On a day of fast-moving political developments, T.R. Zeliang was on Wednesday sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Nagaland replacing Shurhozelie Liezietsu, who was sacked by Governor P.B. Acharya.But within hours, the Naga People’s Front (NPF) expelled Mr. Zeliang for six years for “anti-party activities”, indicating the political turmoil was far from over.“He was adamant and has already planned to dismantle the NPF party,” NPF working presidents Huska Yepthomi and Apong Pongener said.Mr. Zeliang, however, was unfazed saying he would continue to remain the NPF leader in the House.“The expulsion from the party does not affect the membership inside the House,” he said.Mr. Zeliang was appointed shortly after embattled Mr. Liezietsu and his supporters failed to turn up in the Assembly to face the floor test following which the House was adjourned sine die.Mr. Zeliang was administered oath of office and secrecy by the Governor at a function at Durbar Hall in Raj Bhavan in the presence of Speaker Imtiwapang Aier, 42 NPF MLAs and State BJP president Visasolie Lhoungu.After being sworn in to head the NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government for the second time, Mr. Zeliang told newsmen he would prove his majority in the House on July 21. The Governor has directed him to go for the floor test by July 22.He said he would induct his council of ministers after proving his majority in the Assembly. Parliamentary secretaries would also be appointed after July 21, he added.Mr. Zeliang had spearheaded the rebellion against Mr. Liezietsu on July 8 and staked claim to form new the Naga People’s Front government with the support of majority MLAs.The Governor had asked Mr. Liezietsu to prove his majority in the House by July 15, but the latter had filed a writ petition in the Gauhati High Court, which was dismissed on July 18.Subsequently, the Governor had summoned the special session of the House on July 19.On reconciliation within the party, he said that once the formation of the government is complete, the process for reconciliation at the party level will start.“We are hopeful of providing a stable government with the support of the majority of the members of the House to complete the remaining term of the government”, he said.On the possibility of resumption of public protests with his taking over as the Chief Minister, Mr. Zeliang said that he would discuss the matter of women reservation in urban local bodies with the tribal ‘hohos’ (apex bodies) and other organisations.“We will do what is best for the people and not go for confrontation with them,” he said.Mr. Zeliang was compelled to step down as Chief Minister in February in the face of massive protest against his government for conducting elections to urban local bodies with 33% women reservation.
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A young man in Jamtara, motorcycle-borne and wearing track pants and floaters, offers additional ground inputs. “It is not that simple and cannot be done alone. You require a dal [group],” he says. Typically the crime involves two people. One who makes a call to an unsuspecting customer seeking details about his bank account, while masquerading as a bank official. The second person sits with a smartphone, all set to click on ‘proceed to make payment’ for items on an e-commerce website. He completes the transaction with the customer’s bank details within moments after his partner secures them. The SIM card is then disconnected and destroyed. In most of the cases bank accounts or e-wallets of a third party is used to make these ”vishing” transactions and the police have to follow a long trail to get to the main perpetrator.Many of Jamtara’s ”vishing” experts have never left town, but their reach spans the nation. In May last, Sheela (name changed), who had just delivered a baby, applied for a bank account at the Central Bank of India in Darjeeling. A few days later, an ‘agent’ from the bank called asking for more details. The agent sounded genuinely helpful, and sympathetic, and told Sheela that she could avoid coming all the way to the branch if she could give the name and ATM card details of a guarantor. Without giving it much thought, Sheela called her mother, who works as a domestic help in Delhi, and passed on the latter’s State Bank of India ATM number and PIN to the ‘agent’. Within hours, her mother was on the line again, tearfully telling her that nearly ₹30,000, her savings of years, had been withdrawn from her account.The Delhi Police’s E-fraud Investigative Cell moved quickly, helped by a spate of recent cases that were similar. Clearly, buoyed by their recent success, the Jamtara gangs were getting sloppy. They tracked the money transfer through Paytm and an e-retailer to a bank account in Himachal Pradesh. But even though the money was found, the culprit is untraceable, says a senior officer. “The people are so well organised, and have access to thousands of SIM cards that they deactivate the moment they are able to successfully con someone. They make thousands of calls every day, and only have to get lucky once in a while.”The account in Himachal Pradesh that police traced Sheela’s mother’s earnings to had a bank balance exceeding ₹7.5 lakh, all presumably ill-gotten gains made by swindling the most naïve, defenceless and helpless, whose only real fault was attempting to enter India’s much-vaunted digital world, and trusting their money would be safe in it.With inputs from Suhasini Haidar The police station in front of which stand seized SUVs. A cybercafe in Karmatar No stranger to crimeLocated in the Santhal Pargana region, Jamtara, which was demarcated as a district in April 2001, has been prone to crime in the past as well. “Earlier, the people were involved in wagon-breaking; then there were reports of train passengers being intoxicated and duped. This is how the nature of crime has evolved here,” says Roy. It doesn’t help that the literacy rate of Jamtara district, with a population of about 7.91 lakh, is 64.59% and the percentage of non-workers is 58.71. The district economy depends primarily