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Deputy engineer of Nashik Municipal Corporation goes missing

Officials said that Patil worked in the West Nashik office of the NMC and was part of the civic team that had demolished some encroachments in the city over the past few days.”

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–><!–end of breadcrumbx–>Deputy engineer of Nashik Municipal Corporation goes missing Nashik-Municipal-Corporation
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Updated: May 26, 2018, 10:33 PM IST<!–end of articllftpbx–>A deputy engineer of the Nashik Municipal Corporation today went missing from his residence here.Nashik Police Commissioner Ravindrakumar Singhal told reporters here that a note found in the car of missing deputy engineer Ravi Patil stated that the latter wanted to commit suicide due to the “pressure at work”.Singhal said that Patil (43) had left his residence at D’Souza colony here today morning after telling his family that he was going to attend the “walk with the commissioner” programme, in which NMC chief Tukaram Mundhe meets citizens to listen to their civic woes.Patil’s family had filed a missing person complaint at Gangapur Road police station, Singhal said, adding that a search had been mounted for the missing official.Officials said that Patil worked in the West Nashik office of the NMC and was part of the civic team that had demolished some encroachments in the city over the past few days.


Deputy Engineer

Nashik Municipal Corporation

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Government ready for talks with Hurriyat Conference leadership if separatists agrees: Rajnath Singh
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Government ready for talks with Hurriyat Conference leadership if separatists agrees: Rajnath Singh

Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said the government was ready to hold dialogue with the Hurriyat Conference leadership if the separatists come forward for talks.Singh, however, made it clear that so far there has been no indication from the Hurriyat that it was ready for peace talks with the government.”I have already said that we are ready for dialogue with all stakeholders in Kashmir. If Hurriyat comes forward for talks, we don’t mind talking to them. Whoever wants to talk with us, we are ready for talks,” he told a TV channel here.On whether there was any indication from the separatists leadership for peace dialogue with the government, Singh said, “There has been no indication so far.” The government’s special representative Dineshwar Sharma is holding talks with a cross section of people in Jammu and Kashmir, the Home Minister said.Singh’s comments came days after the government had announced suspension of operations against the militants in Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramzan that began on May 17.Past attempts to initiate dialogue with the Hurriyat had failed after the separatists amalgam demanded declaration of Kashmir as “disputed” and involvement of Pakistan in the dialogue.



Rajnath Singh


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Jammu: Five including two cops injured after grenade attack on bus stand

Two policemen were injured in a grenade attack at a bus stand on Jammu’s BC road.Early report suggest that five people, including two policemen were injured. The police has cordoned off the area.Earlier in the day, it was reported that schools in Schools in Kathua were to remain closed as Pakistan continued violating ceasefire along the LoC. Deputy Commissioner Rohit Khajuria said, “Firing has been on for the past 2-3 days, schools within 0-5 kms range of LoC to remain closed till the time firing continues.” Last week, 20 civilians were injured as Pakistani troops shelled Indian villages with mortar bombs by targeting hamlets and border outposts (BoPs) in Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts along the International Border (IB) in the Jammu region for the eighth day today, prompting a strong and effective retaliation by the BSF. An eight-month-old was killed.Hundreds of panic-stricken villagers fled their houses and took shelter either at the houses of relatives or relief camps set up by the government at safer places. All educational institutions in the affected areas remained closed.Over 700 such incidents have been reported so far this year, which have left 39 people, including 18 security personnel, dead and scores injured. Meanwhile, opposition National Conference (NC) today expressed concern over the shelling and called for peace along the border.




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Ceasefire Violation: Pak shells dozens of Indian villages, border outposts along IB in Jammu region; 20 injured

Twenty civilians were injured as Pakistani troops shelled Indian villages with mortar bombs by targeting hamlets and border outposts (BoPs) in Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts along the International Border (IB) in the Jammu region for the eighth day today, prompting a strong and effective retaliation by the BSF.Hundreds of panic-stricken villagers fled their houses and took shelter either at the houses of relatives or relief camps set up by the government at safer places. All educational institutions in the affected areas remained closed.”The Pakistan Rangers indulged in heavy and indiscriminate shelling of mortar bombs and firing of small arms and automatic weapons tonight, targeting villages in the Ramgarh and Samba sectors,” a police officer told PTI.Fifteen persons — 13 in the Ramgarh sector, two in the Samba sector — were injured in the firing and shelling in Samba district, he said, adding that of them, 11 were sent to the GMC Hospital in Jammu, while the remaining four were admitted to hospitals in the district.Earlier, five persons were injured in Pakistani shelling in Jammu district.While Kaushalya Devi (70), Madan Lal Bhagat (48), Des Raj (52) and Thudu Ram (65) were injured in the Arnia and R S Pura sectors of Jammu district, Aman Singh (22) of Bobiyan village was injured in the Hiranagar sector of Kathua district, officials said.They added that the firing from across the border was intense as 80 mm and 120 mm mortar shells hit dozens of villages, including Jora Farm — a hamlet of milkmen — in the morning.However, emergency services personnel managed to reach the villages along the IB here, despite the shelling, the officials said.They added that the firing had stopped at most of the places in the afternoon, but was still going on intermittently at a few places in Samba district.Earlier in the day, a senior Border Security Force (BSF) official said the firing and shelling had continued unabated throughout the night and spread to all the sectors — from Akhnoor to Samba — along the border.He added that the Pakistan Rangers suffered several casualties with a number of its bunkers getting hit during the skirmishes. “It has been learnt that one of the injured rangers has been shifted to a Lahore hospital, while two others are being treated at a local hospital,” the official told PTI.As the firing from the Pakistani side intensified over the last two days, the villagers living close to the border escaped amid mortar shell explosions, which caused massive damage to a number of houses, the officials said, adding that the exact number of houses damaged was being ascertained.Inspector General of Police, Jammu, S D Singh Jamwal said police parties were deployed and they were helping the people shift to safer places.Divisional Commissioner (Jammu) Hemant Kumar Sharma said relief camps were activated at safer places all along the border, especially in the worst-hit RS Pura and Arnia sectors.Hundreds of people had reported at these camps, set up in educational institutions and other government buildings, Sharma said.He added that adequate facilities were available at these camps, so that the displaced people did not face any problem.All schools vulnerable to Pakistani shelling have been closed along the border as a precautionary measure.The latest round of shelling had started on May 15, when the BSF foiled two infiltration attempts by Pakistan-backed infiltrators in the Samba sector, and intensified after Pakistan “pleaded” with the BSF to stop firing, after being pounded with heavy artillery that left a trooper dead across the border on May 20.So far, seven persons, including two BSF jawans and an infant, have been killed and 18 others injured in the Pakistani firing.Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed a spurt in Pakistani shelling and firing along the IB and the Line of Control (LoC) this year.Over 700 such incidents have been reported so far this year, which have left 39 people, including 18 security personnel, dead and scores injured. Meanwhile, opposition National Conference (NC) today expressed concern over the shelling and called for peace along the border.”Bullets and shells are causing enormous human sufferings and this has to be stopped by working towards heralding peace by adhering to the ceasefire agreement,” Ajaz Jan, provincial president, Youth National Conference, said.



Ceasefire Violation


Pakistan shelling

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Defecting MLAs should be banned from contesting polls for 1 term: Omar Abdullah

The National Conference leader also defended the Congress' tactics in Karnataka, reminding the critics about the role played by the BJP in Goa and Manipur last year. "Whether the Congress manages to form a government by supporting JD(S) or not, they shouldn't be criticised for trying. The BJP would be doing exactly the same thing if the positions were reversed," Abdullah said. "What about the other states where the BJP sneaked in through the back door? What's sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander," he said. ”

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–><!–end of breadcrumbx–>Defecting MLAs should be banned from contesting polls for 1 term: Omar Abdullah Omar Abdullah
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Updated: May 16, 2018, 05:57 PM IST<!–end of articllftpbx–> Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah today said MLAs who switch parties should be banned from contesting elections for one term in order to prevent horsetrading in the event of a hung house.He was apparently referring to the post-poll situation in Karnataka where the BJP has staked claim to form the government despite being seven short of simple majority. On the other hand, JDS leader H D Kumaraswamy also has staked claim to form the government with Congress’ support as the two parties have a combined strength of 115 MLAs. “Simply disqualifying defecting MLAs isn’t enough to stop horse trading since most of them come back with a mandate of their newly-discovered party. They should be barred from fighting elections for a period of not less than one term,” he tweeted.The National Conference leader also defended the Congress’ tactics in Karnataka, reminding the critics about the role played by the BJP in Goa and Manipur last year. “Whether the Congress manages to form a government by supporting JD(S) or not, they shouldn’t be criticised for trying. The BJP would be doing exactly the same thing if the positions were reversed,” Abdullah said. “What about the other states where the BJP sneaked in through the back door? What’s sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander,” he said.


Omar Abdullah

Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)

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Bangladesh proposes India’s induction as Organisation of Islamic Conference observer

Bangladesh has proposed restructuring of the charter of the Organisation of Islamic Conference to pave way for inclusion of non-Muslim countries like India as an “observer state”.The OIC is a 57-member grouping of Muslim majority nations.”A number of countries not OIC members, have large number of Muslims as their citizens . . . There is a need to build bridges with those non-OIC countries,” Bangladesh’s foreign minister Mahmud Ali said as his counterparts in the group joined in their annual council called Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) in Dhaka.He said the induction was needed so that a large number of Muslim population “do not remain untouched by the good work of OIC and “that is why, reforms and re-structuring is critical for OIC”.The Muslims may be minority in those countries, but in terms of number they often exceed the total population of many OIC member countries, Ali told the CFM after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina opened the meet yesterday.Officials and analysts said the proposal was meant mainly for India where Islam is the second largest religion with Muslims constituting some 10 per cent of the global adherents of the faith.Several OIC states countries and the secretary general of the grouping appreciated the proposal but experts said it could see opposition from Pakistan which had earlier opposed India’s induction. India, however, has fairly robust relations with most OIC member states.



Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC)

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Mongolia is India’s spiritual neighbour: Sushma Swaraj

Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday said that Mongolia is not only India’s “strategic partner”, but also a “spiritual neighbour” because of the common Buddhist heritage.Swaraj was attending a joint media briefing with Mongolian Foreign Minister D Tsogtbaatar after the 6th Session of the Indian-Mongolia Joint Committee on Cooperation. The two countries agreed to explore ways to identify new areas of cooperation in all sectors of mutual interest and to enhance bilateral trade and investments, she said.Swaraj is the first Indian foreign minister to visit the resource-rich, landlocked country in the last 42 years. She arrived in Ulaanbaatar on Wednesday.Swaraj said India will reconnect with Magnolia through Buddhism. “Buddhism has been a great connector of civilisations since millennia,” Sushma Swaraj said while addressing the birth centenary celebrations of Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, a highly-revered Buddhist leader and monk from Ladakh and a former ambassador of India to Mongolia.”Even though Buddhism originated in India, it spread across the mighty Himalayas to East Asia and across the seas in southeast Asia,” Sushma Swaraj said. “Eventually, it also made its way to Mongolia where it found a permanent abode for over two millennia.”Stating that India is once again reviving Buddhist connections to bring together all those who have adopted Buddhism, Swaraj said that one of the efforts in this direction has been to link the Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India for fellow pilgrims from the neighbourhood and beyond, including Mongolia.Stating that India has also offered to provide a statue of Lord Buddha to the Gandan Monastery in Mongolia as a token of the deep friendship between the two countries, Swaraj said India is also keen to invite Buddhist scholars and students “to visit India to discover our precious heritage”.Stating that India and Mongolia share a unique partnership, Sushma Swaraj said: “We are strategic partners, but more than that we are spiritual partners. This spiritual connection through Buddhism provides strength to our relationship. It is not a partnership of convenience but a relationship of trust and spiritual strength. Such partnerships, built on the strong foundation of friendship and mutual trust, are everlasting.”Till the early 20th century, Buddhism in Mongolia had met near-destruction without any signs of revival. But at the instance of Indian government, Bakula set up Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace (ABCP) with its headquarters in Ulaanbaatar in 1969. Later, he was appointed the ambassador of India to Mongolia in January 1990. He is fondly remembered as ‘Elchin Bagsh’ (Ambassador-Teacher) by the people of Mongolia. In 2001, when he abdicated the post, he was conferred with the Polar Star Award, Mongolia’s second-highest civilian award.YOU ARE WELCOMEStating that India has offered to gift a statue of Lord Buddha to the Gandan Monastery in Mongolia as a token of friendship, Swaraj said India is keen to invite Buddhist scholars and students “to discover our precious heritage”.
Sushma Swaraj




Bilateral Trade

Buddhist Heritage

D Tsogtbaatar

Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace

Polar Star Award

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Kathua Rape Case: J&K plans death ordinance for child rapist

Undeterred by pro-accused protests and demands for a CBI probe in the Kathua gang rape and murder case, the Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to promulgate the ordinance to make rape of minors punishable by death in the restive state. Since, J&K has a special status in the Indian Union under Article 370, the laws made by Centre are not directly applicable in the restive state. Therefore the Mehbooba Mufti government has decided to promulgate its own ordinance to make rape of minors punishable by death.”We have prepared the ordinance. We will do it in the next cabinet. We will be having our own ordinance which will be almost on the similar pattern that of the centre,”said Abdul Haq Khan, J&K Minister for Law.The ordinance will be placed before the Cabinet in Jammu next week . After the Cabinet nod, the state will forward the ordinance to Governor NN Vohra who will then issue orders of promulgation.The decision to bring ordinance has come nine days after J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti announced to enact a new law to make rape of minors punishable by death. “We will never let another child suffer this way. We will bring a new law that will make death penalty mandatory for those who rape minors, so that little girl’s case becomes the last,” Mehbooba tweeted.The Mehbooba government’s decision to promulgate the ordinance has come three days after President Ram Nath Kovind termed Kathua rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl as a “heinous and barbaric”.J&K Finance and Education Minister Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari even went a step further demanding death-plus for the rapists in the state. “We support the harshest measure. If there is more stringent punishment than capital punishment, it should be awarded. If there is any provision of on spot punishment in law, it should be invoked,” Bukhari said.The main opposition National Conference however reiterated the demand for calling special session of legislature to pass a law to make rape punishable by death. “Our party President has already asked for bringing in the law to ensure capital punishment to child rapists in the state assembly. We humbly ask this government to expedite the process and call a special session of the assembly for passage of the bill,” said Shameema Firdous, provincial president of the National Conference women’s wing.Why j&k wants to bring in an ordinanceWelcoming the Centre’s decision to promulgate ordinance to make rape of minors punishable by death, CM Mufti said her govt intends to bring similar laws. Since J&K enjoys special status under Article 370, the laws made by Centre are not directly applicable in the state.

