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

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

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

Nations should coordinate as world faces terror threats: Supreme Court

The observations were made as the bench declined interim relief to 56-year-old Marie Emmanuelle Verhoeven, currently lodged in Tihar facing extradition for her alleged role in the 1991 killing of a Chilean senator.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Coordination among countries is the need of the hour at a time when the world is facing terror threat, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday while refusing to grant interim relief to a jailed French woman, facing extradition for her alleged role in the 1991 killing of a Chilean senator.”You know what is happening in the world. At a time when terror incidents are increasing across the world, there should be coordination among nations,” a bench comprising Justice T S Thakur and Justice Kurian Joseph said.The observations were made as the bench declined interim relief to 56-year-old Marie Emmanuelle Verhoeven, currently lodged in Tihar in the connection with the case. Verhoeven has challenged her arrest and extradition proceedings initiated by the government at the request of Chile for her alleged involvement in the assassination of Senator Jaime Guzman Errazuriz on April 1, 1991 there.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There is no middle course. We are not going to release her for the interregnum period…she is accused of a terrorist activity,” the bench said and made clear to her lawyer T R Andhyarujina that it will finally decide the plea after hearing both sides and fixed December 8 as the next date.The bench heard brief arguments advanced by Andhyarujina and Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P S Patwalia on behalf of Verhoeven and the Ministry of External Affairs respectively before allowing both parties to file additional documents and adjourning the case.Andhyarujina said the detention of the French woman was illegal as the red corner notice, which had led to her arrest, was later withdrawn and there was no valid extradition treaty existing between India and Chile. The ASG opposed the contention saying there was a valid treaty existing between the two countries which has been acknowledged by the Delhi High Court in its judgement.Earlier, the apex court had agreed to hear the plea of Verhoeven challenging her arrest and extradition proceedings in the case. Besides seeking “immediate release”, the plea, filed through lawyer Ramni Taneja, has also sought a direction to MEA, which is pursuing the extradition proceedings on behalf of Chile, to quash the ongoing inquiry before a magisterial court in New Delhi.The French woman has sought a direction to quash the gazette notification of April 29 and the order dated April 28, issued by the MEA recording the Extradition Treaty between India and Chile on the ground that it was unconstitutional and ultra vires of the Constitution.”This case has serious and critical international implications and very sensitive and important constitutional implications under Indian law… The fundamental rights of the petitioner under the Constitution of India are gravely prejudiced by the mala fide acts of the Respondent No. 1 (MEA), who represents Republic of Chile in the extradition proceedings,” the plea said.Verhoeven, arrested on February 16 this year from Uttar Pradesh on the basis of a red corner notice issued against her, is alleged to have participated in a conspiracy leading to the assassination of Chilean Senator Jaime Guzman Errazuriz on April 1, 1991.Recently, the Delhi High Court has set aside the magisterial inquiry initiated by the Centre to extradite the French woman to Chile in the case. It not only set aside the notification of May 18 this year, by which the inquiry was ordered, but also held that an earlier February 24 order of a magistrate directing her provisional arrest under section 34-B of the Extradition Act, 1962, was “without jurisdiction” and “illegal”.The High Court, while setting aside the two orders, had made it clear that the 118-year-old treaty entered into between British Empire and Chile in 1897 was applicable to India back then and cannot be held to have automatically ceased to exist after she attained sovereignty in 1947. It had also said that the Centre’s April 28 notification, by which the Extradition Act was made applicable to Chile in view of the treaty, did not suffer from any infirmity.It, however, had said that the Act became applicable to Chile only after the notification was published on April 29 and thus the proceedings for provisional arrest of the woman could not have been ordered prior to that. It had also said a magisterial inquiry could be issued only after receiving a valid extradition request and since this was not received from Chile post April 29, the May 18 order of the government directing magisterial inquiry was illegal.The court had also said since her detention was declared illegal, it was not going into correctness of the March 5 order dismissing her bail plea.

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.

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

MEA clarifies about Samjhauta Express cancellation

MEA has also urged the Railways to resolve the situation at the earliest and resume the service.

MEA has also urged the Railways to resolve the situation at the earliest and resume the service.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday clarified its stand on Pakistani media reports on Samjhauta Express being stopped on Friday, saying that the train was cancelled along with 75 other trains due to agitation in Punjab. Samjhauta Express was among 75 trains travelling through Punjab that were cancelled due to local agitation, including rail blockade. Indian Railway authorities had informed in advance their Pakistani counterparts that the train would not be able to run in such a situation, MEA spokesperson’s official statement said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”A number of Indians scheduled to travel to India from Pakistan today could not do so. The High Commission of India in Islamabad is in touch with Government of Pakistan to ascertain their numbers and ensure that all necessary assistance is extended to them,” the statement added.MEA has also urged the Railways to resolve the situation at the earliest and resume the service. “MEA has requested Indian Railways to work with authorities concerned in Punjab to resolve the situation at the earliest, and put extra bogies for catering to stranded passengers on both sides for the next run of the train normally scheduled for 11-12/10,? the statement said.Samjhauta Express was cancelled yesterday due to farmer agitation in Punjab.

Hajj stampede: Indian death toll rises to 81, says MEA

MEA has sought the intervention of the minister in finding the identities of all the deceased Indian pilgrims.

General VK Singh to Jeddah to intervene with the Saudi authorities to complete the identification process of the dead pilgrims

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday said the death toll of Indians in the September 24 Mina Haj stampede has risen to 81. “Seven more Indian pilgrims have been identified among the deceased, which takes total number of Indian pilgrims who have died in Haj tragedy to 81,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said here.Swarup also said that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has sent Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh to Jeddah to intervene with the Saudi authorities to complete the identification process of the dead pilgrims at the earliest. “While in Jeddah, our minister met the Minister of Health of Saudi Arabia, Khalid Al-Falih. The ministry of health is the nodal ministry in the process of identification of the deceased pilgrims,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>MEA spokesperson also added that General Singh has sought the intervention of the minister in finding the identities of all the deceased Indian pilgrims. “General Singh also conveyed that several missing case are still pending with the Haj mission and this could be resolved only after the identification of the missing pilgrims is complete,” Swarup added.

Pakistan’s proliferation track record should be considered before nuclear deal with it: India

New Delhi: India on Thursday reacted very sharply to reports of the US mulling a nuclear deal with Pakistan on the lines of Indo-US pact, saying anyone considering a nuke pact should first see Islamabad’s proliferation track record.

Representational image. IBNLive

Representational image. IBNLive

“We have seen these reports and it is not for the first time this issue has surfaced. Whosoever is examining that particular dossier should be well aware of Pakistan’s track record in the area of proliferation. And when India got this particular deal it was on the basis of our own impeccable non-proliferation track record.

“That is the reason US gave us 123 agreement in 2005 and that is why we got a NSG waiver in 2008. Pakistan’s track record is completely different so we hope that will taken into account in making any such decision,” Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry Vikas Swarup said, in an apparent reference to Pakistan scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan leaking the nuke technology to countries like North Korea.

Khan was one of Pakistan’s top scientists and was involved in various scientific programs there until his dismissal in January 2004 by Pakistan government on the evidence provided by the US about his involvement in leaking bomb-making designs and equipment to at least three countries – Iran, North Korea and Libya.

Ahead of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the US this month, a report in The Washington Post said the US is negotiating a pact on new limits on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and delivery systems, a deal that might lead to an agreement similar to the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

“Pakistan has been asked to consider what are described as ‘brackets’,” the report quoted a source familiar with the talks between the two countries as saying.

In a separate query on whether Pakistan had asked India for a meeting between the two Foreign Ministers along with the meeting of their NSA’s as was proposed by India on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the Spokesperson said, “Yes. There was an issue of sequencing…We are committed to the Ufa understandings.

“The understandings are very clear and that is two (Indo-Pak) National Security Advisors are to meet to discuss all issues connected to terrorism. The DG BSF and the Pak Rangers and the DGMOs are to meet to sort out the issues on the border. The firings and disturbance on the border…

“And we have told that we are ready for the NSA-level dialogue. Last time Pakistan walked out of it…but we are committed to this understanding,” he said, adding where was a meeting between the foreign ministers as part of the agenda and understanding.

It is understood that Pakistan had pushed India for a meeting between their Foreign Ministers as a pre-condition for talks between their National Security Advisors which was turned down by the Indian side.

PTI

Sushma Swaraj shifts focus back on Indo-Pak talks, but Kashmir militancy could play spoilsport

by David Devadas

Speculation is the flavour of the season in Kashmir. Uncertainty has centred on a variety of issues, ranging from the stability of the state government to whether the Centre will grant a ‘package’ to the state. This weekend, the focus of speculation is back on India-Pakistan talks, but also remains riveted on who might lurk behind the infighting among militant outfits.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the UN. PTI

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the UN. PTI

The latest news is that India has reopened the door for talks with Pakistan on all outstanding issues, the term it prefers when it is willing to talk about Kashmir too. Cut to the bone, that was the nub of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.

Of course, the fresh opening was hedged with another unequivocal warning that talks and terrorism cannot go hand-in-hand. The warning is difficult to ignore, coming as it did from the very articulate minister who read Pakistan the riot act on the eve of the talks that were scheduled between the two countries’ National Security Advisors a few weeks ago. More importantly, the warning, alongside the invitation, has now been issued on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly.

For good measure, the minister highlighted the fact that India has sent more than its share of troops for international peacekeeping. Of course, that was meant primarily to back India’s claim to permanent membership of the Security Council. But it also underlines a contrast between India’s peacemaking record and Pakistan’s sponsorship of terrorism.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Kashmir, there is much speculation about whether the intra-militancy battles might be another kind of proxy war. The question in most Kashmiri minds is whether Defence Minister Parrikar’s throwaway remark some months ago about turning a thorn against other thorns (‘kaante se kaanta nikala jaata hai’) so as not to risk the lives of soldiers actually gave away strategy.

To be sure, there now appear to be at least five types of militants in Kashmir, each operating separately from the others. Speculation rages about at least three of them. A number of perceptive Kashmiris have even been asking how the charismatic young Burhan, Hizb-ul Mujahideen’s divisional commander for south Kashmir, moves around undetected. Photographs of the man have been posted on the internet, bathing in streams, motivating young men, and leading his band through forests, brandishing weapons Robin Hood-style and outfitted in fatigues. According to a local journalist, he even visited the home of a recently killed militant, to condole.

There were four kinds of covert counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir during the violent ’90s. Former RAW chief Amarjit Singh Dulat made partial disclosure a couple of months ago of his buying over various political faces of Kashmir’s freedom movement, including leading lights of the Hurriyat Conference. His handout operations were of limited use – though, in the long term, the least effective kind of covert counter-insurgency was the institutionalisation of mercenary groups known generically as ‘Ikhwan’, who worked in tandem with the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Rashtriya Rifles from 1994 to 2000.

