue.”Why they have not successfully stopped Pakistan from supporting these terrorist organisations. Congress must exhibit its sincerity by taking action against these two people.” Hitting out at Aiyar and Khurshid for their controversial comments, BJP had yesterday said that they were trying to gain lost ground “by visiting ISI headquarters” which is an “insult to India and its nationalist Muslims”. Javadekar also accused Congress of practising the “worst” kind of diplomacy, pointing out to the Sharm-el Sheikh joint statement of India-Pakistan during the UPA tenure in which a reference to Balochistan was made.He also termed as “highly communal” the comments of Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed in which he had allegedly linked action against Chhota Rajan and Anup Chetia to their religion. “Congress looks for religion in every possible action, even in crimes. This is their policy,” he said. Naidu said Khurshid went to the extent of praising Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as a visionary and peace loving person.”Congress party should come clean in this regard and take necessary action against Shri Aiyar and Shri Khurshid for talking in support of Pakistan and its leadership and denigrating the Indian Government and Prime Minister,” he said. He accused the Congress of creating the Kashmir tangle saying it was the contribution of the opposition party and its leadership.”It was during Congress rule that part of Kashmir was occupied by Pakistan. Congress was in power at Centre for so many years. It should now explain why the Kashmir issue was not resolved and peace was not restored between India and Pakistan all these years,” he said.The Union Minister added that it is now widely established that the Pakistan leadership is “a puppet of self-serving military establishment and non state terrorist organizations. Aiding, abetting, funding and training terrorists is their policy.”He said the Pakistani leadership has all these years demonstrated a flip-flop approach towards improving relations with India and resolving contentious issues.”Senior Congress leaders speaking in defence of such leadership in Pakistan is a clear evidence of their anti national philosophy for which they deserve to be strongly punished by their party. Congress leadership cannot keep mum on such disturbing tendencies within their party,” Naidu said.

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.

Russian acid attack victim goes back; India to pay medicine bills

The minister further tweeted that “we have assured her that India will bear all expenses on her treatment in Russia

The 23-year-old Russian woman who was attacked with acid in Varanasi and was undergoing treatment here has been flown to Moscow with Indian government assuring her that all medical expenses will be borne by it. “The acid victim has been flown to Moscow. Our Ambassador has met the mother of the victim,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.The minister further tweeted that “we have assured her that India will bear all expenses on her treatment in Russia.” She said Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister has also announced Rs 5 lakh towards this. The woman had suffered 46 per cent burn injuries after a local youth threw acid on her on November 13 in Nand Nagar area of Varanasi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the burns wing of Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital after she was flown here on Saturday evening in an air ambulance following a request from the Russian embassy and the Centre.

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

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

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

U.S. raising pressure on India over U.S. human trafficking visas | Reuters

WASHINGTONThe U.S. government is stepping up pressure on India to end a controversial policy of placing restrictions on passports of Indian nationals rescued from forced labour or human trafficking in the United States, a U.S. State Department official said.

In the next few months, the issue will be raised with Indian authorities during a number of high-level meetings, said the official, who declined to be identified.

This has already started to happen. The official said at a consular-level meeting on Nov. 3, U.S. officials asked Indian officials to scrap the policy. It was also raised at meetings on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September.

Since March, Indians who have received U.S. T visas have faced new restrictions. T-visa holders face long delays in renewing passports at Indian consulates in the United States. Reuters reported exclusively last week that they must also provide confidential information to the Indian government that they had previously submitted to the U.S. authorities, including details about who had trafficked them, according to the documents, legal advocates and interviews with T visa holders.

Human rights advocates say the restrictions undermine U.S. government efforts to help Indians rescued from forced labour in the United States, including hundreds recruited to work in U.S. Gulf Coast shipyards after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

“There is still a misunderstanding on the part of the Indians of what a T visa is and what the legal standard is for a T visa to be issued here in the United States,” said the U.S. official in an interview. “We have a number of high level visits that are going to be happening over the next quarter and some before that, at which we’ll raise the issue again.”

The Indian embassy in Washington said on Nov. 2 “many individuals seek to misuse the trafficking visa route to emigrate to the U.S” and that “appropriate measures are taken in such cases.” India, however, is mindful of hardships “faced by genuinely affected persons” who receive T visas and provides them with consular services, it added.

Between July 2014 and March 2015, the crackdown by the Indian authorities was harsher. At least 20 passports of Indians stamped with U.S. T visas were confiscated by authorities at Indian airports, preventing trafficking victims who returned home to collect their families from flying back to the United States. That has now stopped but the new restrictions are still making life very difficult for some of those with the visas.

In July, one of the biggest employers of Indian workers on the Gulf Coast, Alabama-based oil rig repair company Signal International LLC, agreed to pay $20 million to settle claims that it misled and exploited Indian guest workers brought to the United States.

A March 3 high court ruling in India found India’s confiscation of passports with T visas unconstitutional.  A March 16 memo from the Ministry of External Affairs reviewed by Reuters told “all missions and posts” to relax some aspects of the policy but not repeal it.

The problems with T visas follow the December 2013 arrest of an Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, for visa fraud and underpaying a domestic worker who was later issued a U.S. T visa.  Her arrest and subsequent strip search provoked an outcry in India over her treatment by U.S. authorities.