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Death toll 12, as one more succumbs to injury in J&K

Even before the dust could settle down over the recent spate of civilian killings in the state, another youth succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.Amir Lone of Chattergul village, Ganderbal district had suffered grievous wounds during the clashes on April 3. After battling for life for 12 days, he succumbed to his injuries at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) on Sunday.With his killing, the death toll of civilians in mid-April has climbed to 12. They include two civilians killed by the militants in Hajin area of North Kashmir, 13 militants and 4 army men.Around 29 civilians have been killed since January this year in the Kashmir valley. The dead include six civilians killed by militants. Twelve civilians were killed near the gun fight sites and eight were killed during clashes.”The irony is that whenever Kashmiri people try to raise their voice against such killings, they are being targeted by bullets, pellets, PAVA and lethal weapons”, said Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Hurriyat hawk.Geelani expressed solidarity with the bereaved family of Amir and added that world community should voice in favor of distressed Kashmiris, who are being deprived of their fundamental rights,. “In civilized societies there is no justification for these merciless killings,” he said.Main opposition National Conference expressed serious concern over the unabated spate of civilian killings which they said had pushed the youth towards a path of unimaginable anger and hostility.”We are deeply concerned at the spate of unabated civilian killings in the Valley and at the Government’s shocking abdication of responsibility to prevent these killings. The State Government cannot blame the dead for dying,” said Dr Farooq Abdullah National Conference.

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Kathua gangrape: 2 BJP ministers, who tried to defend accused, resign

Two Jammu and Kashmir ministers from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who allegedly tried to defend the accused in the Kathua rape-and-murder case, on Friday resigned after huge outrage. The two ministers submitted their resignations to state BJP President Sat Sharma today. It is now the party’s call to take a decision on them.Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had expressed her displeasure and had asked the BJP to sack the two ministers, ANI reported, quoting sources. This comes shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence on Kathua and Unnao rape cases and said the daughters “will get complete justice.” Last month, the state’s Minister for Forest Chaudhary Lal Singh and Minister for Commerce and Industries Chander Prakash Ganga, both from the BJP, attended the event organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch in favour of the accused in rape-murder of an 8-year-old girl.The two ministers submitted their resignations to state BJP President Sat Sharma today.”Yes, the two ministers have submitted their resignation to me,” Sharma told PTI.He said a legislature party meeting of the BJP is scheduled to be held tomorrow in Jammu where the future course of action on this issue will be discussed.”We are going to discuss this and other issues at our legislature party meeting tomorrow,” Sharma said when asked if he was going to forward the resignations to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.According to reports, the two BJP ministers had gone to the place of agitation at Rasana in Kathua and had attended a meeting in support of the accused to demand a CBI probe in the matter.Earlier today, the BJP had defended the two leaders saying that they had been ‘misled’. “They should not have protested. They should have ideally not commented until an investigation was conducted. The J&K police conducted a thorough investigation and have arrested the accused,” BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi said at a press conference.The girl, who was from the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community, disappeared near her house in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, on January 10. Her body was found in the same area a week later.A Special Investigation Team, formed to probe the incident, has arrested eight people, including two special police officers (SPOs) and a head constable, who was charged with destroying evidence.The crime branch filed a main chargesheet against seven accused on Monday and one separate chargesheet against another accused, who was earlier said to be a juvenile, at a court in Kathua district on Tuesday.Earlier, opposition parties – National Conference and Congress – asked Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to come clean on the alleged involvement of two of her cabinet ministers in instigating trouble in Kathua region.While National Conference leader Omar Abdullah asked Mufti to sack her two cabinet colleagues, the Congress sought clarification on her stand on their involvement.Meanwhile, the PDP leadership will meet in Srinagar on Saturday to discuss the situation.(With PTI inputs)

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How would she know about Hindu-Muslim: Kathua rape and murder victim’s distraught father breaks down

The father of the minor girl who was raped and murdered in Jammu & Kashmir’s Kathua has questioned why the accused chose to rape a minor girl for revenge. “If they had to take revenge, they could have picked someone else. She was an innocent child,” he told the Indian Express, adding that the girl did not know the difference between left and right. “How would she know the difference between Hindu and Muslim?” he cried over the phone.According to the report, the family has now packed their bags and set off on a 600-km journey with their livestock up into the hills, like they do every summer.The girl, the youngest of three children, was adopted from the father’s sister when she was one after he lost two of his children, the report added. He recalls how she helped her mother with the chores, and how fond she was of animals, including the family’s horses, their two newborn lambs, and a dog she fed daily.Also readThere should be no victim shaming: Smriti Irani on horrifying Unnao and Kathua rapes Earlier, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi on Friday spoke out against the rape and murder of an eight-year-old in Jammu & Kashmir’s Kathua.In a video shared by the ministry, a ‘deeply disturbed’ minister has called for amendments in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, and has even asked for death penalty on those convicted of raping minors. The video, however, has since been deleted from the YouTube page.Also readKathua rape-murder case: After J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti, WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi calls for death penalty for rapistsThe minor, who belonged to the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community, had disappeared from a spot near her house close to Rasana village in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir on January 10.Earlier, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday announced to enact a new law to make rape of minors punishable by death.Also readRahul Gandhi to lead midnight candlelight vigil at India Gate to demand justice in Kathua, Unnao rape cases”We will never ever let another child suffer in this way. We will bring a new law that will make the death penalty mandatory for those who rape minors, so that little girl’s case becomes the last,” Mehbooba tweeted.Earlier Mehbooba promised that the law will not be obstructed by the irresponsible actions and statements of a group of people.”Proper procedures are being followed, investigations are on the fast track & justice will be delivered”, Mehbooba tweeted.The Chief Minister broke her silence after former chief minister and National Conference (NC) Omar Abdullah upped the ante and questioned Mehbooba for not sacking her two ministers who had joined the rally of Hindu Ekta Manch demanding CBI probe few months back.Last month Jammu and Kashmir Forest Minister Chaudhary Lal Singh and Industries Minister Chander Prakash Ganga had joined the rally of Hindu Ekta Manch and supported their demand for CBI probe into the incident.The issue also snowballed into a major controversy with three main parties – National Conference, Congress and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – slugging it out on Twitter.Congress president Rahul Gandhi today described the rape and killing of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua as “unimaginable brutality” that cannot go unpunished, and wondered how anybody can seek to protect the culprits.He also lashed out at the politics being played over the crime.”How can anyone protect the culprits of such evil,” he asked, adding that the violence against the child was a crime against humanity. “It cannot go unpunished,” he said on Twitter.”What have we become if we allow politics to interfere with such unimaginable brutality perpetrated on an innocent child,” he tweeted.

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Kathua rape case: Amid massive protests by lawyers, Crime Branch of J&K Police files chargesheet

Amid protests, the Crime Branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police filed the chargesheet against seven accused including police officials in the Kathua rape and murder case.”From our side, the Crime branch has filed chargesheet against seven accused. The chargesheet against the juvenile will be filed tomorrow,” Dr Shesh Paul Vaid, director general of police J&K, told DNA The body of the eight-year-old nomad tribal girl was found near the jungles at Rasana village of Hiranagar in Kathua district on January 17, a week after she went missing near her home in Kota village. Tensions rose when lawyers allegedly tried to prevent the Crime Branch from filing the chargesheet in the rape and murder case of eight year old tribal nomad girl at the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Kathua.Lawyers and other people staged a strong protest outside the court premises when the Crime Branch officials arrived to file the charge-sheet at Kathua. Sensing trouble, police reinforcements were immediately called in to provide security cover to the officials so that they could file the chargesheet. “Lawyers in Kathua Jammu tried to stop the J&K Police Crime Branch from filing a chargesheet in the case of the rape and murder of an 8 yr old girl but some “news” channels are happier reporting outside a chola bhatura shop”, tweeted Omar Abdullah, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister.BAR Association Kathua, however, said the Crime Branch could not succeed in filing the challan due to their agitation. “The agitation of BAR shall continue. The BAR has unanimously decided to keep work under suspension till April 12”, said Kirty Bhushan Mahajan, president of Kathua BAR Association.The high drama was witnessed against the backdrop of the Jammu bandh call on April 11 by the civil society groups and lawyers to pressure the J&K government to order CBI probe into the rape and murder case of the eight year old girl.High Court BAR Association of Jammu (BAJ) and civil society groups have called for Jammu bandh on April 11 demanding CBI probe in the rape and murder case alleging that the Crime branch is conducting investigation in biased manner and trying to extract the statements from the accused by force. “Crime Branch is conducting the investigation in an unfair and biased manner. Those, who have been arrested, are being beaten, harassed mentally and physically, to force them to give wrong statements. They are trying to concoct false story for communal divide”, said BS Salathia, president BAJ.More than seven people including two Special Police Officers (SPOs) and a head constable have been arrested in the case so far. SPO Deepak Khajuria alias Depu, 28, was arrested after Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Crime Branch found evidence about his alleged involvement in the case. Head Constable Tilak Raj was picked up by Crime branch sleuths after it was found that he had allegedly washed the blood and mud stained clothes of the eight year old victim before sending them for the forensic laboratory for the necessary tests. Police had earlier arrested a juvenile before the case was shifted to Crime Branch on January 23. Last month Sanji Ram, a 60 year old retired government employee, was absconding after his name figured during the investigation of the rape of murder case surrendered before the Crime Branch. Ram’s son was earlier arrested from outside the state.Under fire, Jammu and Kashmir government dragged National Conference into the issue asking them to clarify their stand on Congress. “Congress support to the Bandh call by bar association Jammu exposes its politics of running with the hare and hunting with the hound. Party’s stand on the issues raked up is painful though not unexpected. Time for its state allies National Conference makes position clear”, tweeted Naeem Akhtar J&K Works Minister and chief spokesman of PDP-BJP government.National Conference was quick to hit back denying any truck with Congress in the state. “This – coming from you Naeem Sahib – is rich, to say the least. We are not in an alliance with any party nor do we have to justify or rationalize the decisions of another party. Have you removed Lal Singh and Ganga from the Cabinet for supporting a rape a murder accused yet btw?” tweeted Junaid Azim Mattu, state spokesman of National Conference.

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United front critical to defeat BJP in 2019: Salman Khurshid

With just a year left to general elections in India, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid says the “unravelling” of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has begun and the popularity wave on which it came to power in 2014 is waning.Against the backdrop of the Dalit protests, the farmers’ agitation and high profile fraud cases, he said “we need to look at whether with this performance should (the BJP) be coming back” to power in 2019. “On that the clear answer is a no.” “I think that the unravelling of the BJP has begun and frankly I wouldn’t be complacent but I think they have a very, very, very tough 2019,” Khurshid told PTI here. The former Minister of External Affairs was in the city to address the 14th Annual India Business Conference at Columbia Business School hosted by the South Asia Business Association at the school.He said that there are “many big questions” about “social disharmony” in the country. “The manner in which the Dalits have reacted, now becoming more acceptable parts of an argument, people have become very self-conscious because of the manner in which the BJP had pushed Muslims to a corner on the minority issue,” he said, adding that the Dalit protests have really caught the people’s attention. Addressing the conference, Khurshid stressed that “things are changing” for the BJP from when it came to power in 2014 till now. “It is very clear that the popularity wave on which they came to power in 2014 is no where near where it was in 2014. That is more than clear but it hasn’t waned completely,” he said.Also readForget BJP winning 2019 polls, even PM Modi may lose Varanasi, predicts Rahul Gandhi He said the Congress has a “very good fight” in the upcoming “critical” elections in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. “If Karnataka goes our way as we hope it will, Rajasthan goes our way as we hope it will and Madhya Pradesh too, I think that will make a massive difference. However, we cannot take things for granted. It is important for 2019 for a united front to be up against the BJP,” he said.Khurshid added that UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is working very hard for a combination of parties coming together for the 2019 elections. “It is work in progress but I think we shouldn’t get complacent too soon.” In his address to the conference, attended by students, academicians, entrepreneurs and executives, Khurshid said the problem in India today is that people have been given a lot of promises but governments have not been able to deliver on those promises. “The governments will have to be careful and promise only as much as you can do because frustrated promises and frustrated people can be very disruptive of a democracy,” he said, adding that in India, people disagree on many social issues – from religion, police reform, language to opportunities for communities, reservations and reverse discrimination.”All these problems come to the Supreme Court. Every decision of the Supreme Court is then challenged on the streets of the country. We are in a crisis,” he said, adding that any government that will be in power would have to deal with such issues. He stressed that “dialogue and conversation” in a democracy are very critical. “You cannot have democracy only on numbers, democracy has to be on communication. The trouble in India today is that we have forgotten that communication is an integral part of democracy and we have restricted ourselves to numbers. Numbers can lead to dictatorship, numbers can lead to a defeat of democracy ironically. Democracy is about numbers and yet numbers defeat democracy,” he said.Khurshid voiced optimism that India will get back to discourse and dialogue and “get back to democracy as it should be – participatory democracy.”

