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

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

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No Indian casualties in Saudi fire incident: Sushma Swaraj

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

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

BJP assures prosthetic limb to woman who lost hand in Saudi Arabia

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After a month’s medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, she returned here on November 7

Kasturi Munirathinam, who lost her right hand after it was allegedly chopped off by her Saudi Arabian employer, was on Wednesday assured of support by Tamil Nadu BJP which also promised to take steps to provide her with an artificial limb.The 55-year-old woman, a native of Mungileri village in Vellore district, called on Tamil Nadu BJP chief Tamilisai Soundararajan at the party headquarters ‘Kamalalayam’ here. Munirathinam thanked her for her efforts to press the Centre to bring her back to Tamil Nadu and also urged the BJP leader to take steps for getting her pending salary from her employer.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the intervening night of September 29-30, the woman’s right hand was allegedly severed by her employer and the news broke on October 8. She had also sustained a fall from the building where she was employed.The episode created an uproar and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj took up the issue with Saudi Arabian government. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa also announced a financial aid of Rs 10 lakh to her.After a month’s medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, she returned here on November 7

Shiv Sena slams Arvind Kejriwal over his allegations against Arun Jaitley

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

5 Indian sailors abducted in Nigeria are safe, says external Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj

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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday said all five Indian sailors have been abducted by pirates in Nigeria but are safe.

File Photo
dna Research & Archives
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday said all five Indian sailors have been abducted by pirates in Nigeria but are safe.A day after Swaraj sought a report on the abduction of the Indian nationals, the minister said, “Our High Commissioner in Nigeria A R Ghanshyam met President of Nigeria on 12 December. He is making all efforts to secure their release.”I have the report on abduction of five Indian sailors in Nigeria. The contact with pirates is established. Indian sailors are safe.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Friday, a request seeking help was made on Twitter about five Indian sailors being kidnapped in Warri, Nigeria on December 11 and that they are still not freed, to which Swaraj had tweeted that, “I have asked for a report on the abduction of 5 Indian sailors in Nigeria.”

Sailors abducted in Nigeria safe: Sushma Swaraj

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

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

Netaji kin wants PM Modi to urge Putin to declassify KGB files

The Indian government has already decided to declassify all the files related to Bose from January 23.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

Ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit to Russia, two members of the Netaji family will meet Narendra Modi on Wednesday to request him to take up declassification of KGB files related to Netaji.”To get conclusive evidence about the fate of Netaji, it is very important for us to see the KGB files. These are old files and won’t get released unless the matter is taken up at the level of the Prime Minister,” Netaji’s grandnephew Chandra Bose told PTI. He said that during the meeting he and his sister, Madhuri, will try to impress upon Modi to personally ask Russian President Vladimir Putin about the classified files.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are sure that Netaji did not die in the air crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945. He either went to China or the erstwhile Soviet Union. The KGB files are therefore very crucial,” Bose said. Earlier in October, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had raised the issue with the Russian foreign minister during a meeting in Moscow. The Indian government has already decided to declassify all the files related to Bose from January 23.Bose said that during the meeting with Modi at Parliament House they will present him a new book ‘The Bose brothers and Indian independence, an insider’s account’ written by Madhuri Bose. The book looks at the life and times of Netaji and his brother Sarat Chandra Bose with unpublished documents sourced from the family’s private collection.”There are many letters and other writings of both the Bose brothers that my father Amiya Nath Bose had in his private collection. It has Netaji’s writings when he was in jail and letters which he wrote to Nehru and Gandhi. The book reflects their political ideologies,” Bose observed.

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

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

Image Courtesy: Twitter Video

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

Pakistan opposition alleges joint statement favours India

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

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

How South Asian rivals resumed talks

India and Pakistan agree to resume high-level talks, but can they achieve lasting peace?

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

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

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

Afghanistan seeks help to fight terror

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani tells a security conference in Islamabad that ‘regional and international terror groups’ are responsible for the violence in his country.

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

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

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

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

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

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj

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

Sushma Swaraj meets Sartaj Aziz in banquet for Heart of Asia delegates

After arriving here, Swaraj said relationship between the two countries should be better and that she will hold talks with Pakistani leaders to find ways to improve bilateral ties

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday met her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz during a banquet hosted by him for the heads of delegates participating in a multilateral conference on Afghanistan. Aziz greeted Swaraj warmly and both engaged in a brief conversation. Aziz later sat next to Swaraj. Swaraj arrived here on a two-day visit, primarily to attend the ‘Heart of Asia’ 5th Ministerial Meeting on Afghanistan tomorrow.She will hold talks with Aziz and call on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the conference tomorrow. The fifth ‘Heart of Asia’ conference, an annual gathering of Asian and other countries, is aimed at enhancing cooperation for countering security threats and promoting connectivity in the region. The high-ranking delegations from 14 participating states, 17 supporting countries and 12 international and regional organisations are participating in the two-day conference.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After arriving here, Swaraj said relationship between the two countries should be better and that she will hold talks with Pakistani leaders to find ways to improve bilateral ties. “I have come with the message that ties between the two countries should be good and move forward,” said Swaraj. Swaraj’s visit comes after talks between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan in Bangkok on Sunday, where they discussed terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir and a range of key bilateral issues apart from agreeing to carry forward the “constructive” engagement.

EAM Sushma Swaraj to visit Pakistan for multilateral conference tomorrow, to hold talks with Sartaj Aziz

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will travel to Islamabad on Tuesday on a two-day visit during which she will hold talks with her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz and attend a multilateral conference on Afghanistan.

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

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

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

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

All efforts made for release of 11 nationals from Kuwait: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi: India is making all efforts to secure the release of 11 Indian nationals, who were detained in Kuwait after loud noise while they were doing puja attracted the attention of neighbours, who in turn called police.

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

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

“We are making every possible effort to secure the release of 11 Indian nationals detained in Kuwait,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.

According to reports, the Indians were detained nearly a fortnight ago after the neighbours in the area called the police and complained about the loud noise.

Most of them are from the coastal region and are members of the Navachethana Welfare Association, Kuwait.

PTI

Modi in UK: Congress asks PM to take up Lalit Modi extradition issue with Britain

Taking potshots at the Prime Minister, Congress said this was the only visit where Modi can “fetch a lot for India in terms of concrete achievements”.

Congress on Thursday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take up the issue of former IPL chairman Lalit Modi’s extradition during his ongoing visit to UK and to ensure that the “fugitive” and “black money exporter” is brought back. Taking potshots at the Prime Minister, Congress said this was the only visit where Modi can “fetch a lot for India in terms of concrete achievements”. If Modi does not bring him (Lalit Modi) back, people will believe that “big Modi is helping the little Modi”, Chief Spokesperson of the party Randeep Surjewala said here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Congress party hopes and demands that Prime Minister takes up the issue of deportation of Indian fugitive and black money exporter Lalit Modi with his counterpart in UK,” he said here. Addressing a press conference at the Congress headquarters, Surjewala claimed that independent analysis show that Modi’s 29 foreign visit have brought back little for the country “except selfies, photographs and promotion of Brand Modi”.Pointing out the “links” of Lalit Modi to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje, the Congress spokesperson said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had “compounded the confusion” by his contradictory statements. He said Modi cannot hide behind technicalities of extradition law as the new Immigration Act of 2014 allows UK to deport any fugitive who is not its national. “Prime Minister is well advised to ensure that Lalit Modi is immediately deported and hopefully brought back to India simultaneously when Narendra Modi comes back. Otherwise India will believe what it always suspects that big Modi is helping little Modi,” he said.

Pakistan invites External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for key Afghan conference

Islamabad: Pakistan has invited External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for a crucial regional conference in Islamabad on Afghanistan, a move that could provide an opportunity for the two neighbours to mend their frosty ties.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

The ‘Heart of Asia’ conference will be held on 7 and 8 December, where representatives from Azerbaijan, China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the UAE are expected to attend.

Pakistan has also sent an invitation to Swaraj, the Express Tribune reported.

“A formal invitation has been sent to India and 25 other countries for the Heart of Asia ministerial meeting on Afghanistan to be hosted by Pakistan,” a senior Foreign Office official was quoted as saying by the paper.

An Indian diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed New Delhi has received the invitation but said the decision on whether the External Affairs Minister will attend the conference has yet to be taken, the paper said.

He said India is likely to send a high-level delegation headed by the minister given the conference’s importance.

The meet provides a moment to unfold the process for a dialogue between the two countries after recent hiccups in their ties.

Indo-Pak ties are going through a chill particularly after cancellation of NSA-level talks following differences over the agenda proposed by Islamabad, and a planned meeting between Kashmiri separatists and Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz.

