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New Year gift for Adnan Sami: Singer will get Indian citizenship from 1 January

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Union environment ministry issues fresh directions to control air pollution

The MoEF&CC and environment ministers of the five NCR states had met three times this year to take steps on the issue of air pollution. Preventing stubble burning of crops in Punjab and Haryana and burning of biomass was also one of the issues taken up during these meetings and for which the ministry issued directions on Wednesday.

dna Correspondent

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<!– /#sidebar-second –>Excise department seizes duty-evaded, duplicate liquor worth Rs57 lakh<!– /.block –>Nawaz Sharif thanks PM Modi for Lahore visit; says high time India, Pakistan set aside hostilities<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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Maharashtra govt gives Rs 258 crore to tribal panchayats, fails to train them on spending

Of the 35 districts in the state, the TSP areas fall in 15 districts —Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Nashik, Dhule, Nandurbar, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar, Pune, Amravati, Yavatmal, Nagpur, Gondia, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli and Nanded. There are 47 tribes or tribal groups in Maharashtra, including Bhils, Gonds, Mahadeo Kolis, Pawras, Thakurs and Warlis.

Kanchan SrivastavaInfoPrincipal Correspondent at dna Mumbai, have interests in politics, education and energy sectors. A postgraduate in Biochemistry and Lucknow University alumnus. I had worked at Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow for two and half years as Junior Reseach Fellow. Also holds a PG diploma in international studies from Mumbai University. Have won UNFPA-Laadli Media National Award in 2011 for best writing (Hindi) on gender issues. Besides, NBC Newsmakers Achievers Award 2015 for best journalist (English, print)

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<!– /#sidebar-second –>Excise department seizes duty-evaded, duplicate liquor worth Rs57 lakh<!– /.block –>Nawaz Sharif thanks PM Modi for Lahore visit; says high time India, Pakistan set aside hostilities<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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2016 may be a watershed year in Indo-Pak ties

If the year-end turned out well for India-Pakistan relations, 2016 holds greater prospects.After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore, he is set to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in the Swiss city of Davos, on the margins of the World Economic Forum between January 20 and 23.This is the third meeting between the two leaders in less than two months – the first being in Paris. It will take place a few days after the meeting of the foreign secretaries in Islamabad on January 15.Both prime ministers will have another opportunity to meet in Washington in March. US president Barack Obama has invited both the leaders for the Nuclear Security Summit to be held on March 31 and April 1.Experts here believe that the frequent summit meetings are designed to put pressure on bureaucrats to carve out a road map for peace, ahead of Modi’s tete-a tete in Islamabad with Sharif in September, on the sidelines of the SAARC summit.Insiders believe that a combination of factors pushed the Modi government into chalking a new line, cloaked in optics and symbolism.Western nudges, fears of extremism in South Asia, security situation in Kashmir, repeated requests by J&K chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and worries of disruptions to a thaw – all played a part.Also, after repeated setbacks, the US and Russia appear to have concluded that the recent peace attempts between the Afghan government and the Taliban represent the last opportunity for a resolution in Afghanistan.Given Pakistan’s centrality in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table, the US has, for weeks, been nudging New Delhi and Islamabad to resume dialogue, last suspended in 2013.US president Barack Obama, in October and November, had hosted both Nawaz Sharif and his army chief Raheel Sharif. The US secured an assurance from both that they were keen on avoiding exacerbation of tensions with India.While welcoming Modi’s diplomatic outreach, the J&K CM recalls that during his October 15 meeting with Modi, he had conveyed to the latter that development and success of his PDP-BJP coalition was linked to peace with Pakistan.”I was assured that an effort was on,” he said.Pakistan’s recent appointment of a former army general, Naseer Khan Janjua, as its national security adviser, has also opened a fresh window for early negotiations on terrorism and cross-border violence.”That the Pakistan NSA represents the views of his military establishment is good because the shadow-boxing is over,” said former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarathy.The “mother of all coups” – Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar described Modi’s December 25 visit to Lahore – also had an important fall-out.Modi’s optics have succeeded in convincing Pakistani leaders once again that a hardline BJP was more decisive than the Congress.Congress prime ministers, right from Rajiv Gandhi to Narasimha Rao to Manmohan Singh, despite having agreed to settle issues like Siachen and Jammu and Kashmir, backed out because of indecision.Ministry of External Affairs officials concede that what Modi had achieved was something Manmohan had dreamt of for a decade, but was not allowed by his own party – the Congress.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Why criticise Modi’s trip to Lahore? They were just a Hindu and a Muslim breaking bread on Christmas

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Modi in Pakistan – PM Modi raised dignity of nation by his birthday diplomacy: Rajnath Singh

Prime Minister Modi landed at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport on Christmas day, where he was received by his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. PM Modi’s 150-minute visit to Pakistan was first by an Indian Prime Minister in 11 years.

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China hails PM Modi’s meeting with Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore

Modi stayed for over two hours in Lahore on his way back home from Afghanistan yesterday during which he held talks with Sharif at his Raiwind house.

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LK Advani backs PM Modi’s Pak visit. says AB Vajpayee’s initiative needs to be taken forward

During his two-hour stopover, Modi visited Nawaz Sharif’s Jati Umra residence in Lahore. “Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi. Spoke to PM Nawaz Sharif and wished him on his birthday,” Prime Minister Modi said in a series of tweets moments after inaugurating the new building of Afghanistan Parliament in Kabul.

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Rahul Gandhi needs to speak up more in Parliament: Prithviraj Chavan

He added people now tend to watch serious live debates of the Parliament and that Gandhi needs to ensure they understand the reasons behind the Congress party’s stand on various issues.

PTI
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Brothers in arms: Narendra Modi surprise visit to Lahore on Nawaz Sharif’s birthday

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Here’s what the American media said about PM Modi’s Lahore stopover

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, leader of the opposition Peoples Party of Pakistan, welcomed the Prime Minister’s surprise stoppage at Lahore. “Constant engagement is the only way to resolve all outstanding issues,” he wrote on Twitter.

PTI
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‘The biggest surprise of all’: US media praises PM Modi’s visit to Lahore

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Pakistan welcomes India’s goodwill gesture, says Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry

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Modi in Pakistan: PM Modi’s Lahore visit ‘step in the right direction’, says J&K CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed

Sayeed was yesterday admitted to AIIMS here after he complained of uneasiness at his residence in Srinagar and was flown to Delhi in a state aircraft. The 79-year-old PDP leader was admitted in the private ward of the premier medical institute.

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Modi in Pakistan: PM Modi’s Lahore visit ‘step in the right direction’, says J&K CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed Sayeed hoped that the meeting between the two leaders will provide the much-needed momentum to the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue for peaceful resolution of all issues between the two countries.
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Keep it up: PM Narendra Modi tells ITBP squad at Kabul Embassy in Afghanistan

A Christmas Miracle: Twitter reacts to Narendra Modi’s ‘impromptu’ Pakistan visit!

Modi in Pakistan: Here is how separatists are reacting to PM Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore
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A courageous gesture by Modi in Lahore, but where it will lead is not yet clear

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Watch: PM Narendra Modi greeted by PM Nawaz Sharif at Lahore airport

A PM House spokesman here said the Indian premier would stay in Lahore for about two hours. A PML-N source told PTI that Sharif had invited Modi to attend the marriage of his granddaughter Mehrun Nisa which is taking place today at the Sharif’s Raiwind palatial residence. “I cannot confirm but there are chances that Modi goes to Raiwind and holds meeting with PM Sharif at his residence,” he said.

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Narendra ModiNawaz SharifPakistanPakistan RangersAfghanistanModi in PakistanAtal Bihari VajpayeeSushma Swaraj
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Modi in Pakistan: PM Modi’s Lahore visit ‘step in the right direction’, says J&K CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed Sayeed hoped that the meeting between the two leaders will provide the much-needed momentum to the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue for peaceful resolution of all issues between the two countries.
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Keep it up: PM Narendra Modi tells ITBP squad at Kabul Embassy in Afghanistan

A Christmas Miracle: Twitter reacts to Narendra Modi’s ‘impromptu’ Pakistan visit!

Modi in Pakistan: Here is how separatists are reacting to PM Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore
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JD(U) ‘shocked’ by PM Modi’s surprise visit to Pakistan

The ties between India and Pakistan have witnessed some positive developments, however, after a chill of several months. The two countries recently decided to launch a comprehensive dialogue after Modi and Sharif met in Paris recently. But Tyagi said in the wake of Modi’s surprise move that “nothing is going to improve unless the leaders of Pakistan change their mindset. Pakistan should know that friendship with India on one hand and betrayal on the other cannot go together.”

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PakistanNarendra ModiAfghanistanJammu And KashmirKC TyagiJanata Dal United (JDU)Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)
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Modi in Pakistan: PM Modi’s Lahore visit ‘step in the right direction’, says J&K CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed Sayeed hoped that the meeting between the two leaders will provide the much-needed momentum to the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue for peaceful resolution of all issues between the two countries.
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Keep it up: PM Narendra Modi tells ITBP squad at Kabul Embassy in Afghanistan

A Christmas Miracle: Twitter reacts to Narendra Modi’s ‘impromptu’ Pakistan visit!