Arguably the most effective covert tool of counter-insurgency was the one developed by the former Inspector-General of the BSF, Ashok Patel. Even when militancy and the freedom sentiment were at a peak in 1990, he slipped agents provocateurs into the ranks of militants, some of them at the highest level. As with other terrorist acts which Patel manipulated, such as the hijack of an Indian Airlines aircraft to Lahore in 1970, his agents were evidently playing both sides.

Many in Kashmir are now wondering if a similarly sophisticated strategy is at work now, and what its contours might be. The bottom-line is that recent events such as the discovery of horribly tortured bodies of three militants and Burhan’s meteoric rise to stardom have confused a range of key players, including Ali Shah Geelani and Hizb-ul Mujahideen ‘commander-in-chief’ Syed Salahuddin – perhaps even the ISI’s coordinators.

Confusion erodes confidence. Dulat’s revelations may have ensured that freedom fighters will balk at negotiating in future, but the memory of Patel’s operations combines effectively with the redoubtable reputation of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval to undermine the confidence of militancy’s sponsors.

This particular bout of uncertainty may not last. The ISI no doubt has other lethal clubs and devious jacks up its copious sleeve. So, this is an opportune time to open the door for talks, as Swaraj did at the UN. Not that one should expect lasting peace. From the look of things, this is only the beginning of a period of extraordinary conflict and subterfuge in and about Kashmir.

PM Modi meets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, urges him to pass on info on Indians held captive in Mosul

According to President Abbas, all the captive Indians taken as prisoners are alive so far.

Image Credit: Narendra Modi’s Twitter page

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, discussed the condition of the Indians taken as prisoners in Iraq and Libya in New York before leaving for India. Modi also urged Abbas to pass on any information that he might have on the status of 39 Indians held captive.The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirmed that the 39 Indians, who have been taken as prisoners in Iraq, were still alive and said that the government would do the necessary to secure their release after gathering more information.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Prime Minister asked the President to share with him any information he had regarding the condition of the Indians, to which the President replied saying that any information regarding this matter has constantly been transferred between India and Palestine and as soon as they receive any new information regarding the prisoners, they will let us know,” MEA official spokesperson Vikas Swarup told the media.According to President Abbas, all the captive Indians taken as prisoners are alive so far. In Iraq, a group of 39 Indian construction workers have been held captive by Islamic State in Mosul for more than a year, despite attempts by the Indian government to secure their release. Earlier, four Indians had been detained near the Libyan coastal city of Sirte, an area that is under the control of Islamic State militants.Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will participate in the BRICS and SAARC ministerial meets. The External Affairs Minister will also be addressing a United Nations session during her visit.

Anomalies in the MEA reshuffle: Govt’s mistake or planned strategy in India’s Pakistan approach?

The recent major reshuffle in the Ministry of External Affairs’ top level hierarchy is by and large good and well-thought but certain anomalies have come up and sadly, these pertain to Pakistan.

In the Indian diplomatic establishment, there are three key posts for dealing with Pakistan – foreign secretary, joint secretary in charge of PAI (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran) division and Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan. These three diplomats are the prime architects and practitioners of India’s Pakistan policy.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Gautam Bambawale, a senior additional secretary level career diplomat, who is currently Indian ambassador in Bhutan, will move to Islamabad to replace Indian high commissioner TCA Raghavan in January 2016. This will be Bambawale’s last posting as he is scheduled to retire in 2018.

Now the anomaly that has erupted is that after Bambawale takes over from Raghavan, for the first time in living memory, none of the three key posts mentioned above will be manned by a diplomat who has had a posting in Pakistan.

None of the three – Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar or Indian High Commissioner-designate in Pakistan Gautam Bambawale or JS (PAI) Rudendra Tandon – has ever been posted in Pakistan.

Before he went to Bhutan last year as Indian envoy, Bambawale was the joint secretary in charge of the crucial East Asia division in the MEA, a division which drives India’s foreign policy with regard to China and Japan, among others. Bambawale is a Chinese speaker.

Bambawale is a hands-on diplomat who is an expert on China and thus familiar with China-Pakistan relations. This will naturally come in handy at a time when China is embarking on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a crucial component of which goes through Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, for which China has pledged to invest 46 billion dollars.

But this may not be enough as Indian envoy in Pakistan is expected to be familiar with intricacies of Pakistan’s political, social and cultural milieu which comes only when the diplomat concerned has served in Pakistan.

To make matters worse, Bambawale’s deputy will be JP Singh who has completed just about 13 months on his first-ever posting in Pakistan, though he is exceptionally bright and very well networked in the Af-Pak region because of his earlier stint in Kabul. He had taken over as deputy high commissioner in Islamabad only in August last year.

Now let’s talk about JS (PAI). The desk of JS (PAI) is responsible for dealing with every bit of India’s Pakistan policy and is the nodal centre for all departments and ministries of the Government of India for any inputs regarding Pakistan.

Traditionally, JS (PAI) has been someone who has had a posting in Pakistan and knows Pakistan like the back of his palm. But Rudendra Tandon has not done a Pakistan posting yet. He had been selected to head Indian Consulate in Karachi years ago but he could not make it as the Karachi consulate was closed due to Indo-Pak tensions.

In such a scenario, India will be heavily dependent on inputs from Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the overall direction from National Security Advisor Ajit Doval who lived in Pakistan incognito for seven years and knows Pakistan inside out. But their inputs will be primarily from security viewpoint, not from diplomatic perspective.

This is a serious anomaly and one has no idea whether it was a genuine oversight or a deliberate strategy to enhance Doval’s role in India’s Pakistan policy.

If it was an oversight, it can still be rectified. Obviously, India cannot have a new foreign secretary or a new envoy-designate for Pakistan. The only possible way in which this anomaly arising out of an oversight can be corrected is by having a new JS (PAI) who has had a posting in Pakistan.

There are many such diplomats available. Take for instance Gopal Baglay, currently in headquarters as JS (States), who was India’s deputy high commissioner in Pakistan till last year.

Mecca Stampede: Sushma Swaraj tweets helpline numbers for pilgrims

Atleast two Indian pilgrims have been reported injured in the stampede.

Saudi emergency personnel and Hajj pilgrims carry a wounded person at the site where at least 450 were killed and hundreds wounded in a stampede in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca, at the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia on September 24, 2015.

AFP photo
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that action is being taken to help all Indian pilgrims stuck in the Mecca stampede. Swaraj is currently in Washington.Sushma also tweeted the MEA helpline numbers. At least 717 people of different nationalities were killed and over 860 others, including two Indians, injured in a stampede today when Haj pilgrims jostled their way to perform symbolic stoning of the devil here, marking the culmination of the annual pilgrimage.

PM Modi’s visit to lay new benchmarks in engagements with US: MEA

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States is aimed at getting more foreign direct investment and making the ‘Make in India’ program a huge success, adding that it expects the visit to lay new benchmarks in engagements with the United States.

File Picture

PTI
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States is aimed at getting more foreign direct investment and making the ‘Make in India’ program a huge success, adding that it expects the visit to lay new benchmarks in engagements with the United States.”Prime Minister Modi will be arriving later this evening and he has a very substantive program for the two days that he is here. Thereafter, he travels to San Jose in California to meet with the different set of people in that part of the world. In New York, he is going to meet a number of people connected with the financial sector, with the media and technology sector and, most importantly, with the manufacturing sector because one of the primary objectives of the Prime Minister’s visit to America is to get more foreign direct investment and make the ‘Make in India’ program a huge success,? MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup told ANI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”American collaboration with that program in terms of skills, in terms of technology and in terms of investment, is very crucial and I expect the Prime Minister’s visit to lay new benchmarks in engagements with the United States,” he added. “A number of bilateral are going to happen because the Prime Minister will be in New York when a number of world leaders are also going to be in New York,” he further said.Prime Minister Modi will address founders of startups, entrepreneurs and technology leaders in the Silicon Valley on September 27. Earlier this morning, the Prime Minister left for his week-long official visit to Ireland and United States.”Leaving for Ireland, where I will hold delegation level talks with Mr. Enda Kenny, Taoiseach of Ireland and interact with Indian community. After Ireland, will travel to New York City,” the Prime Minister tweeted before his departure. He will meet President Obama on September 28 ahead of the UN General Assembly.

New Constitution row: Use political means, desist violence, India tells Nepal

The ruling BJP, on the other hand, clarified that they were not against Nepal’s Constitution, but only voicing concerns at the violence.

India on Monday expressed concern over the incidents of violence in border regions of Nepal, following the promulgation of Constitution. A strongly-worded statement issued by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) asked Kathmandu to use political means rather resorting to force in the border regions, where population is up against the promulgation of new Constitution unveiled on Sunday.India shares 1751-km-long borders with the Himalyan nation. Indian-origin Madhesis and Tharrus, living in Tarai region feel neglected and disempowered by the new statute.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The statement reminded that Nepal leadership had been already cautioned against any such eventuality and stressed on steps to defuse the tension in the regions, bordering India. “Our freight companies and transporters have also voiced complaints about the difficulties they are facing in movement within Nepal and their security concerns, due to the prevailing unrest,” the statement added.India is particularly perturbed that flames in Terai region of southern Nepal have potential to cross border and ignite the poll bound Bihar. Sources here say, that was the primary reason for foreign secretary S Jaishankar’s visit to Kathmandu as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special envoy.The Madhesis have been fighting for equal representation in the country’s political structure. While Tharus believe that they have not even been mentioned in the document. There have been also protest from groups against defining Nepal as a secular country, arguing that it be declared a Hindu state. “Many Nepalis, particularly the Madhesis, have been angered by a clause in the new constitution which talks of “religious and cultural freedom, with the protection of religion and culture practiced since ancient times,” says a source in government.India’s former envoy to Nepal Deb Mukarji said while New Delhi has never been an interventionist, but the situation flaring up just across the border was a cause of worry. He admitted that the new Nepal Constitution does have loopholes and doesn’t address concerns of a large population. “Whatever little I have seen and heard, I regret all assurances made during Jan Andolan and talked to all these years have been whittled down, which also include an affirmative action programme for deprived,” he said. The MEA statement further asked Nepali leadership to take urgent steps to defuse the tension and resolve issues politically rather resorting to force. “We have consistently argued that all sections of Nepal must reach a consensus on the political challenges confronting them. The issues facing Nepal are political in nature and cannot be resolved through force. We still hope that initiatives will be taken by Nepal’s leadership to effectively and credibly address the causes underlying the present state of confrontation,” the statement concluded.The ruling BJP, on the other hand, clarified that they were not against Nepal’s Constitution, but only voicing concerns at the violence. The party’s head of foreign affairs cell Shashadari Chari said the constitution unveiled is very representative and an outcome of lengthy discussions. It has also incorporated various provisions of Indian Constitution, he said.