on agriculture.Despite those abysmal numbers, the presence of easy money here is apparent, evidenced by the numerous cell phone towers, branches of all major public and private bank, and the mushrooming of two-wheeler showrooms in the area. At Karmatar, a hamlet of huts a few years ago, there are more concrete houses being built than in the district headquarters itself. “How do you convince people who have no other modes of employment? What else will give them this kind of earning?” Mr. Roy asks rhetorically.Crime also tends to be infectious — in the confessional statement before the police, 22-year-old Diwakar Mondal, arrested on March 11, 2017, states that he along with his cousin Mithun Mondal gathered fake SIM cards and started indulging in cybercrime after “aas-paas ke log cyber thuggee kar ke amir ban gaye (people around us became rich by indulging in cybercrime)”. In the statement, Diwakar admits to arranging mobile SIM cards with fake identities and also bank accounts under different names.Talk of the townAt the Jamtara Bar Association complex, defence lawyers are complaining that the district court isn’t granting bail to the accused because of the perception that cybercrime has reached alarming proportions.The chamber of S.N. Mondal, one of the most sought-after defence lawyers for cybercrime, which is located at the heart of Jamtara town, is buzzing with activity as early as 8.30 a.m. Janardan Mondal, an accused, is one of the first to arrive. He claims that he used to work as an agent for a non-banking deposit collection company in the district and vehemently denies the charge of withdrawing money from someone else’s account.“At Karmatar, we were the first to have a car. But then someone in the neighbourhood also called Janardan — much younger to me — duped a minister from Delhi and the police came knocking on my door in February-March, 2014,” he says.As Janardan hangs around, a middle-aged man with an arm sling drops by to persuade the lawyer to seek bail for his younger brother who is behind bars. “Please see these papers to arrange his bail,” pleads the man. “Arre, tum log badmash to hai (You guys are bad for sure),” the lawyer retorts, whispering to me, “The middle-aged man’s brother is an ATM master (a term used for those indulging in cybercrime).” He adds that cases of online fraud are on the rise. “I should not be disclosing this but take a look at this,” he says, pointing at the charge sheet — a senior police officer has been duped.Outside the lawyer’s chamber, the man in the arm sling has an animated discussion on how incidents of cyber fraud and ”vishing” have given a bad name to the area. “It is difficult to get our daughters married,” he says. Reports of cybercrimes have assumed mythical proportions; it is not uncommon to hear at practically every nook and corner of the town about how boys have duped people from different parts of country, targeting even ministers, senior government officers and famous actors.Pujya Prakash,Sub Divisional Police Officer of Jamtara, keeps a large hand-drawn map in his office marking every incident of cybercrime. “There are many, who after being granted bail, return to their tricks. The returns in this business are so much higher,” he says.The modus operandiThe local police stations have stopped giving residence proof certificates — required for government jobs — to those accused of cybercrime. A ‘cyber police station’ to keep a tab on these crimes is also on the cards. But policemen insist that even provisions of the Information Technology Act are inadequate to tackle the organised nature of cybercrime.“A cottage industry has developed in Jamtara,” says a senior officer with Delhi Police’s E-fraud Investigative Cell, detailing the modus operandi. He says scores of jobless young persons are involved in acquiring vast numbers of SIM cards on fake identities, which they use to fool unsuspecting ATM card owners. Almost all e-wallets such as Paytm, Freecharge are being used. One deduction from an ATM card travels to one e-wallet and immediately into five or six other e-wallets, and then finally into a bank account, from where it is instantly withdrawn via ATMs. The quiet railway station in the heart of Karmatar draws its name from one of the country’s greatest social reformers, but today hardly anyone seems to be aware of the connection of this place to Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. Only a few hundred metres from the Vidyasagar railway station is the place where he lived for 18 years, taught girls in a thatched school, and distributed medicines from a home clinic. Some of the articles used by him are still lying here but the place, which should have been a tourist destination, does not get any visitors these days.Instead, this nondescript little town in Jharkhand’s Jamtara district is often frequented by police from different States: it has emerged as one of the biggest hubs of cybercrime in the country. Records at the Karmatar police station reveal that between April 2015 and March 2017, police teams from 12 different States have visited the station 23 times and arrested around 38 accused. Over 80 cases have been registered suo motu by the Jamtara district police between July 2014 and July 2017 against 330 residents of the area. At Karmatar police station alone, the number of arrests in 2017 has crossed 100. | Photo Credit: Manob Chowdhury Cases and seizuresThere are hardly any signs of development on the 17-km road leading from district headquarters Jamtara to Karmatar. The road itself, which runs parallel to the railway line, is pockmarked with large potholes. The only thing that catches the eye in this semi-urban setting with a population of about 2,00,000 are the dozen mobile phone towers erected in the fields on either side of the road. And it is these towers that hold the key to Jamtara’s infamy.With half-a-dozen LED television monitors and two soft black sofas — one of them right next to the lock-up cell — gathering dust, the newly constructed Karmatar police station appears unlike others. Within the station compound are parked brand-new vehicles — all