The T Visa crackdown was widely seen as part of the Indian government’s diplomatic retaliation for the Khobragade incident, which New Delhi treated as an affront to its national pride.

(Reporting by Jason Szep; Editing by Martin Howell)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Geeta fails to recognise couple claiming to be her parents

This is the third instance where Geeta did not recognise the people who claimed to be her parents.

PTI
Geeta, the deaf and mute girl who returned to India from Pakistan recently, did not recognise a couple from Uttar Pradesh who arrived here claiming that she was their long-lost daughter, district authorities said on Friday.This is the third instance where Geeta did not recognise the people who claimed to be her parents. Earlier she had failed to recognise the people who claimed that they were her parents or family members after she arrived in New Delhi, Indore district collector P Narhari said. Geeta, who lived in Pakistan for about 15 years after accidentally landing in the country as a child, is currently lodged at an institution for the hearing- and speech-impaired here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We showed Geeta the photos of Ramraj Gautam (45) and his wife Anara Devi, hailing from Rama-ka-Purva in Pratapgarh district of UP, who claim that Geeta is their daughter and her real name is Savita. But she didn’t recognise them,” Narhari said. About Gautam’s and his wife’s application for permission to meet her, the collector said he had forwarded it to the Ministry of External Affairs for decision. “We are also making efforts to trace her family,” said the collector.”We are playing the role of guardian,” Narhari said, adding that unauthorised persons and outsiders were not allowed to enter the institute where the girl is living. However, she was not being kept in isolation and wasn’t cut off from the outside world, he said, adding she had made friends at the hostel and recently even went out for a stroll.Geeta was only 7-8 years old when the Pakistan Rangers found her sitting alone on the Samjhauta Express at Lahore 15 years ago. She was adopted by Edhi Foundation’s Bilquis Edhi and lived with her in Karachi. She returned to India on October 26.

Why these Bihar voters can’t vote: Their parents came from Iran in the 16th century

Kishanganj: They are Indian by birth, living here for generations, have passports issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), can buy land here, educate their children without any obstacle but they cannot vote. Why so? Because they are considered Iranians. Their ancestors had come to India from Iran in the 16th century. Even the small pocket of land they live on in Motibagh Karbala in Kishanganj is called Irani Basti.

Ghulam Asghar was excited at the prospect of taking part in the electoral process when he turned 18. But to his surprise, his name was not included in the electoral roll. He was told that he was an Iranian, not an Indian.

“I was born and brought up here. My father and grandfather were also born here. I completed schooling and graduation from Kishanganj. I have driving license, PAN card, UID (Aadhaar) card and even Indian passport to travel abroad. Still, I am not an Indian,” said Asghar, a member of the miniscule minority group of around 1,000. Over 700 are beyond the minimum voting age.

(Left to right) Sher Khan, Janu Ali and Zareen Begum at Irani basti in Kishanganj. Tarique Anwar

(Left to right) Sher Khan, Janu Ali and Zareen Begum at Irani basti in Kishanganj. Tarique Anwar

However in Asghar’s case, although his father and grandfather were born here, their ancestors had come to India in early 19th century before Mughal rule ended.This splinter group entered Kishanganj around 1813. They were traders and used to sell horses at fairs, festivals and to rich landlords. Some of them stayed back in India forming small pockets in various states. Most of them bought land and are now settled here.

The community terms the denial of voting right to them a conspiracy by local politicians and administration.

“Our names were registered in the electoral rolls of ward number 5 and 7 till 2005. But it was deleted in the revision before 2009 Lok Sabha elections. We approached the district magistrate and local electoral office to rectify the problem. We provided them with necessary documents such as voters’ identity card issued by the Election Commission of India, property ownership documents and ration cards but they did not get convinced,” said 65-year-old Sher Khan, head of the Irani Basti, adding that “it’s an irony that despite being an Indian, we are deprived of our fundamental right to vote”.

Asked about the conspiracy he was talking about, another resident Janu Ali, 54, who was accompanied by Shah, said the local politicians and administration are hatching conspiracy against them. “They do not want us to be here because we speak Persian, have different culture and physical feature and belong to a certain community,” he said.

He added that attempts were made last year to implicate them in terror cases but they got clean chit after the Kishanganj police and other security agencies probed the allegations.

The district administration could not be reached for a response.

Most of the Iranis are Shiites. They are tall and well-built with prominent straight nose and fair in complexion. Irani women still wear lehengas and kurtas. There is no special clothing for the men. They speak Persian mixed with Hindi and Urdu. There has been many changes in the language according to the local influence.

Their women traditionally stay at home but men spend months away from home because of their business engagements. They prefer to marry within their community. Notably, Iranian boys can take wives from outside but the girls are married within the community. If a girl marries outside, she is ex-communicated from the community.

There is no dowry system. Boy usually gives Rs 5,001 or Rs 10,001 to the girls as mehar after nikah. A proposal goes from the boy’s family to the girl’s house and after deciding among themselves, the families approach the sardar (the head of the community) for deciding the money. After holding discussions with both the sides, the sardar settles the proposal.

The sardar enjoys high regards in the society. He takes all the decisions and settle disputes. The headship is hereditary transferred from generation to generation. The boys are given preference over the girls but girls are respected in the community. The education level is low as only percent of the boys are educated upto matric. The girls are not educated. Only 10-15 girls in the entire community have studied upto class 6-7. The girls stay indoors and do household work and some of them have undergone religious education. However, there is no purdah system and girls are allowed to go out.