Saudi diplomat accused in Gurgaon rape case has left India, says MEA

New Delhi: The Saudi Arabian diplomat, who was charged with confinement and rape of two Nepalese women, left India on Wednesday night.

“We have learnt that the first secretary Majed Hassan Ashoor who was allegedly accused of raping two Nepalese women has left India,” spokesperson in External Affairs Ministry Vikas Swarup said.

“The first secretary being a diplomat is governed by the provision of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations,” Swarup added.

The two Nepali girls rescued from the Gurgaon residence of a Saudi diplomat. IBNLive

The two Nepali girls rescued from the Gurgaon residence of a Saudi diplomat. IBNLive

It is learnt that the MEA had put pressure on the Saudi Embassy to allow the questioning of the diplomat given the gravity of the allegations in the case involving confinement and rape of the two women, following which Saudi Arabia decided to withdraw the diplomat.

On 7 September, Gurgaon Police had conducted a raid at the diplomat’s residence after receiving a complaint that the two Nepalese women were kept there in confinement and raped by the diplomat and his “guests” repeatedly.

The Saudi Embassy termed the allegations as “false” and protested the police “intrusion” into the diplomat’s house saying it was against “all diplomatic conventions”.

The External Affairs Ministry had called in Saudi Arabian Ambassador Saud Mohammed Alsati last Thursday and told him that the accused diplomat should cooperate in the probe into the case.

But it did not get any response despite being in touch with the mission officials in New Delhi for at least a week, sources said.

During the impasse, the diplomat along with his family has shifted to the Saudi Embassy. The two Nepalese women have already gone back to their country.

There were also reports that NSA Ajit Doval had a hand in resolving the issue without damaging the bilateral ties.

PTI

Nepalese women rape case: Setback for police probe as Saudi diplomat leaves India

A few days ago the Saudi envoy was called to give a statement to the police after they received the medical report of the two women which confirmed that sodomy and rape.

The Saudi Arabian diplomat accused in the alleged rape of Nepalese women has left the country on Wednesday night. Majed Hassan, the accused, is the embassy’s First Secretary being a diplomat is governed by the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, says MEA. It was not possible for the government to prevent him from leaving as he enjoys diplomatic immunity.As per TV channel reports citing police sources, this is a huge setback for the ongoing probe and it will be now carried out via diplomatic channels. A few days ago the Saudi envoy was called to give a statement to the police after they received the medical report of the two women which confirmed that sodomy and rape.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gurgaon Police also claimed that the agent, who lured the two Nepalese women to the capital, may slip out of the country “any moment” to evade arrest but said they cannot take any action against him unless they get MEA’s response to the “detailed report” sent on September 9. Sources in Gurgaon Police today said that the agent, identified as Anwar, operates from Delhi and places maids in the entire NCR region. However, there has been no restraint put on him so far and senior officials suspect that he may leave the country any moment to evade arrest.Gurgaon Police have also claimed to be in a fix saying that they do not know what action to take next unless the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) responds to the “detailed report”.Meanwhile, several facts came to the fore after a copy of the detailed report surfaced yesterday, purportedly after it was sent to the office of the Additional Director General (Law and Order) of Haryana Police for his perusal. The facts disclosed by the report were later confirmed by senior police officials.The report disclosed that the wife and daughter of the Saudi diplomat allegedly “abused” police officials when they went to rescue the two Nepalese women, who alleged rape by the diplomat. While the investigation team — consisting of several women officials — was waiting in the lobby outside the apartment’s front door, the Nepalese women were allegedly beaten up by the residents, who were trying to desist them from leaving the house. However, the team managed to rescue the victims “after a great deal of persuasion.”Gurgaon Police, in the report, mentioned that they were unaware about the identities of the occupants of the apartment when they went there to rescue the two Nepalese women, based on a tip by anNGO, on September 7. “We later realised that the residents could be Saudi Arabian nationals who may be holding diplomatic status in India. The male member is believed to be the First Secretary with the Saudi Arabian Embassy in New Delhi,” reads the report.

Saudi diplomat case: The two women that Gurgaon police is keen to question

The case has evoked protests from various women’s groups

PTI
Police officials investigating the alleged gang-rape of Nepalese women by a Saudi diplomat and his friends are particularly keen to record the statements of two persons who could unearth the matter in its entirety. However, investigators are finding their hands tied due to the directions of the ministry of external affairs which has apparently told Gurgaon police to handle the case sensitively. Among the two persons the investigators want to question is, who they believe, the Saudi diplomat’s daughter. In the their statement to the police, the Nepalese women identify her as Roza, who is about 20 years of age. In fact, the Nepalese women in their statement introduce their employer and his wife as Roza’s father and her mother respectively.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the FIR states that Roza and her mother attacked the police when they had come to rescue the women, sources revealed that the Nepalese women told the police that Roza did at no point participate in the alleged brutality that they had to endure.”It is likely that the girl might be aware of what was happening in her house, but it is also worth mentioning that she was not a perpetrator of the alleged crimes except on the day of rescue when she and the other woman, who is believed to be her mother, attacked the police,” said a source.A senior officer of the Gurgaon police who wished not to be named told dna that the investigators are keen on recording the statement of the young girl. “The victims told us that there were times that she would sympathise with them. In one particular instance when the family went to a trip to Nainital, the young girl treated the victims to a meal,” said the officer adding that her statement will put new light on the case. However, recording Roza’s statement is an event which only the MEA and Saudi government can make possible. Given that the investigators have not questioned the third maid who was the one to actually expose the entire incident, the chances of carrying forward the investigation without roadblocks seems like an impossibility, officials here believe.According to senior officials, investigators will only question the third maid if they are given a green signal by the MEA. Navdeep Singh Virk,commissioner of police, Gurgaon, told dna that the primary focus of the investigation is to probe the allegations of rape. He did not delve much into the fact that the third maid can prove to be an instrumental link to all angles being probed by police including that of rape.The third maid, who is said to hail from Darjeeling, was brought to the flat of the Saudi diplomat by the same accused who had lured the Nepalese women. It was her who had brought the matter to the attention of the NGO which later approached both the Nepal government and Gurgaon police asking their help to rescue the women.She had also given a phone to the Nepalese women after sneaking it with the help of a security guard. The phone was used to coordinate with the Nepalese women to the extent that she intimated them about the exact dates on which they will be rescued. Yet the police has not questioned the maid and neither the security guard who helped her.”We can question her any time but the sanction has to come from the MEA. According to the information that we have received, we believe she has gone back to her hometown,” said the senior police officer. Another angle that police is keen on investigating is how and did the third maid manage to escape, and could the matter have been brought to their attention earlier. So far, they have relied on the information provided by the NGO Maiti Nepal India.”According to the NGO, the third maid had run away from the household in the last week of August after working there for only three days,” according to the commissioner of police . Pandey the convener of the NGO had contacted the Nepali government and he told dna that the delay was caused by lacksidal response of Nepal government. “We had contacted the authorities in Nepal but didn’t get any response. That’s when we decided to contact Haryana police,” Pandey told dna on Monday.He added that the priority of his NGO was to get the women out of the diplomat’s house. The investigation, he said, is the police’s job. However, it is still not clear why and when did the third maid take an exit from the sequence of events. A question whose answer can only be got when Gurgaon police actually questions her.

Nepalese women rape case: MEA awaits Saudi Embassy’s response

Yesterday, Saudi Arabian Ambassador Saud Mohammed Alsati was called to the MEA and told that the accused diplomat should give a statement.

Two Nepalese women have alleged that they were confined and raped by the diplomat and his “guests” repeatedly in a flat in Gurgaon

Saudi Embassy has not responded to the Ministry of External Affairs’ demand to cooperate in the case involving a Saudi diplomat charged with rape of two Nepalese women, amid speculation that Saudi government may withdraw the accused from India. A day after India had asked Saudi Arabia to waive the official’s diplomatic immunity and cooperate in the investigation, official sources said, “a response is awaited to what we conveyed to them yesterday”.Yesterday, Saudi Arabian Ambassador Saud Mohammed Alsati was called to the MEA and told that the accused diplomat should give a statement to the Gurgaon police probing the case. “MEA Chief of Protocol called in Saudi Ambassador and conveyed request of Haryana Police for cooperation of Embassy in the case of two Nepali citizens,” Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup had said. It is learnt that the diplomat along with his family has shifted to the Saudi Embassy. The two Nepalese women have already gone back to their country yesterday. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The envoy was called a day after MEA had received a “detailed report” about the case from Gurgaon Police including the second medical report confirming rape and sodomy. Asked whether Saudi Arabia has invoked diplomatic immunity of the diplomat, accused of confining and raping the women at his house in Gurgaon, to enable him escape prosecution, the sources said India has not been informed about any such move. The options before Saudi Arabia are to either withdraw the diplomat or waive his diplomatic immunity to enable prosecution proceedings. The latter being very unlikely.India can declare him persona non grata if he does not cooperate with the investigation. The Saudi Embassy has termed the allegations as “false” and said it has protested police “intrusion” into a diplomat’s house against “all diplomatic conventions”.The two Nepalese women have alleged that they were confined and raped by the diplomat and his “guests” repeatedly in a flat in Gurgaon on the outskirts of the national capital after which the local police filed an FIR in the matter.

Nepalese women rape case: India asks Saudi embassy to present accused diplomat before police

The MEA called in the Saudi envoy, a day after it received a “detailed report” about the case from Gurgaon Police.

It is learnt that the diplomat along with his family has shifted to the Saudi Embassy while the two Nepalese women have left for Nepal earlier in the day.

India on Thursday asked Saudi Arabia to present its diplomat, accused of rape and torture of two Nepalese women, before investigators and cooperate with the probe in the case that has triggered outrage. Saudi Arabian Ambassador Saud Mohammed Alsati was called to the External Affairs Ministry and told that the accused diplomat should give a statement to the Gurgaon police probing the case. “MEA Chief of Protocol called in Saudi Ambassador today and conveyed request of Haryana Police for cooperation of Embassy in the case of two Nepali citizens,” Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It is learnt that the diplomat along with his family has shifted to the Saudi Embassy while the two Nepalese women have left for Nepal earlier in the day. The MEA called in the Saudi envoy, a day after it received a “detailed report” about the case from Gurgaon Police. The report was sent to MEA hours after a second medical examination of the two women confirmed rape and sodomy, said Rajesh Chechi, ACP (Crime) of Gurgaon Police.Asked whether Saudi Arabia has invoked diplomatic immunity of the diplomat, accused of confining and raping the women at his house in Gurgaon, to enable him escape prosecution, sources said India has not been informed about any such move.The two women were rescued from the diplomat’s house in Gurgaon on Monday by police. Sources said Nepal government has requested India to take action against the Saudi diplomat and ensure justice to the victim women. The option for Saudi Arabia include shifting the diplomat out of India, while New Delhi has the option of declaring him persona non grata if he does not cooperate with the investigation.The Saudi Embassy had issued a statement yesterday terming the allegations as “false” and said it has protested police “intrusion” into a diplomat’s house against “all diplomatic conventions”.The Saudi Ambassador along with some embassy officials had also met senior MEA officials on Wednesday to register their protest. Meanwhile, a group of women rights activists held a protest outside Saudi Embassy demanding action against the diplomat. They demanded that no diplomatic immunity be extended to him.