India has also accused Pakistan of repeated ceasefire violations and of having a hand in recent terror incidents in Jammu and Kashmir.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, who were staying in the same hotel during their stay in New York in September for the UN General Assembly, did not meet on the sidelines of the summit.

Modi and Sharif had last met in Ufa, Russia, in July on the sidelines of the BRICS and SCO summits.

It is believed that Prime Minister Modi may be ready for talks with Pakistan after Bihar elections, where his party could not repeat the success it had in Kashmir last year, the paper said, citing analysts.

The Afghan conference will discuss the current situation in Afghanistan with particular focus on helping the war-torn country’s economy.

PTI

Now, another family in UP claims Geeta is their daughter

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

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

After PM Modi and Sushma Swaraj, Geeta meets Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal

New Delhi: Geeta, the young speech and hearing impaired woman who returned to India after being stranded in Pakistan for over a decade, met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi on Tuesday.

Geeta with Arvind Kejriwal. IBNLiveGeeta with Arvind Kejriwal. IBNLive

Geeta with Arvind Kejriwal. IBNLive

They met at the chief minister’s official residence during which Kejriwal interacted with the girl through sign language with the help of a facilitator.

On Monday, Geeta called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the evening after sharing the dais with the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj while interacting with the media on reaching India after over a decade.

Modi thanked Bilquis Edhi, the founder of the Karachi-based Edhi Foundation, for taking care of Geeta during her stay in Pakistan. He also announced to offer Rs. one crore to the foundation.

Sushma Swaraj also expressed her gratitude to the Pakistan government and the non-governmental organisation that took care of the young woman all these years.

IANS

Geeta Comes Home: Narendra Modi announces Rs 1 crore award for Pakistan’s Edhi foundation

Welcome back home, Geeta. It is truly wonderful to have you back home. Was truly a delight to spend time with you today… All of India will take care of you,” Modi said and assured that every effort would be made to trace her family as she embraced him warmly.

Narendra Modi with Geeta

Geeta, the mute and deaf girl, today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who announced Rs one crore to Pakistan’s Edhi foundation, which had taken care of her during her over a decade-long stay in that country. “Welcome back home, Geeta. It is truly wonderful to have you back home. Was truly a delight to spend time with you today… All of India will take care of you,” Modi said and assured that every effort would be made to trace her family as she embraced him warmly. The Prime Minister also thanked the Edhi family, whom he described as “apostles of kindness and compassion” for taking care of Geeta, a PMO release said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Complimenting Bilqis Bano Edhi, founder of the foundation, he said, “I don’t think any amount of words are enough to thank the Edhi family for taking care of Geeta with love and affection for so many years.” “What the Edhi family has done is too priceless to be measured but I am happy to announce a contribution of Rs 1 crore to their foundation,” Modi said. Upon learning that Bilqis was born in Junagadh’s Bantwa area in Gujarat, the Prime Minister invited her to visit Junagadh along with her family. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who was present on the occasion, also complimented Bilqis and the Edhi Foundation for the love and affection that they have showered on Geeta. ​With inputs from agencies

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

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

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

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

Geeta arrives in India. Image Credit: Twitter @MEAIndia

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

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

Here’s how Twitter reacted to Geeta coming home.

‘Inconceivable’ that India, Africa don’t have permanent UNSC seats, says Sushma Swaraj

It is also incomprehensible that India which represents almost one-sixth of world’s population and has all credentials to be a permanent member of the Security Council, is still out of it.

The Security Council continues to be representative of a world order of 1945 (AFP)

File Photo
Pushing for United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reforms, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday said it was “inconceivable” and “incomprehensible” that India and the African continent do not have a permanent representation in the elite club and that both need to work to remove this “anomaly”. She lamented that Africa despite being the largest continent in terms of number of the countries and India, which has one-sixth of the world’s population, still don’t have permanent membership of the UNSC.”A major issue in this context is that of UN Security Council reforms. The Security Council continues to be representative of a world order of 1945. It is inconceivable that the Security Council today does not have any permanent representation from Africa which is the largest continent in terms of number of countries. It is also incomprehensible that India which represents almost one-sixth of world’s population and has all credentials to be a permanent member of the Security Council, is still out of it. We all need to work together to remove this anomaly and media has an important role in this,” Swaraj said in her inaugural address of 3rd India-Africa Editors Forum.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Swaraj said India Africa and other developing countries need to work hand-in-hand in two critical areas- climate change and world trade – in the form of Conference of Parties (COP)- 21 on Climate Change in Paris and the 10th WTO Ministerial in Kenya in December this year. “In both these meetings also India, Africa and other developing countries will have to work hand-in-hand to ensure that our development agenda is not affected,” Swaraj said. She said 2015 has been a historic year for pushing forward South-South cooperation as India and Africa celebrated the 60th Anniversary of Asian-African Conference and the 10th Anniversary of the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership at Bandung.Earlier, speaking at the inauguration of a rose garden dedicated to India-Africa friendship in the national capital’s diplomatic enclave, Swaraj termed Africa as a frontier of “new opportunities”, adding “we are interested in Africa’s economic growth and its integration with global economy.”

India desires ‘dialogue’ but Pakistan uses terrorism as instrument: MEA

Swarup expressed contentment that the Haqqani network and the Lashkar-e-Taiba had been specifically mention for the first time in a joint statement by the US and Pakistan.

Swarup also talked about the seven-decade-old mystery surrounding Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose that was raised by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (File Photo)

PTI
Reacting on the recent US-Pakistan joint statement on terrorism, the Ministry of External Affairs on Friday said that it was a positive sign that the Haqqani network and the Lashkar-e-Taiba were finally mentioned, but slammed Nawaz Sharif’s charges that India had backed from a constructive dialogue with the hostile neighbour. “India has always desired resolution of all issues with Pakistan bilaterally through dialogue and peaceful means, but it is Pakistan which has chosen to use terrorism as an instrument of state policy,” MEA official spokesperson Vikas Swarup told the media here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Swarup expressed contentment that the Haqqani network and the Lashkar-e-Taiba had been specifically mention for the first time in a joint statement by the US and Pakistan, as India had been firm with their stand that both these terror organisations have been actively operating out of Pakistan. “You have also read the assurance about these two organisations and terrorism offered by Pakistan. We hope that they deliver on these commitments. In September 2014 and January 2015, the US and India had agreed to joint and concerted efforts to disrupt entities such as the LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammed, D-Company and the Haqqani network,” Swarup added.The MEA spokesperson also said that through this joint statement Pakistan should get the message that the international community is deeply concerned about their ‘support and sponsorship of terrorism’. However, on the matter of US support for funding for the Diamer Bhasha and Dasu dams located in Pakistan occupied Kashimir, Swarup asserted that India has always opposed the construction of the hydro-electric projects in the disputed region of Kashmir that includes PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan. “We oppose any developmental projects in an area that belongs to India but is forcibly under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. We have made this clear to all countries,” Swarup said.Talking about Pakistan Foreign Secretary recent statement that their nuclear program is mainly a deterrent against India’s conventional and nuclear military capability, Swarup said it was definitely a matter of concern given Islamabad’s history of ‘clandestine and illegal activity’ on the nuclear side and such an implication will have to be carefully monitored. “I do draw attention to the reference in the joint statement that President Obama and Prime Minister Sharif discussed, ‘nuclear terrorism’,” Swarup added.Speaking on the appointment of Retired Lieutenant General Nasser Khan Janjua as the new National security Advisor (NSA) of Pakistan, Swarup said that it was internal matter of the country. “As far as we are concerned, it is an internal matter for Pakistan and it is their choice who they want to make the NSA… We remain open to the NSA-talks as decided in the Ufa understanding,” Swarup said.Swarup also announced that Geeta (the mute woman who has spent over a decade in Pakistan) would be coming back to India on October 26, along with five members of the Edhi Foundation who looked after her in Pakistan. “On the 26 October, we will be bringing Geeta back to India, together with Geeta we have invited five officials’ family members of Edhi foundation. They will be treated as state guest during their stay in India,” Swarup said. “Geeta has already identified one family as possibly being that of her parents, we will be doing the DNA testing to establish conclusive proof if the DNA test match Geeta would be handed over to the family. If not, we have identified suitable institution where Geeta would be looked after,” he added.Swarup also talked about the seven-decade-old mystery surrounding Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose that was raised by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. “Lavrov said that he would see if Russia has any files pertaining to this particular subject and if so they would certainly tried to share them with us,” Swarup said.Commenting on the terrorism in Syria, he said that it had to be dealt with concerted, global action and there should be “no distinction between good terrorists and bad terrorists.””In so far, the political issues in Syria are concerned, then it has to be in accordance with the Geneva process. That is something that the international community has signed up to and we certainly support that,” he added. “Swarup also spoke on the upcoming Africa summit. He said, “There will be no agenda. There will be a plenary session where the media will be invited. There will be probably some kind of a declaration at the end of the summit which will tell you what conclusions were reached.”India has invited 56 countries and all of them are expected to be in attendance.