SUVs — and over two dozen motorbikes, all seized vehicles. In one of the dimly lit rooms inside, an officer is going through a handwritten note, oblivious to an informer’s repeated attempts to draw his attention to a tip-off about illegal liquor being sold somewhere. It’s a petition by a man arrested in a cybercrime case alleging human rights violations.Krishna Dutt Jha has been in charge of the police station for the past eight months but finds it difficult to keep a count of the articles seized. “How many sofas have we seized this year?” he asks one of his subordinate officers. “Three, Sir. Two air conditioners and 12 refrigerators too,” comes the response. Jha begins the count once again: 70 LED TVs, three washing machines, 40 ATM cards, about 80 bank passbooks, 200 mobile phones and ₹9.28 lakh in cash.Speaking of the latest arrest he has made, Mr. Jha says about ₹99,500 was withdrawn from a person in Sambalpur, Odisha. Two brothers, Pradip Mondal and Pradyuman Mondal, were arrested from the Karmatar area on July 15 in a joint operation by the district police and a police team from Odisha. On August 5, the third accused, their cousin Dukhi Mondal, a truck driver, was arrested. The money allegedly siphoned off from the Odisha bank account by the two brothers was parked in a mobile e-wallet of their cousin and used to buy diesel from petrol pumps. | Photo Credit: Manob Chowdhury About 12 km from Karmatar police station is the Narayanpur police station, another area where multiple cases of cyber fraud have been recorded in the recent past. Boxes of liquor seized in a raid the previous night are piled up outside the entrance of the main police station building. The registers of the police station present a maze of unknown numbers, SIM cards referring to frauds done using e-wallets. Most of the complaints of cyber fraud, like the ones at Karmatar, have been registered suo motu by the police station in charge. The charges are mostly the same: Section 419, 420 of the IPC (cheating by impersonation and cheating), 468 and 471 (forgery for cheating and using forged document as genuine), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and Section 66B, 66C and 66D of the Information Technology Act.Senior police officers reveal that the first cases of online fraud pertained to mobile recharges in 2011. A group of youth who had gone to work outside the district learnt the trick of recharging phones without actually paying and made some quick money. A couple of years later, cases of siphoning of money from bank accounts by accessing financial details came to the fore.Some police officers call the practice “phising” (phishing) but Jaya Roy, the Jamtara Superintendent of Police (SP), says it is actually “vishing”, gaining access to private financial information of a person by claiming to be calling on behalf of a bank or financial institution. She says the tricks which the local youth, mostly school and college dropouts, employ to dupe people are not very complicated. “They call up people posing as bank officials on any pretext, say, linking the Aadhaar number to the bank account, and ask for card details. Sometimes, they even warn not to give the ATM PIN and say ‘we are sending you an OTP from the bank and you have to confirm the OTP number’. Unfortunately, even educated people get convinced and get duped,” says the SP. Cyber crime hubs of Jharkhand’s Jamtara district
Months before the State Assembly polls, the Gujarat government on Thursday once again invited Patidar community leaders for talks to resolve the contentious quota issue. The government’s latest offer comes in the wake of the quota agitation leader Hardik Patel’s yatra in Patidar-dominated areas that saw him drawing massive crowds.Speaking to the media, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said he and other party leaders will meet representatives of the Patidar community and community organisations on September 26 to discuss their demands. However, Mr. Patel said, “I have not received any offer for talks from the government.” According to sources, the government’s latest move is aimed at isolating Hardik Patel and his aides, who have been openly campaigning against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the State.“It seems that the BJP wants to isolate Hardik by inviting community leaders for talks on the quota issue,” said a Patidar leader, requesting anonymity. However, he was not sure if the government’s attempt to isolate Hardik, who is the face the agitation , will succeed.When asked why Hardik Patel was not invited, the Deputy CM, who earlier held a series of rounds with community leaders, said that the two outfits — Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and Sardar Patel Group (SPG) — had approached the religious organisations of the Patidar community to intervene and thus the government has invited the representatives of religious outfits for the talks. Meanwhile, Hardik and his aides have intensified their social media campaign against the BJP and the State. government.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a roadshow at his hometown Vadnagar in Gujarat on October 8, 2017. Photo: @PMOIndia On his first visit to his hometown as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on October 8 said the immense love showered by people of Vadnagar has given him a new energy to serve the nation with more zeal. On the second day of his visit to poll-bound Gujarat, Mr. Modi held a roadshow at Vadnagar, his birthplace, in Mehsana district where a large number of people queued up along the route to greet him. The entire city was decorated to accord him a grand welcome. Mr. Modi was visiting his birthplace for the first time after becoming Prime Minister in 2014.UpdatesModi flags off Antyodaya ExpressMr. Modi laid the foundation stone for a barrage over the Narmada and flagged off the Antyodaya Express at Bharuch. “The Antyodaya Express is a commendable initiative by the Railway Ministry. It connects people and particularly helps those who are from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and work away from their home,” he said. “Antyodaya Express makes it easier for people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to go home for Chhath Puja.” “Gujarat’s strides in animal husbandry have helped farmers. I told U.P. CM Yogi Adityanath to send a team to Gujarat and study the Pashu Arogya Melas. They did that and organised a similar one in Varanasi, which I had the opportunity to visit and see how it helped farmers,” he said. ‘UPA failed to frame on health policy’Mr. Modi slammed the UPA government over the state of healthcare sector in the country, alleging that it had failed to frame a health policy during its 10-year rule. He also said that the previous government did not pay attention to increasing the number of seats in medical colleges.