The community is by and large isolated and most of the members are poor. It is difficult for most of them to make their both ends meet. Whatever they earn they spend, without bothering for the future. They have large families with on an average 7-8 members. There are no divisions within the community between rich or poor. People celebrate all the festivals and feasts together.

The ancestors of most of the families residing there had come to India from Shiraz, a city in Iran. They were either professional calligraphy pen makers or horse traders. Because of their skills, they got laurels in local courts and were allowed free movement from one place to another. They were also allowed to stay here permanently.

Most of the families in Karbala Chowk live in makeshift bamboo huts with poor amenities. “We are not well-off. We make our living by working as daily wagers. Elections give us some hope for better future. We do not have a school for our children, there is no drinking water in our area and for decades we are living in huts without. But unfortunately, the right to hope for a better tomorrow has also been snatched,” said Haidar Ali (24), who was allegedly told by a government official that ‘tumhara naam nahin chadh sakta, tum bahri ho (you name not be included in the electoral roll because you are an outsider)’.

“We are Indians. It hurts us when people call us an Irani. If we are really Iranians, we should be sent back to Iran,” said his friend Salman Ali.

The fight has now gone to the court. “When the authorities refused to listen anything, we were left with no option but to approach the court to clarify our nationality,” said Salman Ali.

Modi’s diplomatic foray to match Nehru

After successful conclusion of India-Africa summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has now set eyes on the Paris Climate Conference (COP21), where he will bring together over 100 nations to set up an international solar alliance.While India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru is remembered as an architect of a conference on Afro-Asian unity in Bandung, Indonesia, and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Modi doesn’t wnat to be left behind, as External Affairs Ministry was scrambling to get some 107 countries to join Modi on the sidelines of this conference to announce an international solar alliance.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The alliance to be named the International Agency for Solar Policy and Application (InSPA) will include African nations and others located between located between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, the countries who have maximum sunlight. Experts here believe the initiative will position India as a key global player in solar market and to share technologies, minimizing dependence of these countries on costly technologies from the EU and US. Modi is expected to announce a special fund for the alliance.The India-African summit also committed intensify cooperation in developing renewable energy generation including solar, wind, hydro, geo-thermal and bio-mass. The leader agreed to promote public-private Partnership (PPP) by encouraging Indian businesses to set up skills development units in African industrial zones with the aim to train African engineers, technicians, managers and workers as well as by encouraging other experts in areas of solar energy.Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swaroop said aim of such an alliance was to get those countries around which are exposed to maximum sun-light and create a broad platform to promote use of solar power. At the India-Africa summit, Modi officially invited nations to join InSPA and said: “Our goal is to make solar energy an integral part of our life and reach it to the most unconnected villages and communities.”Many African countries are planning to use solar power in a big way but funds and technology constrains are hampering their dreams. Therefore, the new grouping will also evolve common financial solutions, and will also act as pressure group to demand improved access to better technology. At the Paris, Prime Minister.

Pakistan must stop using terror as instrument of state policy: India

In deeply embarrassing remarks for Pakistan, Musharaf in a recent interview had acknowledged that his country supported and trained terror groups like the LeT in 1990s for fanning militancy in Kashmir.

Pakistan must stop using terrorism as an instrument of state policy, India said on Friday reacting to former President Pervez Musharraf’s comments that his country supported and trained terror groups like the LeT for fanning militancy in Kashmir in 1990s. “Our position on this is very clear. Pakistan must stop using terrorism as an instrument of state policy and sooner Pakistan realises it, the faster the relations between India and Pakistan can progress,” Spokesperson in External Affairs Ministry Vikas Swarup said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In deeply embarrassing remarks for Pakistan, the former military ruler in a recent interview had acknowledged that his country supported and trained terror groups like the LeT in 1990s for fanning militancy in Kashmir. 72-year-old Musharraf also asserted that terror leaders like Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri were Pakistan’s “heroes” but later became “villains”. Musharraf’s admissions come as India has been repeatedly stating that Pakistan has a hand in fanning militancy in India and harbouring terrorists for anti-India activities.Asked about a boy Ramdan, reportedly to be a Pakistani whose case was similar to that of Geeta, the deaf and mute Indian girl who returned to India earlier, the spokesperson said there were some issues with the nationality of the boy, who is currently with an NGO in Bhopal.Once Pakistan verifies his nationality, the decks would be cleared for his return to that country, he added.On Pakistan not being elected to the UNHCR due to the bad human rights record, the spokesperson refused to comment and merely said that the human right record in Pakistan is well known and it was not for him to comment.