Modi in Pakistan: Here is how separatists are reacting to PM Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore
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Modi in Pakistan Live: PM Narendra Modi departs for Lahore to meet Pak PM Nawaz Sharif

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Prime Minister Modi had earlier today extended his wishes to the Pakistani counterpart on his 65th birthday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday departed for Lahore for his surprise visit to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. The two Prime Ministers would be meeting at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal Airport.Earlier, confirming the news, the Prime Minister tweeted, “Spoke to PM Nawaz Sharif and wished him on his birthday. Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi.”Prime Minister Modi had earlier today extended his wishes to the Pakistani counterpart on his 65th birthday. The two Prime Ministers had last met at the Paris Climate Summit COP21

Security in Lahore on high alert ahead of PM Modi’s surpise visit

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Earlier, Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said, “Yes, we have been informed by the Indian High Commission that PM Narendra Modi would stop over in Lahore to meet our PM today. Details are being worked out.”

Pakistani authorities on Friday put security on high alert in Lahore especially around the airport area following the announcement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s day-long visit to the city.A PM House spokesman confirmed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will receive his Indian counterpart at the Lahore airport who is expected to reach here around 2.45 PM (local time) from Afghanistan.”PM Modi’s plane is scheduled to arrive at the Lahore airport shortly,” the spokesman said, adding that the Indian premier would stay in Lahore for about two hours. Meanwhile, heavy contingent of police and Pakistan Rangers have reached the Allama Iqbal International Airport and taken charge of the security.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Related Read: PM Modi to make sudden visit to Pakistan today after speech at Afghan Parliament”Security in Lahore has been put on high alert,” a senior police official told PTI. He said police have also been deployed on the adjoining areas of the airport. A PML-N source told PTI that Sharif had invited Modi to attend the marriage of his granddaughter Mehrun Nisa which is taking place today at the Sharif’s Raiwind palatial residence of Raiwind.”I cannot confirm but there are chances that Modi goes to Raiwind and holds meeting with PM Sharif at his residence,” he said. Earlier, Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said, “Yes, we have been informed by the Indian High Commission that PM Narendra Modi would stop over in Lahore to meet our PM today. Details are being worked out.”Also Read: LIVE Updates: PM Modi addresses Afghan Parliament, announces 500 scholarships for children; promises everlasting friendship

26/11 attack case: Witness turns hostile in Rawalpindi, claims Ajmal Kasab is alive

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

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

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

26/11 Mumbai attacks: Trial delayed in Islamabad court as judge hearing case ‘busy’

This was the third consecutive time when hearing in the case could not be held.

Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is currently out on bail and living at an undisclosed location.
File Photo

Hearing in the trial of seven Mumbai terrorist attack accused, including mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, could not be held in a Pakistani anti-terrorism court as the judge was “busy” hearing another case on Wednesday.”The judge of the Anti-Terrorism Court Islamabad did not attend today’s hearing at the Adiala Jail Rawalpindi as he was busy in other case proceedings,” a court official said. He said the court office adjourned the hearing till December 9.This was the third consecutive time when hearing in the case could not be held. Earlier, hearings on November 18 and 25 were not held as either the official witnesses summoned did not turn up in the court or the judge was on leave.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The trial of LeT operations commander Lakhvi, and Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Sadiq, Shahid Jamil, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum has been underway since 2009 for their alleged role in the Mumbai terror attacks that killed 166 people and injured more than 300.Lakhvi secured bail in December last year and was subsequently released from the Adiala Jail this April after the Lahore High Court set aside the government’s order to detain him under the Public Security Act. He is currently out on bail and living at an undisclosed location.

Major fire at Amritsar DC office; vital records ruined

No casualty has been reported in the fire police said.

Representational Image

A major fire broke out at the first floor of the Amritsar Deputy Commissioner office on Wednesday, destroying key British era documents, police said. No casualty has been reported in the fire, they added. The fire was first noticed by the staff members of the Deputy Commissioner office, they said. It was an act of mischief as the fire started from the record room housing most important documents of British era, revenue record of pre-Partition era and vital documents related to Pakistan’s Lahore, an official of the Deputy Commissioner said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Around four fire tender engines were pressed into service to control the fire, police said. Built during British era in 1849, the wooden record room was located on the first floor of the Deputy Commissioner office.The officials said that as per the rules of Central Government the old record in the office of Deputy Commissioner at Amritsar office was to be “preserved and maintained permanently” but the fire destroyed the ancient record. They said that previously also a fire broke out at the office when documents preserved from the time of the first Amritsar Deputy Commissioner, L Saunders till 1947, when Nukul Sen was in office, were gutted in fire. Nukul Sen was 122nd Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar, they further said.

AIIMS doctors submit Geeta’s DNA report to MEA

The Ministry had asked AIIMS to collect samples for DNA tests to confirm if Janardhan Mahato, who claims that Geeta is his first born Heera, is indeed her father.
File Photo
PTI
The report of the DNA tests carried out to determine the parentage of 23-year-old Geeta, the deaf and mute girl who returned from Pakistan after being separated from her family over a decade ago, has been submitted to the Ministry of External Affairs.The Ministry had asked AIIMS to collect samples for DNA tests to confirm if Janardhan Mahato, who claims that Geeta is his first born Heera, is indeed her father.”The DNA tests were carried out at the AIIMS Forensic lab, the report of which was submitted to MEA yesterday evening,” a senior doctor at AIIMS said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The AIIMS authorities, however, refused to divulge details about the report. When contacted, the MEA spokesperson said he did not know what was in the report.Geeta, who returned from Pakistan after a gap of 15 years, had refused to recognise the Mahato couple from Bihar whom she had identified as her family through photographs when she was in Karachi. She is currently staying at an institution in Indore for hearing-impaired people.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had stated that Geeta had refused to identify the Mahatos as her family.”If the DNA samples does not match with the samples of the Mahato couple, then government will start afresh the process to find her parents,” she had said.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. She was adopted by the Edhi Foundation’s Bilquis Edhi and lived with her in Karachi. Bilquis and her grandchildren, Saba and Saad Edhi, accompanied Geeta here. Her story came to light after the release of Salman Khan starrer ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ in which the hero unites a girl separated from her Pakistani mother who was visiting India.

Bharat humko jaan se pyaara hain: Geeta sings national anthem through sign language

She is at present staying at residential premises of an NGO here which runs an institute for the hearing and speech impaired

PTI
Geeta, the deaf and mute girl who returned to India recently after inadvertently crossing into Pakistan over a decade ago, on Wednesday presented the national anthem in sign language.She is at present staying at residential premises of an NGO here which runs an institute for the hearing and speech impaired. “Geeta presented the national anthem with sign language with other students. This is for the first time that she presented the Jana Gana Mana,” the institute’s sign language head Monika Punjabi Verma told PTI. “Our priority is to make Geeta adjust in the new environment as soon as possible. Thereafter we will facilitate her education, including the professional training, to economically empower her.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Alicia Sort Leal, a psychologist from Barcelona (Spain) is camping at the institute. Alicia’ help will be sought for Geeta,” she said. Verma dismissed the news report that Geeta was unwell, saying she was tired after a long journey, but recovered after the rest.Geeta, who had accidentally landed in Pakistan over a decade ago, returned to India on October 26. 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 the Lahore railway station. She was then adopted by the Edhi Foundation’s Bilquis Edhi. Her story came to light after the release of Salman Khan-starrer ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ in which the hero unites a Pakistani girl with her mother.

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.

Geeta Comes Home: All you need to know about the girl stranded in Pakistan for 13 years

Geeta was about 11 when she crossed from India into Pakistan. Exactly how is not clear but Geeta mimes an explosion and shows how she ducked and ran before being caught by armed men.

A deaf-mute Indian girl stranded in Pakistan for 13 years after wandering over one of the world’s most militarised borders arrived home on Monday but failed to recognise the family she has identified from photographs. The story of Geeta, a Hindu woman in her early 20s, has captivated people in both countries at a time of heightened tension and border clashes between the nuclear-armed rivals. “It doesn’t matter if we find her parents or not, she is a daughter of India and we will take care of her,” Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj told a news conference.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Geeta was about 11 when she crossed from India into Pakistan. Exactly how is not clear but Geeta mimes an explosion and shows how she ducked and ran before being caught by armed men. At first, she was kept at a children’s home in the city of Lahore, where she was given the Muslim name Fatima. She would point at maps of India, especially to an area in the south of Jharkhand State until she was able to finally communicate she was from India, not Pakistan. Early on Monday, Geeta left the charity bound for the airport in the city of Karachi for a flight to New Delhi. Wearing a traditional red outfit with her head covered by a loose scarf, she smiled and waved to television cameras after leaving the airport in the Indian capital. “Geeta stayed with us for 13 years. Now it’s time for her to go home,” said Faisal Edhi, son of the founder of Edhi Foundation, a Pakistani charity that looked after the girl. She headed to meet a family from India’s Bihar state whom she says she recognised from photos sent by the Indian High Commission in Pakistan. Swaraj said if a DNA test proves the family is not hers she will be sent to a temporary home run by a charity and the search for her parents would continue. Hostilities have kept apart many families since majority-Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan became separate countries in 1947. Geeta’s arrival came after Indian and Pakistani forces exchanged fire along a 100 km (60 mile) stretch of their frontier overnight, an Indian Border Security Force spokesman said. Her story attracted much attention following the release this year of a film called “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, in which an Indian man finds a mute Pakistani girl and tries to reunite her with her family. The scriptwriters were unaware of Geeta’s story but the movie led to a surge in interest.