MEA seeks cooperation from Saudi Embassy in alleged rape case

Gurgaon Police on Thursday night had sent a “detailed” report to the ministry on their investigation into the case.

MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup
File Photo

India asked Saudi Arabia to cooperate with the investigation against its Delhi-based diplomat, who has been accused of rape and torture by two Nepalese women working at his house in Gurgaon on the outskirts of the national capital. Saudi Ambassador Saud Mohammed Alsati was called in by the External Affairs Ministry and told that the Haryana police is seeking cooperation in the case, a day after the ministry received a report about the case from police. “MEA Chief of Protocol called in Saudi Ambassador on Thursday and conveyed request of Haryana Police for cooperation of Embassy in the case of 2 Nepali citizens,” Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Gurgaon Police on Thursday night had sent a “detailed” report to the ministry on their investigation into the case. The report was sent hours after a second medical examination of the two women confirmed rape and sodomy, said Rajesh Chechi, ACP (Crime) of Gurgaon Police. The Saudi Embassy had issued a statement on Wednesday terming the allegations “false” and said it has protested the police “intrusion” into a diplomat’s house against “all diplomatic conventions”. The Saudi Ambassador along with some embassy officials had also met senior MEA officials on Wednesday to register their protest. Meanwhile a group of women rights activists held a protest outside Saudi Embassy demanding action against the diplomat. They demanded that no diplomatic immunity be extended to him.

Saudi diplomat case: A three-way diplomatic row?

Nepal’s embassy here has also officially approached the ministry of external affairs (MEA) seeking its cooperation and assistance. “We are not fully aware of the involvement of any diplomat (Saudi). When we are informed about it, we will go for it (reach out to the Saudis). It is a very sensitive case and we are getting full support from the MEA and local police,” said Nepal’s ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay.

The rescued women

Reuters
The alleged rape and abduction of two Nepali women by a Saudi diplomat is blowing up as a three-way diplomatic crisis, involving the powerful Gulf nation, Nepal and India. While the external affairs ministry here on Wednesday said they were awaiting a detailed report from the local police to decide on the further course of action, sources said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was keeping tabs lest the matter gets out of hand and that too at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set his eyes on Gulf nations to seek cooperation on terrorism and containing Pakistan’s influence in the region. The incident has also led debate that time has come to review Vienna convention, that ensures immunity to diplomats, involved even in heinous crimes.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Nepal’s embassy here has also officially approached the ministry of external affairs (MEA) seeking its cooperation and assistance. “We are not fully aware of the involvement of any diplomat (Saudi). When we are informed about it, we will go for it (reach out to the Saudis). It is a very sensitive case and we are getting full support from the MEA and local police,” said Nepal’s ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay. Last thing Modi would like is to allow the issue to go out of hand. Former diplomats told dna that the immunity available to diplomats was not “absolute” and doesn’t involve serious crimes like murder and rape. But it necessitates cooperation from the embassy and the country concerned. Ambassador Rakesh Sharma says that the involvement of the third country, Nepal, has made things much more complicated. He was, however, confident that the MEA will take up the matter with the Saudi government skilfully and convince them to waive diplomatic immunity. According to Vienna Convention, as cited by the Saudi Embassy in its communication to the MEA, the diplomat — a first secretary rank officer and his wife – cannot be arrested or even detained for questioning. South Block officials are, however, confident that they will be able to convince Saudi Arabia’s ambassador Saud Mohammed Alsati ultimately, to waive immunity of the accused at least for questioning, once the police files complete report and establishes, prima facie, culpability. Citing past precedents, diplomats say, the government will first asks the country involved to withdraw diplomatic immunity or declare the individual persona non grata. Alternately, Saudi Arabia will be allowed to quietly withdraws the diplomat. Former Additional Secretary in the MEA K C Singh, however, hoped that India would exert pressure to the extent convincing Riyadh to prosecute the diplomat in their own country for the misdemeanour and for brining disrepute to their country. But, he admitted that to avoid a diplomatic row, a middle path has to be found.
The tone of the Saudi embassy statement makes out clearly that the country was not ready to join investigations. “Embassy protests the unwarranted media briefing before the investigation was complete and protests police intrusion into the diplomat’s residence,” said the Saudi embassy statement, while defending its diplomat. It also resented the raid and even defended resistance the guards posed to the police. As per Vienna Convention rules, the police was required to inform the MEA which, in turn, had to seek the ambassador’s permission before raiding the premises, an embassy spokesman said. As the apartment had been taken on lease by the Saudi Arabian embassy, it was part of its premises. Two Saudi diplomats involved in similar cases in the United Kingdom in 2011 and in the US in 2013 escaped unscathed citing immunity.The crisis has come at a time when Prime Minister Modi is proposing to visit the oil rich Saudi Arabia, a move which is being touted as the high point of his foreign policy in order to complete the ‘string of pearls around Pakistan’, and to contain the influence of China in the region. Saudi Arabia is India’s largest supplier of crude, accounting for almost one fifth of its needs, as also the fourth-largest trading partner.

Saudi diplomat rape scandal: Medical reports confirm both Nepalese women were physically assaulted

Rajesh Kumar, ACP has said that the medical reports of the two girls indicated that they were physically assaulted.

The women have said that their alleged tormentors had threatened to kill them

PTI
In a new development, medical reports have confirmed that both Nepalese women had been physically assaulted. Rajesh Kumar, ACP has said that the medical reports of the two girls indicated that they were physically assaulted.The women who were allegedly confined and raped by a Saudi diplomat and his “guests” in a flat in Gurgaon today said their tormentors had threatened to kill them even as the Saudi embassy protested the police “intrusion” into the diplomat’s house. Recounting their ordeal, the women said though they were brought for “handling domestic chores…but he did horrific things with us” and alleged that they were shown “knives and threatened to kill us…”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reacting to allegations, Saudi embassy issued a statement terming them as “false” and said it has protested the police intrusion into a diplomat’s house against “all diplomatic conventions.” They also brought to the notice of the concerned officials in the MEA the “unwarranted media briefings before investigations are complete”, it said. Saudi Ambassador to India Saud Mohammed Alsati along with some embassy officials also met senior officials to register their protest with the External Affairs Ministry, which told them that a detailed report was awaited from the Gurgaon police in the matter. On future course of action, Spokesperson in the MEA Vikas Swarup said further steps will be taken once the Ministry receives a detailed report from the local police. According to sources, if a prima facie case is made out in the police report, the ministry would approach the Saudi Arabia embassy and ask it to cooperate in the investigation.Meanwhile, Gurgaon Police Commissioner Navdeep Singh Virk, who is heading a special investigation team in the case, said the probe into the allegations would be undertaken in accordance with the Vienna convention as the official enjoys diplomatic immunity. “We have been able to establish the identity (of the diplomat who has been accused of rape) and we have also been able to establish that the residents of that flat enjoy diplomatic immunity,” he said at a press conference in Gurgaon.He said an FIR has been registered against unknown residents of the concerned apartment, which was raided on Monday might, and does not name any person. “In their statements, both to the police and the judicial magistrate, the victims did not name the alleged perpetrators. And the law doesn’t allow the police to incorporate names into an FIR on its own,” said Virk.Constantly stressing that registration of an FIR does not mean that offence has been proved, he said the police is in touch with the MEA which has sought a detailed report on the case which would be submitted shortly but maintained police had given the requisite “information” to the Ministry without any loss of time. According to police sources, the victims are expected to fly back to Nepal tomorrow.

Nepal Embassy in touch with MEA over Saudi diplomat case

New Delhi: The Nepal Embassy here is in touch with the Indian external affairs ministry and police authorities to seek a detailed report on the alleged rape and gang-rape of two Nepalese women in a Gurgaon flat by a Saudi Arabian diplomat and his friends.

“The Nepal Embassy is in touch with the MEA and local police authorities… we don’t know officially whether he (the accused) is a diplomat or not,” Nepal Ambassador Deep Upadhyay told the media here on Wednesday. He said a parallel investigation was being conducted in Nepal.

Upadhyay refused to give details, saying the case was still under investigation.

File photo of Nepali Ambassador to India Deep Upadhyay. Image Courtesy Embassy of Nepal in India

File photo of Nepali Ambassador to India Deep Upadhyay. Image Courtesy Embassy of Nepal in India

“The (police) investigation is on; local police authorities are framing and establishing the case. Until the police finalise the case, it would not be good to say anything more,” Upadhyay said.

“Upon learning of the case from the local police, the Nepal Embassy sought the help of MEA for the rescue (of the two women) and necessary investigation in the case,” the Nepali diplomat added.

One of the women rescued in Gurgaon told media that the two of them were regularly beaten and were attacked with a knife. With her face covered, she showed an injury on her forearm saying that’s where she was hit with the knife. She also said that security guards of the diplomat had beaten up police personnel when they went to the Gurgaon house.

An unnamed Saudi diplomat, reported to be of First Secretary rank, and some of his friends and guests were booked on charge of rape and gang-rape of two Nepali women, who were rescued on Monday. His wife and daughter were booked for the alleged torture of domestic helps in Gurgaon, Haryana.

Meanwhile, official sources said the external affairs ministry will get into the picture in case the police file charges and need to interrogate the person.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia’s Embassy dismissed the charges against the diplomat as “completely false” and “contrary to facts in our possession”, and said they would wait for the Indian government to clarify the matter as per the diplomatic norms.

The Gurgaon police have registered cases against the diplomat and “unknown people” on Tuesday at the DLF-2 police station on charges of gang rape (section 376-D), rape (376), unnatural sex (377), and sections 342, 323 and 120-B (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

However, no arrests have been made so far.

IANS

Yemen air strikes: 13 Indian nationals alive, 7 missing, says Ministry of External Affairs

Some media reports, quoting residents and fishermen, earlier claimed that at least 20 Indian nationals were killed in air strikes by Saudi-led coalition forces on fuel smugglers at Yemen’s Hodeidah port today.