Chhota Rajan’s process of deportation begins

The ambassador said the process of Rajan’s deportation to India has begun but there is no deadline for it and termed as “speculative and hypothetical” reports that Rajan had surrendered to the Indonesian authorities.
File Photo
PTI
The process for deportation of underworld don Chhota Rajan has begun even as India and Indonesia are to expedite the work on implementation of an extradition treaty.India’s Ambassador to Indonesia Gurjit Singh said an extradition treaty and a treaty for mutual legal assistance have already been concluded and letters for their implementation would be exchanged during the visit of Vice President Hamid Ansari beginning on Sunday. Singh said the process relating to the two treaties is “coincidental” to the visit of the Vice President and not being hurried up.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ambassador said the process of Rajan’s deportation to India has begun but there is no deadline for it and termed as “speculative and hypothetical” reports that Rajan had surrendered to the Indonesian authorities. The India-Indonesia extradition treaty was signed in 2011 but has not been implemented yet.Lawyer Fransico Prassar, who has been hired by Rajan, met him at the detention centre where he is lodged but he refused to make any comment on his client, one of India’s most wanted criminals.”I have met him and discussed about the case. Beyond that I have no comment to offer now,” Prassar told reporters.In New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the Ministries of External Affairs and Home were working together to bring back Rajan from Indonesia “as early as possible”. The 55-year-old Rajan, whose original name is Rajendra Sadashiv Nikhalje, was questioned by the Indonesian police for six hours today about his identity and criminal acts in India.Bali Police Commissioner Reinhard Nainggolan said Rajan has been allowed to communicate to the Indian mission in Bali besides allowing a meeting with a lawyer. Rajan, who is wanted in over 75 heinous crimes ranging from murder, extortion to smuggling and drug trafficking, was questioned both in English as well as in Hindi through a translator.An Indonesian police spokesperson said that they have submitted a report to the Indian consulate in Bali as well as Interpol about Chhota Rajan’s arrest and identity.Asked about the reports of threat to Rajan’s life, the spokesperson said since Rajan got a lawyer, the spokesperson can talk to him and through him can lodge a complaint. He said Rajan has been cooperating with the police so far and has accepted that his real name is Rajendra Sadashiv Nikhalje.Mumbai-born Rajan, once a close confidante-turned-rival of underworld ganglord Dawood Ibrahim, on Thursday said that he was not afraid of Dawood, the prime accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case. Rajan was arrested in this popular Indonesian tourist destination on a Red Corner Notice issued by Interpol after eluding law enforcement agencies for over two decades. Out of these 75 cases, Rajan is facing four cases under Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), one under Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and over 20 cases under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).Indian security agencies are likely to send a team of officials here to bring back the gangster who is in custody since Sunday. The sources are tight-lipped about the exact arrangements to bring him back because of security concerns arising out of his fierce rivalry with Dawood and his gang. They said agencies are working on more than one plan to bring back Rajan factoring various permutations and combinations.Rajan was travelling with the identity of Mohan Kumar with passport number G9273860 when he was apprehended at the airport here, after arriving there on a Garuda Indonesia flight GA715, by the Indonesian Police on a tip off from Australian authorities, they said.The sources said Rajan was in touch with various police officials for last six months seeking a passage to return to India as he feared for his life in Australia from Chhota Shakeel, a henchman of Dawood. In 2000, there was an attempt on his life when Dawood’s men tracked him down to a hotel in Bangkok but he managed a dramatic escape through the hotel’s roof.According to serving and former police officers, who have dealt with the Mumbai underworld, arrest of Rajan is a major success and his questioning is expected to shed light on hitherto unknown facts related to cases linked to his syndicate.

Now, another family in UP claims Geeta is their daughter

Bahul Singh, a resident of Uttra village in Atrauli tehsil said that Geeta is his “daughter Dolly” and he is ready to undergo DNA test to prove it.

Geeta returned to India on Monday.
File Photo
PTI
Another family in a remote village of Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh district on Wednesday claimed that Geeta, the deaf and mute girl who returned from Pakistan after being separated from her parents over a decade ago, is their daughter.Bahul Singh, a resident of Uttra village in Atrauli tehsil said that Geeta is his “daughter Dolly” and he is ready to undergo DNA test to prove it. Singh also said that Dolly went missing on November 11, 2000 and a case in this connection was registered at Barla police station. Narinder Singh, son of Bahul Singh, told news persons that he had one brother and 3 sisters.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”On the fateful day, the whole family had gone for a pilgrimage leaving Dolly behind who in a fit of anger had ran away and never returned,” Narinder said.Earlier, a family hailing from a village in Pratapgarh has claimed that Geeta is their Savita who had gone missing from Bihar 12 years ago and is ready for a DNA test. Geeta, who returned from Pakistan after a gap of 15 years, refused to recognise the Mahatos from Bihar whom she had identified as her family through photographs when she was in Karachi.The External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had stated that Geeta refused to identify the Mahatos as her family. She had earlier identified them through pictures sent by the Indian High Commission in Pakistan.Geeta, now 23, was reportedly just 7 or 8 years old when she was found sitting alone on the Samjhauta Express by the Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago at the Lahore railway station. Indian government has said that Geeta would be handed over to the rightful family only after DNA test.

India makes fervent pitch for permanent seat in UNSC

Noting that democratic reforms are essential in global institutions, Sushma Swaraj said the 70th session of the UN General Assembly is an opportune moment to achieve concrete results to resolve these long-pending issues.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj shakes hands with her Cameroon counterpart Mbella Mbella during a meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday.