#GeetacomesHome trends as Geeta’s return from Pakistan is hailed by Indian Twitterati

Geeta, the deaf-mute Indian woman who has been stranded in Pakistan, arrived in India over a decade after she was found aboard the Samjhauta Express train in Lahore. Geeta, now in her early 20s, was around 11-years-old when she was found in Pakistan. In 2003, she was spotted by the Pakistan Rangers in Lahore station, and handed over to the Edhi Foundation.

Geeta landed in New Delhi from Karachi and was accompanied by members of Edhi Foundation, a social welfare organisation that has been looking after her since 2003.

Geeta arrives in India. Image Credit: Twitter @MEAIndiaGeeta arrives in India. Image Credit: Twitter @MEAIndia

Geeta arrives in India. Image Credit: Twitter @MEAIndia

As Geeta set off from Pakistan, there was flurry of activity in Delhi and both Indian and Pakistani officials were present to welcome her. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj even hailed her as ‘Bharat ki beti’ (India’s daughter) on Twitter.

Several others on social media wished her well and praised the combined effort to reunite Geeta with her family. #Geetacomeshome was one of the top trends on Monday and though certain people did talk about the strained Indo-Pak relations, most tweets welcomed her home.

Here’s how Twitter reacted to Geeta coming home.

Deaf-mute Indian woman Geeta to return home from Pakistan on 26 October

New Delhi: Geeta, a deaf-mute Indian woman who has been stranded in Pakistan for over a decade, will be back in India on 26 October, the government said on Friday.

Geeta (right) will come back to India on 26 October.

Geeta (right) will come back to India on 26 October.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said at a briefing that the government has also invited five members of Edhi Foundation, a social welfare organisation, who have been looking after her since 2003, and they will be treated as state guests.

“On October 26, 2015, we will be bringing Geeta back to India. Together with Geeta, we have invited five officials of the Edhi Foundation,” Swarup said.

He said that Geeta has already identified one family as possibly being that of her parents.

“We will be doing DNA testing to establish conclusive proof. If the DNA tests match, Geeta will be handed over to that family. If not, we have identified suitable institutions where she will be looked after,” Swarup said.

He said on the institutions identified are in Delhi and Indore.

Geeta, now in her early 20s, was around 11 years old when she inadvertently crossed the border to Pakistan.

In 2003, Geeta – then 11 years old – was spotted by the Pakistan Rangers in Lahore, and handed over to the Edhi Foundation. Bilquis Edhi, who runs the Edhi Foundation, has named her Geeta.

IANS

Hey Shiv Sena, want a doughnut? A Pakistani Dunkin’ Donuts outlet is offering Indians a free meal

He said he was initially apprehensive about displaying Indian flags in Peshawar, but visitors waved in approval. “Where is the hate and stone throwing of Shiv Sena? Only a degenerated mind does it. We need to tell (Sena) to grow up. Love conquers all,” he said.

The owner of an American restaurant chain in Pakistan is offering free meals to any Indian visiting the country on a short-term visa, in a novel reaction to reports that a Pakistani family was refused accommodation by hotels in Mumbai. Iqbal Latif, who runs 26 franchises of international food chain Dunkin’ Donuts in Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar, took a leaf out of Mahatma Gandhi’s book to show how neighbours should be treated. “It’s not a big deal, but an effort to invoke the teachings of Gandhiji who preached love and coexistence all his life,” Latif told Dawn News.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Latif’s free-meal offer to Indians went into effect last week and the response has been overwhelmingly positive, the report said. “We served 2,432 people in Peshawar, Islamabad and Lahore.They all loved it,” Latif said. Latif took the initiative after reading reports that hotel owners of Mumbai’s Bhendi Bazaar area refused accommodation to a family of six people from Karachi last week, following which they had to spend the night on the streets. The family was reportedly being refused accommodation as they did not possess the ‘Form C’ — which is to be submitted to a government department if people from outside the country come to the city on visa and stay in their lodges and hotels. “I felt bad when I saw this that a family had to spend [a] part of [the] night [on a] footpath near a police station and another part at a pavement at the railway station,” he said.Latif said since he took the initiative sales have gone up by 30 per cent. On the first day, 17 meals were served to Indians in a outlet in Islamabad’s Diplomatic Enclave. He said he was initially apprehensive about displaying Indian flags in Peshawar, but visitors waved in approval. “Where is the hate and stone throwing of Shiv Sena? Only a degenerated mind does it. We need to tell (Sena) to grow up. Love conquers all,” he said. Latif said his pro-peace initiative has not met any interference by Pakistan’s intelligence agency. He said his friends from the army called him to appreciate the gesture. “Across the border, there is no hate. We all love India. 1.4 billion people love each other. We are only marginalised by a few hate mongers on both sides. I propose such initiatives on the people-to-people level [to] help make bridges,” he said.

Hindi finds more and more takers in Pakistan

Cultural affinity? Bollywood and curiosity to know about what is happening across the border attract Pakistanis to India’s national language

Students of Shiksha Niketan School sit in a formation to celebrate Hindi Diwas in Jammu on Tuesday

PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to adopt Hindi as global language has found unexpected takers in Pakistan. Over recent past, the number of students opting for Hindi over Persian and Arabic has seen an increasing trend in Pakistan.Cultural affinities, curiosity to know about what is happening across the border, Bollywood and popular Indian television soaps have attracted many in Pakistan to pick up Hindi as a paper in college. Hindi scholars in Pakistan are also of the view that an individual knowing Hindi draws more respect amongst the educated Pakistani community. For others being able to read and write in Hindi helps them to read Hindi newspapers online to develop political understanding.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Just over two weeks ago, Pakistan’s National University of Modern Languages (NUML) at Islamabad awarded its first M Phil in Hindi to Shahin Zafar.Zafar has produced her paper on the status of women in Hindi literature post-independence as ‘Swatantryottra Hindi Upanyoson Mein Nari Chittran (1947-2000).’ Professor Ashiq Ali of Aligarh Muslim University who has evaluated her paper said, “Zafar’s work was good. But her research also reflected a lack of availability of Hindi books in Pakistan.”The professor also added that a similar research in India would have provided the researcher with more reference material. “It appears there aren’t many Hindi texts available in Pakistan,” he says.Aligarh Muslim University receives thesis of other languages from Pakistan, but it is the first time that a Hindi paper had come for evaluation.Professor Shabnam Riaz of Department of Hindi at University of Punjab at Lahore agrees with Professor Ali. “The number of books available are limited, but there is an upward trend on the number of students keen on pursuing Hindi as a subject,” she said. Every year at the University of Punjab at least 5 to 7 students take admission for Diploma in Hindi programme.Riaz, however, added that Pakistan lacks trained professionals to teach Hindi as a result the language does not get adequately promoted there.In the Centre for South Asian Studies at Lahore, Hindi has now become a mandatory paper for those doing their M Phil in regional languages.”When I passed out in 2011, from the Centre for South Asian Studies, we could choose between Persian, Arabic and Hindi. Now, Hindi has become a mandatory subject,” said Amir Illyas a Pakistan-based media professional.Illyas also added that Hindi has a direct connect with the roots of Pakistan over Persian. “We speak Hindi here and are certainly more close to the language. People really take interest when you tell them that you can write in Hindi. They will come to you and ask you to write their names in Hindi,” he added.Pakistan’s first national anthem which MA Jinnah had approved of was in Hindi language. But soon after his death, to disassociate itself from India, the Hindi anthem was replaced by a new one in Persian in1948. The government of Pakistan had then argued that Hindi was a foreign language and Persian came naturally to Urdu. But with deep cultural bonds with India and curiosity to acquire knowledge of regional language for establishing better communication continues to drive many in Pakistan to study Hindi. “My grandfather had migrated from Jammu after partition. He knew to read and write in Hindi. My first Hindi lesson was at home,” said Ajmal Jami who now lives in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Jami is a journalist with Duniya News. He further added that being able to read and write in Hindi, he can read Indian newspapers to get a sense on what the Indian media is thinking. “I get to read the web editions of several Hindi papers. It gives me a better sense of socio political scenario in India,” he added.

Army nabs Pakistani national who accidentally crossed over to India near LoC

Police said they are investigating the case and questioning Imran about his motive of crossing the LoC to enter into Indian side.
Representational Image

The army on Friday apprehended near Line of Control (LoC) a Pakistani national who had crossed over to the Indian side, apparently accidentally, on a day when Pakistan handed over an Indian woman who had gone across.The person, identified as Imran from Lahore, was apprehended in Lam area of Rajouri district, Defence spokesman Lt Col Manish Mehta said. He was later handed over to police for further investigation.Police said they are investigating the case and questioning Imran about his motive of crossing the LoC to enter into Indian side.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Initially it seems that he might have accidently crossed over the LoC as no weapon was recovered from his possession,” a police officer said.Meanwhile, Pakistan today handed over an Indian woman who had purportedly crossed over to the other side of the LoC in Poonch on August 24.”The Pakistan side today handed over own national who had purportedly crossed over on August 24 in Poonch. She has been identified as Shamim, a resident of Tuglu in Poonch,” the Defence spokesman said.

Aman ki Asha is real but official India-Pakistan talks are always a farce

The official talks between India and Pakistan are the most boring soap opera in south Asia.

They are so repetitive, unintelligent and extremely predictable and have been going on for generations without an end in sight. The characters haven’t changed, but the actors who play them have; and the plot, the twists and the points where the story and melodrama repeat themselves have remained the same.

Real soap operas don’t die because producers have tasted success; the Indo-Pak talks don’t die because they have become a farcical necessity in meaningless diplomacy.