AFP
Amidst reports that 20 Indian nationals were killed in air strikes by Saudi-led coalition forces on fuel smugglers at Yemen’s Hodeidah port, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Wednesday said that 13 of them were alive while seven members remained missing near Mokha in Yemen after their boat came under air strike.MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaroop said, “We have seen media reports about death of Indian nationals in Yemen and Indian embassy in Djibouti is in touch with local contacts.”He further added, “We have ascertained that two boats came under aerial bombardment, boats were carrying a total of 20 Indian crew members, out of which 13 are alive and seven are reported to be missing.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stating that no other information is currently available regarding the identity of the Indian nationals, Swaroop said, “Ministry has sought a detailed report from local police authorities and further action will be taken based on report.”Some media reports, quoting residents and fishermen, earlier claimed that at least 20 Indian nationals were killed in air strikes by Saudi-led coalition forces on fuel smugglers at Yemen’s Hodeidah port. They claimed two boats were hit in the attack on an area called al-Khokha near Hodeidah port.India does not have an embassy in Yemen anymore. It was shut down in April after the evacuation of its nationals. The Houthi-run state news agency Saba also said that 15 citizens were killed in air strikes on Sanaa, and medical sources said at least 15 civilians were killed in similar attacks on Monday. It was not immediately possible to independently verify the figures. Friday’s attack was the deadliest yet for Gulf soldiers in the war and may herald a turning point as Saudi-allied countries appear to be committing to a ground war they had so far avoided.

Saudi diplomat booked in Gurgaon for allegedly abducting and raping two Nepali women

Gurgaon: A Saudi diplomat has been booked in Gurgaon for allegedly raping two Nepali women, police said.

The women, aged around 30, have alleged that they were abducted and raped by the diplomat repeatedly in a flat in Gurgaon, on the outskirts of Delhi.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The victims have alleged that they were first taken to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia where they were made to perform household chores and were raped there, ACP Rajesh said.

Sometime back they were taken to Gurgaon flat where even guests of the family also raped them, he said, adding the flat had been taken on rent by the Saudi Embassy based in Delhi.

“One new maid visited the flat and witnessed the miseries of these two women and left the house. That maid reported the matter to an NGO, which informed the police,” Rajesh said.

Gurgaon police raided the flat in DLF Phase-II and rescued the two women.

An FIR has been filed under various sections of IPC. No arrest has been made so far.

Gurgaon police has contacted the Nepal Embassy for assistance.

“We have sought a report from local police,” MEA spokesperson while commenting on the matter.

The Saudi Embassy is in touch with External Affairs Ministry regarding the matter.

PTI

PM Modi in UAE: UAE supports India’s bid for permanent UNSC seat

PM Modi has thanked UAE for their support

Photo courtesy: MEA Twitter handle
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on Monday issued the joint statement by India and UAE. He said that UAE will support India’s candidature for permanent membership of UN Security Council.Counter-terrorism centred the talks in both countries. With the looming threat of Islamic State invading further into West Asia and the group marking India too as a threat recently it has been perceived that the counter-terrorism will be a major issue in the bilateral talks. “The two nations also agreed on enhance cooperation in counter terrorism operations, intelligence sharing as well as cooperate on strengthening maritime security in Gulf and Indian Ocean region,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The two nations reject extremism and any link btw religion and terrorism. They condemn efforts including by states to use religion to justify support and sponsor terrorism against other countries,” Jaishankar said. Both nations called on states to reject & abandon the use of terrorism against other countries, dismantle terrorism infrastructures here they exist and bring perpetrators of terrorism to justiceThe two countries agreed to enhance cooperation in counter terrorism operations, intelligence sharing and will work together for adoption of India’s proposed comprehensive convention on international terrorism, Jaishankar said. Bothe nations agreed to shared infromation on terror finacning, increasing maritime security and strengthen defence relation. “They will control, regulate and share information on the flow of fund, cooperate on strengthening maritime security in Gulf and Indian Ocean region,” read the joint statement. Both countries will cooperate in manufacture of defence equipment in India.India and UAE called on all nations to fully respect and sincerely implement their commitment to resolve dispute bilaterally and peacefully without resorting to violence and terrorismRegarding trade and investment, he said, “There was a recognition that india today is a new frontier of investment. It was agreed that they would set up UAE-India infrastructure investment fund with a target of $75 billion .”Both nations also agreed to help each other during natural disasters ad conflicts. “The two nations will promote collaboration and Interoperability for humanitarian assistance in natural disaster and conflict situations,” Jaishankar added.

Scholars want yoga-like global attention for Sanskrit

The Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, deemed Sanskrit University, has written to the ministry expressing its willingness to train one hundred teachers with post graduate diploma in Sanskrit who could then be posted at Indian embassies.

For representation purpose only

After India successfully took Yoga to the world on International Yoga Day on June 21, Sanskrit lobby has started feeling left out. To propagate Sanskrit on the same scale, scholars are now pitching the idea of having a Sanskrit language teacher in all Indian embassies. The ministry of human resource development that has to train teachers for the project has cited paucity of funds and is passing the buck to the ministry of external affairs. The Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, deemed Sanskrit University, has written to the ministry expressing its willingness to train one hundred teachers with post graduate diploma in Sanskrit who could then be posted at Indian embassies.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The university is also of the view that yoga which is being promoted worldwide cannot be taught in isolation and that it is to be linked to Sanskrit learning. “To perform yoga asanas, knowledge of Pranayama is sufficient, but one cannot master the art of meditation, which is the highest form of yoga, without the knowledge of Sanskrit,” said Professor PN Shastry, vice chancellor of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan.The university has expressed its desire to train instructors who will be able to promote both yoga and Sanskrit internationally.Scholars also feel that teaching yoga without Sanskrit can be a dangerous practice in the long run. “In the Indian philosophy of yogic science, the eight aspects of yoga are interlinked and complement each other,” said Professor Ramesh Bhardwaj, head of Sanskrit department, Delhi University. The professor is of the view that currently only two forms of yoga are being promoted, which is incomplete practice. “Real yoga cannot be practised without reading Sanskrit texts. Practicing yoga without understanding its link with Sanskrit will not benefit the world,” explains Bhardwaj.The HRD ministry is, however, not keen on facilitating the project and has passed the buck to MEA.Confirming that a proposal has been received, an officer in HRD ministry said, “The ministry is not in a position to fund the training of these instructors. Also any demand of this nature has to come from the MEA. We also do not know if MEA will bear the cost of training the instructors and will approve of their stay in foreign countries,” said an official of the ministry.To withdraw itself, the HRD ministry wants the scholars to get first-hand clarity from MEA before approaching it.

Two of four Indians abducted in Libya brought back safely, tweets Sushma Swaraj

Two of the four Indians abducted in Libya have been “brought back safely” to the University of Sirte, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

“Welcome news from Libya. 2 of the 4 detained Indians brought back safely to University of Sirte. Our efforts continue for the remaining two,” tweeted Vikas Swarup, the official spokesperson of the MEA.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also reacted to this development and tweeted, “Four Indians abducted in Libya – I am happy we have been able to secure the release of Lakshmikant and Vijay Kumar. Trying for other two.”

Four Indian teachers, who were returning to India from Tripoli and Tunis, had been kidnapped in Libya, allegedly by the Islamic State terror group.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

Earlier on Friday morning, Swaraj had briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the incident as also the steps being taken by the ministry to secure their release.

The government had said earlier on Friday that the four Indians were “detained” at a check point, about 50 km from Sirte. The area from where they were kidnapped is under the control of the Islamic State, which has taken control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria and has declared itself a caliphate.

“Two days ago, on July 29 at around 11 pm, our mission in Tripoli came to know that four Indian nationals who were returning to India via Tripoli and Tunis, were detained at a checkpoint approximately 50 kms from Sirte. Of the four Indian nationals, two are from Hyderabad, one from Raichur and one from Bengaluru. Three of them were faculty members at the Sirte University and one was working at the Sirte University branch in Jufra,” the MEA spokesperson had said.

“We are in regular touch with the families concerned and all efforts are being made to ensure the well-being and early release of the four Indian nationals,” he had said.

The MEA, through its Head of Mission in Tripoli, is ascertaining the details regarding the incident. Official sources had told PTI no ransom demand has been made as yet.

Taking serious note of the prevailing situation, the Indian government had in July last year issued an advisory asking its citizens to leave conflict-hit Libya.

The latest incident came even as 39 Indians remain missing in Iraq. They were taken hostage last year at the height of the fighting between Sunni militants and government forces, and efforts to get their release have not yielded any results.

With inputs from PTI

Islamic State detains 4 Indians in Libya, 2 released

“MEA, through the head of mission in Tripoli, is ascertaining details,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. Of the four, three are faculty members in the University of Sirte and one works at a university branch,” he added.

A relative shows the photo of Balaram, who was abducted in Libya

AFP
Two of the four Indians detained in Libya by Islamic State (IS) terrorists have been released. “Four Indians abducted in Libya. I am happy we have been able to secure the release of Lakshmikant and Vijay Kumar. Trying for other two,” Union minister for external affairs Sushma Swaraj tweeted on Friday evening. The four , who have been in Libya for more than a year and were working at the university in Sirte. were detained at a checkpoint about 50 km outside the town late on Wednesday while on their way back to India. Two of the men are from Hyderabad and two from Raichur and Bengaluru in Karnataka.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “MEA, through the head of mission in Tripoli, is ascertaining details,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. Of the four, three are faculty members in the University of Sirte and one works at a university branch,” he added. The wife of one of the men still detained, Gopikrishna, said she had spoken to him last on Wednesday. “He said he was coming back via Tunisia. As he didn’t have a visa, he took a permission letter,” said Kalyani. MEA officials said the area where the men were detained is controlled by IS terrorists. They have seized large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Officials said the government had, in July last year, issued an advisory asking its citizens to leave Libya. The fact that the Indians who have been kidnapped started working in the country a year ago suggested that they had ignored the warning, said officials. Already 39 Indian construction workers are missing in Iraq. They were taken hostage last year by the IS.

Four Indians abducted in Libya’s Sirte: All you need to know

The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday confirmed that four Indians had been abducted in Libya’s Sirte.

While it is suspected that Islamic State is responsible for the abductions, the MEA has yet to confirm the speculation.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

This comes despite an advisory issued by the Indian government in 2014 which asked its citizens to leave Libya.

Here is all you need to know about the abductions:

— Among the four Indians, one is from Raichur, one from Bengaluru and two from Hyderabad.

— MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup told the media that three of them were teaching at the University of Sirte, and one of them was working at the university’s Jufra branch.

— Swarup said that they were informed about the abduction by the Indian mission in Tripoli at 11 pm on 29 July.

— The Indians were reportedly returning to India from Tripoli and Tunis, when they were detained at a checkpoint approximately 50 km from Sirte.

— The Indians were taken back to Sirte after being abducted.

— The MEA is in regular touch with its counterpart in Libya and with the families of those abducted.

— Official sources said that the area from which the Indians were kidnapped is under the control of the Islamic State, which has taken control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria and has declared itself a caliphate.

With agency inputs

Pakistan envoy’s Chandigarh visit cancelled

It is unfortunate that the high commissioner had to cancel his visit to Chandigarh,” said the spokesman of Pakistan high commission.

Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit

Following terrorist attacks in Gurdaspur, the Central government on Tuesday barred two Pakistani diplomats from visiting Chandigarh along with their high commissioner Abdul Basit. A Pakistan high commission spokesman said that following delay in permission from the ministry of external affairs (MEA) and refusing permission to the accompanying officials, Basit decided to cancel his visit to Chandigarh, where he was supposed to call on the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana.”It is unfortunate that the high commissioner had to cancel his visit to Chandigarh,” said the spokesman of Pakistan high commission. He said the MEA had given its approval to the Basit’s visit as late as 3 pm, but held the approval to the visit of his accompanying officers. “This is most regrettable,” the spokesman added. The high commissioner besides calling on the chief minister was supposed to address at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), an autonomous research institute, promoting social science research in India. He was also supposed to address students at the Punjab University and interact with business leaders and address mediapersons at the Press Club.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

MEA questions Khobragade’s integrity, says wrongfully got passports for daughters

New Delhi: Government has told the Delhi High Court that Devyani Khobragade, an IFS officer and former Deputy Consul-General of India in New York, obtained US and Indian passports for her two daughters in violation of law and without informing the external affairs ministry, which raises serious questions about her “trustworthiness and integrity”.

Devyani Khobragade. APDevyani Khobragade. AP

Devyani Khobragade. AP

“Devyani Khobragade’s (DK) submission that the US passports were only used for travel to USA does not in any way dilute the gravity and seriousness of her misdemeanours and blatant violations of the Indian Passports Act…

“In case, DK had any difficulty in obtaining US visa for petitioner 1 and 2 (her daughters), she should have brought the matter immediately to her employer, MEA, rather than resorting to dubious acts, which raises serious doubts about her integrity,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said in an affidavit filed before the court.

MEA also said “DK cannot and should not escape from consequences of her illegal acts.”

The affidavit has been filed in response to the court issuing a notice to MEA on Khobragade’s daughters’ pleas challenging revocation of their Indian passports.

Khobragade, on behalf of her daughters, had contended that the government revoked the passports without issuing them show cause notice or hearing them.

The court had, thereafter, stayed the 30 December 2014 order by which the government had revoked the passports.

In its affidavit, government has defended its decision to revoke the passports saying Khobragade obtained Indian diplomatic passports for her daughters by “suppressing material facts” which establishes that she “wilfully and blatantly violated the Indian Passport Act”.

“The fact that petitioners 1 and 2 had US passports while having Indian diplomatic passports is clear suppression of material facts that DK did not inform MEA and thereby, she violated provisions of the Passport Act,” it said.

Khobragade’s arrest when she was India’s Deputy Consul-General in New York on 12 December 2014 on visa fraud charges had triggered a huge row between India and the US.

The government has also told the HC that Khobragade as an IFS officer having 16 years experience “was expected to uphold the Indian Passport Act but has herself wilfully and knowingly violated the provisions of the Act for her own selfish interests, which shows her utter and scant disregard for rules
and regulations of Government of India.”

Government also said that by her conduct she also violated the Citizenship Act.

The government has also said that it has no issues if Khobragade decides to take the nationality of another country, to which their father belongs, for her two minor children and it would be willing to obtain Indian visas for them as and when they require it for travel to India.

Government also said that the provision of dual citizenship is only applicable to those children who were born outside India and as Khobragade’s daughters were born in Mumbai, they are not covered by this provision.

Khobragade had contended that a minor can have dual citizenship as per an amendment in Citizenship Act and will have to state their preference within six months of attaining the age of majority.

MEA, in its affidavit, has also said that Khobragade’s claim that the US passport came automatically to her children “is a clear attempt to mislead the court”.

Government said that with acquistion of US passports, the children have acquired US nationality as well as thus they ceased to be Indian citizens.

Khobragade, an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, was arrested in the US in 2013 in a visa fraud case and has already faced disciplinary proceedings here for allegedly acquiring US citizenship for her minor daughters.

She was arrested in the US on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid and later released on a $250,000 bond.

The issue had escalated into a full-blown diplomatic row between the US and India which had retaliated by downgrading privileges of certain category of US diplomats, among other steps.

PTI

IFS officer Devyani Khobragade meets PMO officials to discuss appeal against her in US

Former Deputy Consul-General of India in New York and IFS officer Devyani Khobragade on Friday met Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) officials to discuss her appeal against her indictment in the US for alleged visa fraud.

Devyani Khobragade. PTI

Devyani Khobragade. PTI

Sources told IBNLive that diplomatic negotiations are going on to resolve the issue. The report also said that the MEA is taking the case forward slowly until US prosecutor Preet Bharara demits office.

Khobragade, an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, had been arrested on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid, Sangeeta Richard, and had been later released on a $250,000 bond.

The issue had escalated into a full-blown diplomatic row between US and India, which had retaliated by downgrading the privileges of certain category of US diplomats, among other steps.

In May, the Delhi High Court had stayed a government order revoking Indian passports of the daughters of Devyani Khobragade for having US passports.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher had stayed the 30 December, 2014 order of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), saying it had revoked the passports without issuing a show cause notice or hearing them.

“Did you issue a show cause notice before passing the order of revocation? You can’t proceed in this fashion, that you revoke passport without giving hearing or issuing a show cause notice,” the court had said and added, “in these circumstances, impugned order (of 30 December, 2014) is stayed.”

The court had issued notice to Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on the plea by Khobragade’s kids and sought their replies by 8 October.

Till the matter is pending in court, the children would travel on their US passports and they will be issued visa by the Indian government when they wish to return, the MHA had said.

(With inputs from PTI)

IFS officer Devyani Khobragade meets PMO officials to discuss case against her in US

Former Deputy Consul-General of India in New York and IFS officer Devyani Khobragade on Friday met Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) officials to discuss her appeal against her indictment in the US for alleged visa fraud.

Devyani Khobragade. PTI

Devyani Khobragade. PTI

Sources told IBNLive that diplomatic negotiations are going on to resolve the issue. The report also said that the MEA is taking the case forward slowly until US prosecutor Preet Bharara demits office.

Khobragade, an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, had been arrested on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid, Sangeeta Richard, and had been later released on a $250,000 bond.

The issue had escalated into a full-blown diplomatic row between US and India, which had retaliated by downgrading the privileges of certain category of US diplomats, among other steps.

In May, the Delhi High Court had stayed a government order revoking Indian passports of the daughters of Devyani Khobragade for having US passports.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher had stayed the 30 December, 2014 order of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), saying it had revoked the passports without issuing a show cause notice or hearing them.

“Did you issue a show cause notice before passing the order of revocation? You can’t proceed in this fashion, that you revoke passport without giving hearing or issuing a show cause notice,” the court had said and added, “in these circumstances, impugned order (of 30 December, 2014) is stayed.”

The court had issued notice to Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on the plea by Khobragade’s kids and sought their replies by 8 October.

Till the matter is pending in court, the children would travel on their US passports and they will be issued visa by the Indian government when they wish to return, the MHA had said.

(With inputs from PTI)

UN’s decision to mark International Yoga Day shows ‘soft power’ of India: Sushma Swaraj

New York: UN’s decision to commemorate the International Day of Yoga underlines the appreciation for India and its growing soft power, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said UN's decision to mark Yoga Day showed India's 'soft power'. AFP

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said UN’s decision to mark Yoga Day showed India’s ‘soft power’. AFP

Swaraj, who addressed the first International Day of Yoga celebrations at the UN, also attended a function marking the day at the Hindu Temple Society of North America on Sunday.

The way the day was commemorated around the globe, “the world had made the first International Day of Yoga its own,” Swaraj said at the Hindu Temple Society of North America.

While yoga is one of India’s most important gifts to the world, the UN’s decision to commemorate the day underlines the appreciation for India and its growing soft power, she said.

Swaraj said the colour of the skin, religious or political affiliation or the nationality did not matter for the hundreds of thousands that performed yoga in the city.

“They were all united by the awareness of the power of yoga,” she said.

The External Affairs Minister said “today, we have made a good beginning” and the future is filled with immense possibilities.

She cited the benefits of yoga in the treatment of asthma, diabetes, drug addiction and heart disease.

“Yoga is about self discovery and self acceptance,” she said.

On Sunday, while addressing the International Day of Yoga celebrations at the UN, she had said yoga should not be seen as belonging to any particular religion and the ancient spiritual practice can serve as the “perfect antidote” to stem “negative tendencies” and move humanity on the path of peace in a world beset by violence and conflict.

“The entire world is one family, and we can unite it with yoga. At a time when ethnic conflicts and extremist violence are threatening to destabilise societies, yoga can serve as the perfect antidote to stem such negative tendencies and move us on the path of harmony and peace,” she had said.

Tens of thousands yoga enthusiasts around the world on Sunday took to mats in a symbol of universality of the ancient Indian spiritual practice as they marked the maiden International Day of Yoga.

21 June was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the UN in December last year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed the idea during his first address to the UN General Assembly in September.

The proposal was co-sponsored by 177 nations, out of 193 member states of the UN, creating a new record for the highest number of co-sponsoring countries ever for an UNGA Resolution of such nature.

PTI

What happens to India’s request for Lalit Modi’s repatriation?

Since 2012, the ministry of external affairs has been asking their British counterparts to help them trace and repatriate Lalit Modi, who had fled to London in 2010. A note sent to the British foreign office in 2012 said that Modi was wanted in a case involving violation of foreign exchange laws.

File photo.