Nepal’s Deputy PM Kamal Thapa to meet Sushma Swaraj; to discuss ‘border protests’

Thapa will today be meeting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and discuss issues concerning both the countries.

Nepal’s Deputy PM Kamal Thapa

Wikipedia
Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Kamal Thapa, who is on a three-day visit to India, said he would discuss massive protests in the border areas with the Indian leadership.Thapa, who is on his first visit abroad, arrived yesterday in the national capital, days after Khadga Prasad Oli took charge as Prime Minister of the country after adoption of a new constitution that has sparked massive protests in the lowlandsThapa will today be meeting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and discuss issues concerning both the countries.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said, the visit will provide both the countries with an opportunity to discuss all issues of mutual concern as well as to review and further strengthen India Nepal relations.Tension between the South Asian nations has stirred up since Nepal adopted a new constitution on September 20, upsetting southern minority groups who fear being marginalised in a new federal structure.India had rejected Nepal’s contention that New Delhi has blocked a key border trade point with Kathmandu that had resulted in acute shortage of essential goods. The violent protests have claimed over 40 lives so far. The formal talks between the government and the Joint Madhesi Front (JMF) – the main agitating group – have formally begun in Kathmandu.The Madhesi community in Nepal’s lowlands, many of whom trace their origins to India, have imposed an economic blockade to oppose the promulgation of the new constitution. They are against the splitting of Nepal into seven provinces. Protesters have blocked thousands of trucks at the border with India, the main supply route into landlocked Nepal, while the road to China is still obstructed by landslides.

Employer did not chop off Indian maid’s hand, she fell off a building, claim Saudi cops

Riyadh: Riyadh police on Friday said that the Indian maid lost her arm due to a fall from a building and not because of an attack by her Saudi employer as was reported in India and elsewhere.

According to media reports earlier this month, Kasturi Munirathinam, 55, was allegedly attacked by her employer, which led to severe injuries and the amputation of her hand. The incident was quickly condemned by India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

A television grab of Kasturi in a Riyadh hospital. CNN-IBNA television grab of Kasturi in a Riyadh hospital. CNN-IBN

A television grab of Kasturi in a Riyadh hospital. CNN-IBN

“Chopping off hand of Indian lady – we are very much disturbed over the brutal manner in which Indian lady has been treated in Saudi Arabia,” the minister tweeted.

In a statement confirming the cause of the incident, Riyadh police said the maid made a rope ladder out of cloth in order to escape from the window of her employer’s apartment on the third floor of the building.

However, she lost her balance and fell down, hitting the edge of an electricity generator located in the lower part of the house. This resulted in her arm being severed there itself, police said.

Munirathinam arrived in Saudi Arabia nearly two months ago. She was suffering from mental disturbances and therefore tried to flee the employer’s house, the statement added.

The spokesman rejected “false and differing reports” in various media outlets about the maid, stressing that all people in Saudi Arabia are equal and enjoy all their rights guaranteed by the law.

According to the employer, Munirathinam was recruited to serve his mother who is 70 years of age and lives alone in an apartment in Riyadh.

IANS

Death toll of Indians in the Hajj stampede rises to 114, 10 missing

New Delhi: The death toll of Indians in the Hajj stampede has risen to 114 even as 10 nationals still remain missing after the last month’s horrific tragedy, one of the worst to hit the annual pilgrimage.

File photo of the Hajj stampede victims. AFPFile photo of the Hajj stampede victims. AFP

File photo of the Hajj stampede victims. AFP

“Haj stampede — Unfortunately, Indian toll is now 114 with 10 missing,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter on Sunday.

Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh was in Saudi Arabia last week for the identification process of the missing Indians by the Saudi authorities.

According to media reports, over 1,000 people have been killed in the stampede at Mina.

The Hajj stampede on 24 September broke out after two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other from different directions at an intersection close to the five-storey Jamarat Bridge in Mina for symbolic stoning of the devil.

It was the second major accident this year for Hajj pilgrims after a construction crane collapsed on 11 September at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing over 100 people, including 11 Indians.

PTI

Hajj stampede: Death toll of Indians rises to 114, says External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj

Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh was in Saudi Arabia last week for the identification process of the missing Indians by the Saudi authorities.

The Haj stampede on September 24 broke out after two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other from different directions. (File Photo)

AFP
The death toll of Indians in the Haj stampede has risen to 114 even as 10 nationals still remain missing after the last month’s horrific tragedy, one of the worst to hit the annual pilgrimage. “Haj stampede — Unfortunately, Indian toll is now 114 with 10 missing,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter today. Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh was in Saudi Arabia last week for the identification process of the missing Indians by the Saudi authorities. According to media reports, over 1,000 people have been killed in the stampede at Mina. The Haj stampede on September 24 broke out after two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other from different directions at an intersection close to the five- storey Jamarat Bridge in Mina for symbolic stoning of the devil.It was the second major accident this year for Haj pilgrims after a construction crane collapsed on September 11 at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing over 100 people, including 11 Indians.

Maldives hopes PM Narendra Modi will visit soon

We are facing some political tension in this country but at the same time the visit signals the close support that India has for Maldives and its continuation as a close friend of Maldives,” Maldives FM said

The FM said that the Maldives was “obviously” disappointed when Modi skipped Maldives on his tour to the region in March (File Photo)

dna Research & Archives
The Maldives government on Sunday expressed hoped that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would visit the country “very soon” as it admitted disappointment over his skipping the island nation on a tour to the region in March.Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon said the country was facing “political tension” and that the visit by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was a “signal” that India continues to be a close friend of the Indian Ocean archipelago. Describing the two-day visit by Swaraj as “extremely important”, Maumoon expressed happiness at the revival of the India-Maldives Joint Commission after a hiatus of 15 years. “As you know, we have five decades of very close bilateral ties. I think this is a very significant visit because we have revived the joint commission between India and Maldives.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are facing some political tension in this country but at the same time the visit signals the close support that India has for Maldives and its continuation as a close friend of Maldives,” she said after her delegation level talks with Swaraj. She said that the Maldives was “obviously” disappointed when Modi skipped Maldives on his tour to the region in March this year as they had made a lot of preparations. “I think the situation was such that it was a difficult time and I am very hopeful that he (Modi) would be visiting Maldives very soon in the near future,” she said.Asked if Swaraj had raised the issue of jailed former president Mohammad Nasheed during talks held with her or President Abdulla Yameen, she said, “I am not at liberty to divulge information. We had discussions on a range of issues. That is all I can say”.Nasheed, 48, was imprisoned for 13 years in March on terror charges related to the arrest of an allegedly corrupt judge when he was still president in 2012. A UN panel ruled last month that Nasheed’s jailing was illegal and he should be freed immediately and be compensated for his arbitrary arrest and detention by the government of President Yameen. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said last week that India hoped that a solution would be found to the situation involving Nasheed, now the Maldives’ main opposition leader.”We expect this situation to be handled in accordance with laws and rules of Maldives and hope that the outcome would be seen by everybody as being fair and just. I think that is the most important thing,” he said adding that India was committed to peace, stability and progress in the Maldives.

Saudi maid violence: Go abroad for jobs only through recognised agents, says Union Minister VK Singh

“Through the media, I want to tell people not to be misguided by agents to get jobs in foreign nations. People who go to other countries like this (through bogus agents) are not made aware of the rules of the country and what should be done at critical times,” he said in reply to queries about the incident.

Amid outrage over the Saudi incident where an Indian woman’s hand was chopped off by her employer, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh on Friday urged people to go abroad for employment only through recognised agents to prevent instances of exploitation.He cautioned people against being misguided by agents to get jobs in other countries.”Through the media, I want to tell people not to be misguided by agents to get jobs in foreign nations. People who go to other countries like this (through bogus agents) are not made aware of the rules of the country and what should be done at critical times,” he said in reply to queries about the incident.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He was talking to reporters here on the sidelines of an event at the Bombay Stock Exchange in Mumbai where he was felicitated for the success of ‘Operation Rahat’ conducted by the government in worn torn Yemen in April this year.”Talks are being held…,” Singh said without elaborating, when asked about the incident.The family of 55-year-old Kashturi Munirathinam, working as a domestic help in Saudi Arabia, has alleged that her right hand was chopped off by her employer when she tried to escape harassment and torture, evoking strong condemnation from India which demanded that a case of attempted murder be lodged against the culprit.Singh also cautioned people that they could get into serious trouble if they are not aware of the rules and regulations of the country where they seek employment.”People should make sure they only go to foreign countries through a recognised agent or don’t go at all. There is an awareness needed. Many people go through bogus agents and then these people are not made aware of things like the kind of employment they are getting into or the language of the country where they are going. This is where the problem starts,” he said.Munirathinam is currently being looked after in a Saudi hospital.Terming the incident as “unacceptable”, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the matter has been taken up with Saudi authorities.