PTI
Making a fervent pitch for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, India on Tuesday said it along with Africa comprising nearly 2.5 billion people “can no longer be excluded from their rightful place” in the world body.”Although Indians and Africans comprise nearly 2.5 billion people, our nations continue to be excluded from appropriate representation in the institutions of global governance. India and Africa can no longer be excluded from their rightful place of the permanent membership of the UN Security Council,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”How can we expect legitimacy from a governance structure that excludes the entire African continent and a country, which represents one-sixth of humanity?” she said, addressing the Ministerial Meeting of the 3rd India-Africa Summit in the national capital.Noting that democratic reforms are essential in global institutions, Swaraj said the 70th session of the UN General Assembly is an opportune moment to achieve concrete results to resolve these long-pending issues.”Unless we put in place more democratic global governance structures, the more equitable and just international security and development frameworks that are essential for the collective peace and prosperity of this planet, will continue to elude us. There can no longer be pockets of prosperity in vast areas of underdevelopment and insecurity,” Swaraj said.With both India and several African countries battling the menace of terrorism, the EAM batted for better cooperation through intelligence sharing, training and other measures to counter the problem.”In view of the fast growing linkages of such terrorist groups across the globe, we must step up our cooperation through intelligence exchange, training and other measures to counter this menace. We also hope that the international community will cooperate with urgency to adopt the Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism,” she said.Batting for enhanced partnership between India and Africa, Swaraj said the cooperation between the two, which extends to agriculture, education and skills development, energy and infrastructure, science and technology should now be enlarged to areas like Blue or Ocean economy, maritime security and counter-terrorism.She noted that over 1,80,000 Indian troops have participated in UN peacekeeping missions — more than from any other country and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already announced that India will further scale up its participation in UN peacekeeping operations, including by providing training for African peacekeepers at facilities in India and in the field.India and Africa also need to work together ahead of the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 on Climate Change in Paris and the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Kenya since both share equal concern and interest in this regard, she said.”Our negotiators are cooperating closely in Bonn currently. We look forward to finalising an ambitious and comprehensive climate change agreement based on the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility. The challenge of global warming can only be addressed adequately through technological solutions and financial resources to manage the transition,” Swaraj said.She said that the recent announcements regarding the signing of a Tripartite Free Trade Agreement and the launch of negotiations for the creation of a Continental Free Trade Agreement in Africa will stimulate further trade and investment.

All our nations find themselves faced with the growing scourge of terrorism: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi:External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said that India and African nations face growing scourge of terrorism and the menace of non-state actors and cross-border terrorism has acquired a new dimension.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the UN. PTIExternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the UN. PTI

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the UN. PTI

Speaking at the ministerial meeting of the Third India-Africa Forum Summit here, she said the scale of challenge of countering non-state actors was huge.

“All our nations find themselves faced with the growing scourge of terrorism. The menace of non-state actors and cross-border terrorism has acquired a new dimension. The scale of this challenge is huge and undermines the peace and stability in our countries, which is essential for our development efforts,” she said.

India last week accused Pakistan of using terrorism as an instrument of state policy and said that international community was “deeply concerned about its support to and sponsorship of terrorism”.

Some countries in Africa are also countering threats of violence from local and international outfits.

Sushma Swaraj said there was need to step up cooperation through intelligence exchange and called for adoption of convention against terrorism.

IANS

Geeta’s story gets complicated, refuses to recognise Indian family

A team of doctors from the AIIMS, took blood samples of Geeta. Janardhan Mahato, who claims to be her father

Geeta with Sushma Swaraj

The story of deaf-mute Geeta got further complicated on Monday when she refused to recognise the Mahato family. Stranded in Pakistan 15 years ago, she arrived here to a rosy welcome. The family from Bihar had claimed Geeta as their lost daughter. In the chambers of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, where Mahato family was made to sit face-to-face, Geeta didn’t make any emotional bonding and preferred to stay with Indore based sign language expert Monika Punjabi.A team of doctors from the AIIMS, took blood samples of Geeta. Janardhan Mahato, who claims to be her father. The father has also already given his blood samples and is currently being tested at the Hyderabad based Central Forensic Laboratory.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the Pakistani media had highlighted her case way back in 2012, it created ripples only after movie Bajrangi Bhaijaan which had a story on similar lines. Sushma took a political swipe at the previous UPA government for not showing pro-activeness, saying, “We came to power in 2014…There is a need to show pro-activeness on certain levels to settle such issues.”Recounting that when after the Salman Khan blockbuster hit screens and the electronic media raised the issue of Geeta, minister of external affairs immediately asked Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghavan to visit Karachi along with his wife to verify claims of Eidhi foundation and Geeta.Armed with sketchy details and pictures, which were displayed and broadcast through media, four families from Punjab, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar had approached the ministry of external affairs claiming the mute girl is their child. “I asked chief ministers of these four states to verify claims. And finally it was only the Bihar family which was somewhat closer to reality. She (Geeta) responded to their pictures as well, when she was shown it in Karachi,” said Sushma. Sushma, however, hastened to add that their were loopholes in Mahato story as well. “They said Geeta had been married and had left her husbands’ home. But she was just 11, when she wandered over the border. And Geeta also denies she had married. But we still took their story, but called for DNA testing,” said the external affairs minister.Swaraj, said: “It doesn’t matter if we find her parents or not. She is a daughter of India and we will take care of her.” The government has already identified an Indore-based NGO working with speech and hearing impaired people to teach Geeta. At first, she was kept at a children’s home in Lahore, where she was given the Muslim name Fatima. She would point at maps of India, especially to an area somewhere in Bihar until she was able to finally communicate she was from India, and not a Pakistani.Manoj, claiming to be Geeta’s brother, said Geeta must have been confused right now and hoped once after settling down, she will recognise her family. He claimed that Geeta was married and used to live with her husband when she got lost from a ‘Baisakhi fair’.