Even as the government has solidly backed external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj in the wake of Opposition baying for her blood for helping the absconding former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi to obtain UK travel papers, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) is at a loss to understand whether to pursue the case of his repatriation with the British government.While everybody in the ministry agrees that she has been a rare minister, with a clear grasp of issues, who neither berates bureaucrats nor puts them down even in times of stress, they are shocked at her giving a miss to her own political instincts. “Instead of nudging the British government to issue travel papers, she could have very well asked her own high commission in London to issue Portugal specific papers to Modi to allow him to attend his ailing wife on humanitarian grounds,” a senior government official told dna.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The officials hastened to add that calling it a scam was an exaggeration, but yes the external affairs minister has been guilty of impropriety and working against a set protocol. Interestingly, her ministry is also custodian of official protocol.MEA officials say after many years they had found a capable and competent minister taking international interactions to the desired conclusion and knowing almost all MEA officials by name. But despite all her abilities, officials say, they are puzzled to understand why she chose to get embroiled in an avoidable controversy. Since 2012, the ministry of external affairs has been asking their British counterparts to help them trace and repatriate Lalit Modi, who had fled to London in 2010. A note sent to the British foreign office in 2012 said that Modi was wanted in a case involving violation of foreign exchange laws. It further informed the British government that his (Modi’s) passport had been impounded and that any diplomatic help he received could “adversely impact” India’s relations with the UK. Officials privy to the note said it was drafted under the instructions of ministry of finance, whose Enforcement Directorate is pursuing the case.While Swaraj’s tweets confirm that she had clarified to the UK that its award of travel papers to Modi would not hurt India’s relations with Britain, officials say, they have no idea, whether the 2012 note to the British government now stands overturned. Sushma tweeted that she told the UK high commissioner in New Delhi that “if the British government chooses to give travel documents to Lalit Modi, that will not spoil our bilateral relations”.The “humanitarian” aspect of the incident involves Modi’s wife, ailing from cancer. According to Sushma, Modi had contacted her in July 2014 — less than two months after the NDA came to power at the Centre — to tell her that the British government would not give him travel papers if India did not lift its objection. On June 26, 2014, British Labour MP Keith Vaz had written to Sarah Rapson, director of UK Visas and Immigration Department and to Lisa Killham, a senior home office official, asking for travel documents for Modi. But Killham wrote back expressing her inability, and on July 3, he was informed that the application has been rejected. But later on August 1, 2014, the documents are issued after Swaraj nudging.According to protocol, Sushma should have asked Modi to route his concerns through the Indian high commission, headed by former foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai. “She could have asked Mathai to issue him country-specific travel papers on humanitarian grounds — to accompany his wife to undergo cancer treatment,” officials said. It is believed that her communication directly with the British government sidestepping the Indian high commission had angered Mathai.Instead of contacting her own envoy or those in the know of things in the ministry, Swaraj says in her tweet, she conveyed to the British high commissioner in New Delhi (James Bevan) the change in India’s posture. It is also not clear whether she had contacted the ministry of finance or the Enforcement Directorate. Even Dawood and Win Chadha’s requests were grantedIn 1984, Dawood Ibrahim, wanted in a murder case in Mumbai approached Indian mission in Dubai for renewal of his passport. Despite opposition from the consul (visa and passports), SP Srivastava, opposing the renewal, the passport was granted. Dawood had taken refuge in Ajman. The don allegedly acquired a Belize passport later.2. In 2000, Win Chadha, the agent of Bofors wanted in the case, was given travel documents on humanitarian ground to return to India. He later died in 2001. His passport had been confiscated, and was living in Dubai

No talks with Pakistan as long as Lakhvi is free; Modi a proactive PM: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday denied any “flip-flop” in India’s policy towards Pakistan and said no talks can be held as long as Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi was walking free.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Modi was a proactive PM. PTI

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Modi was a proactive PM. PTI

In a major press conference, on completion of the government’s one year in office, Sushma Swaraj also discounted any speculation of being overshadowed by a “proactive PM” or of any change in India’s Palestine policy.

She answered a range of questions, ranging from why she kept a low profile, to the opposition criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s frequent foreign travels, to the testy India-Sri Lanka fishermen issue.

She also highlighted the government’s diplomatic outreach, saying that between Modi, herself and minister of state VK Singh, the three had interacted with 101 nations, including by visits, and interactions on the sidelines of multilateral events.

On Pakistan, Sushma Swaraj said there were no talks planned with Islamabad as of now and also discounted media reports about cricket diplomacy being launched between the two nations.

She said there was no “flip flop” or difference in the Pakistan policy between the home, defence and external affairs ministries.

On Lakhvi, she said: “If Lakhvi is outside and he is free and Pakistan thinks we will speak, will India ever accept that?”

“We are ready to resolve all issues in a peaceful manner through dialogue. The dialogue will be between two sides, no third party will be there or present in the talks; and talks cannot be held in the shadow of violence and terrorism, only in the atmosphere of goodwill,” she asserted.

“There is no change in our policy, we have told this to Pakistan always,” she said.

On the Sri Lanka fishermen issue, she spoke of the “very provocative statements” that emanate from Colombo on the issue and said India plans to convey that “such provocative statements vitiate the atmosphere and that we should first keep the atmosphere conducive before discussing the fishermen issue”.

Earlier this week, the ministry had voiced its displeasure after Sri Lankan Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said Colombo had rejected India’s proposal to allow Indian fishermen to catch fish in Sri Lankan waters for 65 days a year.

She also revealed that Modi during his China visit had raised “very strongly” the issue of the China-Pakistan economic corridor and told Beijing that it was “unacceptable”.

On the 39 Indians abducted in Mosul in Iraq a year ago, Sushma Swaraj said she has been following up on the issue and hoped to bring back the men soon.

“My only regret is that while we have evacuated thousands of our nationals from Iraq, Ukraine, Yemen, Libya, the 39 Indians remain in Iraq. I feel my wait will end very soon and we will be successful in bringing them back,” she said.

She said she has received written messages from eight sources of the men being alive and had conveyed it to the prime minister and her colleagues Arun Jaitley and Harsimrat Badal.

On working with Modi, she said she values a proactive prime minister.

“A proactive PM is a support, not a challenge. I take it as a support,” she said.

“The prime minister has not put any restrictions on anyone, least of all me.”

To the opposition criticism of Modi’s foreign visits, terming him an “NRI PM”, she said, “the perception is wrong” and added that there was not much difference in the number of visits by Modi and that by former prime minister Manmohan Singh.

Sushma Swaraj also said she will visit Jordan, Palestine and Israel this year and Modi would visit Israel too.

She said there was no change in the government’s Palestine policy and termed reports to the contrary as “wrong perception”. “We will never let down Palestine,” she said.

She also discounted that the government was following an obsessive foreign policy and said it was linked to the domestic policy and the government’s flagship programmes of Make in India, Digital India, Swachch Bharat, and Smart Cities.

IANS

Sushma Swaraj arrives in Indonesia to attend 60th commemoration of Asian-African Conference

Jakarta: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday arrived in Jakarta on a five-day visit to attend the 60th commemoration of the historical 1955 Asian-African Conference and the 10th anniversary of the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived in Indonesia. AFP

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived in Indonesia. AFP

The conference, which became the stepping stone for the Non-Aligned Movement during Cold War-era, is likely to adopt three declarations – Bandung message 2015: strengthening South-South Cooperation to promote world peace and prosperity, declaration on reinvigorating the new Asian African Strategic Partnership and declaration on Palestine.

Swaraj is accompanied by senior diplomats from the Ministry and would participate in number of bilateral and multilateral discussions during the conference in which 53 countries including 22 Heads of State are participating.

The Minister is likely to hold bilateral meetings with the President of Vietnam, President and Vice-President of Indonesia, Prime Ministers of Nepal, Singapore, Rwanda, Palestine besides her counterparts from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Morocco, Tunisia and Timor-Leste.

The 1955 conference led by Indonesia’s independence hero Sukarno brought together eminent leaders like Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, whose famous ‘Panchsheel’ doctrine was incorporated in 10 principles of international peace and cooperation in declaration.

She will also be part of historical walk in Bandung to mark the moment 60 years ago when leaders of 29 Asian and African countries walked together and joined hands in the First Asian African Conference.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi could not attend the conference because of ongoing Budget Session of the Parliament.

He had written to Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressing regrets for not being able to attend the meet.

In the letter, the Prime Minister also invited Widodo to visit India and said he was looking forward to visiting Indonesia at a mutually convenient time.

Asserting that he attaches extraordinary importance to the bilateral relations with Indonesia, Modi had said there was much in our proximity, history, culture and now, the sheer democratic values and our roles as two major emerging Asian nations that impart great strategic importance to our partnership.

Noting that in these 60 years, Asia has seen unprecedented economic progress, rise of democracy and elimination of poverty, Modi said yet it must still deal with unresolved questions and unsettled issues for enduring peace and prosperity in the region.

PTI

I was given a task and I have done it: Gen VK Singh makes triumphant return after Yemen success

As India’s vast evacuation mission in Yemen ended on Thursday, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said that he had completed the task that had been given to him by the Prime Minister Modi and the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

#WelcomeGeneral began trending on Twitter as India's Yemen operation ended. Image courtesy: Twitter

#WelcomeGeneral began trending on Twitter as India’s Yemen operation ended. Image courtesy: Twitter

“I was given a task by the PM and External Affairs Minister in Yemen and I have done it,” said Singh. “Around 5,500 Indians and 1000 foreigners were evacuated from Yemen,” he said.

“There are some Indians who didn’t want to leave Yemen. But we have evacuated all those who wanted to leave,” said the former army chief. “There has been firing around Sanaa. We faced difficulties during the operation but we completed the task,” he said.

Singh, who was in Djibouti to oversee the massive evacuation operation, has landed at the Delhi airport.

The External Affairs Ministry said a total of over 5,600 people were evacuated under the rescue operation.

It said with the airlifting of over 630 persons from Sanaa today by three special Air India flights, India has concluded its air evacuation operations that had started on 3 April.

People on Twitter praised Singh for the evacuation mission as #WelcomeGeneral became one of the top trends on Twitter.

The youngest among the evacuees from Yemen was a six-day-old baby girl who arrived in Kochi early on Friday.

The baby and her parents, Raji and Sash Kumar, were rescued from Sanaa, according to NDTV. The baby girl Parvati was diagnosed with jaundice and was being stabilised on an incubator at a hospital in Djibouti. Dr Uma Nambiar, a civilian doctor, was looking after the baby and accompanied her on the plane back home.

The total number of Indians evacuated from largest Yemeni city of Sanaa by air crossed 2,900. They were evacuated by 18 special flights.

In addition, Indian naval vessels have also evacuated over 1,670 Indians from Aden, Al Hudaydah and Al Mukalla ports in Yemen since 31 March, the MEA said.

Indian Naval Ship INS Sumitra evacuated 349 persons, including 46 Indians and 303 foreign nationals from Al Hudaydah port on 9 April.

“The entire evacuation effort has resulted in the evacuation of over 5,600 persons. These include over 4,640 Indian nationals and about 960 foreign nationals from 41 countries,” the External Affairs Ministry said.

Yemen has been witnessing fierce battle between Saudi-led coalition and Shiite rebels, who have battled their way into various cities including Yemen in the former stronghold of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi who has fled overseas.

(With inputs from PTI)

Slumdog Millionaire author Vikas Swarup to take over Syed Akbaruddin as MEA spokesperson

Celebrated novelist Vikas Swarup, author of bestseller debut novel “Q&A” (on which Slumdog Millionaire was based) and career diplomat, has been appointed as the new official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs. He will take over on 18 April. The appointment order was issued late evening on 25 March.

Akbaruddin is due to be promoted as additional secretary very soon. Keeping that in view, he has been appointed as “Chief Coordinator” of the India-Africa Forum Summit. There will be a “Coordinator” as well and a joint secretary will fill that slot.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

The India-Africa Summit is scheduled to be hosted by New Delhi on 29 October. After this event, Akbaruddin is likely to given a high-profile ambassadorial assignment. He may well be India’s next High Commissioner in London, a post currently held by former foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai who completes his stint at the end of the year.