Sushma Swaraj to visit Maldives for cooperation in energy, defence sectors

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will undertake two-day visit to the Maldives over the weekend to attend a meeting of the India-Maldives Joint Commission which will focus on cooperation in sectors such as energy, health, trade and defence.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj

Getty Images
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will undertake two-day visit to the Maldives over the weekend to attend a meeting of the India-Maldives Joint Commission which will focus on cooperation in sectors such as energy, health, trade and defence.The last Joint Commission meeting was held in 2000, which means that Swaraj visit will effectively reactivate the process 15 years later. The meeting would be chaired by Swaraj and her Maldivian counterpart Dunya Mamoon.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”While in Male, she will also call on President Abdulla Yameen and she will hold talks with Ministers of defence, economic development, and health,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. He added that the Joint Commission is a very important mechanism to review the multi-faceted relationship.”We expect the talks to give directions for enhancing trade and investment, meet developmental objectives in Maldives, discuss further cooperation in areas such as health care, energy collaboration and HRD,” he said.Swarup said the two sides would also discuss very close cooperation between India and Maldives on defence and security ties. Asked why the Joint Commission is being restarted, he said it was mutually felt that it was time to ramp up bilateral ties.Replying to a query on a recent bomb blast targeting the Maldivian President, Swarup said “we were very concerned when we heard about it. We immediately offered treatment facility in India and as per request of Maldives, we sent a three-member forensic team to conduct audit of boat to determine the cause of the explosion”.Talking about the ongoing trial of former Maldivian President Mohammad Nasheed, he said as the world’s largest democracy, India has always supported political pluralism and democracy in the country.”We expect this situation to be handled in accordance with laws and rules of Maldives and hope that the outcome would be seen by everybody as being fair and just. I think that is the most important thing,” he said. The spokesperson hoped that a solution is found and said India was committed to peace, stability and progress in the Maldives.

Sushma’s Maldives visit this weekend could pave the way for PM Modi’s trip to the country

India has finally warmed up to Maldives and its controversial regime of President Abdulla Yameen six months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi cancelled his scheduled trip to the Indian Ocean island country. As a signal of India’s rapprochement, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will be in the Maldivian capital Male this weekend.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

This was expected to happen sooner or later as India can’t ignore a neighbour and SAARC member like Maldives, particularly after contiguous neighbour Nepal has made life miserable for Indian foreign policy establishment in past few weeks.

The two sides found a novel idea of ending their political winter of sorts by deciding to revive the architecture of a joint commission between them which had been lying moribund for past 15 years.

Therefore, the official reason of Sushma Swaraj visiting Maldives on 10-11 October, as announced by MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup at his first stand-alone briefing in New Delhi on Thursday, is that she will be co-chairing the revived India-Maldives Joint Commission with her Maldivian counterpart Dunya Maumoon. This will be the first meeting of the joint commission since 2000.

Swaraj had met the Maldivian foreign minister in New York on 30 September on the sidelines of UN General Assembly where the two ladies had discussed their upcoming formal meeting in Male.

President Yameen has of late been extending an olive branch to India by heaping lavish praise on the country. Just about five weeks ago, President Yameen said his country shared an “unbreakable” bond with India. He sent strong positive vibes to India on 2 September by appreciating India’s generous assistance and the effort of his government to strengthen relations with India, as reported by the Maldivian media outfit.

Two months ago, Yameen had written a letter to PM Modi assuring him that his country’s recent constitution amendment legislation allowing foreigners to own land in Maldives was not in any way a move against India and assured that his country would do nothing to militarize the Indian Ocean. Yameen’s letter to Modi was in response to a letter the Indian PM had written to him after the Maldivian parliament had passed the constitution amendment legislation.

But the surprising thing about Sushma Swaraj’s upcoming visit to Maldives is that she won’t be meeting any opposition leaders. The Maldivian opposition is going through a harrowing time as Mohammed Nasheed, former President of Maldives and leader of the main opposition party MDP, is in jail since February this year after being convicted for terror charges. The Yameen regime has invoked censure from the West, particularly the US and the EU, apart from the United Nations.

PM Modi had cancelled his scheduled trip to Maldives in March this year only because of the unjust and barbarian treatment handed out to Nasheed by the Yameen government.

It is not clear why Sushma Swaraj won’t be meeting any opposition leaders in Maldives at a time when they are in acute distress and are looking forward to the world’s biggest democracy for help.

However, if all goes well and the two foreign ministers hit it off well, it may pave the way for PM Modi’s visit to Maldives. Indications are that the two governments are already working in that direction. In that sense, Swaraj’s visit to Maldives this weekend will be crucial.

Death toll of Indians in Hajj stampede rises to 74

Swaraj had earlier said 78 Indians are missing and the government is doing everything to locate them.

During Mina Hajj stampede

Reuters
The death toll of Indians in the Hajj stampede rose to 74 on Tuesday with Saudi authorities announcing more causalities, even as scores of people were still missing after the worst tragedy in 25 years to hit the annual pilgrimage. “Hajj stampede – Saudi Arabia has released a further list. The Indian toll is now 74,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Tuesday. Scores of Indians and people from other nationalities are missing since the stampede at the annual Hajj near the holy city of Mecca on September 24.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Swaraj had earlier said 78 Indians are missing and the government is doing everything to locate them. According to reports, tallies of the dead from foreign officials and media put the toll at 1,036. Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh has been rushed to Saudi Arabia to coordinate with the authorities there to trace the missing Indians. Singh was asked by Swaraj to leave on Monday after Saudi government informed India that it will be interacting with individual countries regarding their nationals -both dead or missing. The Minister of State will coordinate with the local authorities and strengthen the efforts of Consul General. The Hajj stampede broke out after two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other from different directions at an intersection close to the five-storey Jamarat Bridge in Mina for symbolic stoning of the devil. It was the second major accident this year for pilgrims, after a construction crane collapsed on September 11 at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing over 100 people, including 11 Indians.

Hajj stampede: VK Singh heads to Saudi to help Indians

The Minister of State will coordinate with the local authorities and strengthen the efforts of Consul General there.

Hajj Stampede

AFP
Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh is being rushed to Saudi Arabia to coordinate with the authorities there to trace the missing Indians in the Hajj stampede last month.Singh has been asked by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to leave tonight after Saudi government informed India that it will be interacting with individual countries regarding their nationals -both dead or missing.The Minister of State will coordinate with the local authorities and strengthen the efforts of Consul General there.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Hajj Stampede -General V K Singh, MOS External affairs is going to Saudi Arabia today to help Indian nationals,” Swaraj later tweeted.On Monday, Swaraj had tweeted that India has lost 58 nationals in the stampede while 78 were still missing.The Minister said the government was making every effort to locate its people.According to Saudi authorities, 769 Muslim pilgrims were killed in a stampede at the annual Hajj near the holy city of Mecca on September 24. As per reports, tallies of the dead from foreign officials and media put the toll at 1,036.The stampede broke out after two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other at an intersection close to the five-storey Jamarat Bridge in Mina for symbolic stoning of the devil.It was the second major accident this year for pilgrims, after a construction crane collapsed on September 11 at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing over 100 people, including 11 Indians.

Sushma Swaraj calls on Angela Merkel, meets her German counterpart

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel here before delegation level talks began between the two countries.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Image courtesy- AFPExternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Image courtesy- AFP

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Image courtesy- AFP

She also met German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted: “A personal warmth. Sushma Swaraj calls on Chancellor Angela Merkel, welcomes her before delegation level talks.”

“Preparing the ground. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and (German) Foreign Minister Steinmeier have an early morning meeting to begin engagements.”

Earlier in the day, Merkel was accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Merkel is on an India visit October 4-6. She is accompanied by a large delegation comprising cabinet ministers and businesspersons.

IANS

Death toll of Indians in Hajj stampede rises to 58

New Delhi: India has lost 58 nationals in the Hajj stampede in Saudia Arabia last month while 78 are still missing, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Sunday.

The Minister said the government was making every effort to locate its people.

Mecca. AgenciesMecca. Agencies

Mecca. Agencies

“Hajj stampede- We have lost 58 Indians. As many as 78 are missing. We are doing everything to locate our people,” Swaraj tweeted.