So, when the talks failed for the nth time last week, it made no impact. Some times they work and sometimes they fail, but India and Pakistan remain as hostile and opportunistic as ever. Pakistani hawks such as the late Hamid Gul (former ISI chief who nurtured Afghani Islamists at the instance of the CIA to take on the Soviets and later tied up with anti-Indians such as Hafiz Sayeed), India and Pakistan could only be enemies. For Indian politicians and strategic analysts, Pakistan government is a farce because it’s the army that runs the country.

Curious enough, still they talk peace.

Every time India and Pakistan prepare to talk, it would be preceded by sharp bites by people such as Hamid Gul (who by the way died recently), cross-border insurgency in Kashmir, and some anti-India rally in Pakistan where people such as Sayeed spew venom. The same orchestrated animosity is maintained during and after the talks as well. And predictably, the conversations fail and both sides start preparing for another round.

Many of us lived through three greatest farces in bilateral relations between Pakistan and India that made diplomacy a no brainer – the Shimla summit during Indira Gandhi’s period and Agra and Lahore summits during AB Vajpayee’s tenure. The characters who represented Pakistan changed – Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Parvez Musharaff and Nawaz Shariff.

File photo of India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. APFile photo of India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AP

File photo of India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AP

Of these three, the Shimla event was the most promising because it followed a lot of acrimony and put on paper an agreement and framework that promised to improve the relations between the two countries. The famous Shimla Agreement began like this: “The Government of India and the Government of Pakistan are resolved that the two countries put an end to the conflict and confrontation that have hitherto marred their relations and work for the promotion of a friendly and harmonious relationship and the establishment of durable peace in the subcontinent so that both countries may henceforth devote their resources and energies to the pressing task of advancing the welfare of their people.”

And what did it say on Jammu and Kashmir?

“The line of control resulting from the ceasefire of December 17, 1971, shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side. Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain from the threat or the use of force in violation of this line.”

India can certainly claim that it stuck to the Shimla agreement in letter and spirit, but Pakistan never did because as every Indian knows its single most important and influential institution is not its Parliament, but the military. It’s the only institution that most of the Pakistani elites are proud of because every other institution in the country has failed. And every time the government gets to talk to India, the military knows that it’s a farce.

And India knows it too because after Shimla, it was party to two more such farces – one in Agra and then in Lahore, both celebrated by Indian media as historical breakthroughs.

The Agra summit was a classic example of the comic drama that Indo-Pak talks drift into. The then President Musharaff spent three days in India, had great photo ops in Delhi, Rajasthan and Agra, but failed to agree with any of the texts that were prepared for the summit. He went back with no paper.

It didn’t matter because all that had to be said had been said in Shimla and had been duly violated. Then came the nuclear tests, a lot of chest-thumbing nationalism from either side and threats of aggression. Another round of talks and a summit were the predictable outcome, this time in Lahore.

Vajpayee took a bus ride and spent time in Pakistan. Compared to a “failed” Agra summit, Lahore at least produced a declaration which said the same things Bhutto and Indira Gandhi said in Lahore – that both the countries were “convinced that durable peace and development of harmonious relations and friendly cooperation will serve the vital interests of the peoples of the two countries, enabling them to devote their energies for a better future”. The only new element was the nuclear angle because both the countries had detonated nuclear devices. The summit statement said that both recognised “that the nuclear dimension of the security environment of the two countries adds to their responsibility for avoidance of conflict between the two countries.”

Committed to peace and stability since Shimla, the countries had graduated to nuclear peace – with both threatening each other with nuclear warheads. And the talks and hand-shakes between the heads of states on foreign locations continued even as Pakistan kept raising the heckles at every possible forum while its army and intelligence kept sending terrorists to India. Whenever India complained, Pakistan said “Baluchistan” accusing India of fostering insurgency from Afghanistan. Whenever India said it had dossiers with evidence, Pakistan also brandished the same number of dossiers. Whenever India asked for Dawood Ibrahim, Pakistan claimed innocence asked for Baluchi leaders. The story in fact is too long.

For an average Indian who has lived through Shimla, Agra and Lahore, three wars and countless bilateral peace talks preceded and followed by war cries and violence, the most commonsensical question is this: Can’t you just stop this farce? Why the heck should India talk to Pakistan when all the latter wants is to keep the hostility simmering? Why should India waste its time, when the farce has been going on for far too long?

India should certainly stop this official farce and leave the bilateral relationship to the people of both the countries. At the people-to-people level, Pakistan and India are great friends. At the official level, they cannot be because there are too many factors that infuriate Indians – terror attacks, people such as Sayeed and insurgency in Kashmir – and the reality that democracy in Pakistan exists only at the pleasure of the country’s army.

So, let’s do everything else except official talks: Aman Ki Asha, cricket matches, movies, TV-shows and Sufi concerts. At least they radiate real peace and Pakistan army doesn’t feel threatened.

The Aman ki Asha is real but official India-Pakistan talks are always a farce

The official talks between India and Pakistan are the most boring soap opera in south Asia.

They are so repetitive, unintelligent and extremely predictable and have been going on for generations without an end in sight. The characters haven’t changed, but the actors who play them have; and the plot, the twists and the points where the story and melodrama repeat themselves have remained the same.

Real soap operas don’t die because producers have tasted success; the Indo-Pak talks don’t die because they have become a farcical necessity in meaningless diplomacy.

So, when the talks failed for the nth time last week, it made no impact. Some times they work and sometimes they fail, but India and Pakistan remain as hostile and opportunistic as ever. Pakistani hawks such as the late Hamid Gul (former ISI chief who nurtured Afghani Islamists at the instance of the CIA to take on the Soviets and later tied up with anti-Indians such as Hafiz Sayeed), India and Pakistan could only be enemies. For Indian politicians and strategic analysts, Pakistan government is a farce because it’s the army that runs the country.

Curious enough, still they talk peace.

Every time India and Pakistan prepare to talk, it would be preceded by sharp bites by people such as Hamid Gul (who by the way died recently), cross-border insurgency in Kashmir, and some anti-India rally in Pakistan where people such as Sayeed spew venom. The same orchestrated animosity is maintained during and after the talks as well. And predictably, the conversations fail and both sides start preparing for another round.

Many of us lived through three greatest farces in bilateral relations between Pakistan and India that made diplomacy a no brainer – the Shimla summit during Indira Gandhi’s period and Agra and Lahore summits during AB Vajpayee’s tenure. The characters who represented Pakistan changed – Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Parvez Musharaff and Nawaz Shariff.

File photo of India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. APFile photo of India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AP

File photo of India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AP

Of these three, the Shimla event was the most promising because it followed a lot of acrimony and put on paper an agreement and framework that promised to improve the relations between the two countries. The famous Shimla Agreement began like this: “The Government of India and the Government of Pakistan are resolved that the two countries put an end to the conflict and confrontation that have hitherto marred their relations and work for the promotion of a friendly and harmonious relationship and the establishment of durable peace in the subcontinent so that both countries may henceforth devote their resources and energies to the pressing task of advancing the welfare of their people.”

And what did it say on Jammu and Kashmir?

“The line of control resulting from the ceasefire of December 17, 1971, shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side. Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain from the threat or the use of force in violation of this line.”

India can certainly claim that it stuck to the Shimla agreement in letter and spirit, but Pakistan never did because as every Indian knows its single most important and influential institution is not its Parliament, but the military. It’s the only institution that most of the Pakistani elites are proud of because every other institution in the country has failed. And every time the government gets to talk to India, the military knows that it’s a farce.

And India knows it too because after Shimla, it was party to two more such farces – one in Agra and then in Lahore, both celebrated by Indian media as historical breakthroughs.

The Agra summit was a classic example of the comic drama that Indo-Pak talks drift into. The then President Musharaff spent three days in India, had great photo ops in Delhi, Rajasthan and Agra, but failed to agree with any of the texts that were prepared for the summit. He went back with no paper.

It didn’t matter because all that had to be said had been said in Shimla and had been duly violated. Then came the nuclear tests, a lot of chest-thumbing nationalism from either side and threats of aggression. Another round of talks and a summit were the predictable outcome, this time in Lahore.

Vajpayee took a bus ride and spent time in Pakistan. Compared to a “failed” Agra summit, Lahore at least produced a declaration which said the same things Bhutto and Indira Gandhi said in Lahore – that both the countries were “convinced that durable peace and development of harmonious relations and friendly cooperation will serve the vital interests of the peoples of the two countries, enabling them to devote their energies for a better future”. The only new element was the nuclear angle because both the countries had detonated nuclear devices. The summit statement said that both recognised “that the nuclear dimension of the security environment of the two countries adds to their responsibility for avoidance of conflict between the two countries.”

Committed to peace and stability since Shimla, the countries had graduated to nuclear peace – with both threatening each other with nuclear warheads. And the talks and hand-shakes between the heads of states on foreign locations continued even as Pakistan kept raising the heckles at every possible forum while its army and intelligence kept sending terrorists to India. Whenever India complained, Pakistan said “Baluchistan” accusing India of fostering insurgency from Afghanistan. Whenever India said it had dossiers with evidence, Pakistan also brandished the same number of dossiers. Whenever India asked for Dawood Ibrahim, Pakistan claimed innocence asked for Baluchi leaders. The story in fact is too long.

For an average Indian who has lived through Shimla, Agra and Lahore, three wars and countless bilateral peace talks preceded and followed by war cries and violence, the most commonsensical question is this: Can’t you just stop this farce? Why the heck should India talk to Pakistan when all the latter wants is to keep the hostility simmering? Why should India waste its time, when the farce has been going on for far too long?