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Centre working against interests of farmers, weaker section and minorites: Farooq Abdullah

Batting for conversion of LoC into ‘Line of peace and goodwill,’ National Conference president Farooq Abdullah today cautioned centre against taking the people of Jammu and Kashmir for granted and ignoring their legitimate aspirations. The claims that demonetization had put an end to stone pelting in Jammu and Kashmir have fallen flat as the youth were now taking to guns.The situation therefore cannot be allowed to drift anymore, Abdullah said, addressing a public meeting at Mandi in Poonch district. The former chief minister called for earnest initiatives to reach out to the people and urged the Centre to resolve the issues which are essentially political in nature and try to win over the alienated hearts and minds by shunning the policy of creating divisions . The MP reiterated the need for Indo-Pak dialogue and said Line of Control (LoC) should be converted into ‘Line of Peace and Goodwill’ to enable unhindered people to people exchange and trade between divided parts of Jammu and Kashmir.Sooner the two nations appreciate the ground realities better it would be for bringing thaw in the relations and ending hostilities of all sorts, Abdullah said adding the wars in the past seven decades have not changed the reality of LoC. He said the border hostilities were detrimental for both India and Pakistan and any full-fledged conflict would lead to devastation and destruction in the region. Abdullah said conversion of LoC into Line of Peace would benefit peoples living along the borders on both sides, who have been braving the brunt of hostilities. He referred to the unimaginable sufferings caused to border dwellers due to dislocation from their homes and hearths in the wake of shelling and cross LoC firing, stating that unfortunately this has become a routine for the past few years.Also readFormer J&K CM Farooq Abdullah sides with Shahid Afridi on situation in state; says killings must stopHe said the country is passing through a difficult phase as attempts are being made to divide the society in the name of religion and caste and by encouraging sectarian divide. He referred to the violence over dilution of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and said machinations are being engineered to end reservation. The present dispensation at the Centre is working against the interests of farmers, weaker sections, and minorities,” he alleged, expressing concern over growing suicides of peasants. National Conference President also blamed the PDP-BJP dispensation in Jammu and Kashmir for failing on deliverance front, saying developmental inertia has taken toll of various utility services. The lack of accountability and misgovernance have added to the miseries of the people, who are feeling let down on every front, he claimed.

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Mainstream parties attack terrorists over beheading of 24-yr-old shepherd

Separatists are in the line of fire from the mainstream leaders for not taking a stand against the gruesome beheading of 24-year-old shepherd Manzoor Ahmad Bhat by Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in Hajin area of North Kashmir’s Bandipora district.”The brutal killing of young Manzoor Ahmad is highly condemnable but should also serve as a reminder of where society is headed. The scourge of terror has hit a new low as the brutality of this act has left us all in shock”, tweeted Mehbooba Mufti, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister.Former chief minister and National Conference working president Omar Abdullah questioned the silence maintained by separatists over the brutal killing of Manzoor.”Any shut down call or call for ‘peaceful protests’ for Manzoor Ahmed who’s decapitated body was found in North Kashmir after he’d been abducted and killed by militants? No? I’m not surprised. The ‘unknown gunmen’ are conveniently termed to give cover to those who don’t want to/can’t criticise terrorist crimes”, tweeted Omar.Former chief minister even hit out at Pakistan and its leader Imran Khan for observing Kashmir Solidarity day. “What happens to “Kashmir Solidarity” and wanna be Imran Khans when people like Manzoor are inhumanly butchered? It’s so easy to flow with the tide, much tougher to swim against it”, he said.Junaid Azim Mattu, state spokesman of main opposition National Conference, said Manzoor had been kidnapped by terrorists who will be now conveniently referred to as “unknown gunmen”.”Manzoor Ahmed’s decapitated body found in Hajin. He had been kidnapped by militants who we will now conveniently refer to as “unknown gunmen”. I won’t. Our condemnations and anguish can’t be selective. These beastly murders are barbaric and murderers should be brought to justice”, he tweetedMattu noted that the day a Kashmiri newspaper headlines their front page with “Militants abduct, decapitate young man” rather than “Decapitated body found” or “Unknown gunmen abduct, kill youth” – will be a day this conflict takes the first step towards resolution. But who will bell the cat?On the other hand, separatists, who always remain ready to call for shutdown against the killings by security forces, have not any issued any protest calendar against the gruesome incident.Moderate Hurriyat Conference spokesman issued a two-line condemnation of the incident without naming those who did it.”APHC spokesman has expressed concern and condemned over the abduction and killings in Hajin young boys by unknown gunmen, the APHC spokesman said killing in all forms is anti-human,” reads a two-liner statement of moderate Hurriyat Conference.

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Nirmala Sitharaman to visit Russia in April; focus on military technical cooperation

"It will provide an opportunity to reinforce the traditional warm and friendly relations that exists between the two countries with particular reference to military technical cooperation," the statement said.”

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–><!–end of breadcrumbx–>Nirmala Sitharaman to visit Russia in April; focus on military technical cooperation Nirmala Sitharaman
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Updated: Mar 31, 2018, 03:35 PM IST<!–end of articllftpbx–>Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be travelling to Russia next week to attend the seventh Moscow Conference on International Security here.This will be her first visit to Russia in her capacity as the Defence Minister.During her three-day tour, between April 3 and 5, she will participate in the VII Moscow Conference on International Security, according to a statement from Indian Embassy here.Sitharaman will also meet her Russian counterpart Army General Sergei Shoigu, and other senior leaders, it said.”The visit is in keeping with the tradition of high level exchanges between India and Russia.”It will provide an opportunity to reinforce the traditional warm and friendly relations that exists between the two countries with particular reference to military technical cooperation,” the statement said.

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NIA lists separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son as prosecution witness in terror funding case

Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son, and the son of noted businessman Zahoor Ahmed Watali have been listed among the “prosecution witnesses” by the National Investigation Agency in a case related to terror funding in the Kashmir Valley.The NIA, which filed a charge sheet in the case in January this year, have named Watali’s son Yasir Gaffar at serial number 30 and Geelani’s son Naim-ul-Zaffar at serial number 37 in the list of prosecution witnesses submitted to a special court.The NIA has also submitted eight-page and four-page statements given by Ghaffar and Zaffar respectively to an NIA official during the course of investigation.Also readSyed Ali Shah Geelani steps down as Hurriyat chief, will chair Hurriyat ConferenceA statement given before a police official is not admissible as a primary evidence in the court.The charge sheet has been filed by the NIA against 12 people, including Lashker-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen terror group’s head Syed Salahuddin. Both of them are in Pakistan. Ten people arrested by the NIA in connection with the case include son-in-law of Geelani, Altaf Ahmed Shah, besides Watali.Also readED summons Syed Ali Shah Geelani for questioningThe probe agency registered a case against separatists in the Kashmir Valley on May 30 last year and also managed to secure confessional statements on the flow of money, especially from Pakistan, from some people related to the funding of terror activities in Kashmir.Geelani’s son, who had fled the state to Dubai, London and later to Pakistan after he was threatened by counter-insurgents, had appeared before the NIA on many occasions.Also readNIA summons Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s sons, ED Shabir Shah’s wifeHe gave a duly signed statement in which he gave several details, including the people he had met during his post-doctorate from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences.Watali’s son also gave a detailed statement about the business of his father and his associates, the officials said.The chargesheet also names 42 protected witnesses in its list of 232 people who would be examined during the proceedings. The witnesses have been protected under section 43(3) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act under which the name and address of the person is not mentioned during the court proceedings.Besides Shah and Watali, the NIA has arrested Geelani’s close aides Ayaz Akbar, who is also spokesperson of the hardline separatist organisation Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, Peer Saifullah, Shahid-ul-Islam, spokesperson of the moderate Hurriyat Conference, Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Nayeem Khan, Farooq Ahmed Dar alias ‘Bitta Karate’, photo-journalist Kamran Yusuf and Javed Ahmed Bhat.The NIA had registered a case on May 30 against the separatist and secessionist leaders, including unidentified members of the Hurriyat Conference, who have been acting in connivance with active militants of proscribed terrorist organisations Hizbul Mujahideen, Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other outfits and gangs, officials said.The case was registered for raising, receiving and collecting funds through various illegal means, including hawala, for funding separatist and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir and for causing disruption in the Valley by way of pelting stones on the security forces, burning schools, damaging public property and waging war against India, the probe agency had said in the FIR.The FIR had also named organisations such as the two factions of the Hurriyat, one led by Geelani and the other Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat, an all-women outfit of the separatists.Kamran Yusuf and Bhat were released on bail last week by a special court.

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Urdu faculty irked over not getting jobs abroad

Worried about losing teaching chances in universities out of India, Urdu teachers in the country are going to meet with officials in Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and ask them take remedial steps.Though India has almost five times the numbers of Urdu teachers as compared to Pakistan, when it comes to employment in Urdu departments in universities in northern and southern America and European countries like France, teachers from Pakistan are preferred. This is because of the perception that Pakistani teachers would be better as it’s their official language.India has Urdu department in around 14 central universities including Aligarh Muslim University, Jamila Milia Islamia, Delhi University and 32 state universities, taking the number of faculty in India to around 500, compared to 100-150 in Pakistan.This issue was raised in the World Urdu Conference currently going on in national capital. “We discussed availability of Urdu teachers across the world. Most universities out of India that have Urdu departments employ teachers from Pakistan, despite the fact that India has a much larger and better faculty of the language,” said Dr. Ateequllah, an Urdu professor from DU, one of the delegates at the conference.A Hyderabad University professor said, “India has almost five times the Urdu teachers in Pakistan but when it comes to employment abroad, Pakistani teachers get a chance. If Urdu has to flourish worldwide it is important that teachers from India, who have a good hold over the language, are employed in the right places.”URDU CONFERENCEA three-day World Urdu Conference in Delhi has seen participation from countries where people speak Urdu, except Pakistan, which stayed away due to a rift in relations with India.

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Vintage picture of Mahatma Gandhi auctioned at $10,000 sold for over $40,000

A signed vintage photo of Mahatma Gandhi, walking alongside Madan Mohan Malaviya, was sold at a US auction for USD 41,806 – more than four times the expected amount.Signed in fountain pen, “M K Gandhi,” the rare photo was taken after the second session of India’s Round Table Conference in London in September 1931.Reverse of photo bears two Associated Press of Great Britain copyright stamps, as well as collector’s ink notations identifying Malaviya and the date.The photo dates to a period in which Gandhi, suffering from pain in his right thumb, opted to write with his left hand, a temporary inconvenience that lasted from August 8 to December 19, 1931, according to US-based RR Auction.The photo was initially expected to fetch USD 10,000.”The autographed photo of Gandhi presents him as he is doing his life’s work. We are not surprised that this giant of the 20th century still resonates today,” said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction.As the delegate acting on behalf of the Indian National Congress, Gandhi attended the second session of the British-organised Round Table Conference, a three-part conference series held in London from 1930 to 1932, with the aim of discussing the ongoing constitutional reforms in India.Malaviya, who had formerly been president of the Congress and played a significant role in the Gandhi-led non-cooperation movement, joined him as a representative advocating for a free India.Recently, A letter written by Mahatma Gandhi, in which he discusses the nature of existence of Jesus Christ, went up for sale and could be purchased for $50,000.Typed in faint ink and with a bold, unaffected signature, the letter was part of a private collection for the past several decades and is now being sold by the Pennsylvania-based Raab Collection.”Jesus was one of the great teachers of mankind,” Gandhi wrote in the letter to Christian religious elder in the United States, Milton Newberry Frantz.Nathan Raab, principal at the Raab Collection, described the letter as the embodiment of Gandhi’s vision for a world of religions at peace. “His belief in Jesus as a teacher of mankind shows his efforts to find commonality with his fellow man,” he said.”This is one of the finest letters on religion that Gandhi ever wrote,” the Raab Collection said in a press statement.”Our research discloses no other letter of Gandhi mentioning Jesus to have ever reached the public market,” the historical-document dealer said.

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Not Jinnah, Nehru, Patel & Azad wanted Partition: Farooq Abdullah

National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah, has stoked a political storm after he blamed Jawahar Lal Nehru, Sardar Patel and Moulana Abul Kalam Azad for the Partition.”….It was decided that India will not be divided and there will be special representation for minorities — Muslims, Sikhs and others. (Mohammed Ali) Jinnah accepted but Jawahar Lal Nehru, Sardar Patel and Moulana Azad did not accept it. When it did not happen, Jinnah started again raising the demand for Pakistan,” said Farooq.The three-time chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir noted that had the three Congress leaders accepted the plan, “neither would there have been Bangladesh nor Pakistan. India would have been one country.”BJP and Congress went hammer and tongs against the National Conference leader.”Farooq Abdullah has been making such statements to be in the news,” said Professor Virender Gupta, state BJP spokesman. “It was Jinnah who said Hindus and Muslims cannot live together. Nehru, Patel and Azad asked Muslims not to leave because India is a secular state. Farooq is a founder of divisive politics and one of his party MLAs raised Pakistan Zindabad slogans. They are saying one thing in Kashmir and another in Jammu.”Congress questioned Farooq’s “politics of compulsion”. “History cannot be rewritten,” said Ravinder Sharma, chief spokesman of J&K Pradesh Congress Committee. “It was Jinnah’s Two Nation theory which led to the Partition. It was his father, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, who rejected Jinnah’s theory. Farooq is trying to misread the history and he has some political compulsion to do so.”

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Islamic State claims responsibility for killing policeman in Srinagar

Alarm bells are ringing in Kashmir after the radical Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the killing of a policeman in Srinagar on SundayJammu and Kashmir Police however played safe saying they are investigating the case and not sure about the claims made by Islamic State.Amaq News Agency of the Islamic State claimed that they assassinated the policeman in Srinagar. Militants had attacked the police guard at the residence of moderate Hurriyat Conference leader Fazal Haq Qureshi at Bilal Colony Soura in Srinagar outskirts on Sunday evening. Constable Farooq Ahmad was grievously injured in the attack and was immediately rushed to the hospital where he succumbed. A rifle was also snatched by the militants before fleeing from the spot.Qureshi, who heads the People’s Political Front (PPF) which is a constituent of moderate Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was left paralysed after he was shot at by militants in December 2009 . Qureshi had played a key role in the negotiations after Hizb-ul-Mujhadeen announced a truce in 2000 which however was withdrawn after 14 days. Qureshi was appointed interlocutor by the then Hizb operation commander Abdul Majid Dar. Qureshi led the team of Hizb commanders to meet the then union home secretary.Director General of Police, SP Vaid told DNA that they are not very sure about the claims. “I do not know about this claim. We are still investigating the case. We are still not very clear who has attacked”, he said.This is the second time when IS has claimed responsibility for any attack since November last year. Amaq News Agency of Islamic State had claimed that they carried the attack in Zakura area of Srinagar on November 17. A police sub inspector was killed and an SPO was injured in the attack. In the retaliatory action one militant Mugees Ahmad Mir was killed and another captured by the security forces.Last month Union Home Minister of State, Hansraj Ahir told Rajya Sabha :“As per the report, nothing has been approved on the ground that ISIS is operating in any part of the Kashmir valley.”