“The last health policy was announced during Atalji’s (former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee) regime around 15 years back. After that, such a government assumed power which used to hate development. It did not have any empathy for the people,” Mr. Modi said.“As a result, a new health policy was introduced after almost 15 years by our government,” he said addressing a gathering after inaugurating a medical college here in his hometown. The Prime Minister also criticised the earlier government over the issue of seats in medical colleges which, according to him, were much less than the requirement of doctors in the country.“Due to the rules formulated by the past governments, very few students were able to secure admission in the medical colleges. Thus, we have taken up the task of opening one medical college for (every) three to four Lok Sabha constituencies across the country,” Mr. Modi said.“Since we also need good professors for such colleges, we have also increased 6,000 seats in PG medical courses in the last one year. Though some people criticised the move, we remained firm because we understand that we will need good professors for producing good doctors,” he said.The Prime Minister said due to the relentless efforts of his government, the prices of stents as well as medicines have drastically reduced.“The prices of stents were around ₹1.5 lakh to almost ₹2 lakh (each). Someone would get a heart attack by just hearing such a high price. We then called the manufacturers and asked them not to rob the poor by charging such high price. Today, the stents are available at just 40% of the original price,” he said.“Similarly, we were also concerned about the prices of medicines. That is why we have started a mission to sell generic medicines at subsidised rates,” Mr. Modi said.Mission Indra Dhanush“I am happy that I have got to inaugurate projects relating to the health sector, particularly Intensified Mission Indra Dhanush,” Mr. Modi said. “We brought prices of stents down. Work is constantly being done to make healthcare affordable for the poor.”After meeting with the students of a medical college, Mr. Modi said, “We as a society require more doctors who can serve people.”Warm welcome at Vadnagar“I am touched by the immense love showered by the people of Vadnagar today. It gave me new energy to serve the nation with more zeal,” Mr. Modi said addressing a public gathering after the roadshow. He said he had managed to serve the nation with the help of blessings of Lord Shiva since 2001 despite some people “spewing venom” at him over these years. “The blessings of Bhole Baba (Lord Shiva) gave me the strength to drink and digest poison. Due to this ability, I was able to counter all those who spewed venom against me since 2001. This ability gave me the strength to serve the motherland with dedication over these many years,” he said. “I started my journey from Vadnagar and now I have reached Kashi (Varanasi). Just like Vadnagar, Kashi is also the town of Bhole Baba (Lord Shiva). Bhole Baba’s blessings gave me immense strength, and this strength is the biggest gift I have received from this land,” he said.(With PTI inputs)
The Opposition Congress on Wednesday retained both Mungaoli and Kolaras Assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh, while the ruling Biju Janata Dal wrested the Bijepur Assembly seat in Odisha from the Congress in the bypolls held last week.Congress’s Mungaoli candidate Brajendra Singh Yadav, who got 70,808 votes, beat his BJP rival Baisahab Yadav by a margin of 2,124 votes. In Kolaras, Congress candidate Mahendra Singh Yadav defeated BJP’s Devendra Kumar Jain by over 8,000 votes.The outcome of the two bypolls in M.P. is being seen as a possible pointer to the mood of the people ahead of the Assembly elections due later this year in the BJP-ruled State. The bypolls were necessitated due to the death of Congress MLAs Mahendra Singh Kalukheda (Mungaoli) and Ram Singh Yadav (Kolaras).Naveen upbeatIn Odisha, BJD candidate Ritarani Sahu won with an impressive margin of 41,933 votes. She bagged a total of 1,02,871 votes, while Ashok Panigrahi of the BJP came second with 60,938 votes and Pranaya Sahu of the Congress got only 10,274 votes, according to Returning Officer Tapiram Majhi.Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik termed the outcome a “rejection” of violence by the people of Bijepur. “Odisha is a peaceful State. The people will not stand for violence in a democracy,” he said.Mr. Patnaik was apparently hinting at a series of incidents in the run-up to the bypoll, including slippers being thrown at him during an election meeting in Bijepur and an attack on the brother of the State’s Labour Minister. The BJD had alleged BJP’s involvement in these incidents.Speaking to the media after her victory, Ms. Sahu said, “I will work for the all-round development of the people in our area and strive hard to fulfil my husband’s (former Bijepur legislator Subal Sahu) dream.”The Bijepur seat had fallen vacant after the death of Subal Sahu, a Congress MLA, in August last year. Ms. Sahu had joined the BJD a month after his demise.Mr. Panigrahi, a former BJD legislator, had joined the BJP in October last year.The poor show by the Congress, which had won the Bijepur seat in three consecutive elections in 2004, 2009 and 2014, was primarily due to the infighting in its State unit and late announcement of the party’s nominee.(with PTI inputs)