India should certainly stop this official farce and leave the bilateral relationship to the people of both the countries. At the people-to-people level, Pakistan and India are great friends. At the official level, they cannot be because there are too many factors that infuriate Indians – terror attacks, people such as Sayeed and insurgency in Kashmir – and the reality that democracy in Pakistan exists only at the pleasure of the country’s army.

So, let’s do everything else except official talks: Aman Ki Asha, cricket matches, movies, TV-shows and Sufi concerts. At least they radiate real peace and Pakistan army doesn’t feel threatened.

‘Did the ISIS ban ‘Phantom’ in Pakistan?’ asks Congress

The Congress Party on Friday alleged that fictional Bollywood movie Phantom, which is a reflection of 26/11 incident, has been banned in Pakistan as the judiciary there might be acting on the instructions of the ISIS and military.

File Photo
The Congress Party on Friday alleged that fictional Bollywood movie Phantom, which is a reflection of 26/11 incident, has been banned in Pakistan as the judiciary there might be acting on the instructions of the ISIS and military.”They say it is a democracy, but the truth is that ISIS and military rule there. I think judiciary was instructed by them to ban the movie. The system is not connected to the public,? Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan told ANI.hough the film is fictional, it is also a reflection of 26/11 incident. They are scared that the commoners will come to know what the military authorities of Pakistan are up to. It is a matter of fear that truth will be out in the open,? he added. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Lahore High Court on Thursday stopped the screening of Saif Ali Khan’s controversial film Phantom in Pakistan. According to reports, LHC’s Justice Shahid Bilal Hassan held a hearing based on 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s petition to stop the the release of the controversial film. Saeed’s lawyer claimed that movie was against Islam, resorted to character assasination of Hafiz Saeed and said that movie could spark anarchy in Pakistan. The court decided to not screen the movie until further orders. Based on crime author Hussain Zaidi’s novel Mumbai Avengers, ‘Phantom’ is set in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and deals with global terrorism.

Director Kabir Khan finds LeT chief Hafiz Saeed’s petition against Phantom ‘amusing’

Mumbai: Director Kabir Khan finds it “amusing” that Lashkar-e-Taiba chief and Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed sought a ban on the release of his movie “Phantom” in Pakistan following which a court there banned its screening in the country.

Director Kabir Khan. Reuters

Director Kabir Khan. Reuters

“The person who in our perspective is one of the most wanted terrorists is filing a petition to ban my movie, was a little amusing for me,” said Khan, whose movie will hit silver screen next Friday.

The Lahore High Court on Thursday banned the release of “Phantom” in Pakistan on Saeed’s plea that the film set on post-26/11 attacks contains “filthy propaganda” against him and his outfit.

The story of “Phantom”, starring Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif, revolves around a group’s effort to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“They have gone ahead and done this before seeing the film. My understanding is, it has got to do with the backdrop of the film which is a contentious issue between the two countries,” the director told Times Now.

“There are some uncomfortable truths about the involvement of Lashkar-e-Taiba in 26/11 attacks. Since it operates from Pakistan so this could have created an uncomfortable situation that’s why they have done this,” he said.

In the petition filed on 8 August, Saeed’s advocate AK Dogar alleged that there is a direct threat to the LeT chief’s life and his associates emanating from the content of the trailer of the film.

PTI

Are India’s plans to celebrate 1965 war ‘victory’ in ‘bad taste’?

India plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its “victory” over Pakistan in the 1965 war with a “grand carnival”, but critics say it is in bad taste, writes the BBC’s Geeta Pandey in Delhi.

Govt completing all formalities to bring back deaf-mute Indian woman Gita: Sushma Swaraj

Gita, 23, is believed to have mistakenly crossed into Pakistani territory as a child. She was 7-8 years old when she was found by the Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago from Lahore railway station, according to reports from Pakistan.

Sushma Swaraj

File Photo
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday said government was completing all necessary formalities to bring back Gita, the deaf and mute Indian woman stuck in Pakistan for more than a decade after losing contact with her family. She said in the last few days, four families from Punjab, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh have claimed Gita, who is in Karachi, to be their daughter. “We are completing the necessary formalities to bring Gita back to India,” Swaraj said in a tweet adding “I am requesting the Chief Ministers of these states to verify and report.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan TCA Raghavan and his wife on Tuesday had met Gita following a direction from Swaraj and assured her of locating her family as soon as possible. “Gita conveyed to Indian High Commissioner by gestures that they are seven brothers and sisters. “She also conveyed that she had visited a temple with her father. Then she wrote down ‘Vaishno Devi’,” Swaraj said.The External Affairs Minister also retweeted a drawing posted on tweeter by one Yusra Askari with a caption “Geeta’s drawing of home – number 193, that as per her is located near a fish pond, paddy fields and a maternity home.” “This should further help in locating Gita’s family,” Swaraj said.Gita, 23, is believed to have mistakenly crossed into Pakistani territory as a child. She was 7-8 years old when she was found by the Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago from Lahore railway station, according to reports from Pakistan.Salman Khan’s recent hit movie “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” is about a mute Pakistani girl who was reunited with her family after she lost contact with her mother while visiting India. Gita’s story found way to media after the Salman starer blockbuster. Pakistan’s human rights activist Ansar Burney had also raised Gita’s ordeal.

New clues in mystery girl found in Pakistan

Geeta – and Bollywood film that may have helped trace her roots

Sushma Swaraj intervenes to rescue Indian woman in Pakistan

Pakistani channel Geo News had telecast the story on July 25 of Geeta, who is hearing and speech impaired.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has directed the Indian high commissioner in Pakistan–TCA Raghavan-to travel to Karachi and meet Geeta an Indian woman who has been stranded in Pakistan for 15 years.Pakistani channel Geo News had telecast the story on July 25 of Geeta, who is hearing and speech impaired. She currently lives with Bilqees Edhi the wife of noted humanitarian activist Abdul Sattar Edhi. The woman apparently entered Pakistani city of Lahore on a train from India almost 15 years ago. She was found by police and sent to a state-run shelter. Geeta’s inability to communicate caused a lot of frustration and she was moved from one welfare home to another as she often tried to escape and fought with the staff.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Monday, in response to a tweet by Pakistani human rights activist Ansar Burney regarding searching for the family of the missing girl, Swaraj said: “I have asked Indian high commissioner to Pakistan TCA Raghavan to go to Karachi with Mrs Raghavan and meet this girl.” The renewed push is inspired by the success of the Bollywood film Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which features Salman Khan overcoming all odds to take a deaf and mute girl back to her relatives in Pakistan. Burney, who will be in India in September to meet the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, acknowledged the fresh effort to find the woman’s parents was because of the success of the film in both countries.

Deaf, mute Indian girl stuck in Pakistan for 14 years

After spending some time at an Edhi Centre in Lahore, the girl was shifted to a Karachi shelter where Bilquis Edhi, a philanthropist known as ‘The Mother of Pakistan’, named her ‘Geeta’ and became quite attached to the girl.

Bollywood hit Bajrangi Bhaijaan may be a work of fiction, but in Karachi it is a real life story of a deaf and mute Indian girl stuck in Pakistan for 14 years, with all efforts to trace her family in India remaining unsuccessful.The Punjab Rangers brought her to the Edhi Foundation some 14 years ago, said Faisal Edhi of the social welfare group.”For years, we have been trying to locate her family or her hometown so that she can return,” Faisal said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After spending some time at an Edhi Centre in Lahore, the girl was shifted to a Karachi shelter where Bilquis Edhi, a philanthropist known as ‘The Mother of Pakistan’, named her ‘Geeta’ and became quite attached to the girl.Now 23-year-old, Geeta is believed to have mistakenly crossed into the Pakistani territory as a child.Though she has managed to recognise the Indian map on a mobile phone, she has not been successful in conveying any other information to the Edhi staff.Sobbing silently, she frantically points first at Jharkhand and then Telangana, trying hard to tell something of her past.Using her fingers and facial expression, Geeta says she has seven brothers and four sisters. “We have shown her writings to people but nothing has come out of it. She copies Hindi words from magazines,” Faisal said.The shelter home’s staff have created a separate praying room for her, adorning it with colourful posters of Hindu deities.”She is a devout Hindu and has even put up colourful posters of Hindu deities, and an earthen lamp on the table,” Human rights activist and ex-minister Ansar Burney told PTI.”This is the Ganesh that I got for her from Nepal,” Faisal said pointing toward one of the figurines.With the success of the Salman Khan-starrer ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, activists are making efforts to reunite Geeta with her family in India.Burney, who raised Geeta’s issue three years ago during a visit to India, is now running a Facebook campaign for her.”Last year, officials from the Indian Consulate visited her, took her picture and records but they didn’t come back,” said Faisal. Journalists, including one from India, also interviewed her but no one was able to locate her family.The foundation activists persuaded Geeta to begin a new life in Pakistan with a Hindu boy. But she refused and made it clear she will only get married once she returns home.Amongst Geeta’s writings, the numbers ‘193’ make a frequent appearance. Faisal draws a house on a piece of paper and hands her a pen. Geeta takes it, smiles, and jots down the numbers beside it. ‘193’, it seems, may be her house number.Salman’s movie revolves around a speech-impaired girl from Pakistan who finds herself lost in India with no way to return her home. An Indian man undertakes the task and reunites her with her family in Pakistan.

Historic links between France and Punjab honoured

Historic and cultural ties between Punjab and France, especially the contribution of officials in the French army to the empire of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Sikh warrior who ruled the first Sikh kingdom are now witnessing a renewed interest.