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‘Aadhaar helped cancel 3 crore fake, duplicate ration cards’

Nearly three crore fake and duplicate ration cards have been cancelled during the three years of the NDA government, CR Chaudhary, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution said today.It had also saved the country Rs 17,000 crore every year during this time, he added.Linking the ration card to the holder’s Aaadhaar number had allowed the government to clean up the system, the minister said.He was speaking at the 21st National Conference on e-Governance here.”Out of 23 crore ration cards in the country, 82% (19 crore) are linked with Aadhaar. We have removed 2.95 crore fake or duplicate ration cards in the country in the past three years which has resulted in a saving of Rs 17,000 crore annually. It has ensured that foodgrains are being delivered to the rightful person,” he informed.Chaudhary said that e-governance could help in increasing the ease of doing business in the country which, in turn, would help attract foreign investment.Telangana’s Minister of IT and Industries, KT Rama Rao, who also addressed the conference, said that 4,500 “Me-Seva” centres in the state were handling 1.5 lakh transactions every day.He informed that these centres had completed 10 crore transactions since they began seven years ago.He added that an upgraded version of the project, covering 180 government services, would be launched soon.He informed that 6,000 clearances had been given to industries under the state industrial policy called TS-iPass, and this involved an investment of Rs 1.2 lakh crore and had the potential to create three lakh jobs.

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At forensic conf, students seek answer to unemployment

Where are the jobs for us? This was the question that several graduates as well as students of forensic science asked the panel experts during a discussion on the subject on the last day of the 24th All India Forensic Science Conference held in Gujarat University.Many students complained that despite the mushrooming of forensic colleges, there were not enough jobs for them, with the majority often finding employment outside their field.Anshumali Gaikwad, a forensic science graduate from Mumbai said even the recruitment rules were framed in such a way that forensic graduates would be at a disadvantage. “Even in Forensic Science Laboratories, when experts are recruited they ask for pure science graduates. Even the test papers for recruitment to these positions concentrate on pure science questions instead of forensic sciences,”said Gaikwad.A faculty said the the interesting thing is that many times pure science graduates were hired for positions in forensic laboratories and the organisations then spent six months training them when in fact students trained in the field were sitting unemployed. “It is because the despite the mushrooming of colleges, not many people understand the field and its importance,” said the faculty.Gujarat university vice-chancellor Himanshu Pandya said the matter was taken up with home minister Rajnath Singh during his visit to the conference and he has sought concrete suggestions to facilitate forensic sciences and practitioners.Pandya also urged the students to incorporate pure sciences in their studies if they were to compete in the job market. He also admitted that there was a demand supply gap in the field with supply being more than demand.Rukmini Krishnamoorthy from Maharashtra FSL reminded the students that there was scope for forensic students even in the private sector.”It is mandatory for banks and insurance companies to have one forensic expert in their risk department. We have often approached private sector and found takers for our students,”s aid Krishnamoorthy.She also called for a the need for a forensic expert in every police station as that would help the cops in better evidence collection.”In the future the forensic experts help will be mandatory even for prosecutor sin seeking forensic report readings in the court,” said Krishnamoorthy.The students also complained that apart from having to compete with pure science students for a jobs in field in which they have specialised, they said the universities were also not being proactive in urging the government to change the recruitment norms.

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Won’t join Rajini if he’s saffron: Kamal Haasan

Actor Kamal Haasan, who is all set to launch his political party later this month, said he was unlikely to have an alliance with his friend and superstar Rajinikanth if he has a “hue of saffron”, in an apparent reference to the latter’s promise of ushering in “spiritual politics” in Tamil Nadu.”If this is the route he (Rajini) is going to take and if the hue he is going to acquire is to be saffron, then I can’t see a clear understanding. Unless there is some other explanation that he gives convinces my rational mind,” Haasan said while addressing the India Conference 2018 at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Haasan also launched his whistleblower website naalainamadhe.maiam.com.Haasan said that both their approach and general intent might be the good of the people but he believesd “there is a certain way in which the good will have to come to the people. I don’t like to take a detour.”He said that if his and Rajinikanth’s manifestos gel, then an alliance might happen for the betterment of the people but it was not likely.”I don’t think so because of the very fact that he in his first announcement made some statements which gave him a hue. Still I hope, it’s not saffron,” he said, referring to Rajinikanth’s promise to usher in spiritual politics in the state when he announced his decision on December 31 to float his own party to contest the next assembly election.When the moderator, journalist Barkha Dutt, asked whether Rajinikanth’s politics goes against his left leanings, Haasan, a self-proclaimed rationalist, said he did not lean on any side.”I like equipoise. That’s why my site is called Maiam (centre),” he said. He also ruled out a post-poll alliance.In his latest weekly column in a Tamil magazine, he hinted that he might not join hands with Rajinikanth due to ideological differences. Rajinikanth had on a couple of occasions said only time would tell if he would join hands with Haasan in his political journey.‘MEDIOCRITY IN TN’Haasan is all set to launch his party on February 21 in his native Rameswaram. Rajinikanth is busy appointing district level office-bearers for Rajinikanth Mandram (Forum). The two actors hope to fill the political vacuum created by the demise of AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa.

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RSS-affiliate BMS calls for nationwide protest against labour policies

RSS-affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) has given a call for a nationwide agitation on February 20 to protest against “anti-labour policies” and is rethinking to attend Indian Labour Conference (ILC) later this month.The Kendriya Karya Samithi (national executive committee or KKS) meeting of BMS held at Ambaji in Gujarat on February 8 has called for “nationwide agitation against the central government’s anti-labour policies”, BMS General Secretary Virjesh Upadhyay said in a statement today.He said that the KKS has directed all its unions to observe February 20 as ‘Black Day’ and hold union-level protest demonstrations, wear black badges and hold gate meetings.The KKS strongly condemns the central government for not keeping any of its promises made to the BMS delegation on November 17, 2017, after the historical Delhi rally.The protest is against negligent attitude of the central government towards labour problems, the BMS said.Indian workers belonging to different central trade unions have put forth burning issues of labour before the government but the Union Budget 2018 was totally silent about any of the issues raised by unions, it added.After a gap of three years, the 46th Indian Labour Conference is scheduled to be held on February 26-27, 2018, at New Delhi which will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The KKS has directed all its districts, states & industrial federations to hold dharnas, huge demonstrations at district headquarters, state capitals and industrial estates on February 26-27, 2018.In this connection, a huge demonstration before the ILC venue will also be organised at New Delhi on February 26 to mount pressure of the government to resolve labour issues.The BMS has been pressing for increasing honorarium to aanganwadi workers and bringing them under social security coverage; reimbursement of Cess amount to concerned labour welfare boards affected due to GST; enhancing EPS pension from Rs1000/per month to Rs5000 and providing special funds to Sick PSUs which can be revived.It has also sought a hike in income tax exemptions to salaried sections up to Rs 5 lakh; withdrawing anti-labour provisions bringing under the garb of Labour Law Reforms; hiking Unorganised Social Security fund up to Rs 2000 crore and implementation of Supreme Court verdict on Equal pay to Equal work.The BMS demands the central government to review the budget immediately and take steps to redress the grievances.If, the Union Government does not take any step before February 25, 2018, the BMS will rethink its participation in the forthcoming Indian Labour Conference, it added.

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Mehbooba Mufti govt thwarts separatists’ march to Shopian, DM issues prohibitory orders

Jammu and Kashmir government has launched a major clampdown to thwart the separatists’ march to Shopian against the civilian killings on Friday.District Magistrate Shopian has imposed restrictions on the movement of public and transport in the territorial limits of district Shopian on Friday under Section 144 CrPC. However, the restrictions shall not be applicable to essential services including banks. Similarly, authorities have imposed restrictions in the sensitive old city of Srinagar to thwart separatists march.Also readShopian firing: Army says troops acted in self defenceRestrictions have been imposed in the areas falling under the jurisdiction of police stations of Rainawari, Khanyar, Nowhatta, Safakadal, MR Gunj. However there will be partial restrictions in the areas falling under the jurisdiction of Maisuma and Kal khud police stations of civil lines area.Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) of separatists had called for Shopian March on Friday to protest the civilian killings in Army firing last Saturday.Also readJ&K: Army files counter FIR in Shopian incident, says it only opened fire in face of ‘ultimate provocation’JRL is an amalgam of Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Geelani, Moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, who spearheaded the 2016 unrest in the Kashmir valley.Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani said police have detained dozens of separatist leaders and activists ahead of Shopian March. Also readFresh tension grips Shopian after another civilian succumbs to injuriesA spokesman of Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani said police have placed Tereekh-e-Hurriyat (TeH) general secretary Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai and senior leader Mohammad Ashraf Laya under house detention.”Many Hurriyat Conference leaders and activists including its spokesman Ghulam Mohammad Gulzar was arrested and lodged in police station Shergarhi, ” said a Hurriyat spokesman.

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Rawat’s statement ‘acceptance of facts’ regarding Kashmir situation, say separatist leaders

Kashmiri separatist leaders today claimed that Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s statement on Kashmir was an “acceptance of facts”, but said there cannot be a military solution to the Kashmir issue.General Rawat said yesterday that the people in Kashmir had realised that it was very difficult to secede from India and they were also getting tired of militancy. “They have seen it for too long and they have realised (that) it hasn’t given them what they had desired for. Let me tell you…with a country like India, to seek independence from a nation where we have strong armed forces, where we have a strong democracy, and a very strong government, you cannot secede from India. This is what the people have realised,” the army chief said.Reacting to the statement, the separatists, at a joint press conference, said it was a clear indication that General Rawat had accepted the fact that the majority of the people in Jammu and Kashmir “are demanding their right to self- determination and freedom”. “This statement is an admission of what the people of Kashmir want. This is a clear indication that he has accepted the fact that the majority of the people of J-K are demanding their right to self-determination and ‘azadi’ (freedom)…,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told reporters at his Nigeen residence here.Also readTerrorists using high-tech systems, need to put curbs on Internet: Bipin RawatThe Mirwaiz, the head of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, was flanked by Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik. The hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, addressed the presser telephonically. The three have come together on a united platform under the name of Joint Resistance Leadership. The Mirwaiz said the Army chief’s statement was a clear indication of New Delhi’s policy on Kashmir.He said there cannot be a military solution to the Kashmir issue.”Let it be absolutely clear that the Kashmir issue cannot be resolved (and) Kashmiris cannot be pushed to the wall, thorough intimidation, force or coercion,” he said. On the NIA charge sheet against 12 people in connection with the funding of terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir, the Mirwaiz said it was an effort to mislead the people of the country. “There is an all-out effort on part of the government to mislead the people of India and the people of the world to give them an impression that this is a sponsored struggle and people are in this for money. We reject this. This is a mere propaganda…We are not scared and we won’t be cowed down,” he said.Also readWon’t allow anti-India activities in Kashmir, says Army chief General RawatSpeaking on the occasion, Malik said Pakistan was not involved with the 2016 agitation and dared the NIA to arrest the separatist trio who, he said, were behind issuing protest calendars that year. Geelani also said the NIA accusations have no basis and demanded immediate release of all the accused who are under the NIA custody. He said it was New Delhi’s policy to link the “struggle in Kashmir” with terrorism. “The struggle of Kashmiris is not terrorism, our struggle is different. We want a peaceful resolution of the issue,” he said.

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Ram Nath Kovind inaugurates Dharma-Dhamma conference, calls for taking inspiration from Buddha’s life

The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, inaugurated the Fourth International Conference on “State and Social Order in Dharma-Dhamma Tradition” at Rajgir in Bihar, and called for participants to take inspiration from the life and teachings of Lord Buddha, which he described as the “Light of Asia”.The three-day conference is being organised as a part of the 25th anniversary of the ASEAN-India Dialogue Partnership by the Nalanda University, in collaboration with the Vietnam Buddhist University and the Ministry of External Affairs, and will witness the participation of scholars and delegates from 11 countries.”It is estimated that more than half the world’s current population lives in regions that have been historically influenced – and in many cases continue to be influenced – by the enlightenment that Lord Buddha attained and placed as a model before humanity. This is the thread that stitches us all together,” said Kovind, terming Buddhism, the basis for an early form of globalisation and interconnectedness in our continent.He said the spiritual, cultural and trade links that were created by the monks of Dharma and Dhamma, hundreds and thousands of years ago, were much more than a historical memory. “They are wired into society’s DNA. They are a living reality and as such, Dharma and Dhamma are both a continuous, eternal journey – and a destination,” Kovind said.Throwing light on India’s Act East Policy, the President said it is much more than a diplomatic initiative. “The Act East Policy aims at sharing not merely economic opportunities – but at an integration of the dreams and hopes of the hundreds of millions who live in India and in Southeast Asia, and in other parts of Asia that are covered by the Dharma-Dhamma footprint. Our past has a common source and inevitably, our destiny too is linked,” he said.Bihar Governor Satya Pal Malik, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, led Kovind’s welcome brigade. “Bihar is a land of knowledge. But, the pages of history are gathering dust,” the CM said at the conference and called upon the attention of archaeologists on the matter.

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Suicides, accidents kill more people than terror in Kashmir

Forget militancy, suicide and road accidents are the biggest killers in Jammu and Kashmir. Figures presented in the Legislative Assembly revealed that 547 cases of suicides were reported in Jammu and Kashmir in the last two years. Similarly, 1749 people were killed in 10160 in road accidents in the last two years in Jammu and Kashmir. In a written reply to a starred question by former Speaker and National Conference MLA from Eidgah constituency Mubarak Gul Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who also holds the home portfolio, said 547 cases of suicides were registered in Jammu and Kashmir in last two years.Of which 275 cases of suicide were registered in 2017 and 272 cases in 2016. Handwara area of Kashmir witnessed 57 suicides in 2017 compared to 31 in 2016. Similarly, Baramulla recorded 41 suicides in 2017 compared to 23 in 2016. Kargil district of Ladakh region is the only place in Jammu and Kashmir which has zero suicide rate.Also readNational Conference and Congress stage walkout over civilian killings in Kashmir Data also revealed that 958 persons died in different road accidents in 2016. The fatalities in the accidents recorded a sharp fall in 2017 with 791 people losing their lives on state’s killer roads. On the other side, around 209 militants were killed in Kashmir during last year, which is highest since 2010. Around 24 civilians were killed during law and order problems near encounter sites last year. More than 75 security men were also killed in gunfights across Kashmir valley last yearAlso readKashmiri teen militant killed in Anantnag: Father had urged son to ‘come back and start again’Last year more than 117 local youth joined the militant ranks in the strife-torn Kashmir valley, which is the highest in last seven years

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J&K Congress chief GA Mir asks partymen to gear up for panchayat polls

Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress president GA Mir on Wednesday asked party cadres to get ready to take on the PDP-BJP government in the state and expose their failures and misdeeds, and prepare for the panchayat polls.The Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to hold the much-awaited panchayat elections from mid-February.”Although the state government has weakened the Panchayat Raj System, Congress cadre should get ready for taking on the PDP-BJP dispensation to expose their failures and misdeeds and prepare for electoral battles, especially panchayat polls,” Mir told party leaders and workers at Congress headquarters here.Mir said, “Our cadre should reach out to the people expose the failures and misdeeds of the present coalition government in order to educate them about the falsehood and double standards of the PDP-BJP dispensation on governance and security situation.”He said by weakening of Panchayati Raj System has taken away the basic right of the people and they would be exhorted to teach the coalition partners a lesson for their “failures, betrayals and falsehood”.Also readNational Conference and Congress stage walkout over civilian killings in Kashmir Extending hearty greetings to Insha Mushtaq, blinded by security forces — whose wounded face sparked an outcry against the use of pellets in Kashmir — on clearing the 10th standard board examinations Mir praised her hard work and confidence.