According to Saudi authorities, 769 Muslim pilgrims were killed in a stampede at the annual Hajj near the holy city of Mecca on September 24.

According to reports, tallies of the dead from foreign officials and media put the toll at 1,036.

The stampede broke out after two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other from different directions at an intersection close to the five-storey Jamarat Bridge in Mina for symbolic stoning of the devil.

It was the second major accident this year for pilgrims, after a construction crane collapsed on September 11 at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing over 100 people, including 11 Indians.

PTI

Sushma Swaraj thanks PM Modi for ‘inspirational’ message

In tweets, Swaraj also said that she was back from New York and would be travelling to poll-bound Bihar tomomrrow. “Thank you Prime Minister for your words of inspiration,” she tweeted.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his ‘inspirational’ message, a day after Modi praised her for ‘wonderfully’ highlighting India’s contribution to the UN.In tweets, Swaraj also said that she was back from New York and would be travelling to poll-bound Bihar on Sunday. “Thank you Prime Minister for your words of inspiration,” she tweeted.Modi had on Friday praised Swaraj for “wonderfully” highlighting India’s contribution to the UN during her speech at the UN General Assembly.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Just spoke to @SushmaSwaraj ji & congratulated her for the excellent speech at the @UN. A perfect articulation of key global issues,” Modi had said in a tweet. Apart from taking on Pakistan, asking it to shun terror to have dialogue with India, Swaraj also spoke about key issues including India’s initiative on climate change and urgent need for UN Security Council reforms.”Back from New York. I’m in Bihar tomorrow,” Swaraj said in another tweet on Saturday.

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.

UN fails to address new challenges to peace, security: India

She underlined that UN Security Council reform is the “most urgent and pressing need” in order to preserve the “centrality and legitimacy” of the UN as the custodian of global peace.

Swaraj underscored the need for including more developing nations in the decision-making structures of the Security Council (File Photo)

AFP
Pressing for UN Security Council reforms, India said the world body established 70 years ago appears to have become “ineffective” in addressing the new challenges to international peace and security. Addressing the UN General Assembly yesterday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the “historic” occasion of its 70th anniversary was an opportune time for “historic” outcomes. Targeting the world body, Swaraj said it “appears as an ineffective institution” when gauged on the parameters of whether it has been able to prevent conflicts, managed to find permanent solution to these conflicts or showing the path of peace to the world which is going the way of violence. “It has failed to effectively address the new challenges to international peace and security… when we ask ourselves whether we have been able to prevent conflicts taking place in several parts of the world, the answer is ‘no’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”If we ask whether we were able to find permanent solution to these conflicts, the answer is ‘no’. If we ask whether we were able to show the path of peace to a world which is going on the way of violence, the answer is ‘no’,” Swaraj said. She said the world today is ravaged by war in three continents with the Security Council being “unable or unwilling to stanch the flow of blood”. Traditional solutions that emphasise force, Swaraj said, have only proven to exacerbate problems. She underlined that UN Security Council reform is the “most urgent and pressing need” in order to preserve the “centrality and legitimacy” of the UN as the custodian of global peace, security and development. She also called for inclusion of more developing nations in the decision-making structures of the world body. “This is the need of the hour. How can we have a Security Council in 2015 which still reflects the geo-political architecture of 1945? How can we have a Security Council which still does not give place as a permanent member to Africa and Latin America?” she questioned.Swaraj underscored the need for including more developing nations in the decision-making structures of the Security Council and to change the way it does business by doing away with outdated and non-transparent working methods. “Imparting more legitimacy and balance to the Council would restore its credibility and equip it to confront the challenges of our times,” she said. She voiced India’s appreciation for the chair of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations Courtenay Rattray for putting on table a negotiating text, a significant achievement in over two decades of discussions. “This first, but critical step, must be the springboard for action in this historic 70th Session of the UNGA,” she said.

PM Modi praises Sushma Swaraj for ‘excellent’ speech at UN General Assembly

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday praised External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for her ‘excellent’ speech at the 70th session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Reuters
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday praised External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for her ‘excellent’ speech at the 70th session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).Addressing the UNGA, Swaraj said that in order to preserve the ‘centrality and legitimacy’ of the UN as the custodian of global peace, security and development, the reform of the Security Council is its “most urgent and pressing need.””This is the need of the hour. How can we have a Security Council in 2015 which still reflects the geo-political architecture of 1945? How can we have a Security Council which still does not give place as a permanent member to Africa and Latin America?,” she questioned.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Watch: Full speech of Sushma Swaraj at UN General Assembly​Taking to micro-blogging site, PM Modi tweeted, ” Just spoke to @SushmaSwaraj ji & congratulated her for the excellent speech at the @UN. A perfect articulation of key global issues.”He further said, “EAM @SushmaSwaraj has wonderfully highlighted India’s contribution to @UN & shared India’s vision of what UN must be in the 21st century.”Modi also said that Swaraj rightly emphasised on the need to end all forms of terror & make the world a peaceful place to live in, adding, “Fully agree with you @SushmaSwaraj ji, empowering the girl child is vital to bring about a change in society.”Also read: India rubbishes Pakistan’s 4-point peace formula at UN, says ‘give up terrorism and let’s talk’ Swaraj also rubbished Pakistan’s 4-point formula for peace and asserted that it is ready to discuss all issues if the neighbouring country addresses “just one” point of ending terrorism emanating from there as she proposed NSA-level talks to address the problem.She made it clear that terrorism emanating from Pakistan is hampering normalisation of bilateral relations as she underlined that “talks and terror cannot go together”.With agency inputs

dna Morning Must Read: From Sushma Swaraj’s speech at UN to latest in US campus shooting and more

1. India rubbishes Pakistan’s 4-point peace formula at UN, says ‘give up terrorism and let’s talk’
Rubbishing Pakistan’s 4-point formula for peace, India on Thursday asserted that it is ready to discuss all issues if the neighbouring country addresses “just one” point of ending terrorism emanating from there as she proposed NSA-level talks to address the problem.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Addressing the UN General Assembly, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj referred to the perpetrators of 26/11 attacks who continue to roam freely in Pakistan and pressed the world community to ensure that countries which provide finances, safe havens and arms to terrorists “pay a heavy price”. Read More
2. Pakistan submits dossier to UN alleging Indian’s hand in terrorismPakistan said it has handed over dossiers to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon containing “evidence” of alleged Indian involvement in terrorism in the country and links of its security agencies with the Tehrik-e-Taliban in Federally Administered Tribal Areas.Exercising its Right of Reply in the UN General Assembly late yesterday night in response to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s address, a Pakistani representative said it handed over yesterday to the Secretary General dossiers containing “evidence of Indian involvement in terrorism and fermenting instability in Pakistan. Read More 3. US: Nine dead, 20 wounded in shooting at Oregon community college; angry Obama blasts US gun politicsA gunman opened fire at a community college in southern Oregon on Thursday, killing nine people and wounding 20 others before police shot him to death, authorities said, in the latest mass killing to rock an American campus.Governor Kate Brown said the suspect was a 20-year-old man who was slain in an exchange of gunfire with police in Snyder Hall at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg following the rampage shortly after 10:30 a.m. local time (1730 GMT). Read More
4.In a first, Modi-Merkel to address joint cabinet meetingn another of his firsts on diplomatic front, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not only have a one-on-one meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she arrives here for a high-profile visit next week but the two will also chair a joint cabinet meeting involving top ministers of both governments. The aim of the join cabinet meeting is to fast-pace programmes and take decisions on haunting issues right away, without consigning them to bureaucratic files. Read More
5. Israeli PM Netanyahu launches all-out assault on Iran deal at UNIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used his annual United Nations address on Thursday to launch an all-out assault on the historic nuclear deal with Iran, warning that his country would never let the Islamic Republic join the nuclear weapons club. Speaking at the yearly gathering of world leaders at the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu reiterated Israeli criticism of a deal between Iran and major world powers aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear program. Read More With agency inputs

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to address UNGA

India has sought early convergence of the member states to provide details regarding their requirement for the SAARC satellite.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) today. Earlier, Swaraj participated in a meet of foreign ministers from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), where they agreed that India should go ahead with its proposed SAARC satellite project, even if all SAARC nations do not become a part of it.However, India has sought early convergence of the member states to provide details regarding their requirement for the SAARC satellite. Besides, the minister held four bilateral and four multilateral discussions with leaders of various countries and groups.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hosting a meeting of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) countries, Swaraj called for cooperation with CARICOM on text-based negotiations for the UN Security Council Reform. She also held bilateral discussion with her counterparts from Maldives, Sri Lanka and Syria, and participated in a meeting of the India-Gulf Cooperation Council here, where they discussed security issues, including the threat posed by international terrorism. Swaraj stressed on the need for early finalisation of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) at the UN.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for better ties with Caribbean, Latin-American nations