Plot Mein Twist: Geeta refuses to identify Mahatos as her family

As Geeta made her way out of the ceremonial lounge of IGI around 11.30 PM, the family tried to make their way forward carrying rose petals and marigold garlands but she was whisked away by security personnel.

File Photo

Elated over Geeta’s return from Pakistan after a gap of 15 years, the Mahatos from Bihar today turned up at the Indira Gandhi International Airport to accord a warm welcome to their “family member”, only to be left dejected hours later as she refused to recognise them.As Geeta made her way out of the ceremonial lounge of IGI around 11.30 PM, the family tried to make their way forward carrying rose petals and marigold garlands but she was whisked away by security personnel.Later, addressing a press conference, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Geeta refused to identify the Mahatos as her family. Earlier, she had identified them through pictures sent by the Indian High Commission in Pakistan.Talking to a huge media posse outside the lounge, one Manoj, who claimed to be Geeta’s brother, expressed his “disappointment” over not being given the chance to garland the 23-year-old.”We want to meet her. Wanted to welcome her properly. It’s a great moment for us. We had lost all hope. Want to thankthe media, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, our lawyer. It’s like lord Rama’s homecoming after spending 14 years in exile. This is our Diwali,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Contrary to her categorical denials in this regard, he also claimed that Geeta was married and used to live with her husband when she got lost from a “Baisakhi fair”. Janardhan Mahato, who claims to be her father, thanked Swaraj and Pakistani officials for ensuring her return. “She will recognise us all and will embrace us the moment we meet her. She is not a girl anymore, she’s god.” Geeta was reportedly just 7 or 8 years old when she was found sitting alone on the Samjhauta Express by the Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago at the Lahore railway station. Indian government has said that Geeta would be handed over to the rightful family only after DNA test.

Sushma Swaraj thanks Edhi foundation for safeguarding Geeta’s religion

“I would like to thank the Edhi foundation, I would like to thank Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Edhi, you not only gave her mother’s love but also protected her faith,’ Swaraj said at a press conference.

Geeta and Sushma Swaraj

Expressing her gratitude towards the Edhi Foundation for taking care of Geeta during her stay in Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday said that institution’s founders Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Edhi had not only given ‘motherly love’ to the girl but also safeguarded her religion. ‘Today is a day of great happiness, after years our Geeta has returned to her homeland. India welcomes its daughter back home. I would like to thank the Edhi foundation, I would like to thank Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Edhi, you not only gave her mother’s love but also protected her faith,’ Swaraj said at a press conference.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The External Affairs Minister said that the process to bring back Geeta started after a news channel reported about her. ‘Sometime back there was a TV report saying that a girl had gone across the border by mistake and she wants to come back. She was in the Edhi Foundation there. I immediately asked Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan Raghavan ji to look into the matter,’ Swaraj said.’He went to Karachi, inquired there and told me that the girl is definitely Indian and she wants to come to India. She gave him some information about her home and surroundings,’ she added. Swaraj further said that Geeta had failed to recognise the photographs of two families, which had claimed that she was their daughter. ‘We started searching for her family. Four couple claimed that Geeta was their daughter, they were all from different regions, from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. I asked the state governments to find out the truth,’ she said. ‘Some of them were ruled out as facts did not corroborate with what Geeta had said. We then sent the photographs of parents from Pratapgarh and Telangana to Pakistan, Geeta failed to recognise both of them. After that the Mahato couple met and said that Geeta is their daughter,’ she added.Swaraj said that Geeta finally recognised the members of Mahato family. ‘We sent their photos to Geeta and she recognised them, she asked for photographs of her siblings. She recognised a few of them. We decided that we would bring her back, but also thought that there has to a scientific way to establish her relationship with parents,’ Swaraj said. ‘We decided to conduct DNA testing of both. We took Mahato couple’s blood samples and collected Geeta’s blood sample also today, we have sent both for testing,’ she added.
Swaraj said that Geeta, who arrived here a short while back, will be kept in an institution in Indore as she has failed to recognise Mahato couple. She will be under the care of the government till DNA tests establish Geeta’s parentage. Geeta had strayed into Pakistan at the age of 11 and was handed over to the Edhi Foundation by the police, who found her at Lahore railway station.Escorted by five members of the Edhi Foundation, Geeta arrived at the IGI airport in the national capital today.

#GeetaComesHome: Sushma Swaraj says Geeta can stay in India irrespective of DNA test result

“She denied all charges immediately. She said that when she went to Pakistan, she was just a little girl so there was no chance that she could have been married,” Swaraj told the media here.