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PIO Parliamentary Conference | World Bank, IMF and Moody’s are looking at India in very positive way, says PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated the first Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) Parliamentary Conference at New Delhi’s Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra on Tuesday.Addressing the lawmakers, the Prime Minister said that the world is looking at India with renewed focus. And the key is the fact that India has transformed. He also spoke about how global fionancial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Band and credit rating agency Moody’s are viewing India in a very positive manner.Elaborating about new India, the PM said that ‘India has moved way ahead of the ‘jaisa pehle tha vaisa chalta rahega, kuch badlega nahi’ thinking, aims and aspirations of our people are on an all time high & that is because of the transformation the country is going through.’PM Modi also detailed about new investments in the country. “Keeping in mind the needs of 21st century, the government is increasing the investment in technology, transportation,” he said.“More than half the investment in sectors like construction, air transport, mining, computer software, hardware, electrical equipment and many others, till now has happened in the last three years,” he added.As many as 124 Members of Parliament and 17 mayors from 23 countries are participating in the conference. Every year, January 9 is celebrated as Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD), an annual celebratory day that marks the contribution of overseas persons of Indian origin (PIO) towards their homeland.This is the first PIO-Parliamentary Conference and is a way of reaching out to the Indian community overseas by the government.The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in order to celebrate the spirit of the conference, has also organised an open competition to design a logo that would best reflect the spirit of the First PIO Parliamentarian Conference.

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Offer of unconditional support to PDP remains unchanged: National Conference

The National Conference on Wednesday said its offer of unconditional support to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for government formation in Jammu and Kashmir remained unchanged but maintained that so far no one from the regional party or Congress has contacted it for an alliance.”As stated by our working president Omar Abdullah, our offer of unconditional support to the PDP, which has emerged as the single largest party in the state stands and this remains unchanged. There has been absolutely no change in this,” NC spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu said in Srinagar.He said the party had offered its support to the PDP for the benefit of the state and so that the party would not have to “compromise” on its “apparent regional agenda”.”As far as the premise of the support to PDP is concerned, it is based on the fact that PDP has emerged as the single largest party and we want to extend an opportunity to PDP to not have to compromise on its apparent regional agenda,” Mattu said.Asked about the idea of a “grand alliance” floated by Congress General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad, the NC spokesman said no party had approached them for any alliance.”The grand alliance seems to be a media creation. Nobody from the PDP or Congress has mooted the point (to us),” he said.

BJP hopes dialogue with PDP on government formation will start in a couple of days

Amid positive signals from PDP over government-formation in Jammu and Kashmir, BJP on Wednesday hoped a formal dialogue will be initiated by them within the next two days. BJP said it would be a part of the next government in the state following the public mandate in its favour and any arrangement that excludes it will be seen as negating it.A delegation of senior party leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, including state unit chief Jugal Kishore Sharma and senior leader Nirmal Singh, will meet J&K Governor N N Vohra on Thursday and discuss with him their party’s plans over government- formation. The meeting will come a day after PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti met the state Governor on Wednesday and dropped hints of her party was not averse to joining hands with BJP as she invoked A B Vajpayee and said the mandate in the state was an “opportunity” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said “an initial contact has been established between the two parties” and her comments will help take forward formal discussions. “We appreciate Mehbooba Mufti’s gesture through the media. We await formal initiation of dialogue,” he said.He maintained that “all options are open” for BJP as its leaders have been in talks with lower-rung PDP leaders for government-formation after the polls produced a fractured verdict with PDP emerging as the single largest party with 28 seats in the 87-member Assembly closely followed by BJP with 25 seats. Sources said besides formal talks with PDP, informal talks with Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti have also taken place over telephone.Party sources add the BJP leadership has also been in talks with leaders of National Conference, including outgoing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. BJP sources said Mehbooba’s remarks will help take the state forward on the path of development by providing a stable government to the state. They said BJP expected the talks with PDP to begin in a couple of days.Madhav said “any arrangement that excludes BJP will be seen as negating the mandate given by the people of Jammu and Kashmir.” Viewing Mehbooba’s talk today as a “positive gesture”, he said it will take some more time for BJP to hold formal talks for government-formation. Asked about the issue of rotational Chief Minister with PDP, he said “it is premature” as talks have not reached that far.On other contentious issues that are expected to crop up between BJP and PDP, he said “to find an amicable arrangement is not impossible. What will be the structure and shape, we will have to wait and see.” Sources said BJP is hopeful of a “positive outcome” after Wednesday’s initiative by PDP but leaders said the party has its own expectations and roadmap for the state that will be discussed with parties before aligning with them for government formation.After meeting the Governor, Mehbooba told reporters that whatever formation is firmed up, it should respect the mandate of the people and have the principle of “reconciliation”, adding that “till that is not taken along, forming any government will be useless”. Mehbooba said the mandate was a “challenge and opportunity” for national leadership, be it NDA or Congress.”For NDA government, it is a big responsibility. For Modi, it is a big responsibility. Jammu and Kashmir has been the biggest challenge for any PM right from Nehru till date,” Mehbooba told reporters in apparent signals to BJP that the two can discuss contentious issues that come in the way of the two parties coming together. Referring to Modi’s “dream” of development and addressing the problem of unemployment, the PDP leader said there cannot be “development till there is peace on the ground”.

Grand alliance with Congress and National Conference possible: PDP

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed

Giving a new spin to the negotionas on government formation in Jammu and Kashmir, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday said the grand alliance of the Congress-National Conference-PDP can be one of the options.“Congress-NC-PDP grand alliance is one of the options which has been proposed by Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad,” said Naeem Akthar, chief spokesman of the PDP.A few days ago Azad had proposed an alliance of the three parties with PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as the chief minister. The development had come after both Congress and NC offered unconditional support to PDP to form the government.Akthar also ruled out a grand alliance of PDP-Congress-BJP saying it is not possible.However, the proposed grand alliance of three parties – Congress-National Conference-PDP – received a setback on Monday after NC ruled out being part of it.“Azad sahib has clearly said he has 12 MLAs of his own and support of four independents. Sixteen MLAs of Congress and 28 of PDP reaches the majority mark of 44. How many electoral weddings does Mufti sahib need to have? He needs one and let him have the one he wants. NC will not be part of three-party alliance,” Junaid Azim Mattu, NC spokesman, told dna.Junaid said if PDP and Congress go together, Kashmir, particularly the valley, will be devoid of a credible opposition. “We can’t leave the valley without the opposition. We are not looking for grand alliance. We have offered our support to PDP. They do not need anybody else. Now if they want somebody else, they are just playing to the gallery,” he said.

PDP sets tough conditions for BJP

PDP set tough conditions for BJP which is wooing it for the formation of the new government in Jammu and Kashmir, declaring that its stand against revocation of Art 370 was “non-negotiable”. Indicating that PDP, with the highest tally of 28 followed by BJP with 25, may find it hard to do business with the saffron party, it also said it remained committed to the revocation of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). That is unlikely to be acceptable to BJP. With Governor N N Vohra setting a deadline of January 1 for PDP and BJP to come up with proposals for government formation, behind-the-scenes contacts among the principal players including the National Conference (NC) and the Congress intensified.For the record, PDP said that “all options are open and that no decision has been taken yet” but there were reports it was facing stiff opposition from a substantial chunk of its newly-elected MLAs to any tie up with BJP. PDP’s alternative option is to accept the support of the Congress party which has 12 MLAs and the NC, which has 15 in the 87-member Assembly. It is in touch with both the parties as it wrestles with the dilemma of joining hands with the BJP.There was speculation in political circles that if it is not able to reach an agreement with PDP, BJP may present the Governor with a list of 30 MLAs by January one to show that it had two more than PDP, raising the remote possibility of it being invited first to take a shot at ministry formation. In such a scenario, the PDP could show the support of at least 55 MLAs including those of the NC and Congress. BJP maintained on Saturday that it would be involved in government formation. “We have a crucial mandate in Jammu and Kashmir. We will be involved in government formation. Talks are going on. Let us see what happens,” party General Secretary Ram Madhav said in New Delhi. He said somehow they wanted to find a way to form a stable government. Things were at a very early stage and no conditions are being discussed.”The best combination will be a stable government in the state. We will explore what will be the best combination. Hesitation, if at all, is there on both sides. BJP has a very important mandate in the state and has secured the highest number of votes and second highest number of seats. Naturally, based on the mandate we are trying to give a good government to the state with the help of people who got mandate like PDP and NC. We have to find a way. There is a position where no government can be formed without the support of other parties”, Madhav said.Meanwhile, NC President and the outgoing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, having verbally announced support to PDP, left for London this afternoon to be with his parents, who have undergone surgeries. He is expected to be back only after the New Year.

Jammu & Kashmir Governor calls PDP, BJP for parleys on government formation

Amid continuing suspense over government formation, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra on Friday invited for discussions PDP and BJP, the first and second largest parties in the elections, which threw up a highly-fractured verdict with no clear winner.Vohra has sent letters separately to PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and state BJP chief Jugal Kishore “for holding discussions on the proposal for government-formation,” a Raj Bhavan official said. The letter from the Governor has asked the PDP President to meet him on January one morning followed by the state BJP chief on the same afternoon.The letter to the two major parties said that the term of last Assembly was to end on January 18 and, therefore, both of them should come and discuss about the government formation, the sources said. The Governor apparently to avoid a repeat of 2002 when government could not be formed for 22 days pushing the state towards a spell of Governor’s rule. The parties have also been conveyed the message that if they are not able to cobble together numbers, then they could tell the Governor about their position when they meet him.BJP, which ended up with a tally of 25 in the 87-strong Assembly, and PDP, which secured 28 seats, have held discussions in the last two days to explore the possibility of coming together. There was no indication as to how the discussions have gone. Parallelly, two other key players, the National Conference (NC) which got 15 seats and Congress (12 seats), continued to make efforts to keep BJP out of power by offering support to PDP whose response remained a matter of speculation.NC Working President and outgoing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who has already declared that there is no deal between his party and the BJP, tweeted tonight that only “a verbal offer of support” has been conveyed to the PDP. But it looks like “PDP is playing mind games with the BJP leaking about a letter of NC support that doesn’t exist”.Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad asked the BJP not to be “insensitive” and be seen indulging in “arm-twisting” tactics while “bulldozing” its way on government formation. “The way BJP is bulldozing regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir and that’s just being insensitive towards the mandate and people of the state, ” Azad, who is Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, told reporters in Delhi.

Don’t play mind games on support: Omar Abdullah to PDP

Outgoing Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Friday asked PDP not to play “mind games” on the issue of support from his party, National Conference (NC), and said only a “verbal offer” had been conveyed.The tweet from Omar came after the Valley was agog with rumours that NC had extended a letter of support to the PDP, arch rival of his party. “Looks like PDP is playing mind games with the BJP leaking about a letter of NC support that doesn’t exist. Only a verbal offer conveyed,” he tweeted. Omar, who party has 15 MLAs, made a surprise offer after the election results were announced on December 23 by extending his party’s support to PDP, which has 28 MLAs, in government formation.National Conference spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu had earlier said, “We have conveyed our offer of support to the PDP through channels of communication with that party.” “We have not sent any letter but it is a serious and formal offer of support to the single largest party for government formation,” he added. PDP spokesman Nayeem Akhtar, however, said his party has not received any communication from the National Conference and will deliberate whenever it does so.In Jammu, National Conference’s provincial president Devender Singh Rana also said, “Our president has said and we still maintain that if PDP comes forward to form the government we are ready to extend our support to them.” “We will support them completely,” Rana, who has been elected as MLA from Nagrota Assembly seat, said. He said PDP was the single largest party and it must come forward to provide the people of the state with a stable government. “If they accept the support, a stable government can be formed in the state,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir government formation: Talks with PDP at initial stage, says Ram Madhav

BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav on Friday said his party was holding consultations with all important stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir for providing a stable government.The BJP leader, who has held a series of meetings with leaders of Valley-based political parties including PDP’s Muzaffar Hussain Baig, said the Prime Minister had a grand vision for development of the state.”To realise this dream, we have to provide a government that will put the state on development track,” he said.”We are meeting with all important stakeholders and our aim is to provide a stable and credible government,” he told reporters here.While PDP has secured 28 seats, BJP bagged 25 in the elections to the 87-member state Assembly.On his talks with PDP since his arrival here yesterday, Madhav said the talks were still at initial stages.”PDP is an important stakeholder and has got a major mandate. Mufti (Mohammad Sayeed) has a five-decade long political career and is respected not only in the state but across the country.”National Conference also has got substantial number of seats. It was part of the NDA during (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee’s tenure (as Prime Minister),” he noted.Asked which of the two parties would BJP prefer to ally with, Madhav said it was not about the party but a choice of providing a stable and credible government.As the Jammu unit of the BJP is insisting on getting a shot at Chief Ministership, Madhav said the issue was not discussed with either PDP or any other stakeholder.”Talks have not reached that stage yet.We are still at the initial stages,” he insisted.In response to a question, Madhav said a meeting between the Prime Minister and PDP patron, Sayeed, was not on the cards yet.”No such this is on the cards right now,” he said.Asked how long the government formation is going to take, Madhav said no timeline can be set.