Getty Images
Historic and cultural ties between Punjab and France, especially the contribution of officials in the French army to the empire of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Sikh warrior who ruled the first Sikh kingdom are now witnessing a renewed interest.At a recent function at the French Embassy here eminent people recalled the connect of cities like Kapurthala, known for its European architecture and Lahore, the erstwhile capital of Ranjit Singh’s empire with France.The French East India Company arrived in India in 1667 and set up the first trading post in Surat.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tracing the European nation’s well known connections in Puducherry and other former French trading posts, the Ambassador of France Francois Richier recalled his country’s presence in North India also.Richier gave the example of General Jean-Francois Allard, who was born in Saint-Tropez in France and entered the service of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and later married a Hindu princess.The French ambassador said he hoped that the French tourist coming to India should surely visit Punjab and discover the unique ties.”Heritage issues can foster the relation between both the countries. I would want that the French tourist will go to Punjab and discover the connection between both the countries,” Richier said.Copies of 19th century portraits of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, General Allard and his wife – the originals of which are preserved in French collections – were also displayed at the event.General Allard served the Maharaja from 1822 till his death in 1839, travelling extensively to various cities of the country including Kashmir, Kolkata. He married the Princess of Chamba Bannu Pan Dei, with whom he had seven children.Henri Prevost-Allard, Deputy Mayor of Saint-Tropez and a descendant of General Allard, presented the memoirs of his grandfather along with the cooperation projects linking his city to India.He also expressed the desire to build a statue of the Maharaja, General Allard and his wife in Saint Topez.Bobby Singh Bansal, a British author of “The Lion’s Firanghis: Europeans at the Court of Lahore”, which charts the careers of former soldiers and mercenaries of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte to Punjab and who conducted research on Sikh heritage and Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the French officials trained the Sikh army and matched them to the European standards.”The bond between the French and Maharaja Ranjit Singh was very unique. It was General Allard and General Ventura who were the first to arrive in the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and within five weeks of their arrival, the entire Sikh army was transformed to the European standards,” Bansal said. Numerous soldiers from Punjab, famed for their courage, travelled to Europe to fight alongside the Allies during the Great War which were highlighted in filmmaker Vijay Singh’s presentation along with visuals from the period.”The Fauj-e-Khaas was an elite unit of the Sikh army. The French officials stayed in the court of the Lahore until the empire collapsed and was taken over by the Britishers. The unique relationship between the French and the Maharaja created fabrics within the Durbar,” Bansal said.A digital exhibition presenting snippets of French heritage in India, drawn from a study undertaken by conservation architect Aishwarya Tipnis in 2011 supported by the Embassy of France, French Heritage in India Society and VMF Paris was also on display.The programme here was organised by the French Embassy in association with The Neemrana Music Foundation and French Heritage in India.

26/11 Mumbai attacks: Pak court to hold 2 hearings a week to expedite case

Islamabad: The Pakistani anti-terrorism court hearing the 2008 Mumbai attack case will hold the trial of the seven accused, including mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, twice a week to expedite the case after Islamabad High Court gave a two-month deadline to the trial court.

“To expedite the case, the court has decided to hold the hearing twice a week – Wednesday and Thursday,” Raja Rizwan Abbasi, a counsel for Lakhvi, told PTI.

File/ReutersFile/Reuters

File/Reuters

The Islamabad High Court in mid-April had ordered the trial court to conclude the Mumbai attack case in two months.

The two-month deadline ended on 15 June but the pace of the case did not improve.

The IHC had also warned that it would cancel Lakhvi’s bail if the trial court failed to conclude the case within the deadline.

A court official said: “The case could not be concluded within the deadline and now it is up to the IHC to take up the government’s plea for cancellation of bail to Lakhvi.”

Meanwhile, the trial court on Thursday summoned four witnesses for the next hearing on 24 June.

“Two witnesses who were to record their statements in the Anti-Terrorism Court Islamabad today could not turn up. So, the judge adjourned the hearing till next Wednesday and summoned (the) four witnesses,” the court official said.

The hearing was held at Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi.

Lakhvi walked out of the high-security jail on 10 April after the Lahore High Court suspended his detention under a security act.

The trial court had granted Lakhvi bail last December.

55-year-old Lakhvi is living at an undisclosed location since his release. He and six others have been charged with planning and executing the Mumbai attack in November, 2008 that left 166 people dead.

PTI

India reiterates three conditions for engagement with Pakistan

India on Sunday reaffirmed adherence to three conditions including having an atmosphere “free of terror and violence” as a precursor to any engagement with Pakistan and demanded action against terrorists including Mumbai attack mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.

Sushma Swaraj in a file photo. AFPSushma Swaraj in a file photo. AFP

Sushma Swaraj in a file photo. AFP

Asserting that there was no “flip-flop” or “confusion” in the government, which has a “very clear Pakistan policy”, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the two countries had decided on three principles for talks when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had come here last year. These principles were also part of the Shimla and Lahore declarations.

“First, we are ready to resolve each issue through peaceful dialogue. Second, the talks will be between the two countries –us and Pakistan. Neither a third country will mediate nor there will be a third party. Third, an atmosphere of harmony should be created by keeping away terror and violence.

“These are not decided today…We have told Pakistan repeatedly that talks can take place based on these three principles,” she told a press conference, noting that these  were the principles agreed upon by the two countries in Shimla and Lahore declarations.

The minister said no engagement was scheduled when asked if any meeting was proposed between India and Pakistan in the near future.

“Now if Lakhvi is out and he is released….and if Pakistan thinks that there is an atmosphere of harmony, will India accept it,” she added.

“There is no flip-flop in our policy. We had decided on three principles for talks when Sharif had come here to participate in the swearing-in ceremony (of Narendra Modi as PM). Since then we have been following those three principles,” she said.

On Pakistan trying to use China to put a “technical hold” on India’s request to list Syed Salahuddin in the UN Security Council sanctions committee on Al-Qaida and associated entities, Swaraj said,”We had told China that we are not the only victim of terror. China is also a victim and the source is same. So, while voting in 1267 in these type of issues, do not take a narrow view.

“Keep global terrorism in mind and follow a policy so that we can work together and take decisions unitedly. This was conveyed to Chinese leadership by the Indian leadership.”

The sanctions committee on Al-Qaida and others has been constituted under UN’s resolution 1267.

On India calling-off the talks last year after Pakistani High Commissioner held consultations with Kashmiri separatists, Swaraj said normally these separatists go and meet when any leader comes from Pakistan or officials of that country here.

“But here the Pakistan High Commissioner invited them (separatists) four days ahead of the dialogue with India. We told him that why he had invited them when the two countries were going to hold dialogue. In talks, we don’t want any third party,” Swaraj said.

To the question on Chinese assistance for an economic corridor through PoK, the minister said their (China) Ambassador was called to lodge protest.

“This time we did not keep it there. We lodged protest calling the Chinese ambassador. We lodged protest through our Ambassador there (Beijing). And when the Prime Minister had gone there (to China), he talked about it very firmly. He raised it very strongly that it is not acceptable to us what you are talking about China-Pakistan economic corridor going to PoK.”

Asked about recent statements made by Home and Defence Ministers regarding the whereabouts of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and “terrorists have to be neutralised only through terrorists” respectively, she said there was no confusion while dealing with Pakistan “If there is bombardment on the border, the Home Minister will not keep quiet.

“He (Home minister) will have to retaliate and definitely he will speak in that language. Defence Minister has been given the responsibility of defending the country. He will have to ensure security. So he will speak that way”.

PTI

Gaana.com hacker reveals how he did it and how can you stay safe

dna tracked down Mak Man, and he’s agreed to let us use his name. Here’s Mukarram Khalid from Lahore.

White hat hacker Mak Man has been in the news since Thursday for infiltrating Gaana.com’s website and proving it was possible to not only steal user data, but also tamper with the portal itself. Mak Man says when he found the loophole, he tried bringing it to the attention of the site’s moderators, but was largely ignored. Annoyed, Mak Man set out to prove that the flaw could be exploited. dna tracked down Mak Man, and he’s agreed to let us use his name. Here’s Mukarram Khalid from Lahore. So how exactly did Khalid gain access to Gaana.com’s servers? He says the vulnerability was SQL injection. Simply put, it’s a bug in the website’s code that occurs when an input parameter from the client side has not been properly sanitised, allowing a hacker to execute SQL (Structured Query Language) code at the website’s back-end DBMS (Database Management System).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Let’s go over that again. Take, for example, a login page on a website. The form on that page allows you to input data, which the website then confirms is within certain parameters (like making sure your password matches). But if that bit of the website’s code isn’t properly written and the fields aren’t set up to accept validated data, the form doesn’t block you from inputting something other than your name or password. A hacker can use that to send their own SQL request directly to the website’s database, potentially giving them access to all the data stored therein. “In this particular case (Gaana.com), there was a user table in the database which had almost 12 million records. This table had all the usernames, email addresses, passwords (MD5 encrypted), date of birth, Facebook IDs, Twitter IDs and other financial information,” said Khalid, in an email to us. While he claims he didn’t steal or download any of the information, Khalid says it was easily within his grasp, although it would’ve taken a few days given the sheer quantity. And his efforts seem to have paid off. Times Internet CEO Satyan Gajwani came out on social media, owning up for the goof and thanking the then anonymous Mak Man for his efforts. The hole has since been patched, and Gaana.com was offline for a few hours last evening as they carried out extensive diagnostic tests to uncover any further flaws. At Gajwani’s request, Khalid also took down the script he had hosted on his website. How to protect data Never use the same password for multiple online accounts. It might be tedious to remember them all, but it’s better to have one compromised login than all of them. Don’t click on unknown links or URLs while online. That one should be obvious, but it needs to be stated again and again. Keep your system and your antivirus software up to date. Make sure that when you’re entering your financial details into any online portal, it’s a legitimate organisation, and one you can trust. If there’s even a shadow of a doubt, stay away from it. Where possible, elect to not save credit or debit card details.