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday discussed UN Security Council reforms and coordination on global issues like international terrorism and climate change in her meetings here with leaders of Caribbean and Latin-American nations.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday discussed UN Security Council reforms and coordination on global issues like international terrorism and climate change in her meetings here with leaders of Caribbean and Latin-American nations.Swaraj hosted the India-CARICOM (the Caribbean Community) Foreign Minister’s meeting here on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.According to a tweet by Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup, Swaraj said “India’s ties with the Caribbean region are historic & civilizational and they share similar concerns & common aspirations for accelerated economic development & eradication of poverty (sic).”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”EAM calls for partnership with Caricom on text-based negotiations for UNSC reform; praises role of Chair of IGN (Inter Governmental Negotiations) Amb. Rattray of Jamaica (sic),” he tweeted.Swaraj also offered assistance to Caribbean countries in capacity building, IT, agriculture, pharma, SMEs, and many other areas.She then attended the India-CELAC (The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) Quartet Ministerial Meeting with her counterparts from Ecuador, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Barbados.”Our 2 way trade with CELAC is USD 46 billion. We should boost coop in energy, S&T, health care, agro chemicals etc,” Swaraj said, calling for India-CELAC coordination on global issues like international terrorism, climate change and UNSC reform.Undertaking “neighbourhood diplomacy,” Swaraj met Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera.She also attended a SAARC Foreign Ministers luncheon hosted by Nepal.Her other bilateral meetings included a “quick pull aside” with Venezuela Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez and Syrian Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Walid Almoualem.Swaraj will tomorrow address the general debate of the UN General Assembly session.

Hajj stampede: Death toll of Indians at Mecca rises to 45

Earlier, 13 more bodies were identified among the dead yesterday raising the death toll to 35. Swaraj had yesterday put the death toll in the Hajj stampede in Mina at 1090, much higher than the figure of 769 given by Saudi authorities.
File Photo
AFP photo
The number of Indians killed in the Hajj stampede rose to 45 on Monday as authorities identified 10 more bodies with 50 Indian pilgrims being treated for injuries in the worst tragedy in 25 years to hit the pilgrimage.”The death toll of Indians killed in Hajj stampede is now 45. We have 50 Indian pilgrims in various hospitals in Saudi Arabia,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.Earlier, 13 more bodies were identified among the dead yesterday raising the death toll to 35. Swaraj had yesterday put the death toll in the Hajj stampede in Mina at 1090, much higher than the figure of 769 given by Saudi authorities.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Saudi authorities have released photos of 1090 pilgrims who have died in Hajj stampede,” Swaraj had tweeted. The number of injured in the tragedy stands at 934.King Salman has ordered the formation of a committee to probe the deadly incident during the five-day pilgrimage in which around two million people from over 180 countries took part. From India, 1.5 lakh pilgrims performed Hajj.Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam that should be performed at least once in a lifetime by every Muslim who is financially and physically capable. The stampede broke out after two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other from different directions at an intersection close to the five-storey Jamarat Bridge in Mina for symbolic stoning of the devil. It was the second major accident this year for pilgrims, after a construction crane collapsed on September 11 at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing over 100 people, including 11 Indians.

dna Must Reads: From Modi in US to Pope Francis reaction after meeting sex abuse clergys

Modi in SAP center

Image credit: PIB
1. Live Updates | Today the world looks at India with hope & confidence, 21st century will belong to India: PM Modi at SAP CenterPrime Minister Narendra Modi is addressing Indian diaspora at a mammoth reception in San Jose’s SAP Centre. Tight security is in place for the SAP Center event as organisers are claiming that the arrangements are more elaborate than that at an airport. Read more here. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj puts Hajj stampede death toll at 1090External Affairs Minister Sushma Swarajon Sunday put the death toll in the Hajj stampede in Mina at 1090, including 35 Indians, much higher than the figure of 769 given by Saudi authorities. Read more here.3. Modi in US: PM Modi speaks at Facebook HQ; pitches India as ‘heaven’ for investorsProjecting India as a “heaven” for investors, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said his government is working on deregulation and ensuring ‘ease of doing business’ as he aims to convert the country’s economy from 8 trillion dollars to 20 trillion dollars. Read more here.4. Putin says Russia has no plans to deploy combat troops in SyriaRussia has no plans for now to deploy combat troops in Syria, President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday, addressing US concerns about a Russian military build-up. Read more here.5. ‘God weeps,’ pope says, after meeting clergy sex abuse victimsPope Francis confronted the sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic clergy on the final day of his first US visit on Sunday, meeting with five adults abused as children and vowing to hold accountable those involved in the crimes and cover-ups. Read more here.

Mecca stampede: Death toll of Indians rises to 22, some bodies yet to be identified

The Hajj stampede is reported to be the worst tragedy to hit the annual pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia in 25 years.

It was the second major accident this year for pilgrims, after a construction crane collapsed on September 11 at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site, killing 109 people, including many foreigners.
File Photo
AFP photo
The death toll of Indian pilgrims in Thursday’s Mecca stampede has risen to 22 and some bodies are yet to be identified, tweeted External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. The death toll reached 717 while over 800 are reportedly injured. The Hajj stampede is reported to be the worst tragedy to hit the annual pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia in 25 years.Of the 22 Indian victims, nine hailed from Gujarat, three from Tamil Nadu and one each from Telangana and Kerala. Four others are yet to be identified. At least 13 Indians were also among the over 800 people injured in the tragedy.Leading the criticism against Saudi Arabia, its regional rival Iran expressed indignation at the deaths of 131 of its nationals at the world’s largest annual gathering of people and suggesting Riyadh was incapable of managing the event. As the blame game erupted, Saudi Arabia on its part suggested pilgrims ignoring crowd control rules bore some blame for the stampede.Also Read: Hajj ritual: Here is all you need to know about ‘Stoning of the DevilKing Salman ordered the formation of a committee to investigate the incident during the five-day pilgrimage in which around two million people from more than 180 countries took part. The pilgrimage in which 1.5 lakh pilgrims from India also took part ends today.It was the second major accident this year for pilgrims, after a construction crane collapsed on September 11 at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site, killing 109 people, including many foreigners.

No bilateral meeting scheduled between Modi, Sharif in US: MEA

When asked if there will be a “deliberate attempt” to ensure that paths of the two leaders do not cross, Swarup replied in the negative.

File Image

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not have a bilateral meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif during his current visit to the US, officials said.”As of now there is nothing, no bilateral meeting on the schedule,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup told reporters in New York. Modi and Sharif are staying in the same hotel in the city – the iconic Waldorf Astoria. When asked if there will be a “deliberate attempt” to ensure that paths of the two leaders do not cross, Swarup replied in the negative.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There will be no deliberate attempt (at paths not crossing). If a hand shake happens, you will get to see it. If a pull aside happens you will get to see it,” he said. Sharif is slated to reach New York tomorrow evening.Modi will address the Sustainable Development Summit hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on September 25, when the new and ambitious post-2015 development agenda will be adopted.Sharif is scheduled to address the high-level meeting on September 27.Modi will be in California on September 26 and 27 and will return to New York on September 28, when apart from meeting US President Barack Obama, he will attend the high-level Peacekeeping Summit at the UN headquarters. Since Sharif will also be attending the summit, the multilateral gathering will provide a forum for the leaders of India and Pakistan to come face-to-face.Modi, who arrived in New York on Wednesday for his second US visit, will depart for India late September 28 or the early morning of September 29 but Sharif will remain in the city. He will address the annual debate of the General Assembly on September 30, a day before India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addresses the gathering of world leaders on October 1.

Shared democratic values key to Indo-US strategic partnership, says Sushma Swaraj

Tuesday’s India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue will see delegations of both nations holding discussions in areas of mutual interest and identify possible areas for collaboration.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Emphasising on the need for partnerships among nations to tackle terrorism, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said that shared values of democracy, freedom of speech and rule of law constitute key pillars of the Indo-US strategic partnership.”At a very fundamental level, our popular and bipartisan support in both countries and shared values of democracy, freedom of speech and rule of law constitute key pillars of our strategic partnership,” Swaraj said at the India-United States Strategic and Commercial Dialogue that is being held in Washington.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The emerging context of the India-US political, strategic, security and economic ties continues to be constantly shaped by international geopolitics, the strength of the Indian economy amidst global economic uncertainties and the need for partnership among democracies to respond to global challenges like terrorism,” she added.Swaraj further said that Indo-US ties were going through a busy phase.”It’s important we set timelines to achieve our targets, we look forward to busier schedules in months ahead. One of the defining characteristics of our bilateral agenda since last July has been purposeful action to implement decisions,” she said.Tuesday’s India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue will see delegations of both nations holding discussions in areas of mutual interest and identify possible areas for collaboration.The dialogue is seen as the most comprehensive mechanism for discussion and deliberation on the specifics of bilateral agenda of cooperation in different fields between India and the United States.Apart from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the Indian delegation comprises of Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman and Power Minister Piyush Goyal, besides senior Indian Government officials.