Picture Source: MEA

Brushing aside all reports that Geeta, who returned from Pakistan, was married with children, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday said that the news was false as she had denied the same. “She denied all charges immediately. She said that when she went to Pakistan, she was just a little girl so there was no chance that she could have been married,” Swaraj told the media. According to Geeta’s interpreter, she often felt sad when she was living in Pakistan and showed the eagerness to return to her homeland. “I”ve been told that when Geeta was in Pakistan, sometimes she would often fight because she was so upset. But she has been smiling ever since she has come home and that indicates how she really feels at the moment,” Swaraj added. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>DNA test conducted The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has deputed two doctors to collect the DNA samples of 23-year-old Geeta, who has returned to India from Karachi almost after 15 years, to determine her parentage and the results will be known “after 15-20 days”. “We have deputed two doctors to collect the DNA samples of Geeta from the hotel where she is staying. These samples will be sent to the AIIMS Forensic lab and Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) for carrying out necessary tests to determine her parentage,” said Dr Sudhir Gupta, Head of AIIMS Forensics Division. Gupta said that they have already collected the samples of the family which claimed Geeta as its own on October 24 after the Ministry of External Affairs wrote to the hospital.(Read: Sushma thanks Edhi foundation)Real Life Bajraangi BhaijaanThe Ministry had asked it to collect samples for DNA test to confirm if Janardhan Mahato, who claims that Geeta is his first born Heera, is indeed her father.”We have already collected the samples from her reported parents after we received a letter from the Foreign Ministry to assist in her DNA test,” said Gupta adding that the samples have been sent to AIIMS Forensic lab and CBI’s Forensic lab.Read: Geeta’s father confident of passing DNA test)”We are fast tracking this test and the results will be out in 15-20 days,” he added. Geeta, a deaf-mute girl, travelled from Karachi to Delhi this morning, nearly 15 years after she accidentally crossed over to Pakistan as a child. She is accompanied from Karachi by the Edhi family, who run a charitable foundation and looked after her all these years. Geeta will soon meet Janardhan Mahato from Bihar, who she earlier this month had identified as her father from one of the many photographs sent to her by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. With inputs from agencies

Hope India will release 459 Pakistani prisoners after Geeta’s return, says diplomat

“We have handed over Geeta to India and I hope that India will also release 459 Pakistani prisoners. Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit will host a reception to Geeta in the evening today and we will be there,” the Media head of Pakistan High Commission, Manzoor Memon, told the media here.

Pic courtesy: MEA

Pakistan on Monday appealed to India to release 459 Pakistani prisoners currently in Indian jails after Geeta, the speech and hearing impaired Indian woman living in Pakistan after accidentally crossing the border over a decade ago, arrived here from Karachi.”We have handed over Geeta to India and I hope that India will also release 459 Pakistani prisoners. Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit will host a reception to Geeta on Monday evening and we will be there,” the Media head of Pakistan High Commission, Manzoor Memon, told the media here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Geeta arrived in New Delhi on Monday and was welcomed by the Indian officials, Pakistan diplomats and her kin to much fanfare.Escorted by five members of the Edhi Foundation, Geeta was greeted by a multitude of people.Manzoor Ali Memon, Media head of Pakistan High Commission, and Ayesha Ahsan, Political Counsellor at the Pakistan High Commission, received Geeta on behalf of the Pakistan High Commission.”A daughter returns home. Geeta arrives in New Delhi accompanied by members of Edhi Foundation,” Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted on her arrival.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will brief the media at 3 pm today with details about Geeta’s arrival. Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit will host Geeta and the Edhi delegation this evening.She will be handed over to her real parents only after the DNA test. The Ministry of External Affairs has said that if the DNA does not match then she will be accommodated at either of the two identified institutions in Delhi and Indore.Geeta was reportedly just seven or eight years old when she was found sitting alone on the Samjhauta Express by the Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago at the Lahore railway station. The police then took her to the Edhi Foundation in Lahore and later she was shifted to Karachi.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj welcomes ‘India’s daughter’ Geeta

Swaraj will brief the media at 3 pm on Monday with details about Geeta’s arrival. Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit will host Geeta and the Edhi delegation this evening.

Image Courtesy: MEA

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday welcomed Geeta, the speech and hearing impaired Indian woman, on her arrival in India.”Geeta – Welcome home our daughter” tweeted Swaraj.Geeta arrived from Karachi by Pakistan International Airlines Flight 272 at Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi at around 10:20 am.Geeta was reportedly just 7 or 8 years old when she was found sitting alone on the Samjhauta Express by the Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago at the Lahore railway station.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Geeta has identified her father, step-mother and siblings from a photograph sent to her by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. The family reportedly lives in Bihar.Swaraj will brief the media at 3 pm on Monday with details about Geeta’s arrival. Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit will host Geeta and the Edhi delegation this evening.She will be handed over to her real parents after the DNA test. The Ministry of External Affairs had earlier said if the DNA does not match then she will be accommodated at either of the two identified institutions in Delhi and Indore.Geeta was reportedly just seven or eight years old when she was found sitting alone on the Samjhauta Express by the Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago at the Lahore railway station. The police then took her to the Edhi Foundation in Lahore and later she was shifted to Karachi.

Geeta arrives in Delhi, to be reunited with her family after DNA test

In a heartwarming saga, Geeta, the deaf-mute Indian woman living in Pakistan after accidentally crossing the border over a decade ago, arrived at Delhi airport on PIA flight on Monday.