Freeing Lakhvi proves that 26/11 was state sponsored: Fadnavis

Fadnavis described the Lahore high court’s decision to release Lakhvi, the alleged military chief of the Lashkar-e-Taiba group, as an “insult to victims” of the attack.

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis
Agencies
PTI
Asking Centre to take a “serious note” of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi’s release, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Friday that the Pakistani action proved that the attack was “state sponsored”. “The development proves that Pakistan’s claim of non-state actors is not true. The Government of India should take a serious note of this,” the CM said. Fadnavis was replying to a query about the release of the main accused of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack from a Pakistani jail after detention orders against him were dropped.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Fadnavis described the Lahore high court’s decision to release Lakhvi, the alleged military chief of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group, as an “insult to victims” of the attack, in which 166 people were killed. Fifty five-year-old Lakhvi, who guided 10 LeT gunmen from a control room in Pakistan during 26/11, walked free after being under detention for six years, a day after a Pakistani court ordered his release. Also Read: 6/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi freed from Pakistan jail

Indian envoy meets Pakistan foreign secy, registers strong concerns over Lakhvi’s release

The 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi was released on Friday by Lahore High Court.
File Photo
AFP photo
Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad TCA Raghavan met Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary on Friday to register strong concerns over the country’s decision to release Mumbai attack master mind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi. ”Our High Commissioner has registered our strong concerns with the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan at the release of a principal accused in the Mumbai terrorist attack of 2008,” said a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs. “He underlined that this has reinforced the perception that Pakistan has a dual policy on dealing with terrorists and those who have carried out attacks or are posing a threat to India are being dealt with differently and emphasized that this is a most negative development in so far as bilateral ties are concerned,” it added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> On Thursday, the Lahore High Court struck down the detention order of Lakhvi and ordered his release. The court was hearing a petition filed by Lakhvi challenging his fourth one-month detention ordered by the Okara DCO on March 14 The court ordered his release based on the lack of reliability of the sensitive information provided and also directed the accused to pay 20 lakh rupees in surety bonds to Adiala jail. Lakhvi is among seven people charged with planning and carrying out the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Pakistan blames India for ‘inordinate delay’ in 26/11 trial

The comment made by Pakistan came after India expressed dismay due to the release of 26/11 attack prime accused Zaki-ur- Rehman Lakhvi by Pakistan court.

Lakhvi, who guided 10 LeT gunmen from a control room in Pakistan during 26/11, walked free on Friday after being under detention for six years, a day after a Pakistani court ordered his release.

AFP photo
Pakistan on Friday blamed India for “inordinate delay” in extending cooperation in the 2008 Mumbai attack trial, saying it complicated the case of Zaki-ur- Rehman Lakhvi and weakened the prosecution, leading to the release of the LeT operations commander.”As I had mentioned earlier also, inordinate delay in extending cooperation by India complicated the case and weakened the prosecution. We respect the judicial process and are confident that it would serve the interest of justice,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said.”The case of Mumbai attack suspects is sub-judice. It would not be proper to cast aspersions on Pakistan’s commitment to countering terrorism at a time when Pakistan has entered a critical stage of defeating the menace of terrorism,” she said when asked about her Indian counterpart’s remarks on the Lahore High Court ruling, ordering Lakhvi’s release.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Fifty five-year-old Lakhvi, who guided 10 LeT gunmen from a control room in Pakistan during 26/11, walked free on Friday after being under detention for six years, a day after a Pakistani court ordered his release.Lakhvi, a close relative of LeT founder and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, was arrested in December 2008 and was indicted along with the six others on November 25, 2009, in connection with the 26/11 attack that claimed 166 lives. The trial has been underway since 2009.

Pakistan still differentiating between ‘good’ and bad terrorists, says Ujjwal Nikam

On Thursday, the Lahore High Court struck down the detention order of Lakhvi and ordered his release.

The news of Lakhvi’s release came a day after Lahore High Court asked the Punjab government to present “sensitive” documents regarding Lakhvi’s activities.
File Photo

Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam on Thursday said that Pakistan is still differentiating between ‘good terrorists’ and ‘bad terrorists’ over the Lahore High Court’s decision to release prime Mumbai terror blasts accused Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. “I am afraid Pakistan is still differentiating between good terrorists and bad terrorists. I am not surprised by today’s order of the Lahore High Court. It shows that detention order passed by the Pakistan Government from time to time was eyewash,” said Nikam. On Thursday, the Lahore High Court struck down the detention order of Lakhvi and ordered his release. The court was hearing a petition filed by Lakhvi challenging his fourth one-month detention ordered by the Okara DCO on March 14<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The news came a day after LHC asked the Punjab government to present “sensitive” documents regarding Lakhvi’s activities. The government had earlier argued that Lakhvi had been kept in custody on the basis of “‘sensitive information” provided by intelligence agencies. However, after examining the “sensitive information,” the court dismissed the detention order saying that if the information was reliable then, the Islamabad High Court would not have accepted Lakhvi’s bail. The court therefore, ordered his release based on the lack of reliability of the sensitive information provided and also directed the accused to pay 20 lakh rupees in surety bonds to Adiala jail. Lakhvi is among seven people charged with planning and carrying out the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Lakhvi’s release ‘erodes’ value of Pakistan’s assurances on terror: India

In a sharp reaction to Mumbai terror attack mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi’s release order by a Pakistani court on Thursday, India said this “eroded” the value of assurances repeatedly conveyed to it by Pakistan on cross- border terrorism.

In a sharp reaction to Mumbai terror attack mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi’s release order by a Pakistani court on Thursday, India said this “eroded” the value of assurances repeatedly conveyed to it by Pakistan on cross- border terrorism.External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said “our concerns on this issue have been made known to the Government of Pakistan in the past. These shall be reiterated.”The fact is that known terrorists not being effectively prosecuted constitutes a real security threat for India and the world. This also erodes the value of assurances repeatedly conveyed to us with regard to cross-border terrorism.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India’s reaction came after the Lahore High Court suspended the detention of 55-year-old Lakhvi under Maintenance of Public Order as the government there failed to present sensitive records against him in the court.The judge ordered Lakhvi to submit two surety bonds worth Rs 1 million each for his release. Earlier, the Home Ministry termed the development as “extremely disappointing” and asked Pakistan to immediately ensure that he does not come out of jail.”This is an extremely disappointing development. Pakistan must ensure that terrorists like Lakhvi do not come out of jail,” a senior Home Ministry official said.He further added that “Pakistan should immediately take all legal measures at appropriate forum to ensure that justice is delivered to the victims of Mumbai terror attack.” Lakhvi and six others – Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum – have been charged with planning and executing the Mumbai attack in November, 2008 that left 166 people dead.Lakhvi, believed to be a close relative of LeT founder and Jamaat-Ud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, was arrested in December, 2008 and was indicted along with the six others on November 25, 2009 in connection with the 26/11 attack case. The trial has been underway since 2009.Also Read: Pakistan court orders Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi’s release

Lakhvi’s release belies Pakistan’s claim of curbing terror: Ujjwal Nikam

The release of Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, by the Lahore High Court “exposes the futile effort of Pakistan in showing that it was serious about curbing terrorism,” special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said in Mumbai on Thursday.

The release of Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, by the Lahore High Court “exposes the futile effort of Pakistan in showing that it was serious about curbing terrorism,” special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said in Mumbai on Thursday.When criminal conspiracy behind the attacks had been hatched on Pakistan’s soil, why the intelligence agency of that country did not collect and produce evidence, asked Nikam, who was the prosecutor in the trial of Ajmal Kasab, the lone Pakistani terrorist captured alive during the attacks, before the Mumbai court.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Why Pakistan was seeking evidence from India when Lakhvi had hatched the conspiracy in Pakistan as revealed by Kasab in his testimony before the Indian court, he said. “This blame-game by Pakistan shows its double standard in respect of the terrorists who launch attacks from that country and also from inside India,” Nikam said.The Indian government had provided sufficient material evidence to Pakistan about terrorist acts committed by Kasab and nine others who caused mayhem in Mumbai during November 26-28, 2008, claiming many lives, Nikam said.The Lahore High Court on Thursday suspended the detention of 55-year-old Lakhvi under Maintenance of Public Order after the Pakistan government failed to present sensitive records against him in the court.Nikam noted that a judicial commission from Pakistan had visited Mumbai and Lakhvi’s lawyer had cross-examined the Mumbai magistrate who had recorded Kasab’s confession. The lawyer also grilled the investigation officer.

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee conferred Bharat Ratna by President Mukherjee

Vajpayee, who was Prime Minister from 1998 to 2004, and has faded from public life due to age-related illness, is lauded as a statesman and has been often described as the moderate face of BJP.