Sushma Swaraj calls for extradition of certain individuals from UAE to India

India on Wednesday pressed for extradition of certain individuals from UAE who are wanted here as the two countries reviewed the entire gamut of ties with focus on key areas of security, investment and trade.

Sushma Swaraj

India on Wednesday pressed for extradition of certain individuals from UAE who are wanted here as the two countries reviewed the entire gamut of ties with focus on key areas of security, investment and trade.The discussion took place at a ministerial commission meeting in Delhi which was held nearly a fortnight after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UAE where security cooperation was a major issue on the agenda during his talks with the Emirati leadership.After the meeting, which was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her visiting UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the two sides inked five MoUs including in the areas of telecommunications and tourism.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Briefing reporters, Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East) in the MEA said, the two sides discussed subjects under seven sub-committees in areas like, trade and commerce, investments, energy, petrochemicals, defence, security and combating crime, immigration and Indian community-related issues and “arrived on agreements to enhance our cooperation in these areas”.Asked if there was any list given for the extradition of individuals, he said no specific name was discussed but “these are ongoing discussions with UAE. As far as joint commission is concerned, specific cases were not taken up in this format.But it was agreed that we will continue with this cooperation.”There are certain requests pending from our side for extradition and also certain requests which have been made ..in this field.”He also said the UAE has come out in support of early finalisation of Indian-proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) at the United Nations and has assured that it will find “ways and means” to encourage other countries to reach a consensus.UAE’s support to India on CCIT is significant given the proposal at the UN has been opposed by many OIC countries, including Pakistan, who do not agree with the definition of terror and terrorists.The two sides also discussed the increasing threat of Islamic State (IS) and, in this regard, stressed that CCIT would be an important instrument to choke their finances and other sustainability modules. CCIT, a treaty proposed by India in 1996, aims at banning terrorists and make it binding on countries to deny funds and safe havens to them.

Top BJP Ministers, leaders at RSS meet in Delhi; OROP, Bihar polls, Patel agitation likely to be discussed

The meeting has acquired significance as it comes against the backdrop of ruling BJP involved in a bitter confrontation with the Opposition over the contentious land bill issue and the upcoming Bihar polls.

Arun Jaitley is present in the meeting

Top Union Ministers and leaders of BJP were in attendance on Wednesday as a crucial three-day co-ordination meet of RSS and its affiliates started in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also expected to participate with a host of issues including those confronting the Centre likely to come up for discussion.Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu, Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Ananth Kumar, Health Minister JP Nadda and other Union ministers attended the Sangh meet. BJP chief Amit Shah was also present. During the exercise, issues like spread of the organisation, census figures, One rank, One Pension (OROP) demand of ex-servicemen and the recent agitation of Patidars (Patels) in Gujarat are expected to come up for discussion.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The meeting has acquired significance as it comes against the backdrop of ruling BJP involved in a bitter confrontation with the Opposition over the contentious land bill issue and the upcoming Bihar polls.93 main functionaries of the RSS and its 15 affiliates are expected to “exchange notes” over relevant issues during the meeting. The participation this time is almost double the attendance at such events in the past.

UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon regrets India-Pakistan NSA-talks did not happen

The UN Chief had last week welcomed the talks between the NSAs and hoped that the dialogue would lead to positive outcomes.
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AFP photo
UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday expressed regret over calling-off of the planned NSA-level talks between India and Pakistan and hoped that leaders of the two countries will use “all opportunities” to resume talks soon.”The Secretary-General regrets that the planned meeting between the National Security Advisors (NSA) of Pakistan and India did not take place on 23-24 August. The Secretary-General reiterates his call to both countries to continue to address their differences through dialogue. He sincerely hopes that the leaders of the countries will use all opportunities to resume talks at an early date,” Ban’s Associate Spokesperson Eri Kaneko told PTI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan had called off the talks at the last moment after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had virtually given an ultimatum to Islamabad to give a commitment that it would not meet Kashmiri separatist leaders. The UN Chief had last week welcomed the talks between the NSAs and hoped that the dialogue would lead to positive outcomes.

Pakistan has violated the UFA agreement, says Sushma Swaraj

She further added that in the Ufa declaration, there was no reference to Kashmir and hence it will not be one of the topics discussed.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Addressing a press conference on Saturday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that India will stick to the issue of terror only and Kashmir issue will be discussed only later. Swaraj said, “Not all interactions between India and Pakistan can be considered ‘dialogue’. At Ufa, PM Narendra Modi and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif had agreed upon discussing terrorism and maintaining peace on the border. “She further added that at Ufa three meetings were decided. One was between DG BSF anf Pakistan Rangers for peace at the border, the other was of DGMOs for ceasefire violations. The third meeting was the NSA level talks on terror. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”India has always maintained that there will be no third party in Indo-Pak talks. Hurriyat cannot be a party. Sartaj Aziz should come if he agrees with India on the conditions made by us. India is not putting any pre-conditions. Only reminding there will be no talks on Kashmir now. It will be only on terror,” Swaraj said. She further added that in the Ufa declaration, there was no reference to Kashmir and hence it will not be one of the topics discussed. She urged that Pakistan respected the Simla pact and Ufa discussions. Swaraj also said that Pakistan has time till midnight to assure India that the talks will be on terror. If that doesn’t happen, then there will be no talks between the two countries. “No NSA talks doesn’t mean India and Pakistan dialogue will cease forever. Pakistan needs to understand what we are saying,” she said.

Indo-Pak NSA talks: Sushma Swaraj, Sartaj Aziz to hold press meets

The Pakistan NSA is scheduled to hold discussions with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval tomorrow and day after.

As suspense mounted over holding of the Indo-Pak NSA-level talks after both sides hardened their positions on the issue of Kashmiri separatists, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday called a press conference in Delhi.A day before his scheduled departure for Delhi, Pakistan National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz too has called a media meet in Islamabad at 1 PM (local time). Swaraj will meet the press at 4 PM.The Pakistan NSA is scheduled to hold discussions with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval tomorrow and day after.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While India has made it clear to Pakistan that a meeting between the separatists and Aziz was not appropriate, Pakistan reacted strongly to insist that it would not depart from the “established past practice” of interacting with separatist Hurriyat leaders.India has described the invitation to Hurriyat representatives as a “provocative action” and accused Pakistan of trying to evade its commitment to engage in a substantive discussion on terrorism as had been agreed between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Ufa (Russia) last month.It said that Islamabad’s insistence on meeting Hurriyat leaders as a pre-condition was a complete departure from the Ufa understanding. Moreover, India has always held the position that there are only two, not three, stakeholders in the bilateral relationship.Unilateral imposition of new conditions and “distortion of the agreed agenda cannot be the basis for going forward,” External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said yesterday.Pakistan had said last night that it was “deeply disappointed” at India putting forth “pre-conditions” for NSA-level talks, accusing it of going back on the decision mutually agreed at the highest level by coming up with “frivolous pretexts”.”This is the second time that India has chosen to go back on a decision mutually agreed upon between the two Prime Ministers, to engage in a comprehensive dialogue, by coming up with frivolous pretexts,” Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesman said.

Opposition MP poses 7 queries to Sushma Swaraj over Lalit Modi issue

Trying to turn the tables on the Opposition member, Swaraj had read out Premachandran’s letters to her for help to the mother of Pillai who had been in jail for 18 years for robbery and murder.