Pune: The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s (AIMIM) Imtiaz Jaleel, MLA, has written an open letter to Shiv Sena MP Chandrakant Khaire, blaming the latter’s party for stirring communal discord in Aurangabad.Journalist-turned-politician Mr. Jaleel urged the Sena leader to desist from indulging in blame game and instead focus on solving pressing problems affecting the citizens, like garbage disposal and water supply.“The events of May 11-12 were the handiwork of anti-social elements from both communities. There are lakhs of citizens in this city who strive for peaceful co-existence and wish to carry on with their businesses in peace,” he has said in the letter.At the same time, the MLA has criticised the MP for taking out a protest rally by Shiv Sainiks on May 18 despite being denied permission by the police. “Dear Mr. Khaire, your statements before the media and the police in the aftermath of the riots where you claim to be ‘a protector of the Hindu religion’ has deeply hurt sentiments of the city’s more sensitive residents. As a senior leader and a consecutive-term MP of the city, is it not your responsibility towards protecting citizens of all creeds and religious affiliation?” reads the letter.Mr. Jaleel said that Mr. Khaire’s “identification with a particular religion and community only” and his “aggressive partisanship” had only served to alienate minorities and heighten communal tensions in the fortnight following the riots.“I am doing my best to provide succour to Hindu community members in my area and am helping a Hindu gentleman set-up his ice-cream shop destroyed in the rioting. Would you do the same to provide relief to your Muslim brethren by helping set-up their ravaged silk establishments in the Gulmandi area? Let us join hands to help the riot afflicted,” reads Mr. Jaleel’s letter.The MIM legislator has further exhorted Mr. Khaire to take out an “all-party peace rally” under the latter’s leadership in a bid to restore the fractured peace of the historic city.The Aurangabad police on May 18 had denied permission to the Sena for staging a protest rally in a city limping back to normalcy in the aftermath of the riots left two persons dead besides resulting in severe damage to property and aggravating communal tensions.The authorities were worried that the Sena’s ‘show of strength’, in protest against the alleged indifference of the police authorities during the clashes, would further exacerbate tensions in a fraught city.Despite the prohibition, Shiv Sainiks led by Mr. Khaire staged the rally on May 19. The procession of irate Sainiks passed through the riot-hit areas of Gulmandi, City Chowk and Shahaganj of Old Aurangabad.Mr. Khaire is a fourth-time MP, winning from Aurangabad since 1999. He was also a two-time legislator, winning from the Aurangabad West constituency in 1990 and 1995, besides serving as a cabinet Minister in the erstwhile Sena-BJP government which ruled the State during 1995-99.Mr. Jaleel made news during the results to the 2014 Assembly election, when, as a political novitiate, he beat the Shiv Sena’s Pradeep Jaiswal to snare the Aurangabad Central constituency.On Monday, the police had arrested Mr. Jaiswal for ransacking the Kranti Chowk police station. The Sena leader had created a ruckus while demanding the release of two Sena activists arrested in connection with the rioting.Mr. Jaiswal, who was remanded to a 15-day judicial custody at Aurangabad central prison, was later moved to a hospital after he allegedly complained of chest pain. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted to probe the riots has already arrested local Shiv Sena leader Laxminarayan Bakhriya alias Lachhu Pahelwan, said to be the chief instigator of the clashes.The SIT has also arrested another Sena leader, corporator Rajendra Janjal for personally indulging in vandalism, torching vehicles and smashing shops during the night of the rioting, along with AIMIM corporator Feroz Khan, who is charged with inciting a mob to violence during the clashes.The riots, which allegedly began over illegal water connections, rapidly took on a communal colour and engulfed the old part of Aurangabad city claiming two lives – of a 17-year-old youth and a man in his 60s – besides leaving more than 50 persons injured and resulting in massive damage to property.
Employees of J&K Bank on Thursday held a demonstration in Srinagar and demanded a rollback of Governor Satya Pal Malik’s decision to declare the bank a public sector undertaking, one that fuelled fears over the bank’s autonomy.Employees assembled at the bank’s corporate headquarters in Srinagar carrying placards that read, ‘Roll back the State Administrative Council decision’. “We warned the government against interfering in the bank’s affairs. We will chalk out our further course of action once a formal order is issued. We will make public the ramification of the move,” said All India J&K Bank Officers’ Federation head Tassaduq Madni.Employees of the bank have threatened to intensify protests in coming days.The Governor-headed SAC decided to convert the bank into a PSU on November 21, evoking widespread condemnation from regional parties, the civil society and the traders’ bodies. Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party also held a street protest in Srinagar over the issue.The protest rally from the party headquarters to the city centre, Lal Chowk, was led by senior PDP leader Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura.‘Reconsider order’Former legislators M.Y. Tarigami, Ghulam Hassan Mir and Hakeem Yaseen have asked the Governor-led administration “to reconsider the order on J&K Bank”.In a joint statement, the leaders welcomed the decision to bring the bank under the purview of the Right to Information Act, the Central Vigilance Commission guidelines and the State Legislature. “However, the decision of the State Administrative Council to turn the bank into a public sector undertaking is unwarranted and must be reconsidered,” they said in a joint statement.
The Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) secretary Puja Shakun Pandey and her husband Ashok Pandey, who were accused of recreating the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on his death anniversary in Aligarh last week, were arrested on Wednesday.ASP Aligarh Neeraj Jadaun said the two were intercepted at Tappal, a cut into the Yamuna Expressway near Aligarh. Both had applied a surrender application in court.An FIR had been lodged against Ms. Pandey, Ashok Pandey, ABHM spokesperson, and a dozen other members of the right-wing outfit were charged with committing deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings and for promoting enmity between different groups, among other sections of the Indian Penal Code.With the arrest of the Pandey couple, so far nine out of the 11 persons identified in the video related to the case have been arrested, said Mr. Jadaun.While being taken to court, Ms. Pandey reiterated her stand, saying she had “no regrets” regarding her act. “It is unfortunate that the equality for the right to express is different for different people on the basis on religion,” she told reporters.Her husband Ashok Pandey said this was the “second punishment for Gandhi’s murder.”While the incident took place within the private compounds of the ABHM, it came to light through a video shared online by the outfit itself. In the footage, Ms. Pandey, dressed in a saffron saree, was seen firing shots at an effigy of Gandhiji with an artificial pistol thrice. Fake blood oozed out of the effigy, which some participants termed as “dirty.” The participants then hailed Nathuram Godse, the man who assasinated Mahatma Gandhi. Slogans such as “Mahatma Nathuram Godse amar rahe (Long live Mahatma Nathuram Godse)” were raised. The effigy was then set on fire, while an image of Godse was later garlanded. Defending the act, Ms. Pandey had later told reporters that the assassination of Gandhi was like a shaurya diwas (a day of valour) for the ABHM and the beginning of a “new tradition” like the burning of the effigy of Ravan every year during Dusshera. She had also said that Gandhiji had a minor role in the independence movement and criticised him for “the murder of Bharat Mata,” a reference to the partition. The ABHM will work to promote Godse, through the slogan, “Har har Godse, ghar ghar Godse,” said Ms. Pandey.Past controversiesThis is not the first that Ms. Pandey has been in a controversy. Last year, the ABHM set up the first self-styled “Hindu court” in Meerut, appointing her as its first “judge.” The Allahabad High court issued notice in the matter after a PIL was filed. In December, 2018 she had felicitated the then Aligarh district police chief Ajay Sahani for his campaign on adoption of destitute cows, while in August 2017, Ms. Pandey had run a campaign demanding a ban on slaughtering of animals during the Muslim festival of Bakrid.Her alleged connection to the ruling BJP was also speculated on social media after pictures of her sharing space with top leaders such as Uma Bharti and Shivraj Singh Chouhan were widely shared.Munna Sharma, national general secretary of the ABHM, however, told The Hindu last week that he was “not aware” of Ms. Pandey’s links with the BJP. “She is working under the banner of the Hindu Mahasabha… Where is the proof? If there will be, then we will see what to do about it,” Mr. Sharma had said.Mr. Ashok Pandey had contested in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls from Koil on a ABHM ticket, but could manage poll only 442 votes.
The Congress on Tuesday hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the self-immolation bid by a woman from Hapur who was allegedly turned away by the police in Uttar Pradesh when she reportedly sought to file a complaint about having been gang raped.“The shocking incident being reported today all over India that a woman from Uttar Pradesh set herself ablaze and is in critical condition in AIIMS with 80% burns in order to ensure that her voice reaches the BJP government, specifically Uttar Pradesh government,” Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said at a press conference.“Will the Prime Minister visit the hospital and reply why her complaint was not registered by the police for the past 7 months? Will he reply to the girl or give answers, why under the BJP government” she was assaulted multiple times, asked Mr. Shergill. A widow is reported to have set herself on fire after she was sold for ₹10,000 and gang-raped but was turned away by the Hapur police.“The Prime Minister and the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister are busy campaigning and not understanding a woman’s pain who became the victim of such a heinous crime,” Mr. Shergill asserted. “The Indian National Congress demands answers and accountability from the Prime Minister and from the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister on account of rising crimes against women,” he said. The Congress spokesperson claimed that crimes against women were increasing in States being ruled by the BJP. He asserted that the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data showed that “after BJP came to power in 2014, crimes against women alone in Uttar Pradesh has increased by 34% and child rape cases have also increased in the country by 83%.”“Under the BJP rule, women have to burn themselves to get justice, Not only in this case but the same happened in Unnao. The victim protested for six long months to get justice. She also threatened the government by saying that she will also burn herself if her plea is not heard,” he alleged.