Akbaruddin is a 1985 batch Indian Foreign Service officer who is considered an expert on West Asia issues in India, and has served in various capacities in that region including being consul general at Jeddah from 2000 to 2004. He was the director at Foreign Secretary’s Office of the Ministry from 2004 to 2005. He has rich experience in nuclear-related issues and was on deputation at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna for four years.

Better known as Akbar, he returned to India in 2011. On 7 December 2011 he was named as the new spokesperson of the MEA. He had a month-long overlapping stint with the then Joint Secretary of the External Publicity Division of the MEA, and official spokesperson, Vishnu Prakash. Akbaruddin formally took over as the new JS (XP) on 7 January 2012.

Swarup, who is a 1986 batch IFS officer, was born in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh to a family of lawyers. He did his schooling at Boys’ High School & College, Allahabad and pursued further studies at Allahabad University in Psychology, History and Philosophy.

Swarup is best known as the author of “Q&A”, a debut novel that was a runaway success and an international bestseller that was translated into 43 languages. It was subsequently made into the Hollywood film “Slumdog Millionnaire”. The film was released in January 2009 and won eight of the ten Oscars it was nominated for, the largest number of Oscars won by any film since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King which won 11 Oscars in 2004.

Swarup’s subsequent novels “Six Suspects” and “The Accidental Apprentice” also proved to be runaway hits.

Swarup has been working in the MEA headquarters in New Delhi as Joint Secretary (UN-Political) since September 2013. His previous postings include stints in Ankara, Washington DC, Addis Ababa, London and Pretoria and as Consul General in Osaka-Kobe, Japan.

The post of MEA spokesperson is a hot seat and a live wire. Incidentally, MEA is the only ministry that has a full-fledged spokesperson who holds regular briefings.

This post assumes even more importance as Prime Minister Narendra Modi neither has a spokesperson nor a media advisor. Of late, JS (XP) has invariably been informally functioning as an extension of the PMO spokesperson.

Akbaruddin leaves very large boots for Vikas Swarup to fill, and has been the MEA’s best known and most efficient spokesperson yet.

‘Slumdog Millionnaire’ author Vikas Swarup to succeed Syed Akbaruddin as MEA spokesman

Celebrated novelist Vikas Swarup, author of bestseller debut novel “Q&A” (on which Slumdog Millionaire was based) and career diplomat, has been appointed as the new official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs. He will take over on 18 April. The appointment order was issued late evening on 25 March.

Akbaruddin is due to be promoted as additional secretary very soon. Keeping that in view, he has been appointed as “Chief Coordinator” of the India-Africa Forum Summit. There will be a “Coordinator” as well and a joint secretary will fill that slot.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

The India-Africa Summit is scheduled to be hosted by New Delhi on 29 October. After this event, Akbaruddin is likely to given a high-profile ambassadorial assignment. He may well be India’s next High Commissioner in London, a post currently held by former foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai who completes his stint at the end of the year.

Akbaruddin is a 1985 batch Indian Foreign Service officer who is considered an expert on West Asia issues in India, and has served in various capacities in that region including being consul general at Jeddah from 2000 to 2004. He was the director at Foreign Secretary’s Office of the Ministry from 2004 to 2005. He has rich experience in nuclear-related issues and was on deputation at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna for four years.

Better known as Akbar, he returned to India in 2011. On 7 December 2011 he was named as the new spokesperson of the MEA. He had a month-long overlapping stint with the then Joint Secretary of the External Publicity Division of the MEA, and official spokesperson, Vishnu Prakash. Akbaruddin formally took over as the new JS (XP) on 7 January 2012.

Swarup, who is a 1986 batch IFS officer, was born in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh to a family of lawyers. He did his schooling at Boys’ High School & College, Allahabad and pursued further studies at Allahabad University in Psychology, History and Philosophy.

Swarup is best known as the author of “Q&A”, a debut novel that was a runaway success and an international bestseller that was translated into 43 languages. It was subsequently made into the Hollywood film “Slumdog Millionnaire”. The film was released in January 2009 and won eight of the ten Oscars it was nominated for, the largest number of Oscars won by any film since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King which won 11 Oscars in 2004.

Swarup’s subsequent novels “Six Suspects” and “The Accidental Apprentice” also proved to be runaway hits.

Swarup has been working in the MEA headquarters in New Delhi as Joint Secretary (UN-Political) since September 2013. His previous postings include stints in Ankara, Washington DC, Addis Ababa, London and Pretoria and as Consul General in Osaka-Kobe, Japan.

The post of MEA spokesperson is a hot seat and a live wire. Incidentally, MEA is the only ministry that has a full-fledged spokesperson who holds regular briefings.

This post assumes even more importance as Prime Minister Narendra Modi neither has a spokesperson nor a media advisor. Of late, JS (XP) has invariably been informally functioning as an extension of the PMO spokesperson.

Akbaruddin leaves very large boots for Vikas Swarup to fill, and has been the MEA’s best known and most efficient spokesperson yet.

Stabbing of Indian techie in Sydney: Special detective squad probes incident

Sydney: Australia on Monday assured India that the perpetrators of the fatal knife attack on an Indian woman IT professional in a Sydney suburb will be brought to justice and a special detective squad has been assigned to probe the “brutal and cowardly” assault.

Prabha Arun Kumar was murdered on Monday. Courtesy: Twitter

Prabha Arun Kumar was murdered on Monday. Courtesy: Twitter

The assurance to probe the attack on 41-year-old Prabha Arun Kumar with utmost seriousness was given by New South Wales (NSW) Premier Mike Baird during a telephonic conversation with Sanjay Sudhir, Consul General of India in Sydney.

The NSW police has launched a probe following the stabbing of Prabha, who was on the phone with her husband in India, when the attack happened on Saturday in Westmead.

Sudhir, the victim’s husband Arun Kumar, and a representative of her employer Mindtree, an IT firm, had a meeting with the NSW police during which they were informed about a special detective squad being formed to probe the attack, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said in New Delhi.

The detective squad – Strike Force Marcoala – which comprises of police from Parramatta Local Area Command and State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad has been formed to investigate the death.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she was pained to know about the murder and that she was in constant touch with India’s Consulate in Sydney which is providing all help.

“I am pained to know abt murder of Prabha Arun Kumar in Sydney. Our Consulate is in touch with her Company there and we promise all help,” she tweeted. “I am in constant touch with our Consulate in Sydney. The Consulate is providing all help. I have just spoken to Mr Arun Kumar, husband of the victim. He is satisfied with the assistance from the Consulate,” she said.

NSW Premier Baird condemned the assault and expressed confidence that the police will bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice.

“I was shocked and horrified to hear about the attack on Prabha Arun Kumar and my thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends at this devastating time. I was particularly saddened to hear about the attack, which took place on Saturday just hours after I had joined the Indian community to celebrate Holi, the ancient Hindu festival of colours at Parramatta,” Baird said.

“This was a brutal and cowardly attack on a member of the public that is now being investigated by a dedicated team of police officers and detectives. I have every confidence that Strike Force Marcoala will use every resource available to help bring the perpetrators of this horrific crime to justice,” he said.

PTI

Maldives unrest: PM Narendra Modi’s visit to island nation under shadow

Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s proposed visit to Maldives on 15 March is under shadow due to the ongoing political situation in the island nation following the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed last week.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Maldives President Abdulla Yameen. PIBPrime Minister Narendra Modi with Maldives President Abdulla Yameen. PIB

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Maldives President Abdulla Yameen. PIB

With Maldives witnessing mass rallies and protests against the detention of Nasheed on terror charges, it is understood that a clear decision on whether Modi should visit the Indian Ocean island, which was initially part of the Prime Minister’s four-nation visit, has not been taken.

Meanwhile, officials have already announced the dates for Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Seychelles —the three other countries.

Maintaining that a final decision will only be taken after the return of the advance team from Maldives, the officials said, “usually for any multi-nation visit, the dates are announced together but in this case dates for only three countries have been announced. Therefore, it is very clear that Maldives’ trip is under shadow and is not clearly decided upon.”

Nasheed, 47, the country’s first democratically elected leader, was arrested on Sunday on terror charges for ordering the arrest of a senior judge in 2012. His arrest has triggered mass rallies and protests across Maldives.

In an earlier article, Firstpost consulting editor Rajeev Sharma had written that the Maldivian crisis also brings the Modi government face to face with harsh diplomatic realities arguing that Modi should immediately cancel his trip.

The tone and tenor of the ongoing trial of Nasheed is clear from the fact that the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives claimed on 26 February that independent doctors were not given the chance to examine whether Nasheed faced any injuries when he was dragged to court on 23 February.

The Ministry of External Affairs may well rush senior diplomats to Male to defuse the crisis but the writing is quite clear on the wall: that the Abdulla Yameen government is not prepared to budge from the position it has taken with regard to Nasheed’s arrest.

Under the circumstances, it won’t be advisable for PM Modi to travel to Maldives.

Maldives, a small-sized but strategically important neighbour, triggers a serious diplomatic challenge for the BJP government considering that the party had hauled the then UPA government led by Manmohan Singh over coal when the Maldivian political crisis had first erupted three years ago.

The Manmohan Singh government was accused of letting an ‘Indian government’ die its political death, slowly but surely. The UPA government had projected an image that it did not want to interfere in the domestic politics of a foreign country – though the strategic imperatives from the Indian point of view were to the contrary. In the process, India lost an important friend and ceded Maldives’ strategic space to rivals like China.

With inputs from PTI

I am here because of PM Modi, says rescued priest Father Alexis Prem Kumar

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Government set to accept NRI voting through electronic means

The government is set to accept the recommendations of a committee which has favoured voting for NRIs through electronic means. The government, which has firmed up its stand, is set to tell the Supreme Court soon that it supports e-ballot for NRIs, a senior government functionary told PTI.The issue is likely to come up before the apex court in the coming days. A committee comprising officials from the EC, Law Ministry and the Ministry of External Affairs had taken the opinions from all sections before submitting a report to the apex court last year.Any move to allow NRIs use proxy voting on the lines of defence personnel and e-ballot facility will require changes in the law. Under the proposal, NRIs will be sent ballot papers electronically and they will have to return it to poll authorities physically.Chief Electioner Commissioner VS Sampath had said recently that the MEA was opposed to the idea of allowing NRIs to vote at embassies as it will be difficult to allow such an exercise because, in some countries, the NRI population could be equal to the local populace and it will be difficult to hold such an exercise at the embassy. The functionary said misuse of the process can be checked by devising safeguards.”The committee is of the view that e-postal ballot, where blank postal ballot is transferred electronically to NRIs and returned by post, can be employed after validation of the process and pilot implementation in one or two constituencies and then be scaled up for parliamentary elections if found feasible, practicable and meeting the objectives of free and fair elections,” said the report given to the SC.