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A week after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj launched a counter-offensive against RSP’s NK Premachandran on the Lalit Modi issue, he has written an open letter to her asking seven questions on her “acts of commission and omission”. The Opposition member took on Swaraj for drawing parallels with his petition to her seeking government’s intervention in the case of Madhavan Pillai, who was serving a life sentence in Oman.Premachandran was in Swaraj’s line of fire in Lok Sabha after he demanded her resignation quoting an article in the Constitution to say that it was binding on ministers to discharge official duties without “fear or favour” and “without ill-will or affection”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Trying to turn the tables on the Opposition member, Swaraj had read out Premachandran’s letters to her for help to the mother of Pillai who had been in jail for 18 years for robbery and murder.In his open letter written to Swaraj on Thursday, the MP from Kollam, Kerala, drew “distinctions” between the two cases and said that while his request was on record as a plea to the government, she had “interceded at the behest of a fugitive from Indian law”.One of the questions he has posed before her was why the procedure complied by her office in the case of Pillai was not followed in the case of Lalit Modi. He said as a cabinet minister her “indiscretion was unconscionable and cannot be countenanced, particularly in the light of reports of immediate family members being recipients of direct favours from his person”.He also asked if it was for a cabinet minister to mediate with a foreign national to facilitate “favours as opposed to humanitarian gesture for a fugitive”, whether it had endorsement of the union government and if the Centre had authorised the minister to intercede on behalf of Lalit Modi if the Prime Minister had put stamp of authority on it.”If indeed the Prime Minister has approved the intervention, why is he so ominously silent on the entire episode?” he asked.Premachandran asked Swaraj if the intervention was a direct result of a “quid pro-quo ties maintained by the minister and family” with Lalit Modi. “Finally, does it not rankle and fester in your conscience that you had described an Indian citizen Pillai as a hardened criminal in Lok Sabha… when his mother and wife plead for compassion and mercy?” he asked.

GST Bill will ‘definitely’ be passed, says Prakash Javadekar

Javadekar blamed the Congress and the Left for the washout, especially in the Rajya Sabha, where no legislative business could be transacted.

Prakash Javadekar

A day after Parliament was adjourned sine die, the government on Friday came down heavily on the Congress, blaming it for the near washout of the monsoon session and asserted that the GST Bill will “definitely” be passed.”I tell you that GST Bill will definitely be passed. You take it down. Even in the Rajya Sabha, we enjoy majority for GST,” Union Environment and Forest Minister Prakash Javadeker told reporters here. He also hinted that a special session could be called for passage of GST. Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were adjourned sine die on Thursday and the two Houses have not yet been prorogued. “As you know this session has been adjourned sine die, but not prorogued,” he replied to a question whether a special session would be convened.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Javadekar blamed the Congress and the Left for the washout, especially in the Rajya Sabha, where no legislative business could be transacted. “They (Congress) created a balloon against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, but it deflated. They tried to raise the issue of Madhya Pradesh (Vyapam) and Rajasthan (Lalitgate), but failed in their attempt,” he said. The senior BJP leader alleged that the Congress had decided right from the beginning to stall the two Houses and said the party is still unable to overcome its defeat in Lok Sabha elections.”Like the British rule, the Congress had a notion that they will never get out of power, but with time they lost power in states and became irrelevant,” he added. The Congress agenda, Javadekar said further, always veered around the Nehru-Gandhi family. Javadekar said the Congress feared it would remain in political wilderness for the next 14-15 years as it was unnerved after the Modi government stormed to power with a thumping majority.He said while the Congress cried foul over suspension of 25 MPs from the Lok Sabha, they got 125 MPs “unnecessarily arrested” during the Emergency and never apologised.Javadekar also accused the Congress of “stalling the progress of the country” by disrupting Parliament. “Democracy is not in its nature,” he alleged. “They want to stall the progress of the country. When they were in power they used to hold up files… We have started giving approval to all development projects by taking states into confidence,” he said. He further alleged that the Congress did not want the country to prosper, thinking that it had a future only if poverty continued.”But the mentality of poor has changed, now they also want progress, therefore they elected Narendra Modi, which the Congress cannot digest,” he said. The Union Minister claimed that some non-NDA states too are on board on GST. When pointed out that even the BJP opposed GST when it was in the Opposition, Javadekar said: “At that time, our opposition was because of objections raised by many states, and we said they should be taken into confidence and a consensus evolved.”He added, “We created consensus among the states in one year. This is the difference.” The Minister termed the Congress as “anti-poor, anti-progress and anti-democracy”. “We will tell people all this. The Congress is hell bent on destroying the country,” he alleged.Pitching Jan Dhan and recently launched insurance schemes, Javadekar said the Modi government is pro-villagers and pro-poor. “We have a direct relationship with the poor, which others could not digest,” he added. On the Land Acquisition Bill, he said a Joint Committee examining the issue will submit its report in the winter session. “From the first day, we made nine changes. Whatever good suggestions came, we accepted,” the Minister said.

Sushma Swaraj highlighting other issues to sideline her own case: Congress

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday accused External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj of talking about issues that were as old as 30 to 35 years, rather than focusing on her own prevailing issue.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday accused External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj of talking about issues that were as old as 30 to 35 years, rather than focusing on her own prevailing issue.Whatever Sushma Swaraj has said, she has replied to the questions of 30-35 years back (Warren) Anderson, Bofors and other things. She has not replied to my questions which I raised, nearly nine questions. She did not reply, Kharge told ANI.It means that she wants to suppress all the facts and wants to highlight the other issues which had taken place during the UPA Government, just to sideline her issues and misdirect the people, he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Swaraj had yesterday taken the Congress party by the horns, defending her role in the former IPL chief Lalit Modi controversy that has seen almost the entire Monsoon session wiped out. I’ve not been blamed once in my 38-year long political career. My public life is spotless. It is the Congress that is guilty, not me. I repeat, I ve done nothing wrong. You shout we want justice but it’s me who needs justice, she said. I want to tell Rahul Gandhi.. you love going on holidays. On your next vacation, when you are alone, read the history of your family. And when you come back, ask your mummy, how much money did we get in the Quattrochi case,” she added. Quid pro quo is what happened during Rajiv Gandhi’s government. Who let Anderson fly out of the country,” she added.

Chidambaram rebuts Sushma Swaraj’s charge that his wife was involved in conflict of interest

The engagement was without the Finance Minister’s knowledge, says sources.

Chidambaram rebuts Sushma Swaraj’s charge that his wife was involved in conflict of interest

File Photo
Sources close to Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday dismissed the charge of conflict of interest when his wife appeared as a senior counsel for the income tax department in 2004 when he was Finance Minister or when she took up the case of a woman in connection with the Sarada chit fund scam case. Sources close to Chidambaram said his wife Nalini was engaged as senior counsel by the junior counsel of the Income Tax Department.She appeared for the department and not against the department. The engagement was without the Finance Minister’s knowledge. The CBDT issued a statement regretting the embarrassment caused by the engagement, they said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They also said Chidambaram made a statement in Parliament and tere was a discussion. At the end, the Speaker announced that the matter was closed. This was in 2004. It was never raised again. They were reacting to a statement in this regard by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the Lok Sabha while she intervened during a discussion on the Lalit Modi controversy. The sources also said Nalini Chidambaram was counsel for a woman in a Saradha scam case. She advised her in a transaction that was being negotiated. Finally, she advised her client against going through with the transaction. This had nothing to do with the Finance Ministry or Chidambaram. All this was explained about 3-4 years ago by Nalini Chidambaram, they said and asked “Where is the conflict of interest?”

‘This is murder of democracy’: Angry Sumitra Mahajan slams Congress over Parliament disruptions

New Delhi: Unabated uproar by Congress members in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday invited the wrath of Speaker Sumitra Mahajan who called their protests “murder of democracy” and “hijacking” the rights of 440 members by 40-50 others in the Opposition.

Mahajan also asked the Lok Sabha TV, which broadcasts live proceedings of the House, to show the “irresponsible” opposition members so that the whole country could see their behaviour.

Sumitra Mahajan. PTISumitra Mahajan. PTI

Sumitra Mahajan. PTI

The Speaker’s angry response came as protesting members intensified their slogan-shouting in the Well and the Chair refused to adjourn the House and deciding to continue with the work.

Many Congress members were seen raising placards close to the Speaker’s podium so that they could be seen on camera, prompting Parliamentary Affairs Ministry M venkaiah Naidu to launch an attack on the main opposition party Congress, before Mahajan too spoke against it.

“What is this happening? 20 people cannot dictate the entire House. Let action be taken. What kind of tamasha is this? They go to the Speaker’s house to protest and are now showing placards on the face of the Speaker,” Naidu said as Congress members raised slogans on their demands.

Naidu’s response came after BJP veteran L K Advani was too seen expressing concern over the disruptions to Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Naidu.

Congress is insisting that it would not allow Parliament to function till action is taken against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and BJP chief ministers Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan for their alleged role in Lalit Modi and Vyapam controversies.

As Naidu spoke, Mahajan lamented “what can be done” before attacking the protesting members, some of whom were apparently urging her to adjourn the House.

“Show them on TV. I am requesting the Lok Sabha TV. This is not the way. I won’t adjourn the House… Let people see what kind of behaviour they are showing. Let whole of India watch. 40 people are hijacking the rights of 440 members.

“This is murder of democracy. This is not democracy. 440 members want to talk and 40-50 members are not letting them. Let people know how irresponsible they are. The Chair has no wish of being seen on the TV. Let people watch them,” she said.

PTI

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