Legislators on both sides of the aisle in the U.S. House of Representatives say they love science, which is seen as engine for innovation and economic growth. But in counting the ways, Republicans and Democrats on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology have come up with very different proposed budget numbers for the leading funder of the physical sciences in the United States, the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science.With an annual budget of $4.621 billion, the Office of Science runs 10 national laboratories that house numerous “user facilities” including x-ray synchrotrons and neutron sources that support 29,000 researchers annually. The office funds research in basic energy science, such as materials science and chemistry; biological and environmental research, such as the development of advanced biofuels and the study of climate; advanced scientific computing using supercomputers; fusion research, such as the United States’ participation in the international project ITER in Cadarache, France; high-energy particle physics; and nuclear physics.Democrats would like to amp up the science office’s budget by 33.7% over 5 years to $6.263 billion. That plan appears in the Democrats’ proposed renewal of the America COMPETES Act, which they unveiled last week. The original COMPETES act aimed to double federal investment in the physical sciences through DOE, the National Science Foundation, and other federal research agencies to help the United States meet increasing competition from countries in Europe and Asia. That bipartisan bill passed in 2007, when Republican George W. Bush was president and Democrats controlled the House, and renewed in 2010, when the Democrats still held the House.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Republicans are calling for more modest increases. Instead of crafting a comprehensive proposal to renew COMPETES, Republican lawmakers have split the effort into two bills: one for DOE alone, and another for the rest of the agencies. Details of the DOE bill, known as the Enabling Innovation for Science, Technology, and Energy in America Act, or EINSTEIN America Act, have not been released. But some of the basic elements appeared in the charter for a 30 October hearing of the science committee’s Subcommittee on Energy. EINSTEIN specifies budgets only 2 years into the future and would increase the office’s budget by 2.7% over that time to $4.747 billion. In contrast, the Democrats’ bill would boost spending by 17.1% over the same period.The funding levels in the Republican draft “essentially amount to harmful cuts because they do not even keep up with the level of inflation for research,” Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), the senior Democrat on the science committee, said at the hearing. But science committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) affirmed Republicans’ support for DOE’s science wing. “We may have a slight difference on funding, but I think overall we are all are very encouraged by what the Office of Science of the DOE does,” Smith said, “The Department of Energy at its core is a science agency.” Both Smith and Johnson said they hoped the two sides could come to an agreement.So where would Republicans tighten the fiscal belt? Legislators and witnesses at the hearing, who had seen the Republican draft, suggested it would seek savings in part by deemphasizing DOE research on the environment and climate change. John Hemminger, a chemist from the University of California, Irvine, and chair of DOE’s Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, noted that within biological and environmental research, the Republican bill specifically favors research on biological systems, genomics, and the effects of low-dose radiation. But a molecular-level understanding of pollution and climate change is as important to DOE’s overall energy mission, he testified. “I think it’s a mistake to try to legislatively prioritize topics within the office,” he said in reply to a question.Even if legislators agree to authorize budget levels higher than those in the Republican draft, there’s no guarantee that Congress will come up with the money. The 2010 reauthorization of COMPETES authorized just over $6 billion for the Office of Science in 2013, far more than the amount that Congress ultimately appropriated, noted DOE’s Patricia Dehmer, deputy director for science programs in the Office of Science. She urged legislators to maintain a consistent and predictable funding outlook for the agency, something that hasn’t happened in recent years as Congress has failed to agree on funding bills and long-term budget plans. Dehmer recounted that, when she served as director of the office’s basic energy sciences program from 1995 to 2007, she used to carry a single page of paper listing the program’s projected budgets for the coming 10 years. “We didn’t have a huge amount of funding but we knew what’s coming,” she said. “Today there would be no way could carry a spread sheet like that because things change so much.”House Republicans have not said when they expect to unveil a detailed draft of the EINSTEIN bill. The U.S. Senate, meanwhile, is beginning to think about its own version of a COMPETES reauthorization, which is expected to include DOE. On Wednesday afternoon, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is scheduled to hold a hearing to discuss COMPETES and related issues.