Jammu & Kashmir: BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav holds talks with PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig

PDP and BJP, which emerged as the top two parties in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections, on Thursday night began talks in Srinagar on government-formation.BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, who arrived here this evening from Jammu, held two separate rounds of talks with senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig–the first round at Baig’s residence and the second round at a hotel where Madhav is staying. Madhav, who attended a meeting of a meeting of BJP’s newly-elected MLAs in Jammu earlier in the day, also held a series of meetings in Srinagar with leaders of other Valley-based political parties this evening as part of efforts to cobble up a government in the state.Baig, earlier in the day, said BJP and PDP leadership should talk to each other for forming the next government. While PDP has secured 28 seats, BJP bagged 25 in the elections to the 87-member state Assembly.PDP spokesman Samir Koul told PTI late tonight that lines of communication have been opened with PDP for government formation. “Talks are going on with BJP over government-formation in the state but we are still at infancy stage. It will take some time before we can make any announcements,” Koul said.Asked if PDP would agree to rotational chief ministership with BJP, Koul said “not at this moment”. He said there were certain issues like Article 370, that guarantees a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, on which PDP is not going to compromise. “There are differences on certain issues like the political agenda of PDP — Article 370, revocation of AFSPA from the state — which we cannot compromise on,” he said.The PDP spokesman said the situation will be clearer in the next three to four days. Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Ghani Lone, whose party has two MLAs, was the first to meet Madhav at a hotel here, sources in BJP said. The sources said Peoples Democratic Front chairman Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen, who won the recent assembly polls from Khan Sahib segment in Budgam district, also met the BJP leader for nearly 30 minutes.Democratic Party (Nationalist) leader Ghulam Hassan Mir, a minister in the outgoing government led by Omar Abdullah, was another prominent leader to meet Madhav, the sources said. Mir was a minister in the National Conference-Congress coalition government from Congress quota.

No deal or discussion with BJP on government formation: Omar Abdullah

Outgoing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday night categorically said there is “no deal” or any “discussion” going on between his National Conference(NC) and BJP over the issue of government formation in Jammu and Kashmir.Omar took to Twitter to make this assertion amid speculation that the NC may support BJP in forming a new government in Jammu & Kashmir. “So many stories doing the rounds about a BJP NC deal. Let me say this as strongly as possible – THERE IS NO DEAL NOR ANY DISCUSSION going on,” he said.In another tweet, Omar hoped that someone from the PDP, BJP and Congress would form a govrnment quickly. “I hope someone from the PDP/BJP/Cong steps up & forms a government in J&K quickly. Denying stupid rumours is fast becoming a full time job,” he said.

BJP holds ‘veto power’ in Jammu and Kashmir: Arun Jaitley

Asserting that it has several options in government-formation in Jammu and Kashmir, BJP on Thursday said it holds the “veto power” in the state.Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, BJP’s central observer for J&K, told reporters in Jammu that the party was actively in touch with independent and “unattached” MLAs. “Whoever forms the government, BJP must have a crucial role in it,” he said. Jaitley said BJP now holds the “veto power” in the state.”Earlier, the veto power was in the hands of Congress and now it’s in the hands of BJP,” he said. Addressing the media after a meeting of newly-elected BJP MLAs, Jaitley said the legislators authorised party President Amit Shah to decide the future course of action on government formation. “All options are open for us. The newly-elected MLAs of the party have decided that they will go with the decision of the party president Amit Shah who will take a decision which is good for the party, the state and the country,” he said.”The central leadership of the party will decide where it wants to sit in the assembly or how to form the government,” he said. On a question whether BJP would go with National Conference or Peoples Democratic Party, Jaitley said “we will go with the three principles–strengthening national sovereignty, development of this region and maintenance of regional balance.” Jaitley described as “inaccurate” media reports that BJP leadership had held discussions with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on government-formation.”Some inaccurate reports have appeared in this regard and I would only urge you not to go by the reports which are not accurate,” Jaitley said. He said even though PDP has got maximum number of seats in the assembly, BJP got the popular vote as its vote percentage was greater as compared to other parties.”The mandate is for a hung assembly but elections are held for the formation of the government. The newly-elected party members of the legislative assembly discussed the issue…. like what type of government can be formed in a hung assembly, who will lead the party in the assembly,” Jaitley said. He said the newly-elected MLAs reached a consensus that the central leadership of the party, led by Amit Shah, would take the final decision on these issues.

Omar Abdullah changes twitter bio, says ‘I’ll be back’

Omar Abdullah, who resigned as the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister on Wednesday, vowed to return to power and said that he would be back. Abdullah, changed his bio on twitter and took to the social networking site to express his feelings, posting a blank photograph with the legend ‘Keep calm, cause I’ll be back’, quoting the famous Arnold Schwarzenegger line. Despite losing from Sonawar seat and just about managing to cling on to Beerwah with a slender margin of 1,000 votes, Abdullah also took his party’s failure sportingly. “Incidentally, in 2002, Mufti became CM with 16 MLAs and NC with 28 sat in opposition so excuse me if I don’t oblige by rolling over to play dead,” he tweeted. “6 years ago I drove in stake my claim to form a government in J-K, now I’m driving in to resign. The wheel comes full circle,” he added. On Tuesday, Jammu and Kashmir gave a highly-fractured verdict in which the PDP emerged the single largest party throwing up different possibilities in government formation. The ruling National Conference suffered a defeat when it secured only 15 seats against 28 it had won in the last elections. Its partner in the government Congress slipped to the fourth position getting only 12 seats.

56 first-timers in 87-member Jammu & Kashmir Assembly

The 12th Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir will have nearly 65% new faces as only 31 of the 87 newly-elected MLAs have previously been member the House.As many as 56 winners have been elected to the Lower House of the state legislature for first time, while 26 MLAs managed to retain their membership. Five others have made a comeback to the House after staying out for six to 12 years. Two National Conference MLAs have managed to win the Assembly polls for a sixth time – equalling the record held by their colleague and former Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather whose dream run of 37 years as MLA of Chrar-e-Sharief ended with his defeat to PDP’s Ghulam Nabi Lone on Tuesday.The BJP, which won 25 seats, has the highest number of first-timers. Twenty-two BJP MLAs will experience their stint in the Assembly for the first time, while Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which emerged as the single largest party with 28 MLAs, have 19 new faces. Six new faces will be part of the 12-member Congress Legislature Party in the new Assembly which will also have five new faces from NC and two from Peoples Conference including separatist-turned politician Sajjad Ghani Lone.Two Independent members – Pawan Kumar Gupta and Syed Bakir Rizvi – are also first-timers in the Assembly. Prominent among the first-time MLAs included banker- turned-PDP leader Haseeb Drabu (Rajpora), his businessman colleague Altaf Bukhari (Amirakadal) and outgoing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s close confidant Devender Singh Rana (Nagrota). Omar was among the 31 MLAs from various parties who have earlier been elected to the Assembly.Although Omar lost the election from the Sonawar constituency of Srinagar district by a margin of over 4,700 votes to PDP’s Mohammad Ashraf Mir, he managed to win the Beerwah constituency in Budgam district defeating his nearest rival from Congress by a slender margin of over 900 votes.Omar had won the last Assembly elections in 2008 from the Ganderbal seat but decided to contest from Sonawar and Beerwah this time. Four legislators, Abdul Haq Khan, Basharat Bukhari, Mushtaq Ahmad Shah and Zulfikar Ali, retained their seats for PDP, while three each from Congress and National Conference won for a second time. They are Abdul Rashid, Usman Majid and Vakar Rasool Wani of Congress and National Conference’s Shameema Firdous, Javid Rana and Omar. Sukhnandan Kumar and Sham Lal Choudhary retained their seats for BJP while fire-brand Independent MLA from Langate Sheikh Abdul Rashid also contested successfully.Ten legislators, three each from National Conference, PDP and Congress and one from BJP, won a third term in the Assembly. Nazir Ahmad Khan Gurezi, Mohammad Akbar Lone and Aga Ruhulla won it for National Conference, Mohammad Khalil Band, Zahoor Ahmad Mir and Javid Mustafa Mir retained their seats for a third time for PDP. G A Saroori, Aijaz Khan and Nawang Rigzin Jora won their seats for third time in a row for Congress, while Lal Singh who parted ways with Congress and joined BJP prior to the Assembly polls, registered his third win.The lone CPI(M) legislator, M Y Tarigami, staved off a stiff resistance and scripted his fourth straight win from the Kulgam constituency of south Kashmir.PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Abdul Rehman Veeri, also from PDP, are the other two leaders who will be in the Assembly for a fourth term.National Conference leaders – former Speaker Mubarak Gul and former forest minister Mian Altaf – along with Peoples Democratic Front leader Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen are the three legislators who recorded their fifth win in the Assembly polls. National Conference heavyweights – Mohammad Shafi Uri and Ali Mohammad Sagar – are the only two legislators who have won for the sixth time, equalling the record held by their party colleague Rather.Although the former finance minister failed to make it to the House for a seventh term, his name will still be heard in the next Assembly as his namesake from arch rival PDP has won the elections from south Kashmir’s Kokernag constituency.

Omar Abdullah resigns as Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, says not in mood to make it easy for other parties to form government

Omar Abdullah, who on Wednesday resigned as Chief Minister indicated that his National Conference could play a part in government formation in Jammu and Kashmir after the election threw up a hung assembly.At the same time, the NC leader said the onus of government formation lies primarily on BJP and PDP and his party will adopt a wait and watch approach. Recalling that in 2002 NC with 28 MLAs had opted from first day to stay out of the government formation and “it became very easy for Mufti Sayeed with 16 MLAs to form the government”, he said, “Today I am not in any mood to make it easy for other parties to form a government. Let us see what happens.””It is the duty of PDP and BJP to form the government. Let us see what they will do,” he told reporters after submitting his resignation to Governor NN Vohra. He said the NC has had no discussions with anybody on government formation. “There is no reason for us to keep anyone in or out of power. As I have been saying since yesterday it is not the duty of National Conference (NC) to form the government nor it is duty of NC to help anyone form the government,” Omar gave similar hints with his tweets when he said, “Incidentally in 2002, Mufti (Mohammad Sayeed) became Chief Minister with 16 MLAs and NC with 28 (MLAs) sat in opposition. So excuse me if I don’t oblige by rolling over to play dead.”While PDP emerged as the single largest party in the assembly with 28 seats, it fell way short of the 44-seat mark in the 87-member house needed for forming the government. BJP won 25 seats followed by National Conference (15) and Congress 12, while other parties and independents bagged seven seats.Omar also took a dig at PDP saying while his party was pleased with its performance, PDP which has more seats must be feeling defeated as its result did not match the “hype”. “NC has 15+2 (independents) and we are very pleased, PDP has 28 and Mufti Sb (sahib) hasn’t been seen, much less heard. Clearly the more you have the more you want,” Omar wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.”Expectations were hyped and twisted to such an extent that now 17 feels like a victory and 28 a defeat. Go figure!” he added. Speaking to reporters, Omar said, “Remember in 2002, NC had 28 MLAs and we opted from first day to stay out of the government formation and it became very easy for Mufti Sayeed with 16 MLAs to form the government and stay in the power for three years and rest period to Congress-NC coalition. “Today I am not in any mood to make it easy for other parties to form a government. Let us see what happens.”

Magic of 28 in Jammu and Kashmir

National Conference secured bagged 28 seats twice – in 2002 and 2008 – and now PDP has emerged as the largest party with the same figure

PDP workers celebrate their party’s win, in Srinagar, on Tuesday

Since 2002 assembly elections, the single largest party in Jammu and Kashmir gets 28 seats. The National Conferene, which was humbled in 2002 elections, secured 28 seats, though being the largest party, it chose to sit in opposition. Six years later, it again got 28 seats in 2008. But this time formed government in alliance with the Congress, which had secured 17 seats. Now in 2014, the PDP emerged as the single largest party, but with same magic number of 28.The BJP, which showed a spectacular performance, failed to send more than one Muslim nominee to assembly. The BJP had fielded 34 Muslim candidates in the state out of the 74 candidates in the assembly having the strength of 87 seats. However, except Abdul Ghani Kohli from Kalakote in Rajouri district, all other Muslim candidates of the party had to bite dust as most of them forfeited their deposits. Abdul Ghani Kohli of BJP has been declared winner in Kala Kote seat as he defeated Rachhpal Singh of National Conference with over six thousand votes. Rachhpal Singh had been winning this constituency for last two elections. Kalakote assembly seat, which was carved out to give representation to the far-flung areas of the state in the assembly in 1996, was twice bagged by National Conference and once by Congress. Rachpal Singh of National Conference and Ashok Kumar Sharma, who fought on the Congress ticket have dominated politics of this seat.The BJP’s gamble of fielding Muslim candidate from this seat paid dividends as the Kalakote assembly constituency has Hindu and Muslim voters in almost equal proportion. By fielding a Muslim candidate, the BJP was able to wean away some Muslim voters which in combination of the BJP’s Hindu voters ensure win for Abdul Ghani Kohli.The Muslim support to Abdul Ghani Kohli seems to have ensured an increase of around five thousand votes from the 2014 General Elections, when the BJP had secured only around 20 thousand votes.Abdul Ghani Kohli is the second Muslim MLA from the saffron party since independence. Earlier, Sheikh Abdul Rehman was elected from Jammu East seat on Bharatiya Jan Sangh ticket in 1972.