#PresidentMukherjee conferred Bharat Ratna on Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Veteran Parliamentarian and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, founder member of BJP who is held in high esteem across the political spectrum, was on Friday conferred with Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, by President Pranab Mukherjee.In a departure from protocol, Mukherjee drove to Vajpayee’s residence at Krishna Memon marg in Lutyens’ Delhi and presented to the ailing BJP leader the prestigious award, the country’s highest civilian honour.The event, which was attended by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh along with some close family members, was kept away from the media glare.Vajpayee, who was Prime Minister from 1998 to 2004, and has faded from public life due to age-related illness, is lauded as a statesman and has been often described as the moderate face of BJP.
He has been credited with taking bold initiatives, notable among them being the historic bus journey to Lahore in 1999 when he signed the landmark Lahore Declaration with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with both sides pledging to push for peace and security.Later, a tea party was hosted in the lawns of the residence which was attended by union ministers and state Chief Ministers including Jammu and Kashmir’s Mufti Mohammed Sayeed.The announcement for a Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee, the first Prime Minister from outside the Congress party to serve a full five-year term, came on December 24, a day before he turned 90.Vajpayee’s detractors called him the “mask” of RSS but still always had good words for him.Regarded as one of the most charismatic leaders, he was lauded as a statesman politician whose acceptability across the board broke barriers and brought BJP to centre stage of politics in the late 1990s after the demolition of Babri Masjid.
Live updates:18:06 IST Friday, 27 March 2015Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee conferred Bharat Ratna by President.​What politicians said about Atal Bihari VajpayeeUnion Home Minister Rajnath Singh said it’s a moment of pride for every Indian that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is being bestowed with the Bharat Ratna. “It is not only for a political party, for every Indian it’s a moment of great pride that former prime minister Atal ji is being bestowed with Bharat Ratna,” said Rajnath Singh.“About Vajpayee ji, I want to say that he is such a personality, not just in Indian politics but also internationally, whose memory brings a sense of reverence in every heart,” he added. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said it was a matter of pride as former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will be honoured with the Bharat Ratna.“It is a matter of great happiness and pride that Vajpayee ji is being honoured with the Bharat Ratna. Good wishes for his health and long life,” he said.West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as a truly great statesman who richly deserves the honour of the Bharat Ratna being bestowed on him.“Happy that Atal Ji is being conferred Bharat Ratna today. A truly great statesman who richly deserves honour. I wish him well…” she tweeted.(Agency inputs)

Former PM Vajpayee conferred Bharat Ratna by President Pranab Mukherjee

New Delhi: Veteran Parliamentarian and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, founder member of BJP who is held in high esteem across the political spectrum, was on Friday conferred with Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, by President Pranab Mukherjee.

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. AFPFormer Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. AFP

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. AFP

In a departure from protocol, Mukherjee drove to Vajpayee’s residence at Krishna Memon marg in Lutyens’ Delhi and presented to the ailing BJP leader the prestigious award, the country’s highest civilian honour.

The event, which was attended by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh along with some close family members, was kept away from the media glare.

“There are crores of workers around the country who draw inspiration from Atalji. We got an opportunity to confer Bharat Ratna on Atalji who dedicated his life to the nation, he’s a son of mother India. I thank the President for personally conferring the Bharat Ratna to Atal Bihari Vajpayee,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement to the media.

Vajpayee, who was Prime Minister from 1998 to 2004, and has faded from public life due to age-related illness, is lauded as a statesman and has been often described as the moderate face of BJP.

He has been credited with taking bold initiatives, notable among them being the historic bus journey to Lahore in 1999 when he signed the landmark Lahore Declaration with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with both sides pledging to push for peace and security.

Later, a tea party was hosted in the lawns of the residence which was attended by union ministers and state Chief Ministers including Jammu and Kashmir’s Mufti Mohammed Sayeed.

The announcement for a Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee, the first Prime Minister from outside the Congress party to serve a full five-year term, came on December 24, a day before he turned 90.

Vajpayee’s detractors called him the “mask” of RSS but still always had good words for him.

Regarded as one of the most charismatic leaders, he was lauded as a statesman politician whose acceptability across the board broke barriers and brought BJP to centre stage of politics in the late 1990s after the demolition of Babri Masjid.

The Prime Minister expressed his happiness over the award that was conferred on Vajpayee by the President and said he was leader who had dedicated his entire life for the nation.

“One who dedicated his life, such Mother India’s dear son, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, we have got the privilege to confer the Bharat Ratna Award on him today.

“I express my gratitude to the President who himself came here and personally bestowed upon him, the Bharat Ratna award.

“Atalji’s life was dedicated to the nation, he lived and thought for the nation for every second. In India there are crores of workers like me in whose life Vajpayee ji is an inspiration.

“The upcoming generations will continue to be inspired by him. I will pray to God for this only that Bharat Ratna Awardee Vajpayee ji’s life continues to inspire and guide us forever,” he said.

Emerging from Vajpayee’s residence, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters that Bharat Ratna was conferred on the former Prime Minister by the President at a brief ceremony because of “Vajpayee does not go out on account of his health reasons.”

The honour is in recoognition of his services to the country as a “powerful nationalist leader, one of the longest serving Parliamentarians, a poet and a thinker who was not leader of his own party but of the entire country,” he said.

A veteran Parliamentarian, he was not only a leader of India but of the whole world. He left an indelible imprint as a philosopher, poet and Prime Minister, Jaitley said, adding, “it is an occasion of joy for each one of us.”

He said the function held at Vajpayee’s residence was on behalf of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, BJP patron L K Advani, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat, Chief Ministers Prakash Singh Badal (Punjab), Vasundhra Raje (Rajasthan), Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh) and N Chnadrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh) besides JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav were among those present.

An orator par excellence and known for taking bold initiatives, Vajpayee was widely respected within the country and abroad as a statesman of the genre of Jawaharlal Nehru.

Vajpayee’s tenure from 1998-99 as prime minister saw his boldness as during this period India conducted a series of successive nuclear tests at Pokhran in May 1998.

He always wanted to improve relations with Pakistan ever since he became foreign minister in the Morarji Desai Government in the late seventies.

After the Lahore bus peace overtures failed to move forward, another initiative was the historic Agra summit with General Pervez Musharraf in 2001 but that too made little headway.

A bachelor and a poet of some repute, Vajpayee was born on December 25, 1924 at Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh to Krishna Bihari Vajpayee and Krishna Devi, a high-caste Brahmin family.

With his Parliamentary career spanning over five decades, Vajpayee was first elected to Lok Sabha in 1957 on Bhartiya Jan Sangh ticket.

Since its inception, 43 people including former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bhadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi besides singing legend Lata Mangeshkar and the batting mastreo have received the prestigious award.

The President will also confer the Bharat Ratna on Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (posthumously) on March 30, 2015 at Rashtrapati Bhavan along with the Civil Investiture Ceremony for the Padma Awards, it said.

PTI

Tributes to martyrs incomplete until poor progress: PM Modi

Hussainiwala, Punjab: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that tributes to martyrs of nation’s freedom struggle will remain incomplete until change is brought in the lives of countrymen, especially the farmers and the poor.

“Our farmers should progress, our youth should have jobs… there should be a change in the lives of our poor people living in villages and cities. Until we bring such a change, our tribute to nation’s martyrs will remain incomplete,” Modi said during his address.

He was addressing a gathering after paying floral tributes to Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev at their memorial here close to the India-Pakistan border.

Invoking Mahatma Gandhi and independence, the Prime Minister asserted that poor people would be provided houses while ensuring cleanliness in the country.

“We have proposed that nobody should be left without a house by 2022, after 75 years of our Independence. We want every poor one to have a house,” he said.

“In 2019, 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary will be celebrated. Is it not our responsibility to make India clean for those who sacrificed their lives?” he asked the gathering.

“Our motherland should be clean and every one should get a chance to progress… We are working to take India in this direction,” he said.

Earlier Modi paid rich tributes to Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru on their martyrdom day.

“On their martyrdom day, I pay my respects to Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru who sacrificed their life for the nation,” he said in a statement.

Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were tried for killing British Superintendent of Police Saunders on December 17, 1928, and were awarded the death sentence. They were hanged in the Central Jail at Lahore on March 23, 1931.

PTI

India hopes Delhi-Lahore bus service restriction is temporary

As Pakistan restricted the Delhi-Lahore bus service citing security reasons, India on Wednesday hoped that the “temporary aberration” would be sorted out to enable the ‘Dosti’ service to resume.”This is an initiative which our former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has started. We hope that it would ply in accordance with their vision and if there are temporary aberrations, we hope these will be sorted,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said. Akbaruddin, who speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, said the restriction is in force since December 31 last.”If there are security concerns that Pakistan is expressing on its side, then it is for Pakistan to decide what is in their best interest, in terms of security,” the spokesperson said. Citing increased “terror threats” Pakistan has restricted the bus service to Wagah border for the first time since the it was launched in 1999.The bus service between the two countries was started on March 16, 1999 primarily to enhance people-to-people contacts following an initiative by Vajpayee and Sharif. Sharif is back as Prime Minister of Pakistan for the third time since June 2013.The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation(PTDC) today said the Pakistan-India Dosti bus service will now on be operated only up to Wagah border because of terror threats. Passengers leaving for New Delhi and Amritsar from Lahore will now have to disembark at Wagah to catch a bus on the Indian side. Similarly, those travelling to Lahore from India by the service will disembark at Wagah too and switch buses.Earlier, police used to escort the buses from Wagah to Lahore’s Gulberg and Nankana Sahib terminals. Similarly, the police used to provide escort to the Dosti buses from Gulberg and Nankana Sahib to Wagah.

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