The votes are in, and Republicans now control both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, but as ScienceInsider reported earlier, there were also a number of science-related items on state ballots yesterday. Here’s how things shook out:In Colorado and Oregon, voters rejected referenda that would have required genetically modified foods to be labeled. In Colorado, Proposition 105 was defeated by roughly a 2-1 ratio, with the latest numbers showing 66.4% of some 1,844,197 voters checking the “no” box. Oregon’s vote was much closer, as Measure 92 was defeated by just 1.3% of 1,334,791 votes cast, 50.7% to 49.3%.In Michigan, voters defeated by significant margins propositions to allow hunting of the state’s wolves. In spite of the vote, however, the matter isn’t settled. State courts will have to decide whether a measure passed by the legislature, and designed to circumvent yesterday’s vote, is constitutional. If courts uphold that measure, wolf hunting will be allowed.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)In Maine, voters rejected a measure that would have barred the use of food baits to attract bears, by a vote of 52.7% to 47.3%. Bear biologists had come out against the measure, arguing that baiting was an important tool for managing problem bears and research.In other states:Alaska: Voters approved Ballot Measure 4, 65.3% to 34.7%, requiring legislative approval of a controversial gold mine proposed for the salmon-rich Bristol Bay area.Arizona: Voters approved Proposition 303, 78.3% to 21.7%, permitting terminally ill patients and their doctors to use experimental treatments that have completed only preliminary phase I safety and dose trials.Maine: Voters approved Question 2, 60.6% to 39.4%, providing $8 million in bonds to help create an animal and plant disease and insect control laboratory administered by the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension service.Maine: Voters approved Question 4, 63.1% to 36.9%, providing $10 million in bonds, to be matched by $11 million in private funds, to build a genomics and disease research center at the Maine Technology Institute in Brunswick.Maine: Voters approved Question 5, 51.7% to 48.3%, providing $3 million in bonds, to be matched by $5.7 million in private funds, to modernize and expand a biological laboratory specializing in tissue repair and regeneration.Rhode Island: Voters approved Question 4, 63.4% to 36.6% providing $125 million in bonds for a College of Engineering building at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston.
A US team visiting India’s north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh has recovered what it says are possible remains of US soldiers who died in a plane crash during World War Two. Related Items
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The Embassy of India in Oman has invited applications from NRI students living in Oman for a special scholarship programme.Indian citizens and Persons of Indian Origin can apply for this scheme, involving undergraduate programmes, according to an online statement from the embassy.Read it at Times of Oman Related Items
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State-run Indian refiner Hindustan Petroleum said it may resume buying Iranian oil if India secures a waiver from US sanctions, its chairman MK Surana said on Thursday (November 1).India is Iran’s top oil client after China and hopes to get a waiver on US sanctions before they take effect on Sunday (November 4), after significantly reducing its oil imports from Iran.Read it at India Today Related Items
India’s state-owned lender Bank of India (BoI) has shut down its branch in Jersey, Channel Islands, media reports say. The bank had earlier closed branches in Dubai, Botswana, and Yangon.According to recent media reports, BoI said in a regulatory filing that the Jersey branch would cease operations from Oct. 18.“This is to inform that Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC), Local Regulators Jersey, has allowed the closure of our Jersey branch with effect from October 18, 2018,” BoI was quoted as saying in a regulatory filing by PTI.BoI has several overseas branches in cities like London, Birmingham, Paris, Leicester, Glasgow, Antwerp, and countries like the U.S., Belgium, Hong Kong, Indonesia, China, Japan, New Zealand, Uganda, West Indies, Kenya, and others.In accordance with the state bank leaders’ aim to rationalize and bring “clean and responsible banking” initiative, several state-owned lenders like Andhra Bank, IDBI Bank, and Indian Overseas Bank have earlier closed their branches in Dubai. On the other hand, Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank and Union Bank of India have shut their Shanghai offices, news agency PTI reported.Rajiv Kumar, Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance, had tweeted on Mar. 1 that “Public sector banks to consolidate 35 overseas operations without affecting the international presence of PSBs in these countries; 69 operations identified for further examination. Move towards cost efficiencies and synergies in the overseas market,” Hindu Business Line reported.To cut costs, BoI plans to rationalize its domestic and foreign branches and nine foreign branches/subsidiaries/representative offices have already been identified for closure, the publication reported.According to reports, State Bank of India, India’s largest lender, has the highest number of overseas branches, followed by Bank of Baroda (50) and Bank of India (29). Moreover, according to BoI’s 2016-17 annual report, it had 29 branches, 4 representative offices, 5 subsidiaries and 1 associate/joint venture spread across 22 countries of all-time zones. The contribution of foreign operations in the bank’s global business mix was 24 percent, Hindu Business Line said. Related Items
The Centre has not yet cleared the proposal of the West Bengal government to change the name of the State to ‘Bangla’, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said in a written response in the Rajya Sabha to a question from MP Ritabrata Banerjee on Wednesday.“No, sir,” he said adding that changing a State’s name requires constitutional amendment and it is done after taking into consideration all relevant factors.On July 26 last year, the West Bengal Assembly had passed a resolution unanimously to change the name in the three most-spoken languages — Bengali, Hindi and English — and had sent the proposal to the Home Ministry. It suggested ‘Paschimbanga’ in 2011 but it was turned down by the Central government.In 2016, it proposed ‘Bengal’ in English, ‘Bangla’ in Bengali and ‘Bangal’ in Hindi, which was also turned down. Finally, it proposed ‘Bangla’ last year.The Ministry of External Affairs objected to the proposals suggesting ‘Bangla’ had similarity to Bangladesh and it would be difficult to differentiate the two at international forums. Describing the re-naming to be in consonance with the history, culture and identity of the State, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to bring an amendment for the same in the current session of Parliament. She said the Chief Secretary of the State had communicated this position to the Union Home Secretary on August 21, 2018. (With inputs from Kolkata)