BJP captures Jammu, keeps ‘all options’ open to rule in Srinagar

The BJP, which recorded its best ever performance in Jammu and Kashmir yet fell short of its “Mission 44” by 19 seats, is keeping “all options” open on government formation in a hung assembly. The BJP is likely to first strive to explore the possibility of taking the lead in government formation as with the support of People’s Conference’s two seats and an independent, the BJP could equal the tally of the PDP.Having come the closest to power ever in the state, the BJP, which had won just 11 seats in the last assembly election, does not want to let go of the opportunity, party sources said.This could mean that, if necessary, it would not be averse to exploring a tie-up with the PDP, which has emerged the single largest party, or the National Conference. However, any support to the PDP, which the BJP once saw as being soft on secessionist forces, would not be unconditional, sources said.The BJP has won its 25 seats from the Hindu-dominated Jammu region but failed to open its account in the Muslim-dominated Valley, from where the PDP won 28 seats. However, the BJP has managed to capture seven of the 15 seats in Jammu’s Muslim-dominated Pir Panjal and Chenab Valley.”All options are open. The option of forming a BJP government is open. The option of supporting somebody is also open. The option of participating in a government is also open. All three options are open,” BJP chief Amit Shah said at a press conference.However, he refused to divulge which party – PDP or NC – the BJP would prefer to align with. Asked about the party’s “Mission 44” failing, he said “wait for some time. Something good will happen.”Shah said the BJP was now a relevant political force in the state and had the maximum vote percentage of 23.4, which was higher than that of the PDP. He said the results in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand, where the BJP has got majority in a state where no party has ever got a clear verdict, was the endorsement of prime minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and his government’s performance in the past six months.Party leaders claimed that the BJP would be intrinsic to any government in the state. With the support of two seats of former separatist Sajjad Lone’s People’s Conference and one independent from Udhampur, the BJP feels it has a chance of having a claim to its chief minister in the state. The People’s Conference won Handwara and Kupwara.The BJP, which made development its prime agenda, had targeted the Abdullah and Mufti families in the run-up to elections, while the NC and PDP had campaigned to “keep the BJP out”. In his rallies, prime minister Narendra Modi focused on the development agenda.In Jammu, Modi was a draw resulting in the party making big gains. In the Valley, the BJP was banking on the votes of the migrant Pundits, particularly in Habba Kadal. But, only around a third of them could vote.”Our responsibility is to fulfil our promise of providing a stable government. We will look at all options to ensure that,” said BJP leader Ram Madhav. As for the BJP not being able to win a single seat in the valley or in Ladakh, he said the party will introspect on this.

Omar Abdullah’s National Conference hit historic low

National Conference (NC), the grand old political party of Jammu and Kashmir, has hit the historic low by wining only 15 seats against 28 it won in 2008 elections.Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, who was contesting from two seats won from Beerwa but lost to Sonawar constituency toPDP’s Ashraf Mir who emerged as ‘giant killer’.Even in Srinagar, which has traditionally supported NC, the party lost five out of eight seats, all to PDP. This is for the first time that any party has wrested Srinagar from NC. The only saving grace for NC was the victory in Habba Kadal where Shameema Firdous defeated Moti Koul of BJP.Some heavy weights of NC who lost include veteran leader and former financé minister Abdul Rahim Rather from Charar-e-sharief, Omar’s uncle Mustafa Kamal from Gulmarg, the only woman minister Sakina Ittoo from Noorabad, Nasir Aslam Wani, a close aide and friend of Omar from Amira Kadal and CAPD minister Chowdhry Ramzan from Handwara.The party was banking big on the Srinagar and north Kashmir. Both have proved to be a disappointment. However, the party can take some relief from victories on a few seats in PDP’s bastion of south Kashmir like Pahalgam and Homeshalibugh.It was, however, PDP and BJP which gained the most from the elections. PDP, which had only 21 members in 2008, improved their tally and emerged as single largest party with 28 MLAs. BJP, which had 11 members in 2008 rode high on Modi wave and won 25 seats and all of those from Jammu.Congress too was decimated with winning only 12 seats out of 17 it had won in 2008. Deputy chief minister Tara Chand and urban development minister Raman Bhalla were among the prominent losers.”We have not done that badly as was being projected by the exit polls. Congress is in a better position though we have lost some seats. Our performance is better. We are placed at second in several seats”, said GN Monga, senior vice president of J&K Pradesh Congress Committee.PDP victory too had some glitches with top leaders losing their seats from their traditional bastions. Mehbooba Mufti’s maternal uncle and stand in speaker Sartaj Madni lost from Devsar while Rafi Mir lost from Pahalgam.”The mandate is not decisive and probably not to our expectations. We were expecting more in which we have not succeeded”, said Mehbooba Mufti, PDP president.Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has hinted to hand over his resignation to governor NN Vohra on Wednesday. “Photo changed because the party logo was only being used till the elections & my bio will change once I’ve called on the Governor tomorrow,” Omar tweeted

Man who defeated Omar Abdullah is a first-generation politician

PDP candidate Mohammad Ashraf Mir celebrates his win over chief minister Omar Abdullah

A long alley from the gate to lawn was filled with women singing wanwun (Kashmiri folklore sung mostly during marriages). A stream of men waving green PDP flags was jostling to garland Mohammad Ashraf Mir who stood quiet in the middle of his lawn to welcome the guests personally.An MBA from Bangalore University, 44-year-old Mir became the man of the match on Tuesday when he defeated Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, who is also the working president of National Conference, in his own backyard.”It is the victory of my people. All credit goes to my people who worked hard for my success. I give it to my supporters who stood by me and with the result I uprooted Omar Abdullah from this constituency,” Mir told dna.Mir landed in the wonderland of politics in 2009 when he contested against National Conference leader Mohammad Yasin Shah in the byelection from Sonawar constituency. The seat was vacated by Omar’s father Farooq Abdullah after he was elected to Rajya Sabha.”I had won the seat at that time but then I was shown the migrant voters. They first announced my victory and later said I have lost (because of migrant voters). I should thank Allah because I learned from that experience and started from the ground level,” he said.Father of son and a daughter, Mir did his schooling from Srinagar before moving out of the state for higher education. Destiny took him to Bangalore where he completed his MBA before returning to Kashmir.Unlike his rival Omar, Mir is the first generation politician in his family. A scion of a prominent business family of Athawajan, he joined People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and rose to the rank of its district president for Srinagar.Seeing his political acumen and skills, PDP made him the Member of Legislative Council (MLC). But his heart was lying somewhere and he wanted to avenge the defeat of 2009 when he lost by a whisker.”I took politics as a challenge because Sonawar constituency had been neglected. I did not belong to political family. We are a business family which had no connection whatsoever with politics,” he said.Come September 2014, Mir was again in the spotlight as Sonawar was badly hit by the floods. His own house was submerged but he did not stop here. Mir took the floods as a challenge and worked hard to provide succour to the affected people.”I was with the people providing them relief. We did not play politics with relief unlike National Conference. We roped in Masjid Intizamia (mosque management) and gave relief to poor,” he said.Mir smelled the victory when shaky Omar deserted Ganderbal and chose Sonawar in Srinagar and Beerwah in Budgam to save his political fortunes. “They were not sure where from they will win and lose. We were pretty sure that we will win Sonawar,” he said.No sooner the results were announced Omar took to twitter to congratulate Mir for his success. “Congratulations to Ashraf Mir for his victory in Sonawar. I wish him & the people all good luck for the next six years. He’s now my local MLA,” he tweeted.

Omar Abdullah to tender resignation tomorrow

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah will submit his resignation on Wednesday when he will make a customary call on state Governor N N Vohra.The chief minister, whose party National Conference won 17 seats, including two independents from Zanskar and Udhampur supported by his party, gave the indication about his resignation on microblogging site Twitter.”…my bio (biodata) will change once I’ve called on the Governor tomorrow,” he tweeted.The 44-year-old Omar recalled his previous election and said that he was very nervous a day before counting in 2008. “6 years ago I was nervous as hell the night before counting, this time I’m strangely calm. What will be will be & I’ll be a happy person,” he said.

India played an active role in representing the voice of developing countries at Lima Conference, says Prakash Javadekar

Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday said that the recently held Climate Change Conference, which was held in the Peruvian capital Lima, decided that the needs of all nations need to be addressed in a balanced manner, adding that India played an active role in representing the voice of the developing countries. “India was able to play an active role in representing the interest of developing countries by constructive cooperation with like-minded developing countries and effective and persuasive presentation of its national position,” Javadekar said, while giving a suo-motu statement in the Lok Sabha. “The conference decided that the new agreement will be under the convention and will reflect the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in light of different national circumstances. It was also agreed that the new agreement will address all elements that is mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, capacity building and transparency of action and support in a balanced manner,” he added. Javadekar further stated that the conference had decided to not allow member nations to not back out of pledges given. “It was decided that countries should not backslide from current pledges. This is especially relevant in view of the action of some countries, which had gone back on their Kyoto Protocol commitments,” he said. “The Lima Conference agreed that the contribution of countries has to be more than their current commitments,” he added. The minister further stated that it was decided that developed countries will provide and mobilise enhanced financial support to developing country parties for ambitious mitigation and adaptation action. “The Green Climate Fund has been set up and over US $10 billion have already been pledged to it. However, the goal of mobilising US $100 billion per year by 2020 is still a far cry,” he said.”It was also decided to urge contributors to confirm pledges in the form of fully executed contribution agreements taking note of the fact that at least 50% of pledges made till November, 2014 should be reflected as fully executed contribution agreements by 30th April, 2015,” he added. Javadekar also said that many countries appreciated India’s aggressive efforts on climate change under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Climate Change Conference of Parties, which falls under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol were this year held in Lima, with Javadekar representing India.

Omar Abdullah hints at possibility of NC backing PDP

The outgoing Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday hinted at an intriguing possibility of supporting his party National Conference’s (NC) bitter political rival PDP in forming a government in the state after the hung verdict in the Assembly polls.Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s PDP has emerged as the single largest party with 28 seats, 16 short of a majority in the 87-member legislature. BJP got 25 seats and NC 17, including two Independents supported by it, followed by the Congress with 12 seats. PDP’s options are either to align with BJP or cobble together a government with the support of Congress and some independents. Support from NC has never been considered as an option by political observers.Introducing a new element in the scenario, Omar told PTI that it was for PDP to approach him. “I don’t rule out or rule in anything thereafter,” he said. Reminded that NC’s support to PDP has never been envisaged, Omar said, “was Mr Nitish Kumar’s coming together with Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav in Bihar ever thought of?” He virtually ruled out any support to the BJP, saying that there was only one per cent likelihood of that. “I am leaving one per cent crack open.” Omar, however, maintained that he would not be approaching anyone. “But that does not stop anyone from approaching me,” he said. Putting the onus on PDP, BJP and Congress to cobble up a government, Omar said it was not for him to unilaterally extend support to any formation.Asked about BJP Chief Amit Shah’s remarks at a press conference that he was keeping all options open on government formation, Omar said he had not got any call from Shah. Acknowledging that he was earlier today not sure of returning as an MLA, he said now he was going to sit back and leave it to other parties to form the new government. There is only one road for the NC and that is upwards and “we have an important role to play in coming days.” Omar, however, said that he had expected the PDP to do much better.The Chief Minister said the BJP had done well but had become victim of its own propaganda. “If before elections they had projected themselves to do better than the past, they would have been a relaxed lot today.”However, their slogans like Mission 44 and Mission 52 only punctured their happiness,” he said.Earlier during his victory run at Beerwah, Omar said NC would play the role of a good and constructive opposition. “NC is satisfied with its own performance. We went further than what people expected from us. Opinion polls were not giving us so many seats. And I feel that given the situation, if we get 17 seats, no one in the NC should feel bad.”We are ready to play the role of a good and constructive opposition. And we will see later as to what will happen,” Omar told reporters here. Asked about Congress general secretary and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad’s reported offer of support to the PDP, Omar said the national party had time and again proved that there were no permanent friends or foes in politics.”Congress has this quality that they time and again prove that in politics there can be no permanent friends or foes. Azad, perhaps would be ready to do everything to go to Rajya Sabha again and for that even if he has to fall at Mufti’s feet, he will,” he said.Commenting on the possibility of PDP allying with the BJP, Omar said, “I cannot say anything on that. It is for the PDP and the BJP to see”. The NC leader, who lost from Sonawar seat, said he had known that retaining all the eight seats in Srinagar would be difficult. “I had known that Srinagar district would be difficult for us this time. We had all the eight seats and Sonawar was a constituency which we had won three times out of the last four and there was anti-incumbency against NC. And we had to bear the brunt of the destruction caused by the floods there.”

Rajnath Singh delighted with BJP performance in polls

Expressing his delight with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s performance in assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand, Union Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said that one must wait for the final result. “Let’s wait for the final result, but the BJP’s performance is very nice,” said Singh.So far in Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah has lost from Sonawar assembly constituency but won from Beerwah.Also Read: Jammu & Kashmir assembly election results: PDP emerging as single largest party; BJP close secondMeanwhile, PDP’s Altaf Bukhari has defeated BJP’s Hina Bhat in Amirakadal, Sajjad Lone of the People’s Conference has won from Handwara and PDP’s Mufti Mohd Sayeed has won from Anantnag.National Conference’s Devender Singh Raina has won from the Nagrota assembly constituency and party’s Ali Mohammad Sagar has won from the Khanyar constituency. Also Read: Jharkhand assembly election results: BJP set to form government

Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather’s defeat ends record 36-year stint in Jammu & Kashmir Assembly

Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather’s record run in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly ended on Tuesday when he lost from Charar-e-Sharief while his National Conference colleague Ali Mohammad Sagar equalled his feat of sixth consecutive victories by winning Khanyar seat.Rather, who represented Charar-e-Sharief constituency for a record 36 years in the Assembly, lost to PDP candidate and former Legislative Council chairman Ghulam Nabi Lone. Rather, who last lost an election in 1972, was defeated by Lone by over 5,000 votes. Rather had won six consecutive assembly elections from Charar-e-Sharief constituency in central Kashmir Budgam district.It was third time lucky for Lone who unsuccessfully contested against Rather in 2002 and in 2008. While Rather won by 3,755 votes in 2002, he emerged victorious by 6,375 votes in 2008. Born at Badipora village of Chadoora, Rather (59) was first elected to the assembly from the constituency in 1977.A law graduate, Rather was a practising lawyer from 1971 to 1982 and held important portfolios in the National Conference governments including the post of Speaker. He also served as Finance Minister several times besides holding Agriculture, Rural development, Law and parliamentary affairs portfolios.Earlier, the constituency was represented by National Conference leader Bakshi Abdul Rashid in 1957 and 1962 and Congress leader Abdul Quyoom in 1967 and 1972. National Conference General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar won the Khanyar assembly seat by over 1200 votes, staving off stiff competition from PDP candidate and former trade union leader Khurshid Alam. This is Sagar’s sixth consecutive win in the assembly polls, equalling the record held by Rather.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) hope to establish base in Jammu and Kashmir

PDP had expressed confidence about forming the government, stating the same via a tweet from their official twitter handle.