In a heartwarming saga, Geeta, the deaf-mute Indian woman living in Pakistan after accidentally crossing the border over a decade ago, arrived at Delhi airport on PIA flight on Monday.Geeta arrived from Karachi by Pakistan International Airlines Flight 272 at Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi at around 10:20 am.Geeta was reportedly just 7 or 8 years old when she was found sitting alone on the Samjhauta Express by the Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago at the Lahore railway station.23-year-old Geeta was adopted by the Edhi Foundation’s Bilquees Edhi and lives with her in Karachi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Geeta has identified her father, step-mother and siblings from a photograph sent to her by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. The family reportedly lives in Bihar.Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, T C A Raghavan, and his wife had visited Geeta in August after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj directed him to meet her and try to locate her family.The Indian High Commission had on Sunday said that Geeta, a deaf and mute Indian woman who had crossed over to Pakistan accidently 15 years back, would be handed over to her family only if their DNA test matched. She is set to arrive in New Delhi on Monday.”If the DNA test of the family (who claims to be Geeta’s family) matches with Geeta’s DNA, she will be handed over to them. If the DNA test does not match then, Geeta will be taken care by a good organisation till she meets her family,” the second secretary of the Indian High Commission in Pakistan, PK Jain told the media.Senior Diplomats of Pakistan High Commission received her on arrival at Indira Gandhi International airport.Meanwhile, Janardhan Mahato, who has been identified by Geeta as her father, expressed confidence that he will pass the DNA test for sure.”They can take a DNA test or whatever they want. I am not running anywhere. I will pass the DNA test,” Mahato said.He added that he was extremely happy now that Geeta would be returning soon.On Friday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that Geeta would be handed over to the true family in India only after the DNA tests.

Deaf-mute girl Geeta returns to India today; to be united with family only if DNA matches: Indian Envoy

The Indian High Commission said here on Sunday that Geeta, a deaf and mute Indian woman who had crossed over to Pakistan accidently 15 years back, would be handed over to her family only if their DNA test matched. She is set to arrive in New Delhi on Monday.”If the DNA test of the family (who claims to be Geeta’s family) matches with Geeta’s DNA, she will be handed over to them. If the DNA test does not match then, Geeta will be taken care by a good organisation till she meets her family,” the second secretary of the Indian High Commission in Pakistan, PK Jain told the media.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Geeta will be leaving for New Delhi from Karachi along with members of the Edhi family at 8a.m on Monday,” Jain added.Geeta will be arriving from Karachi by Pakistan International Airlines Flight 272 on Monday at Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi at around 10:20 a.m.Senior Diplomats of Pakistan High Commission would receive Geeta on arrival at Indira Gandhi International airport. Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit would host her and members of the Edhi family on Monday evening.Meanwhile, Janardhan Mahato, who has been identified by Geeta as her father, expressed confidence that he will pass the DNA test for sure.”They can take a DNA test or whatever they want. I am not running anywhere. I will pass the DNA test,” Mahato said.He added that he was extremely happy now that Geeta would be returning soon.On Friday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that Geeta would be handed over to the true family in India only after the DNA tests.”On October 26, we will be bringing Geeta back to India. Together with Geeta, we have invited five official family members of Edhi foundation. They will be treated as state guest during their stay in India,” MEA official spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said.The Pakistani security forces had found Geeta near the eastern border with India in 2001. Since then, she has been in the care of the Edhi Foundation.

Deaf-mute girl Geeta’s ‘father’ confident of passing DNA test

He added that he was extremely happy now that Geeta would be returning soon.

On Friday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that Geeta would be handed over to the true family in India only after the DNA tests.

Janardhan Mahato, who has been identified by Geeta (the mute woman who has spent over a decade in Pakistan) as her father, expressed confidence that he will pass the DNA test for sure. “They can take a DNA test or whatever they want. I am not running anywhere. I will pass the DNA test,” Mahato said.He added that he was extremely happy now that Geeta would be returning soon. On Friday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that Geeta would be handed over to the true family in India only after the DNA tests.”On October 26, we will be bringing Geeta back to India. Together with Geeta, we have invited five official family members of Edhi foundation they will be treated as state guest during their stay in India.” MEA official spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said. The Pakistani security forces had found Geeta near the eastern border with India in 2001. Since then, she has been in the care of the Edhi Foundation.

Geeta, deaf-mute girl stranded in Pakistan, to return to India on October 26

Geeta, the deaf-mute Indian woman who accidentally crossed over to Pakistan around 15 years ago, will be back in the country on October 26, 2015, said Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup

Geeta, the deaf-mute Indian woman who accidentally crossed over to Pakistan around 15 years ago, will be back in the country on October 26, 2015, said Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas SwarupSpeaking to media, Swarup said, “On October 26, Geeta will be back to India with five members of Edhi Foundation, who will be treated as state guests.”Swarup further added, “We will do a DNA test to establish conclusive proof of relation with the family Geeta has identified. If the test is positive, we will hand over Geeta to the family. Else we have identified institutions where she can be taken care of.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>23-year-old Geeta was adopted by the Edhi Foundation’s Bilquees Edhi and lives with her in Karachi. Also read: Geeta wants to meet Salman Khan before meeting parents when she returns to IndiaGeeta has identified her father, step-mother and siblings from a photograph sent to her by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. The family reportedly lives in Bihar. She was reportedly just 7 or 8 years old when she was found sitting alone on the Samjhauta Express by the Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago at Lahore railway station.Police took her to Edhi Foundation in Lahore and later she was shifted to Karachi.Branding the entire story as ‘extraordinary’ Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Dr TCA Raghavan had asserted that it would be beautiful to see Geeta re-discover her old links. The Pakistani security forces had found Geeta near the eastern border with India in 2001. Since then, she has been in the care of the Edhi Foundation.

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