Sajjad Lone

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday said that the decision of choosing an ally to form the government is a ‘hard one’, adding that such a decision has to be taken without ‘compromising on the ideology and agenda of the party’. “This is a very complicated situation. Jammu and Kashmir is a very complex state and we need to reach out to every region, every community to have an inclusive government. How we do that without compromising on our ideology and agenda is a great challenge,” PDP spokesperson Naeem Akhtar told ANI. Earlier on Monday, the PDP had expressed confidence about forming the government, stating the same via a tweet from their official twitter handle. “PDP will get majority of seats to form govt. and will work on the agenda it has promised to voters,” it wrote.Also Read: PDP breaches National Conference’s stronghold in SrinagarMeanwhile, former separatist and People’s Conference chairman, Sajjad Lone, expressed ‘happiness’ on the current trends but held back on commenting on lending support to either the BJP or the PDP.”These are just early trends. The counting still in progress, but I am happy. Let us see what happens,” he said. With the counting of the votes underway, the latest reports indicate that the BJP and the PDP are running neck to neck in the state. Meanwhile, the NC seems to have lost ground since the 2008 assembly elections.

All eyes riveted on Jammu- Kashmir, Jharkhand for assembly poll results

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Counting of votes will be held on Tuesday in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand which witnessed a record turnout in the multi-cornered contests to elect their assemblies.The five-phase election in the two states which stretched for nearly a month saw 66% voting with authorities making massive security arrangements to prevent any attempts by militants or Maoists to disrupt the polls. “The counting will begin at 8 AM and the first trends are expected to trickle within an hour or so. All security arrangements are in place at the counting centres,” an Election Commission official said on Monday. In Jammu and Kashmir, where polling was held for 87 seats, the turnout was the highest after 1987 despite boycott calls by separatists and militants.The militancy-hit state has seen a quadrangular fight among ruling National Conference, main opposition PDP, BJP and Congress, which parted ways with NC ahead of the polls. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who led NC’s bid to retain power, and Opposition PDP’s chief ministerial candidate Mufti Mohammad Sayeed are among the 821 candidates. While Omar contested from Beerwah seat in Budgam district and Sonawar seat in Srinagar, Sayeed is seeking re-election from Anantnag Assembly segment in the south Kashmir district.Most of the observers will keenly watch the result of Handwara Assembly constituency in north Kashmir Kupwara district where separatist-turned mainstream politician Sajjad Gani Lone is trying his luck. Jharkhand, which has been battling Maoist violence, registered an overall 66% turnout for the 81 assembly seats. The state, which was carved out of Bihar in 2000, bettered the previous mark of 54.2% in the 2004 assembly polls.Altogether 1,136 candidates, including 111 women, contested in Jharkhand an eligible electorate of 2,08,52,437, including 98,93,540 female voters. Out of the total seats, 28 are reserved for the Scheduled Tribes and nine for the Scheduled Castes. Jharkhand, which has seen nine governments and three stints of President’s rule in 14 years, saw fractured mandates in both 2005 and 2009 assembly elections. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) headed by Chief Minister Hemant Soren is seeking to retain power in the face of challenge by BJP. Most political observers and opinion polls are predicting a hung Assembly in Jammu and Kashmir. There are speculations about various political parties trying to work out an alliance, depending on the numbers thrown up on TuesdayOmar’s National Conference, which was the single-largest part in 2008 polls winning 28 seats, is facing an uphill task to retain its position. PDP, which had 21 members in the 11th Assembly, is expecting to be the single-largest party, riding on the anti-incumbency and anger among the flood victims. However, the party leadership is silent about any post-poll alliance so far. The ongoing elections will be a litmus test as much for BJP, which is making its first serious foray in Jammu and Kashmir to form a government, as for Congress, which will be hoping to stay relevant in the state politics following the massive rout in Lok Sabha polls earlier this year. BJP launched an aggressive campaign as part of its ‘Mission 44+’ — the magic number required for simple majority in the state Assembly — during which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several top leaders of the party addressed election rallies across the state. The election outcome will also judge BJP’s assessment of its chances of making inroads into the only Muslim-majority state of the country. The party did not name a chief ministerial candidate. BJP had 11 MLAs and any increase in the tally this year will be claimed as a Modi victory. The party is hoping to make gains in the two states after wresting Haryana and Maharashtra two months ago. While the NC is already claiming a victory, some party leaders are giving away a sense of uneasiness over the results.Sheikh Mustafa Kamal said National Conference will sit in the opposition if it did not get the numbers to form the next government. Congress, which had 17 MLAs, on the other hand has softened the election rhetoric. Instead of claiming to be the single-largest party, the party leaders are maintaining that no government formation will be possible without Congress involvement.National Conference and Congress, which were coalition partners for the past six years in the state but decided to go alone in the Assembly polls, fought a bitter war of words during the election campaign. In 2008 polls, NC had won 28 seats, Congress 17 and PDP 21. BJP had 11, Panthers’ Party 3 and CPM had one. Independents had bagegd six seats. In Jharkhand, BJP and JMM had won 18 seats each in the last election. Congress had 13, JVN(P) had 11, AJSU had six, RJD five snd JD(U) two.”All arrangements have been made for the counting at 24 centres across the state,” an EC official said in Ranchi. Chief Minister Hemant Soren (Dumka/Barhait) and ex chief ministers Arjun Munda (Kharsawan), Madhu Koda (Majhgaon) and Babulal Marandi (Dhanwar/Giridih) are among the total 1,136 candidates, including 111 women, whose fate will be known tomorrow. Other prominent candidates in the fray were Speaker Shashank Sekhar Bhokta (Sarath), ex-Speaker C P Singh (Ranchi) and all the ministers in the Hemant Soren cabinet, besides several sitting MLAs and ex-ministers.BJP, which contested in 72 seats, has a pre-poll alliance with the AJSU party which was in the fray in eight seats and Lok Janshakti party contested one seat. Ruling JMM contested in 79 seats. Congress contested in 62 seats, RJD in 22 and JDU in 11. Despite their pre-poll alliance, the three partners clashed in some of the constituencies. This is the third assembly elections in Jharkhand in 14 years of its existence but the state has seen nine governments interspersed with three periods of central rule.The state has so far been ruled by five tribal chief ministers — Babulal Marandi, Arjun Munda (thrice), Shibu Soren (thrice), Madhu Koda (once) and Hemant Soren (incumbent). BJP had formed the first coalition government under Babulal Marandi and Arjun Munda had been the head of BJP-led coalitions thrice. The term of Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir assemblies ends on January 3 and January 19 respectively.

India to be pro-active in enhancing energy efficiency: Prakash Javadekar

India will be pro-active in enhancing energy efficiency and expanding renewable energy in the fight against climate change, government told Parliament on Monday while giving details of its role in a recent UN-led global meet on the issue.Making a suo-moto statement in Lok Sabha on UN Climate Conference held in Peruvian capital Lima this month, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said there were efforts by some developed countries to undermine the basic tenents of the UN Convention. “The recognition that all elements need to be addressed in a balanced manner is a key outcome of the Conference as there were efforts by some developed countries to undermine the basic tenents of the Convention,” the Minister said.Javadekar said the key focus of the current negotiations were finalisation of elements of the draft negotiating text for 2015 Paris Agreement in view of the Durban (COP 2011) decision to finalise “a protocol, another legal agreement or an agreed outcome with legal force,” applicable to all, by December, next year. He said India was guided by the vision of the Government and Cabinet mandate and “our stand in the negotiations was also guided by the principle of Equity and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities,” which is the bedrock principle of the UNFCCC. “The Conference decided that the new agreement will be under the Convention and will reflect the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities in the light of different national circumstances. “It was also agreed that the new agreement will address all elements that is mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, capacity building and transparency of action and support in a balanced manner,” Javadekar said. Javadekar said some Parties were endeavouring to impose an ex-ante assessment of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) in the process. It meant that the INDCs would be mitigation centric and that after countries submit their INDCs, these would be aggregated to ascertain whether the sum total of contributions is adequate to achieve the global goal of containing temperature rise to below 2 degree Celsius by the end of the century from pre-industrial levels, he said. Any gap between the two could mean pressure on countries to re-submit their INDCs or enhance their contributions. However, India and many other countries of the developing world were not in favour of such externally imposed review as it would compromise the sovereignty of Parties in determining their targets as per their national circumstances,” the Minister said.”We have been able to successfully ensure that countries can include adaptation, finance, technology transfer etc also in their INDCs in addition to mitigation and there is no “ex-ante assessment” to be undergone. “Now countries have be submit quantifiable information on the reference point (base year), time frames, scope and planning process, assessments etc. related to the INDCs. “This would only be published on the UNFCCC website and a Synthesis Report of the aggregate effect of the INDCs of those Parties that have communicated their INDCs by 1st October, 2015 will be prepared by November 1, 2015,” the Minister said. Javadekar said the enhancement of action in the pre-2020 period was another important issue.He said the Conference decided to accelerate action on enhancing the pre-2020 actions like early ratification of the Kyoto Protocol second commitment period, revisiting of targets and conditionalities associated with it and provision of finance, technology and capacity building support by developed countries to developing countries in consonance with Warsaw decisions. “The Parties also agreed to organise further technical expert meetings to examine options for further action in the period 2015-2020,” the Minister said.

Ali Anwar trashes exit polls, claims BJP won’t come to power in Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir

Refusing to give any credence to the exit poll predictions in regards to Jharkhand and in Jammu and Kashmir, Janata Dal (United) leader Ali Anwar on Sunday claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would not be able to form governments in any of the two states. “This is just an exit poll; the exact poll is yet to come. I do not think whether it is in Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi or Jharkhand the BJP would be able to form government,” he said. However, the JD-U leader acknowledged that the people were distraught about the local governments and there was no strong alliance within the opposition which he said could help the BJP. Various exit polls have reportedly predicted clear majority for the BJP in Jharkhand Assembly elections, and a hung assembly in Jammu and Kashmir. According to all exit polls, the BJP appears all set to form next government in Jharkhand, ABP News-Nielsen says the BJP will get about 52 seats in the 81-member Jharkhand assembly. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) is predicted to win 10 seats, Congress 7, and RJD and JDU 1 each. Today’s Chanakya has predicted a landslide victory for the BJP in Jharkhand with the party projected to win 61 seats. It predicts a debacle for the Congress with the party projected to win just 4 seats. JMM is predicted to win 12 seats, while others winning 4. ITG-CICERO exit poll suggests the BJP will get 43 to 51 seats in Jharkhand, while the JMM with 14 to 18 seats will emerge the second-largest party. The Congress is predicted to win 7 to 11 seats while others are also predicted to win 7 to 11 seats. In Jammu and Kashmir, C-Voter predicts no clear majority for any party with the PDP emerging as the single-largest party. It has predicted 32 to 38 seats for the PDP, 27 to 33 for the BJP, 8 to 14 for the National Conference and 4 to 10 for the Congress. The five-phase voting in the two states concluded on Saturday. While Jharkhand witnessed the highest ever poll percentage of over 66%, Jammu and Kashmir recorded a voter turnout of about 66%, the highest ever in 25 years.

Exit polls predict BJP to win Jharkhand but to fall short of majority in Jammu and Kashmir

BJP is projected to get a majority in Jharkhand while Jammu and Kashmir may return a hung verdict with PDP emerging as the single largest party followed by BJP in assembly elections in the two states, according to two separate exit polls on Saturday. As curtains came down on polling in the two states, India TV-CVoter exit poll has predicted 37-45 seats for BJP and ally AJSU in 81-seat Jharkhand Assembly while Todays Chanakya has projected a saffron sweep, giving the party 61 seats. Its overall tally may go up or come down by eight seats, it added.BJP is, however, likely to fall much short of its mission-44 target in the 87-member J and K Assembly. India TV has put its likely tally in the state at 27-33 seats with a lion’s share, 25-31, coming from Jammu region. Ruling National Conference may register its worst-ever performance and is predicted by India TV poll to come third.India TV has projected 32-38 seats for Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led PDP. National Conference will come third by winning only 8-14 seats, followed by Congress with 4-10 seats. Others may get 2-8 seats. PDP is projected to put up a remarkable show in the Kashmir valley and expected to win 29-35 of 46 seats in the region. The poll has projected 7-13 seats for NC and 0-2 for Congress in the Valley. BJP, which had run an aggressive campaign in Kashmir with Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing rallies, could draw a blank in the Valley. Its expected tally is 0-1.Both BJP and Congress are forecast to pick 1-3 seats in Ladakh, which has four Assembly constituencies. In previous J & K Assembly polls in 2008, NC had won 28, PDP 21, Congress 17 and BJP 11 seats while others triumphed in 10 places. In Jharkhand, ruling JMM has been projected by India TV to win 15-23 seats while Todays Chanakya has given it 12 seats with a margin of four on either side. Congress is expected to get 3-7 seats and 4 seats, India TV and Todays Chanakya respectively said. In the last Jharkhand elections, BJP and JMM had won 18 seats each followed by Congress with 14. Former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi-led JVM, which had won 11 seats in previous polls, is projected to fare poorly.

Navjot Singh Sidhu blames ‘insecure’ Parkash Singh Badal for attack on convoy

Parkash Singh Badal

Former cricketer and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on Thursday blamed Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for the attack on his convoy in Jammu and Kashmir and claimed the latter was insecure about his (Sidhu’s) popularity. “My popularity in Punjab and J-K is making Badal Sahib insecure; he cannot say anything on Sidhu politically…….just go and ask Badal Sahib who is responsible for the drugs sale? Who is responsible for stalling the development in Amritsar? We have to stop dynasty politics. I openly invite Badal Sahib to come on any national channel for a discussion,” Sidhu told media persons here. “Sending 15 people will not end rallies, I have addressed more than 50 rallies…I can even lay down my life for my party…. When I used to campaign for Badal Sahib to make him win, then everything was fine. Now, the people of Punjab are demanding a change. He feels insecure when I utter one line,” he said. Earlier in the day, unknown assailants attacked Sidhu’s convoy, pelting the cars with stones. In the melee, the windscreens of some cars were damaged. On Wednesday, Sidhu had reportedly appealed to the people of Jammu to ‘disband’ the Congress, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC) from the state, adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had envisaged a vision for the state in which Jammu and Kashmir would compare favourably with Gujarat. This attack is the second that Sidhu has faced after the former Amritsar MP was reportedly roughed up earlier this week by unidentified Sikh youths after he had addressed a rally.

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